Considering a last-minute homeschool decision? Interest has ‘exploded’ amid pandemic

Anyone considering teaching his or her own children this year?
Anyone considering teaching his or her own children this year? (Pexels stock image)

As parents nationwide prepare to help their children with more distance learning, a small but quickly growing number are deciding to take matters entirely into their own hands and begin homeschooling.

Some are worried their districts are unable to offer a strong virtual learning program.

For others who may have been considering homeschooling, concerns for their family’s health amid the coronavirus and the on-again, off-again planning for in-person instruction are leading them to part ways with school systems.

Surging applications

Mindy Kroesche, a freelance writer and editor from Lincoln, Nebraska, had been leaning toward homeschooling her 12-year-old son, who has autism and ADHD diagnoses that made middle school a challenge. But she always felt her 10-year-old daughter was “built for school.” Now, with the pandemic raging, she is pulling them both out for the year.

“We just saw that with her wearing a mask for the entire day, that would make learning more difficult for her,” she said. “It was going to be such a different environment. We didn’t think it would be as beneficial for her.”

Homeschooling applications are surging in states including Nebraska, where they are up 21%, and Vermont, where they are up 75%. In North Carolina, a rush of parents filing notices that they planned to homeschool overwhelmed a government website last month, leaving it temporarily unable to accept applications.

There were about 2.5 million homeschool students last year in grades K-12 in the U.S., making up about 3% to 4% of school-age children, according to the National Home Educators Research Institute. Brian Ray, the group’s president, is anticipating that their numbers will increase by at least 10%.