Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?

Concerns overexposure to the coronavirus, excessive screen time, and 
instability in school schedules have driven an unprecedented number of parents to home school, their children this academic year
shift that could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.

Nine percent of parents who weren\"t homeschooling their children last school year said they planned to home school their children at least some of the time this school yearaccording to a nationally representative survey of parents by the EdWeek Research Center.

Typically, a little over 35 percent of the nation’s school-age children are home-schooled in a given year, federal data show.

Homeschooling in response to the pandemic is driving enrollment declines in schools and districts across the countryaccording to a majority of principals and superintendents surveyed by the EdWeek Research Center. Fifty-eight percent in a mid-October survey listed homeschooling as being a major contributor to enrollment declines caused by COVID-more than any other single reason, such as losing students to charter schools, private schools, or “pandemic pods” in which families band together to hire instructors who teach their children at home.

Among this new class of homeschoolers is Lacy Nadeau of Lincoln, Neb. She and her 7-year-old sonWestare at high risk for health complications from the coronavirus. West started the grade this year in his school district’s remote-learning program. But for West, being on Zoom and silently watching his teacher work with classmates attending school in-person was both isolating and a slog.

At the end of the dayall of us would have to take a nap because we’d all be exhausted from holding it together all day long,” Nadeau said. “It kind of feels like the school board picked something that isn’t really workable and isn’t functioning, but the failure ends up being on the children.”

About a month into the school year, she removed her son to home school him, and she’s not alone.

Nebraska is one of several states reporting a sharp increase in the number of students homeschooling this year. So much so that this will be the first time in at least years that enrollment in Nebraska public schools will have declineda drop state education officials have said corresponds with the number of new homeschoolers. Nebraska private schools have also seen a dip in enrollment.

Even so, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much homeschooling has increased nationally with the pandemic. Even in normal times, homeschoolers are a difficult bunch to track. States define and track home-school enrollment differently, if at all, and there is a lag in the federal home-schooling numbers.

But other states besides Nebraska have reported significant increases in families saying they plan to home school, even as official tabulations have yet to be released.

In North Carolina, more than, new families filed notices of their intent to home school between the beginning of July and the end of August this year, compared to just over, during the same time period last year.

On the first day that North Carolina families could file online with the state to home school, the system crashed from the trafficaccording to the. The state agency that oversees homeschooling said the increase in notices filed may have been the result of some parents being confused about whether they needed to register as homeschoolers in order to participate in their public school’s remote learning option.

Wisconsin is another state reporting a spike in parents and guardians filing with the state their intent to homeschool. For the previous two years, intent to home school forms was submitted for about, students between the beginning of July and mid-October. This year the number was just over ,.

“Every one of my counterparts in neighboring districts indicated they have seen a decline in enrollment, and the majority of it is home school,” said Eric Runez, who leads the DeForest Area school district, which is in a suburb of Madison, Wis. The district started school remotely this academic year but began bringing its youngest students back to school under a hybrid schedule last month.

“Some of it is going to private school because private schools were fully opened. But I think the home school has probably been the biggest reason for enrollment decline,” he said.

While only about students left DeForest schools, a district of nearlystudents, to start home schooling this year, it marks the first time in nearly a decade that enrollment in the district has declinedsaid Runez.

DeForest has also seen a big drop—between and percent, he estimatesin the number of new families enrolling in kindergarten compared to previous years.

Even a comparatively small number of families opting to home school can squeeze districts’ financessaid Runez.

“It’s rarely clean enough that you can say‘Oh, they are all st graders, that’s a full st grade class.’ It’s probably three or four or five a grade level and you’re still running typically the same number of courses and classes,” said Runez. “You still have many fixed costs. … You lose students in your high school, but your utility costs are still the same.

Runezsaid that the fact that Wisconsin awards per-pupil funding on a three-year rolling average, and that his district had been until this year a consistently growing one, somewhat insulates DeForest from the worst financial impacts of losing enrollment.

But for some districts, per-pupil declines, coupled with cutbacks from the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, may be a “double whammy” for their financessaid Christopher Lubienski, a professor of education policy at Indiana University.

Lubienski, who studies homeschooling, stated the pandemic could give a long-lasting boost to the movement. While he believes many families that opted to home school this year will eventually return to public schoolhe thinks the United States will see a permanent increase in the number of homeschoolers even after the pandemic ends.

That’s “partly because people who haven’t really thought about it before suddenly saw themselves forced into homeschooling, and then realizing that it’s something they can see themselves doing,” he said.

According to Education Week’s extensive survey, which was conducted at the beginning of the academic year, the less education and income parents had, the more likely they were to say they were homeschooling this year. Twelve percent of parents whose highest level of education is less than a bachelor\"s degree said they are homeschooling their children at least some of the time this school year, compared to percent of those with a bachelor\"s degree or more.

Twelve percent of parents whose children properly qualify for free or reduced-price lunch said they are homeschooling, compared to the percent of parents whose children do not qualify for reduced meals.

“Because of the pandemic crisis, some people … may have lost their job anyways, so educating at home becomes much more possible,” said Lubienski.

He also thinks homeschooling will become more mainstream and socially acceptable, now that so many people are getting experience with schooling their own children from homewhether it’s through traditional home schooling or overseeing their children’s remote schooling.

And finally, Lubienski said, the influx of homeschoolers from the pandemic will likely alter the profile of the home-schooling movement.

The two dominant stereotypes of homeschoolers for a long time have been the conservative Christian parent and the anti-institutional progressive parent.

But over the past decade, said Lubienski, the home-schooling sector has been diversifying. In particular, more Black parents have opted to school their children at home because of racism in their public schools.

“I think that faced with this new reality it will diversify it even more,” said Lubienski. “It’s not just people with those two stereotypical reasons for homeschooling. It’s people who are seeing that this is a new option for themselves.

To accommodate families who are finding that they like the flexibility of schooling their kids at homeRunez, the superintendent in Wisconsin, said his district is considering making their remote option permanent.

Runez is confident most of his home-schooling families will come back to the district. He reached out to every family that withdrew from DeForest Area schools to hear their reasons for doing so. He found they were mostly worried about either getting sick, their children getting too much screen time and the whiplash of going back to school only to be sent home again if an outbreak occurredall issues that will be resolved once the pandemic is over.

For other parentsthoughpoor planning and dysfunction in their school districts drove them to take the plunge and home school.

Jenny Walsh, of Williamsville, N.Y., outside Buffalo, has three children: Hudson, A 3rd grader, Theo, a 1st grader, and Charlotte, a preschooler who Walsh has decided to wait to enroll in kindergarten until next year, when she’s old enough.

Walsh, a stay-at-home mother with a master’s degree in special educationstarted preparing to home school her children this summer after she saw how education was handled in her district in the spring. But she enrolled her children in remote education this fall, just to make sure it was their decision as well.

Williamsville, a district of about studentswas in such disarray over its remote learning plan that the school board voted unanimously to place the superintendent on a leave of absence. Days before the school year was to start, the superintendent said that all students in grades - would have to be fully remote and he delayed the start to the year for students in those grades because there weren’t enough teachers to instruct them. The district had undergone a wave of resignations and requests for leave among teachers and other staff members.

Walsh’s children were not directly impacted by those events. But it was still hard for her children to stay engaged with the instruction.

Homeschooling offers “a faster pace of learning,” Walsh said. In the remote classes, one of her sons would be finished with his work while other children were still trying to log on.

It also offers a “more relaxed, more engaged day. We can finish academics by and have more time for interest-based learning,” Walsh said.

Both Walsh and Nadeau, the mother in Nebraska, may be among those families that continue homeschooling beyond the pandemic.

Walsh said she’s “on the fence” about whether this will be a permanent change for her family. One potential benefit: Homeschooling offers an opportunity for her family to live in another part of the region, rather than being tied to the suburbs for the schools.

“We’re wondering what the schools will be like next yearwill it be the same?”If so, they may stick with homeschooling.“If it’s back to normal, we may go back,” she said.

The situation has changed her whole view of public education, said Walsh. Williamsville, an affluent suburb with involved parents, struggled, while it seemed that less-resourced districts nearby had better plans and a more invested school administration, she said.

Lots of funding doesn’t make a difference when the leadership isn’t willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of leading,” she said. The district currently has an acting superintendent.

Nadeau said she isn’t so sure she’ll send her son back to his public school, especially as she makes connections with other parents who can offer an outlet for safe social interactions.

“Today West got to go to the zoo with another family and mine. It was wonderful and it wasn’t something he was getting from school,” Nadeau said.

James Knox

Hi, My Name Is James, I'm A Life Insurance Agent, Photographer, And Dropshipper, Based In Missouri. Welcome To My Blog.

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