Homeschooling changes for 2021 and beyond

Surge in Homeschooling during 2020

The field of education has experienced a significant disruption that has brought about more transformative changes in less than a year than any other period in our history. As a consequence of the pandemic, homeschooling has witnessed an unprecedented surge in numbers worldwide.

A Growing Array of Reasons to Embrace Homeschooling

An increasing number of parents are opting for homeschooling as an alternative educational approach, driven by either their diminished willingness to risk sending their children to traditional schools or the limitations imposed by distance learning.

When a child is required to spend countless hours online each day, with parents diligently monitoring their interactions and school tasks, it becomes evident why homeschooling is an appealing option. The advantages lie in the enhanced flexibility it offers, along with a substantial reduction in stress levels.

This realization has dawned upon a considerable percentage of parents with children enrolled in both public and private schools. Consequently, there has been a recent upswing in families opting for homeschooling as an educational alternative. Additionally, an abundance of resources, including classes, tutors, and various other offerings, many of which are available at no cost, have emerged to cater to the needs of homeschoolers.

Before the onset of the pandemic, seasoned homeschoolers were already accustomed to receiving numerous emails brimming with class offerings, suggestions for field trips and projects, curriculum details, and other homeschooling ideas. However, over the past nine months, this email folder has become even more saturated with opportunities for learning, albeit primarily through online means.

One particular online class provider witnessed a remarkable surge in their number of teachers, soaring from 1,000 to 7,000 within a matter of months. This spike in demand can be attributed to the increased interest from both homeschooling families and traditionally schooled children seeking supplementary educational experiences.

Supporting Homeschooling in California

The Homeschool Association of California, along with other organizations providing assistance to homeschoolers, has witnessed a surge in parents utilizing their online platforms, helplines, Facebook support groups, conferences, and informative resources.

HSC’s Homeschooling 101 class, which used to have 30 participants every few months, now attracts 100 attendees weekly during the summer. Homeschooling experts and consultants have been exceptionally busy, providing support and guidance to parents who have been unexpectedly thrust into homeschooling.

To cater to the increased interest, HSC offers regular and free Homeschooling 101 Zoom sessions for new homeschoolers, in addition to ongoing support meetings and an annual conference for current homeschooling members, all conducted via Zoom.

Free Resources for Parents from HSC

HSC has also compiled a comprehensive Resource List of educational offerings spanning over 25 pages, which is made available to parents. While some of these resources were accessible before the pandemic, numerous additional options have been added to the list, provided by institutions, vendors, and individuals, to assist parents during these challenging times.

Local, statewide, and homeschool-specific groups on social media and other small group platforms have become a vital source of information for those seeking guidance on educating their children for the first time.

Screen Time versus Social Interaction

Nevertheless, many families, especially those with young children who struggle with excessive screen time, are experiencing the effects of limited real-life interactions. Concerns and discussions surrounding the mental health and development of our children have intensified during these challenging times.

In response, some families have taken a calculated risk and arranged regular gatherings with trusted families, forming social bubbles. These bubbles consist of families who agree to limit exposure to the outside world and prioritize the safety of everyone within the bubble.

Maintaining these social bubbles requires families to communicate effectively regarding virus exposure and ongoing risks, ensuring that safety is continuously assessed.

Parents Exploring Homeschooling for the First Time

Among the effects of the pandemic, there is an intriguing mix of parents who have begun considering homeschooling. Some were already contemplating this educational approach and held a genuine interest in it. Others had briefly thought about it in the past but now find themselves thrust into this alternative earlier than anticipated. There are also those who are compelled to homeschool due to health and safety concerns or due to dissatisfaction or challenges faced with remote learning.

Furthermore, certain families are utilizing homeschooling regulations to establish what are known as “pods.” In these pods, a teacher is hired to guide a small group of children who are socially connected and learn together.

It has been suggested that a significant number of those who have been forced into homeschooling during this period may discover their own path to success and choose to continue with it. If this scenario unfolds, the long-term statistics of homeschooling in the United States will surpass the currently accepted figure of 3% of students.

Will the Growth of Homeschooling Persist?

In California, many homeschooling families submit the Private School Affidavit after forming a small private school to educate their children. According to the reports from the California Department of Education (CDE), during the month of October 2020 alone, there were 29,867 filings of the Private School Affidavit, compared to 11,552 the previous year. This statistic does not even account for homeschoolers who are enrolled in charter schools, independent learning programs, or similar initiatives where parents assume primary responsibility for their child’s education.

In a typical year, experienced homeschoolers are often asked about the issue of socialization. Parents who are new to homeschooling struggle to comprehend how connections are made and group learning is facilitated until they immerse themselves fully in the experience.

Currently, even homeschoolers themselves are hindered by the lack of interpersonal interaction, and it is taking a toll on all of us. Prior to the pandemic, park days, classes, field trips, parties, clubs, and various other in-person group activities were well attended.

Considering the number of individuals who will seek connection once the pandemic is resolved, just imagine the surge in attendance figures that will likely occur.

Embracing the Times Ahead

The current pandemic is not a perpetual state. In due course, we will regain the ability to gather and interact, albeit with likely safety precautions. The awaited day draws near.

Enthusiasm fills me as I contemplate the potential lying ahead for our community in the years to come, as we adapt to this novel educational framework and extend its distinctive advantages to an increasing number of families across the globe.

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