As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out across America and the world, many questions still remain about what life will look like moving forward. One much-debated topic, of course, has been education. Should schools open their doors or remain virtual? What might hybrid options look like? What safety procedures should be followed for in-person classes?
While those questions have been discussed in the public square, other decisions have been made by families in private. And one decision that many families have made is to begin homeschooling.
According to a report on a Gallup poll1 released on August 25, the number of parents opting for homeschooling has doubled since 2019, from 5 percent to 10 percent. This ranks homeschooling as the second-most popular option this year, ahead of private, parochial, and charter schools. (Public school, of course, remains on top at 76 percent, but that’s down from 83 percent last year.)
This has the potential to represent a major change for education in America.
Of course, there are unanswered questions. Will these new homeschoolers continue homeschooling even if public schools return to a more normal condition in 2021? Will even more parents abandon public schools as the year progresses if outbreaks occur or safety measures such as masks and social distancing become too onerous? How will public schools (and policy makers) react to the decreased number of students?
It will be fascinating to see how these questions are answered as time goes by.
If the number of families opting for homeschooling continues to rise, it could mean decreased funding for public schools. It could also mean new efforts to woo families back to public school, or to add new regulations to the growing homeschooling community.
In the meantime, new homeschoolers would do well to get informed and connected. If you’re homeschooling here in Illinois, be sure to check out the Illinois Christian Home Educators website (iche.org) as well as HSLDA. Both sites will help equip you for this new journey.
As a homeschool advocate, I hope that many Christian families are turning to home education during this uncertain time. But I also hope that if you’re a new homeschooler, you’ll seriously consider the benefits beyond the pandemic. Homeschooling is a great choice no matter what’s happening in the public schools.
This, by the way, is an important point for even veteran homeschoolers to remember. Homeschooling shouldn’t be primarily a reaction to the negative influences of the government school system. It shouldn’t be a run from something, but to something. As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to teach, instruct, and guide our children in an incredibly personal, hands-on way. That’s an inherently good thing no matter what is going on in the broader educational world.
If you’re a new homeschooler, allow me to offer a few words of advice:
- Get connected. Find other families either in person or online that you can connect with. Homeschooling doesn’t need to be a solitary journey.
- Educate yourself. There are plenty of resources for homeschooling parents to help you on your way. Books, magazines, e-newsletters, recorded conferences, etc. Educating yourself could also include finding a mentor—an experienced homeschooling parent who can answer questions and give you encouragement along the way.
- Don’t replicate public school at home. You have flexibility they don’t have in a formal school. Use it. That doesn’t mean you should throw out all routine, textbooks, etc., but it does mean you don’t need to be a slave to a model that was built for a classroom, not a home.
- Think about the positives. As I said a moment ago, homeschooling shouldn’t be a reaction to something negative in the school system (it might start that way, but it doesn’t have to stay that way). Watch for the blessings of homeschooling. Embrace them. Change your focus from avoiding the problems at school, to enjoying the blessings of home.
- Ask God for His help and blessing. We all need it. Homeschooling was His idea in the first place (check out Deuteronomy 6:6-7), and I believe He’s glad to help any Christian parent who is embracing their responsibility to oversee the education of their children in His ways.
1Brenan, Megan, K-12 Parents’ Satisfaction With Child’s Education Slips, Gallup, August 25, 2020; (Accessed August 29, 2020.)
IFI recently held two important webinars to help better inform, equip, and encourage parents to make the move to home education. These webinars can be found on the IFI YouTube channel under the “Home Education” playlist tab. These videos are posted for anyone curious about homeschooling.
In our first webinar we featured three experienced homeschool mothers who address frequently asked questions about Illinois law and how to begin homeschooling.