Although the pandemic disrupted family life throughout United States Since it was installed in the spring of 2020, some parents are grateful for a consequence: now choose to educate their children at homeeven when schools plan to resume face-to-face classes.
The specific reasons vary widely. Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs; others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed.
The common denominator: Tried homeschooling on a temporary basis and found it beneficial for your children.
“This is one of the positives of the pandemic: I don’t think we would have opted for homeschooling had it not been for the pandemic,” says Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Zoë improved a lot Thanks to the flexible and individualized teaching.
Its curriculum includes literature, anatomy and even archeology, enlivened by excursions to the outdoors in search of fossils.
The increase was confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that lThe rate of households that educate their children at home increased to 11% in September 2020, more than doubling the 5.4% from just six months earlier.
Black family households experienced the highest growth; their homeschooling rate went from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.
The parents of one such household, Arlena and Robert Brown of Austin, Texas, had three children in elementary school when the pandemic began.
After experimenting with e-learning, the couple opted to try homeschooling with a Catholic-oriented curriculum, provided by Seton Home Study School, which serves some 16,000 students across the country.
The Browns plan to continue homeschooling their children next year, grateful to be able to tailor the curriculum to their specific needs.
Religion and special needs
Jacoby, 11, has been diagnosed with narcolepsy and sometimes needs to take a nap during the day; Riley, 10, was assessed as academically gifted; Felicity, 9, has a learning disability.
“I didn’t want my kids to become a statistic and not reach their full potential,” says Robert Brown, a former professor now consulting. “And we wanted them to have a very solid understanding of their faith,” he added.
Arlena Brown, who gave birth to her fourth child 10 months ago, was working as a preschool teacher before the pandemic. Homeschooling, he says, was a rewarding adventure.
“At first, the biggest challenge was getting out of school and understanding that homeschooling has a lot of freedom,” he says. “We can go as fast or as slow as necessary.”
Discrimination at school
Race played a key role in another African-American family’s decision to educate their 12-year-old son Dorian at home.
Angela Valentine said that Dorian often went the only black student in his classes in a public school in the suburbs of Chicago, and that at times, he was treated unfairly by the administrators, in addition to being surprised when other boys stopped playing with him.
When the pandemic subsided, the family decided to keep Dorian at home and teach him there, using a National Black Home Educators curriculum, which offers content for each academic subject, related to African American history and culture.
“I felt the weight of making the change, of making sure we are making the right decisions,” Valentine said.
“Although until we are really comfortable with their learning environment, we will continue on this homeschooling journey,” he added.
Charmaine Williams, who lives in Baldwin, a suburb of St Louis, also uses the National Black Home Educators curriculum to homeschool her children, Justin, 10, and Janel, 6.
Williams said she and her husband tried to homeschool Justin twice after school authorities complained about his behavior.
Now, with the new curriculum and the support network that goes with it, they feel more confident choosing it as a long-term option.
“In school, kids have to follow a certain pattern, and there is bullying, belittling, compared to being at home where they are free to be themselves,” Williams said.
“There is no turning back for us,” he added. “The pandemic was a blessing: an opportunity to take charge of our children’s education“, he opined.
Joyce Burges, co-founder and director of programs for National Black Home Educators, said the 21-year-old organization had about 5,000 members before the pandemic and now has more than 35,000.
Many of the new families experienced difficulties, such as lack of internet access, which limited their children’s ability to benefit from e-learning during the pandemic, Burges said.
“They came to trust nothing more than their own homes, and their children being with them,” he said. “Now they are looking to the future, seeing what their children can do.”
Parents and teachers
For some families, the special needs of their children influenced the shift to homeschooling. This is the case of Jennifer Osgood, from Fairfax (Vermont), whose 7-year-old daughter Lily has Down syndrome.
After observing Lily’s progress in reading and numeracy while at home during the pandemic, Osgood is convinced that homeschooling is the best option for her going forward.
She made the same decision for her 12-year-old son Noah, who did not like the distance classes offered by his public school in the spring of 2020, and did homeschool during the 2020-21 school year. It did so well that they want to continue at least a few more years.
“He told me he was learning a lot more at home than at school,” Osgood recalls. “He told me, ‘School is so chaotic; we don’t get to do much in any particular class. Here, I sit down, you tell me what to do, and minutes later I’m done.’
Heather Pray, from Phoenix, Maryland, says homeschooling has been a great success for her 7-year-old son Jackson, who has autism.
The family made the switch because Jackson struggled with the virtual learning that his school offered during the pandemic.
“My son did very well (with homeschooling), even with only two hours of school work a day,” Pray said. “I wrote him down in piano lessons and taught him to read.”
Pray is also homeschooling her daughter, Hayley, who is in 7th grade and was attending a Christian school.
“I had no idea how this was going to turn out, I just jumped in,” Pray said. “I felt that God was taking me by the hand.”
The González family of Appomattox, Virginia – who are devout Catholics – chose to homeschool their three children, ages 9, 13 and 15, after his Catholic school in Lynchburg closed in 2020 due to decreased enrollment.
They use Seton Home Study School’s Catholic-centered curriculum, which Jennifer Gonzalez, the children’s mom, describes as rigorous but well-organized.
“My children have excelled,” he said. “We can be at home and be together.”
Fuente: The Associated Press