As we’ve covered before, homeschooling households dramatically increased – from approximately 3% before the COVID-19 pandemic to around 11% by the fall of 2020 – according to data from the Census Bureau. And according to some experts, homeschooling will continue to trend upward in the coming years.
“So many families have still maintained their homeschooling routines rather than re-enrolling in the public school system,” said Andrew Bacher-Hicks, an education professor at Boston University. “This isn’t just a very short-term blip. There will be a continued drop in public school enrollments.”
One of those families is the Dickinsons, who were recently featured in an excellent Newsy article titled “The Growth of Homeschooling, Even After the Pandemic.” Coincidentally, Caroline Dickinson, the 13-year-old homeschooler profiled in this article is one of our very own! Caroline is a seventh-grader with Bridgeway Academy, and she began her homeschool studies during her sixth-grade year, as the pandemic was wreaking havoc on schools around the world. Much like other homeschooling families, the Dickinsons’ decision to educate Caroline at home didn’t come without reservations and apprehension.
“The idea of taking Caroline out of school was frightening,” said Sarah Dickinson, Caroline’s mom. “But the idea of keeping her in the school, with the lack of communication and consistency, it was just like months wasted.”
If that sounds like a familiar refrain, well, it is. The pandemic served as the impetus for many families to begin homeschooling–and they liked it so much they decided to keep going even when schools dropped mandates related to wearing masks and social distancing.
“The pandemic really pushed a lot of people to select home education,” Bridgeway Academy CEO Jessica Parnell said. “For some, it was the fear of the virus. For others, it was the lack of confidence in what was happening with the schools for remote learning.”
Sarah Dickinson knows first-hand, as she is a trained educator who often substitute-teaches in traditional schools. Witnessing what schools were dealing with–and how they were dealing with it–made her better understand the many advantages of homeschooling. “Every time I did [teach in schools], I would come home and say, ‘I am so glad you are here homeschooling because you’re learning so much more than everybody being interrupted in the traditional school.’”
Caroline also excelled with homeschooling at Bridgeway Academy, which helped make the decision to continue a much easier one for the whole family. And while the decision to homeschool certainly benefits an increasing number of families, it also has a much different type of impact on public schools, as districts use enrollment numbers to determine budgets, funding, and staffing. This could prove to be a major challenge for school leaders, administrators, and teachers going forward.
Families, however, must do what’s best for their children, and the benefits of homeschooling are becoming more and more appealing to many parents and guardians. The largest increase in homeschooling during the pandemic came from Black families, who went from 3% pre-pandemic to 16% by the fall of 2020. While the pandemic certainly facilitated the transition to homeschooling, many Black families decided to continue because they were simply fed up with the way their children were being treated in the public school system.
“When you look at discipline proportionality, you know, it’s our children who are 2, 3, 4, 5 – depending on what research study you look at – times more likely to be expelled or suspended beginning in Pre-K,” stated Dr. Cheryl Fields-Smith, a co-founder of the website www.blackfamilyhomeschool.org. “When you’re not going to listen to us, when you’re going to mistreat our children, when you’re not going to see the talents and gifts that they bring – yeah, we’re going to homeschool.”
Whether it’s the need to protect the health of children during a pandemic or it’s the dissatisfaction with the school system, the decision to homeschool is a significant one that requires plenty of consideration. But there’s no denying the benefits that come with learning at home. Among the chief advantages is the flexibility homeschooling offers, which provides the necessary time for students like Caroline to pursue their dreams–in her case, it’s becoming a college and Olympic gymnast.
Caroline acknowledges the challenges that can arise with homeschooling–such as having her parents around constantly (she is 13, after all)–but is glad she and her family made the switch.
“Sometimes it can be a little frustrating having your mom or dad always with you,” Caroline said. “But you definitely get used to it. You have to adjust. But once you do adjust, it’s really good.”
To read the full article or watch the video from the Dickinsons’ interview, visit newsy.com. If you’re considering making the switch to homeschooling, check out Bridgeway Academy’s accredited programs.