BRYAN, Texas — According to a local advocate, the number of students homeschooling in the Brazos Valley has at least doubled since the pandemic subsided.
This is on par with national trends, where there’s been a 51 percent increase in homeschooling since 2021 compared to 2017-2018.
- Home learning during the pandemic was an introduction to homeschooling for many parents, who decided to keep trying it after schools opened back up.
- Parents say they love the freedom and flexibility that comes with homeschooling their kids.
- Local homeschooling advocates say they’ve seen a drastic increase in their community since the pandemic.
Every Wednesday at Legends Event Center, a group of kids get together not only to play basketball or play in the arcade — they’re here to learn.
Lamar Ontko is an art teacher at the Community Homeschool Center in Bryan.
She has been an art teacher for 10 years and has been homeschooling all of her five children, but they’ve also experienced public school.
“After COVID is when we made the decision to pull them back home again,” Ontko said.
The main reason for her family was sports.
“After COVID, there was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen, whether sports were going to happen, but the homeschool community was for sure that they were going to be starting,” Ontko said.
Her family is one of thousands across the country deciding to try homeschooling after the pandemic.
A Washington Post analysis finds the number of kids being homeschooled increased by 51 percent after the pandemic, compared to 2017-2018 — and the Brazos Valley is no different.
“In the past two to three years, we’ve at least doubled,” said the founder of the Community Homeschool Center, Suzanne Gose.
She says the change before and after the pandemic is noticeable.
“We had a whole bunch of people that went, ‘Well, I do like being around my kid a lot more than I thought I did — I really enjoy watching them learn and I think I might be able to do this on my own’,” Gose said.
Gose says that for many parents, it provides the freedom they want to customize their child’s education.
“My daughter who’s a senior this year,” Ontko said.
“We were able to sit down and look at and customize all of her classes, so that when she graduates this year, she should have almost 30 hours of college credit.”
But the homeschooling life isn’t for everyone.
When asked if she thinks the movement will continue to grow, Gose said, “I think so — I think they’re we’re gonna reach a peak at some point where people realize, ‘Oh, this is not for everybody,’ — but also the private school models and things like community homeschool centers, things like that will step in to help fill the gap.”
“In general, I think so, but not forever and ever — I don’t think the public school has anything to worry about.”