NEW ORLEANS – Even though most school districts have reopened their doors this semester, many students will not be returning to the classroom.
The number of students being homeschooled has nearly doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Home Education Research Institutes estimates about 5 million students were homeschooling in March 2021. In 2020, that number sat at 2.6 million.
“Interest has exploded,” said Christopher Chin, the president of Homeschool Louisiana, a faith-based support group for homeschooling families.
Chin said he’d expect this trend to continue even after the pandemic.
“There is going to be some melt where people do go back into an institutional school setting, but for many parents, they’re finding this is a better way of life for them and their children,” Chin said.
He added that families have turned to homeschooling for various reasons over the past year, including increased concern over school shootings and bullying issues.
He also said he’s found the “traditional” homeschool parents are no longer just stay-at-home moms.
“The pandemic changed the way many companies work,” Chin said. “Now, even two-income households have the flexibility to teach their children at home and they’re taking that opportunity.”
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Josh and Brittany Miller in Hammond, Louisiana, started homeschooling their four children right before the pandemic hit. Now, they’re not looking back.
“We don’t have to worry about the politics or circumstances of the virus,” Josh Miller said. “We can do what’s best for our kids’ education, and then you add in the curriculum that we’re not even in agreeance with and this is an obvious alternative.”
The Millers said the extra time together as a family has been the biggest perk.
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“I know my kids better; I know their likes and dislikes,” Brittany Miller said. “I would have never ever taken this on without certain outside circumstances, but I am so glad that we are a homeschool family.”
For families who might be trying homeschooling for the first time this year, the Millers said the most important thing to do would be to join a support group to connect with other homeschooling families.