Since 2004, I’ve been watching and supporting the homeschooling movement grow and broaden. I’d like to share a few observations that might help some Texas parents as they make decisions about what’s best for their children for 2022-23 school year.
A steadily growing number of parents in the Lone Star State have switched their kids into homeschooling. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeschool enrollment in Texas nearly tripled in 2020 from 4.5% to 12.3%, and the Texas Homeschool Coalition estimates that more than 750,000 students are currently being taught at home.
But what’s causing this shift?
At the onset of Covid-19, a large number of parents switched to homeschooling as a way to keep their families safe. Many started with the expectation that they would send their children back to traditional school once pandemic restrictions were lifted. Two years later, parents have realized they actually prefer teaching their child from home because it makes more sense with their lifestyle and their child’s learning preferences.
Hybrid work opens the door to more learning options
Many have learned in the last years that work can be done anywhere. It’s only a baby step from there to realize that education is something that you do, not a place that you go.
While many workers discovered that they can be much more productive working from home without commuting to and from an office, parents are also realizing that the long school days were more about classroom management and logistics and that the time actually devoted to learning was only a fraction of the school day.
With homeschooling, parents now see that there are more productive ways to schedule their family’s days because online homeschool programs allow kids to learn at their own pace, without extra time spent on school logistics. They can work early in the morning to allow for adventures in the afternoon, bring their history lessons on family vacation, or brush up on their periodic table after dinner. Homeschool learning is unbounded.
Modern homeschooling also addresses parental concerns over adding roles, like teacher, administrator and curriculum creator, to their growing list of responsibilities. Time4Learning, for example, offers comprehensive programs that provide parents and students with structured lessons that align with regular school curriculum. In fact, 60% of our families say they enjoy the control it offers over their schedules, and almost all of them say they want to continue homeschooling longer than originally anticipated.
Learning is not one-size-fits-all
Each child has an individual learning pace and capabilities that do not always align with the traditional school system. Parents had a front-row seat to their child’s education when schools transitioned to Zoom classes. Having to quickly adapt to the use of new technologies caused many students to fall behind and disengage as teachers struggled to teach virtually.
Homeschool, on the other hand, is student-centric and enables kids to learn at their own pace while giving parents the opportunity to cultivate a positive learning environment. Moreover, lessons that are student-paced allow the child to set the tone for their education. I met a mother who, after beginning her homeschooling journey, was astonished at how well her daughter mastered complex math programs. She immediately moved her up a grade in our system. By the same token, the child was struggling with grade-level reading comprehension, so the mother moved her back a grade to reinforce key concepts such as context clues and phonics.
Creativity and passion abound
One of the most significant benefits of homeschooling is its social network. When new families call and say they are worried about ensuring their children have the chance to socialize, I often joke that the hardest thing about homeschooling is staying home.
The truth is, most homeschoolers participate in more than five extracurricular activities on average, and I constantly am hearing about how our families have been able to support their child’s dreams. Alana was able to pursue golf. Natalia followed her dancing dreams and landed a position with DanceMakers, Inc. with performers from the show “So You Think You Can Dance.” Laura’s passion for music flourished as a homeschooler, and she is now enrolled in the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME).
Many homeschoolers continue their education in college. Unsurprisingly, the average homeschooler scores higher on tests than public school students and often have a higher GPA in their first year of college. Homeschool.com editor Jamie Gaddy, for example, has had four of her six children (so far) attend college and pursue their unique talents.
Start your homeschooling journey
Most things in the world are not cookie cutter. Neither should your child’s education. Having a say in how, when and what your student learns can make a dramatic difference in their performance.
I encourage parents who are considering homeschooling to seek out resources to learn more about it. I recommend a book called “Homeschooling and Loving It,” available on Homeschool.com or Time4Learning’s booklet, “Welcome to Homeschooling.” Both are free PDF downloads.
By John Edelson, president of Time4Learning, an award-winning virtual homeschool platform