It’s easy to homeschool in Texas. A cursory search leads to a step-by-step guide for withdrawing your kid from the school system. Plug a few bits of information into a templated letter, send to a district administrator, and voila! You’re running a school, and everything your kid learns is entirely up to you.
“It was so nerve-racking,” says Sarahi Espitia, a mom of four in McKinney, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas. After a grueling spring of remote learning, Espitia began homeschooling her kids at the start of the 2020 school year. As a graduate of public schools, she felt like she had just plunged her family into the unknown. “We’re so used to going to school.”
Except that the definition of “going to school” had been radically upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. Campuses closed abruptly, while children and teachers struggled mightily with online learning. Espitia, who also helps run the family’s restaurant, was left to navigate confusing new platforms, screen-time fatigue, and endless technical malfunctions for four children. Her kids were 10, 8, 6, and 3; her youngest, a preschooler, didn’t even know how to use a mouse yet. By the end of the year, Espitia says, her “kids were crying.” Wearied by online learning, yet wary of letting her children return to in-person learning, she turned to homeschooling—just for the year, just until things got back to normal.