It’s too early to know whether the pandemic-fueled surge in homeschooling will continue in the coming year, but the early indicators are that do-it-yourself education is here to stay as a popular choice for families from all sorts of backgrounds. Escalating public school battles over masks, in-person teaching, and curriculum content continue to push families to seek options that meet their needs without a fight. That choice is made easier by the proliferation of resources for learning, in many cases at little or no cost.
“With Texas public schools now restarting for the fall semester, interest in homeschooling is already outpacing the all-time records set by the enormous homeschool increase from 2020,” the Texas Homeschool Coalition [THSC] announced last month. “Last week, THSC’s weekly call and email volume reached 4699, nearly five times the weekly record set by 2020. Before being upset by 2021 numbers, the records set by 2020 had been all-time-highs.”
The percentage of students homeschooled in Texas rose to 12.3 percent last year, up from 4.5 percent of students in Spring 2020, the organization pointed out. Nationally, 11.1 percent of students were homeschooled last year, up from 3.3 percent before the pandemic, according to the Census Bureau. (African-American families seem particularly done with schoolroom chaos; 16.1 percent of their kids joined the ranks of the homeschooled).
“It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children,” Census Bureau researchers Casey Eggleston and Jason Fields noted in March. “From the much-discussed ‘pandemic pods,’ (small groups of students gathering outside a formal school setting for in-person instruction) to a reported influx of parent inquiries about stand-alone virtual schools, private schools and homeschooling organizations, American parents are increasingly open to options beyond the neighborhood school.”