WASHINGTON D.C.: Following the closing of the nation's schools during the Covid pandemic, more than 11 percent of all households are choosing to homeschool their children and not return them to public schools.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in March that by September 2020, more than 11 percent of all households were homeschooling their children, more than doubling from 5.4 percent six months earlier.
Some parents have said they will homeschool because their children have special educational needs. Other parents are looking for their children to be educated with a faith-based curriculum or say their public schools are flawed.
However, many parents are saying they began homeschooling as a temporary measure during the lockdown, and later found it to be beneficial to their children.
"That's one of the silver linings of the pandemic - I don't think we would have chosen to homeschool otherwise," Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, told the Associated Press.
King said her 7-year-old daughter seemed to thrive with the flexible, one-on-one instruction. Also, while at home she has studied literature, anatomy, even archaeology, and participated in outdoor excursions to search for fossils.
Of note, Black households saw the largest increase in homeschooling, rising from 3.3 percent in the spring of 2020 to 16.1 percent in the fall.
The family of Arlena and Robert Brown of Austin, Texas is homeschooling their three children, after experimenting during the lockdown. The children are being taught with a Catholic-oriented curriculum through Seton Home Study School, which serves about 16,000 students throughout the country.
"I didn't want my kids to become a statistic and not meet their full potential," said Robert Brown, a former teacher who now does consulting. "And we wanted them to have very solid understanding of their faith."
Brown's wife, Arlena Brown, added, "In the beginning, the biggest challenge was to unschool ourselves and understand that homeschooling has so much freedom," she said. "We can go as quickly or slowly as we need to."
Charmaine Williams of Baldwin, Missouri, using the National Black Home Educators curriculum, as she homeschools her 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.
She noted that with a new curriculum and support network - she feels more confident about homeschooling.
"At school, children have to follow a certain pattern, and there's bullying, belittling - compared to being home where they're free to be themselves," Williams said.
"There's no turning back for us now," she added. "The pandemic has been a blessing - an opportunity to take ownership of our children's education."