In recent years homeschooling has made its way into the United States. It is no coincidence that it reflects the start of the pandemic when classroom teaching was in flux and many parents felt they had no choice but to take on their children’s education.
And as the number of children studying at home and their parents taking over the class increased, there were more opportunities for both groups. Now there are numerous support groups, meetings, resources, and the recently popular “pods” – sometimes called “pandemic pods” – where small groups of home-schooled children learn together, either from parents or a tutor. These options allow children to interact with others, go on field trips, or even attend certain classes in their public school.
According to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, the number of homeschoolers rose 56 percent to 5 million from the spring of the 2019-20 school year (when the pandemic broke out) to the fall of the 2020-21 school year. The number of homes that had homeschoolers has doubled.
“Before COVID, there was a lot of misunderstanding about what homeschooling was all about,” said Kelly Polizzi from Danbury, who has homeschooled three of her four children, including her oldest, Willow, for eight years. “Thanks to COVID, more people are aware of homeschooling and find that it is actually feasible for their families.”
New Hampshire has exceeded the national average for the number of children studying at home.
The New Hampshire Department of Education released the numbers ahead of the 2020 vacation and found that Granite State homeschooled 6,110 students in the 2020/21 school year, compared to 2,955 the previous year, more than twice as many homeschooled children Homeland.
Obviously, the pandemic had a huge impact on these numbers. And there were a variety of reasons a family might have chosen to move away from traditional education – maybe they didn’t like the way distance learning was set up in their town, or they might not want their children to drop out of learning Home to go back to school and maybe back home with the uncertainty of COVID-19, to name a few.
New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said his office supports every method of learning for the people of Granite State.
“Many families who choose homeschooling choose this option because they feel that it is the best model of education and teaching for their children,” he said. “This approach is very persistent throughout our education system. The system should adapt to the child. When something doesn’t work for them, (the DOE) hopes that they will change that and pave a path to success. “
Not only is homeschooling a better way of learning for many children, but there can be benefits in going to school for seven hours straight, sitting 45-60 minutes straight, and being one of 20 or more children in a class.
“My kids can be in their Jamies all day, they can sleep in and don’t have to commute to school,” said Kelly Polizzi.
Parents and children can also direct their learning to the topics they like to focus on most, at their own pace and at their own time.
“Sometimes I wish I could have that high school experience, but I definitely appreciate the very relaxed way of studying (with homeschooling),” said Willow Polizzi, who is in ninth grade. “I can drop homework for a couple of hours if I have to go somewhere. There are no set times to wake up. And I learn through life experiences instead of sitting behind a desk all day.
“When you think of homeschoolers … at this point nobody flinches when I say I’m homeschooler. I think people used to think it was strange to be homeschooled. We are completely normal children who do their schoolwork at home and not in a building. “
With the greater number of homeschoolers, comes greater use of support groups and resources such as Granite State Home Educators, New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition, and the New Hampshire Homeschooling Network. These nonprofit or volunteer organizations provide study ideas, teaching ideas, and perhaps most importantly, support for both new and seasoned parents in home schooling.
Michelle Levell, director and co-founder of Granite State Home Educators, said when the pandemic broke out, many parents were confused and scared when it came to their children’s education. She said her group had seen a surge in usage – up to over 4,000 members on her social media sites – and she had even formed subgroups to address new topics like homeschooling pods.
“When the schools were abruptly closed in March 2020 with only (a few) days’ notice, the parents were shocked,” says Levell, herself a homeschooling parent who founded her group in 2016 because there were insufficient resources in a kind of learning mentality. We tried to fill that void as we thought (the shutdown) would only take a few months. Lo and behold, it rolled into the fall of the 2020/21 school year. We found a tsunami crowd of people starting to investigate homeschooling. “
Levell said although schools across the state began bringing back students in the spring of 2021, a large proportion of home students stayed at home.
“I feel like about 50 to 60 percent of our group will stand out for the rest of the year,” she said.
The Ministry of Education will not have any new data on the number of home students for the school year 2021/22 by the end of the year. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, that the numbers are falling, as face-to-face classes resumed a few weeks ago and more and more parents are leaving their home office and going back to work.
The state will adapt in any case.
The number of home-schooled students “has no direct impact on the Ministry of Education,” said Edelblut, who taught his seven children at home. “We love to support New Hampshire students in any learning environment.”
These articles are shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, see Collaborativesh.org.