Parents In US Homeschooling Up To 15Mln Children During Coronavirus Pandemic - Association

Parents in US Homeschooling Up to 15Mln Children During Coronavirus Pandemic - Association

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 29th July, 2021) The number of Americans choosing to homeschool their children is rapidly increasing and up to 15 million children are currently homeschooled in the United States, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) senior counsel Michael Donnelly told Sputnik.

"The most recent US Census Pulse Survey numbers suggest that as many as 18 percent of US households have had at least one homeschooled student. These numbers, in addition to state filings, suggest that homeschooling has at least doubled and may have tripled during the pandemic. This would mean that anywhere between 6-15 million children are being homeschooled," Donnelly said.

The senior counsel explained that HSLDA is one of the oldest and biggest non-profit groups in the United States protecting homeschooling families over the past 35 years and equipping them to provide the best educational experience for their children.

Donnelly said school lookdowns that were part of the coronavirus pandemic measures gave many people an opportunity to try some form of homeschooling.

"Reports from homeschool curriculum companies and what we are seeing with our own membership suggest that rather than declining, interest in homeschooling is growing. Families from every walk of life are turning to homeschooling," he said.

The interest for some form of homeschooling is growing most rapidly among African and Hispanic families, reflecting 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively, Donnelly added.

Donnelly said the public health situation has allowed the schools to reopen and local officials across the United States have renewed efforts to recruit homeschoolers back to school because student enrollment determines funding levels.

"The frequency of these attempts appears to have increased this year and HSLDA has reported on the efforts by schools in several states to offer publicly funded programs that are delivered virtually. Some schools have tried to market these programs as homeschooling even though they are public school programs," he said.

However, Donnelly pointed out that homeschooling is privately funded and parent directed.

Most of the attempts to persuade parents to return their children to school are not forceful, so the homeschoolers are not facing significant challenges, but school officials at times exceed their authorities, he said.

"There are issues when school officials demand information they are not entitled to or unlawfully obstruct the parents' decision to homeschool. The best thing new homeschool families can do is get support from local homeschooling groups," Donnelly said, adding that HSLDA represents its members in resolving such disputes and even goes to court if necessary.

Donnelly said one of the benefits of homeschooling, particularly during the pandemic, is having a learning environment without the use of face masks and physical-social distancing and one in which health risks are mitigated. He also said that homeschooling parents have more control over their schedules and explore a wider range of subjects that are of interest to the students.

"Because homeschooling is so efficient, children can learn the material more quickly and have time to pursue other areas of interest," he said.

However, Donnelly also said this kind of learning requires families to adapt their schedules and find time to ensure that children are receiving the attention they need to progress academically.

Donnelly expressed confidence that even working parents can readjust their plans and help their children to learn. Citing the data from recent surveys, he noted that homeschooling has grown fastest among low income communities.

The HSLDA representative said abundance of materials and information is one of the challenges of homeschooling.

"Finding the right curriculum can take time and with so many options some parents can feel at a loss as to which curriculum to choose. I always say pick the one you like, or select among subject specific curriculum, and then see how it goes," Donnelly said. "If it works - great. If it's not working, try something new."

Homeschooling has been legal in all 50 US states since 1993. The percentage of homeschooled students changed from 3-4 percent to more than 9 percent in 2020, according various surveys.