Did you know the last week in September is International Homeschool Spirit Week? Most years, that doesn’t mean very much to the world. But this year, with the threat of COVID-19 still looming and many school doors remaining locked, homeschooling presents itself as one of the best solutions for mitigating this virus’s spread.
This spring, because of COVID-19, most families around the world found themselves thrust overnight into some form of home education. As we commence a new school year this fall, schools in the U.S. and around the world are attempting to restart with a variety of strategies cobbled together to accommodate the virus: in-person classes with masks and social distancing, Zoom classes, TV curriculum, and home education. Additionally, the World Health Organization has updated its guidance for mask-wearing by children, saying students six and above should wear masks in classroom settings, while kids under six should not wear masks.
Between the guidelines, the unpredictability of the virus, and the evolving policies in schools, parents around the globe are asking, “So what do we do now?” It’s hard to know just how successful the school restart will be in these strange circumstances. Some schools have opened, only to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases and promptly close their doors. But who are the families experiencing the least upheaval? Those who were already homeschooling.
While most COVID-inspired homeschool families aren’t homeschooling as part of a long-term plan, some are finding home education not only meets their kids’ academic needs, it also meets their rhythms and values as a family. So much so, 30% of parents in the U.S. say they are very likely to choose schooling at home for the 2020-21 school year, according to one national poll.
Homeschooling is difficult. The decision to homeschool is not one to be taken lightly. Families have serious discussions; they weigh their various options and often agonize over whether homeschooling is the best environment for their children. But COVID-19 changed the calculus and became an appealing alternative to families facing the uncertainty of this virus.
Children are less exposed to the public by being educated at home. At-risk family members are less secondarily exposed when kids are educated at home. Parents and children alike experience less disruption in the school year, as governments and school districts adapt policies with rises in cases. In the midst of all the upheaval in the U.S. and around the world from COVID-19, rampant unemployment, changed social guidelines, etc., homeschoolers are standing out in the population as suffering less transition through the spikes of the virus.
Homeschooling isn’t easy. But in the current environment, it has become the best option for many families. While 2020 might be one of the most challenging years in the modern era, homeschoolers have a lot to celebrate this year. So let’s throw ourselves a little party during International Homeschool Spirit Week, the last week of September—and be sure to mention to your neighbors why you are celebrating!
Leigh Bortins started Classical Conversations in 1997. The family-owned company is headquartered in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.classicalconversations.com.