Interest In Homeschooling Spikes as Pandemic Disrupts Classrooms Nationwide

With distance learning starting for some public school districts in less than two weeks, interest in homeschooling is spiking. In the final installment in our three-part series, we take a look at the options parents are exploring.

It’s the ultimate DIY: taking your child's education into your own hands. Interest in home schooling is exploding across the Internet with many parents worried that distance learning will not be robust enough for their children this fall.

Sonoma mom and sports coach Belinda Halloran home schooled her four children for five years until last year when the twin boys wanted to experience recess. Now she's having to pivot again.

"I was coaching three schools at one time. I’ll probably only coach one and I’m just going to have to put my kids and my family first and get them through this period, because you know, we may be looking at another 12 months of this," she told KCBS Radio.

But taking over your child's entire education seems awfully daunting, which is why she's getting a flood of calls and texts asking for advice.

"The first thing they say was 'Oh I couldn’t do that' and I immediately say 'Yes you can.' I don’t necessarily believe you have to be a teacher. You have to have a love of learning. You have to want to do the journey with your child. You have to love education," she explains.

While most home schooling parents she knows also work a full-time job and there is curriculum available for parents to follow, make no mistake, it’s a commitment.

"This does take a lot of work for the parent who is the educator, who is delivering it. So you’re not just sitting around handing out a piece of paper saying, 'Here you go, do it.' You’ve got to do a lot of prep, you’ve got to do a lot of homework," she said.

There’s one obstacle that parents may not anticipate; other home school families may be slow to welcome them into their circles.

"They make new friends, they form attachments and then all of a sudden their new friends go straight back into the school system. And that’s hard on home schoolers who are in it for the long haul, to suddenly lose their friends who have decided to go back to school. It’s heartbreaking," Halloran explained. "So homeschoolers are very wary of new people."

That may be especially true in the coronavirus pandemic, with many families looking to make a temporary switch.

But for parents who can overcome those hurdles, "it’s incredibly rewarding," said Halloran. "It’s a job, it’s a journey that you’re doing with your child. And if you’re passionate about education and you’re passionate about your child’s upbringing, then it’s fantastic."

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