There’s been an explosion in the popularity of homeschooling over the last two years. Here’s why, and how you can get started with homeschooling
American life has changed a lot in the last two years since COVID-19 quarantines began. Two of the biggest changes are the number of Americans who now work remotely, and the number of families homeschooling. The move toward homeschooling is a response to COVID-19 as well as dissatisfaction with the public school system. In the spring of 2021, The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a survey of American households with school-age children. The survey found that 5.4% were homeschooling. This meant twice as many people were homeschooling compared to before the pandemic. When the survey was repeated just six months later in the fall of 2021, the number of homeschoolers jumped to 11.1%. 
This change is seen across all racial and ethnic lines, with the largest increase among Black households.
Schools all over the country closed for the last three months of the 2020 school year, leaving families scrambling to find childcare. When classes resumed in the fall, repeated closings and pandemic policy changes created frustration. Disagreements about mask-wearing, social distancing, and participation in school sports caused conflict, adding to the stress families were already experiencing. Those with pre-existing health conditions had safety concerns about sending their children back to school. Families with special needs students also found it difficult to follow mask-wearing and distancing rules.
The U.S. Census also found that a large number of mothers left the workforce due to the pandemic. A survey from January 2021 found that 1.4 million mothers of school-age children had dropped out of the workforce compared to the previous year.  This means that more moms are staying home and educating their children themselves.
While the media reports this as a negative thing and a sign of gender inequality, I would argue that this trend is an unintended positive effect of school closures and quarantines. Many women are discovering that they enjoy being home with their children. They’ve found that they don’t make that much money once they account for the high cost of childcare, a second vehicle, work wardrobe, buying lunch every day, and other costs of both parents working. Suddenly, outsourcing motherhood to low-skilled daycare workers doesn’t seem as appealing.
Many Americans assume that homeschooling is a new trend, an experiment brought on by the pandemic. The truth is that public education is actually the experiment. Public school has only been the social norm for about a century and the pandemic has highlighted its failures. Academic achievement in public schools has not improved no matter how much taxpayer funding they get. Issues like bullying, the teaching of critical race theory, liberal bias, and school violence persist. We know there must be a better way, but many parents are still unsure that homeschooling is the answer.
One of the most common concerns I hear is that parents feel they would not be good teachers. Don’t worry! Homeschooling is just an extension of parenting in general. You’re already a teacher. You taught your little ones to use a fork, wash their hands, and tie their shoes. You’ve explained why it is dark at night and light during the day. You already answer the question “why?” dozens of times per day. Homeschooling is no different. Plus, you have all the help you could ever need thanks to the internet.
There are endless options for finding homeschool curriculum. This is great news because parents can tailor the curriculum to the strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles of each child. Homeschooling is completely customizable. Online one-on-one tutoring is affordable and accessible if you get stuck on a specific subject. You can find group zoom classes on everything from music to computer programming. You can incorporate a Christian curriculum with secular sources. You can try specific methods like Charlotte Mason or un-schooling. Take your time trying out different resources and curriculum. One great benefit to homeschooling is that you can do it at your own pace and on your own schedule, so don’t feel rushed! Your children will not be failures if you take a few months of trial and error to find what works, and it’s fine to adjust along the way.
If I were to give new homeschooling parents one piece of advice, keep it simple! You don’t have to do everything perfectly, and you don’t have to get it all right on the first try. Your children are getting much more concentrated learning and individual attention at home. Think about how many of the 7 hours of a typical public school day are spent learning. Probably half or less. If you get in 2-3 hours per day of meaningful learning, you will be surprised at how fast your child progresses. The most important part is to make learning enjoyable so that it becomes a lifelong interest. You must have some degree of structure and organization, but it does not have to look like public school. Indeed, it shouldn’t! A more relaxed, low-stress approach will be more effective.
What about patience? Are you worried you will go crazy being home with the kids all day? Do you imagine temper tantrums or stubborn teens who don’t want to do their schoolwork? The beauty of homeschooling is that you do NOT have to be stuck in the house all day doing worksheets or staring at a screen. If a more hands-on approach sounds better, take lots of field trips. Start a gardening project and learn the valuable skill of growing your own food. You’ll be having too much fun to notice you’ve learned about climate zones, soil pH, food chains, and photosynthesis. See if you can schedule a tour of an automotive shop with your sons who love cars. Take a cooking class with your daughters. Most of life’s most valuable lessons are learned in person. Not everything has to be a worksheet!
Also, think about how much time and effort you spend dealing with public schools- especially if you have multiple kids. You still have to get them to do their homework. Then there’s the mad rush to school every morning if you manage to drag them out of bed. They got to bed too late after the basketball game and two hours of homework. You have to leave work because one of them is sick. Then you have to leave work again because one of them fell in a puddle at recess and they need new pants. Then there are the endless fundraisers, weekly newsletters, communication apps, and parent-teacher conferences. Homeschooling adjusts to life’s demands, which I found to be one of the biggest benefits. YOU control the schedule instead of the schedule controlling you.
What if you get stuck? If you have a child who hates math, make math lessons a little more frequent, but shorter. This will limit frustration. Try different methods and programs to see if one is better than another. Consider hiring a tutor once a week for that subject only. Talk to your child and listen to their feedback on what is bothering them, especially with middle school age and older kids. At this point, it’s okay to specialize more. If you discover your daughter is not a math person, there’s no need to push her into advanced calculus. If she shows great promise as a writer, she can focus more on that. With younger kids, it’s a matter of having structure and routine in place. Make sure the expectations are clear so they know how they can win.
I often hear people say that homeschooled children won’t be well socialized. This is the easiest fear to dispel. In most states, homeschooled kids can still take part in public school sports and extra-curricular activities such as band. They can also attend their local vocational school or tech center when they reach high school. They could join church youth groups or community sports. Enroll them in gymnastics or swimming classes. There are also more local homeschool groups and meetups now than ever. As I write this, the Homeschooling group on Gab.com has 81.2K members! There are also homeschool co-op groups that meet in most areas now as well. Homeschooling is not about sheltering your kids and hiding them from the world. It’s about giving them better tools to live in the world than they would get from public school.
What about college? How can you prepare your children for college? Many homeschool sites have guides and assessments for making sure your high schooler is ready for college. Both Ron Paul Homeschooling and Khan Academy have in-depth resources, tips, advice, and tools for this. You can also consult a local college or university in your area. They are often helpful in this regard. Just make sure you start this process by about grade 10 to make sure you have plenty of time in case there are areas where your child needs more attention. I am a huge fan of vocational schools. My oldest child is now a young adult with a great career learned at a trade school and has no college debt!
There’s another unexpected benefit to homeschoolers from the pandemic. Many companies have switched to remote work, and this trend will grow and become permanent. Homeschoolers will enter the workforce already familiar with tools, programs, and processes used in remote work. They won’t have to go through the same awkward adjustments as others who have only experienced in-person schooling.
Last, become familiar with the homeschooling laws in your state. Some have certain requirements that others do not about requirements and reporting. You should be able to find this information on your state’s department of education website.
Remember that if you try homeschooling, it’s a chance to fill in the gaps that most of us experienced in our public school education. I’ve never met anyone who wished they had learned more Pythagorean theory and less basic personal finance in school! Homeschooling should not be an attempt to replicate the public school experience at home. Rather, it is a golden opportunity to give your children the best possible preparation to succeed in life in the real world. You only get one chance to raise your children. It’s time you never get back, so enjoy it, and make it count.
Links to Homeschooling resources mentioned above:
Kahn Academy www.khanacademy.org
Charlotte Mason curriculum simplycharlottemason.com
Information on Unschooling method: unschoolers.org
Ron Paul Curriculum: RonPaulCurriculum.com
Khan Academy College Test Prep: https://www.khanacadmey.org/test-prep
Curriculum Guide: https://www.homeschool.com/articles/how-to-choose-homeschool-curriculum/
Rachel Wilson is an Orthodox Christian wife and mother of five children. She is a homeschooling advocate who lives in the rural Midwest. When she is not attending to her duties to her family and church, she enjoys fitness, cooking, researching history and studying philosophy and religion. Rachel is a licensed firearms instructor who specializes in home defense and concealed carry Instruction. She is the author of Occult Feminism: The Secret History of Women’s Liberation, which examines the ideological and historical roots of Feminism and their opposition to Christianity.