With stories about schools in the news almost every day, it’s no surprise that homeschooling has become something we’re all more aware of now. What drives the sudden popularity of homeschool? Does everyone have the same reason for wanting to keep their kids at home, or is there more to the story? Certainly, homeschool has been increasing in popularity for at least the last decade and is more widely chosen by parents and guardians than ever before. There are several driving forces behind the phenomenon, not the least of which is the fact that more people know it’s an option today than a decade or two ago. However, some other pressing concerns have driven parents to home education. I’ll explain the most common motives and share the benefits for each one. Choosing homeschool is too often misunderstood, and as a former educator with two homeschooled children of my own, I’m happy to clear up some of the confusion.
Why has homeschooling become so popular? Homeschooling became popular in 2020 because of the global pandemic. However, before simply leaving the house could make you sick, parents still opted for homeschooling in increasing numbers each year for reasons of health, safety, and educational quality. For some parents, this is still the reason today, and avoiding pandemic exposure is simply a pleasant side effect of the choice they already made.
Why Everyone Should Consider Homeschooling in 2020 and Beyond
For many people, the sudden popularity of homeschool wasn’t the only major surprise of 2020. Despite decades of warnings from scientists and medical professionals, the probability of a global pandemic simply wasn’t something most people considered seriously. Doubtless, the idea that such alarming news is serious was too much for some; others never heard or dismissed the evidence. Still, others had to backburner plans to prepare because of personal or financial issues that took precedence while no such pandemic existed yet.
Now, almost a year later, a global pandemic has become a way of life for people (almost) everywhere. Yet schools remain open, and few places seem willing to take the extreme measures necessary to eradicate the spread of disease. Minimizing your children’s’ risk of contracting COVID is currently one of the biggest reasons homeschool has become so popular. It doesn’t take an expert to see how keeping kids at home prevents them from coming in contact with more germs.
As though one pandemic wasn’t enough, scientists and doctors are (still) warning people that a pandemic is near-inevitable. They are not talking about the pandemic we have, but rather the next pandemic. While biologists, immunologists, and other scientific and medical professionals are scrambling to stamp out outbreaks and treat patients, the people in those communities are also quick to point out that there have been at least thirty other viruses discovered in the last thirty years that can jump species like COVID 19.
According to MSN, doctors are still warning the public of further probable pandemics:
“The time between these outbreaks is getting shorter and shorter,” said Dr. Tracey McNamara, a professor of pathology at Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine.
And it’s becoming increasingly clear that these viruses aren’t just a threat to our health — they’re also a threat to the global economy.
“We are only able to sustain an outbreak maybe once every decade,” said Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance. “The rate we are going is not sustainable.”
What that means for children and education is that the current idea of taking people whose exposure levels are unknown and gathering them together in mandatory, physically attended groups like schools and classrooms is simply not a sustainable model for the future. The chances of these problems ‘going away,’ and life ‘going back to (pre-pandemic) normal’ are slim to none. Resultantly, every parent should be looking to the future, and homeschool is one practical solution for decreasing the spread of deadly germs.
Hopefully, we will have a vaccine for the current pandemic soon. With luck and a lot of hard work, humans’ ability to combat these pandemics will increase, and the time it takes to develop new vaccines will decrease drastically. However, the popularity of taking children out of the line of fire is unlikely to become lesser any time soon for this reason alone.
World Schoolers, Nomads, Military Families and More
Homeschool is the only practical solution for some families. Sadly, many weren’t even aware of the homeschool option until very recently. While worries of children’s safety are the biggest drive, awareness of the alternative is another massive motivator.
For those family units who travel, whether it is relocating for work, constant moving around, or a desire to go anywhere and school on a leisure traveling schedule, homeschool has always been a solid contender. Along with correspondence, and in the last couple of decades online schools, it makes more sense to bring the work with you than to be left behind. Separating families is stressful at best and can deeply impact grades and mental health. Meanwhile, the ability to go on an adventure, vacation, or merely relocate at a whim can easily become part of a healthy and versatile education.
Additionally, those families who prefer to have faith and culture-based curriculum included in their school have often opted for homeschool as well. The separation of church and state is a fine thing, but so is the right to educate your children in the manner you believe is best for them, and homeschool is the means to that end. Taking a pilgrimage to Mecca, learning a traditional skill at your grandmother’s knee, or speaking your indigenous language with your teacher are all good reasons for parents to desire home education. These things are not about separating a child from a ‘normal’ experience in school, but rather a chance to give them a deep and meaningful connection to their own people.
From playing African drums to speaking Creole French or reading in the languages your grandparents spoke, there are many enriching experiences you cannot have in a classroom. A few field trips cannot offer students the depth of immersion that visiting an ancestral home or spending half a year abroad to travel and bond with your family can give. School funding is limited, and teaching children about their cultures, or any culture for that matter, is extremely limited. Yet having these experiences can help students become well-rounded, extremely adaptable, and grounded adults.
Other Common Reasons For Homeschool Popularity
Not all families homeschool for ease, the pandemic, or philosophical, cultural, and religious reasons. The popularity of homeschool has always had other significant proponents as well. Chiefly among these are the need for health, special needs, and the desire to provide above-average quality education. Best of all, while it’s never the easiest job to be a teacher, the abundant resources and easy access to materials and assistance make homeschool a more attractive alternative than ever before.
While health and special needs speak for themselves, the failure of our educational system is a hotly debated topic. Regrettably, schools are failing their students for several reasons. First, the idea of a cookie-cutter education simply doesn’t fit ‘most’ students. Especially when customizable and more personally attentive options like homeschool exist, there’s no reason to enforce mediocrity on nearly all the school-aged children. Doing this doesn’t benefit the children, their families, or our society as a whole.
Political influence is a huge problem for schools as well. While the oversight is far less than you might expect overall, and schools are not particularly accountable to parents, students, or even their own employees, there is one group that all schools are beholden to if they want funding to continue. Politicians hold all the purse strings, which means kowtowing to whichever group has the loudest voice that year. Unhappily, few politicians are degreed educators, child psychologists, or in any way qualified to make educational decisions. Hence, they push the agenda that serves their own needs and pleases their constituents.
Finally, the lack of accountability goes much further. Schools are not given more funds, nor are they rebuked when the students they churn out en masse have sub-par or at best middling educations. The people running our schools are not at all personally responsible for wasted funds, failed efforts, or any other problem that may occur. Resultantly, they are not invested in the success of anyone within those schools.
It’s no surprise that homeschooled children consistently test higher, get better grades in college, and have less trouble succeeding in adult life. Altogether, there is no good reason not to homeschool any and every child under the current conditions.
homeschool used to be the norm, and a hundred years ago, it was the only option in many places. Things have changed, but more than ever before, families are going back to this popular system of educating children at home. Whether your reasons are health, safety, or simply providing the best possible education for your kids, all families should at least consider homeschool.
With increased popularity and awareness of the traditional school, alternatives come better social acceptance of the practice. Furthermore, with additional homeschool students, there are also more resources, social groups, and even tutors for parents and families. Supporting and participating with others is a great way to help every homeschool family grow.
Even options like correspondence and distance education are often better choices than underfunded and overcrowded public schools. Moreover, any home-based school is safer than even a private or religious school environment for germ prevention and avoiding bullying.