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Parents are Finding That They Enjoy This Taste of Homeschooling

Kerry McDonald, Senior Education Fellow
Foundation for Economic Education

More than 50 million US students have been away from school and learning at home for the past two months as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the country. Despite the social distancing, isolation, and uncertainty that all of us are experiencing, and that is understandably taking a toll on mental health, a surprising number of parents are finding that they enjoy this taste of homeschooling and want to continue even after the pandemic.

Several new studies reveal mounting interest in homeschooling. EdChoice surveyed several hundred families on a variety of pandemic-related questions, and more than half of the respondents had a more favorable view of homeschooling as a result of this unusual experience. Similarly, Corey DeAngelis, Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation, conducted an informal internet survey of over 1,000 parents and discovered that 15 percent of them planned to homeschool post-pandemic. Finally, a recent survey of more than 2,000 parents conducted by RealClear Opinion Research found that 40 percent of them plan to either homeschool or choose virtual schooling after lockdowns end.

Although pandemic homeschooling is nothing like the real thing, with young people now separated from their community and often doing school-at-home, the fact that more parents are at least open to exploring homeschooling and other schooling alternatives is a positive sign. Put back in charge of their children’s education, and perhaps getting a closer look at the curriculum and dynamics of their children’s schooling for the first time, some parents are deciding that they can do things better.

It’s likely some of this shift toward homeschooling will be temporary. Parents may have lingering fears about the virus even when schools reopen, or they may not want their children to have to wear a mask or face shield all day. Parents may find staggered attendance schedules and other social distancing measures, such as no cafeteria use or gym class, to be frustrating. For these parents, homeschooling will be a short-term plan. But as more parents opt-out of standard schooling for their kids, along with a more permanent shift toward teleworking post-pandemic, it is very likely that homeschooling numbers will grow and other schooling alternatives, such as virtual learning options and low-cost microschools, will become increasingly popular.

It is also likely that as more parents exit standard schooling, there will be more calls for government regulation and oversight. We need to remain vigilant in protecting and expanding parental choice in education, including continuing to push back on the disinformation campaign against homeschooling being launched by some academics.

I’d highly recommend taking a peek at this short video on homeschooling released this week by John Stossel. It suggests that more parents are seriously considering homeschooling their kids going forward.

Click to See Video

Finally, John Stossel recently joined economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan for an engaging, two-part conversation on their popular Words & Numbers podcast, produced weekly by FEE. Check it out!

Until next time,

Kerry McDonald, Senior Education Fellow
Foundation for Economic Education

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