Homeschooling families can be found all over the world, from Japan to Taiwan to Argentina to South Africa. Homeschooling is not a novel idea. In fact, the idea of sending children to spend most of their day away from home at a formal school is a relatively new custom.
Over the past two years, hundreds of millions of K to 12 age children, worldwide, were unexpectedly moved from brick-and-mortar classrooms and told to “school at home.” (NOTE: I’m trying to stop using the word “pandemic” in this space, but it’s difficult to attribute a huge portion of this mass movement of students to anything else but the worldwide COVID pandemic.) Some statistics indicate that, at the peak of this surge, nearly 1.3 billion kids were learning at home – some with no connection to their school or district and others directly connected via virtual learning arrangements with the school district.
As the 2021-22 school year started this past fall, some states were calling all students back to the classroom while other states continued to exercise caution and retain the virtual arrangements of the past two years. Either way, as the school year began, many parents were voicing a newly emerging dissatisfaction with their children’s public education experience, especially during the pandemic (there’s that word again!) Some numbers showed that parent’s “overall satisfaction with their child’s education” declined by 10 percent over the previous year. The same surveys indicated that the number of parents of K to 12 students who said they would choose “independent homeschooling” not connected to any school or district, increased in 2020 by 10 percent. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2021/12/30/looking-back-on-a-year-of-mass-homeschooling/?sh=2f6e962c25b2)
THE ACADEMIC “BOTTOM LINE”
It would be difficult to argue the fact that the pandemic has significantly transformed the educational system in the U.S. and abroad. As I’ve discussed before in this space, homeschooling is growing fast. And it’s happening bilaterally – across all educational forms and teaching models. The “new normal” has impacted homeschooling and all education systems across class, religious and racial lines.
Author Samuel D. James, writing on October 26, 2021, for the Christian online publication “World,” offered both positive and negative responses to the changes. “Millions of children have been, and will be, forced into online learning, which thus far has served mainly to stress parents, confuse students, and drive record-setting numbers of families into the homeschooling movement.” But, continued James, “the homeschooling moment is likely to keep on growing. A global disease may have been the catalyst, but the truth is that this educational transformation has been long coming.” (https://wng.org/opinions/samuel-james-on-homeschooling-1635246078)
ARE WE PREPARED FOR THE “MOMENT?”
One parent who attended a homeschooling convention near her home reported that “If homeschooling is enjoying ‘a moment,’ it’s time for curriculum providers to get up to speed.” She said that, of all the curriculum vendor booths she visited during the convention, “not one was selling a single computer programing course. I found a few books scattered through the rest of the vendor hall on those subjects, but they were few and far between.”
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the fastest growing industries in the U.S. include:
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services,
- Home health care services,
- Specialized design services,
- Data processing, hosting, related services, and other information services,
- Computer systems design and related services,
- Offices of health practitioners,
- Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services,
- Software publishers, and
- Scientific research and development services.
The study of core curriculum* subjects is crucial to a successful homeschool education. As a homeschool parent responsible for developing curriculum for your student, remember that it’s crucial to include education/development skills that adequately address the potential requirements of at least several of the “fastest growing industries” identified by the Department of Labor. Your hunt for appropriate curriculum packages or courses should include a thorough review of whether the vendor offers scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics-based (STEM) courses that can be taken either individually or as a full STEM** study package.
WHERE DOES HOMESCHOOLING GO FROM HERE?
Perhaps the best way to determine what the “new normal” looks like for homeschooling is to listen to others who have been in the trenches through this historic transition.
“In my view “the new normal” of homeschooling is more about parents taking ownership of educating their child. The current norm for many parents is that their responsibility is fulfilled by sending their child to school. I feel many parents believe teachers should shoulder most of the responsibility since they are getting paid to educate children.” (https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/04/14/new-normal-of-homeschooling)
“The rules have changed, perhaps forever. Ultimately, your family’s homeschooling progress will probably not look like a linear graph. Instead, your graph will contain upward trends followed by setbacks, and then upward movements again. As ever, it’s best to define homeschool success on your own terms.” (https://thewiredhomeschool.com/homeschooling-and-the-new-normal/ )
“Perhaps we should embrace the homeschooling revival of 2020. Home-based education has, after all, been the norm for nearly all of human history. And today, in a COVID-19 America, homeschooling offers families the flexibility that public schools do not.” (https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/homeschooling-the-new-normal-in-loudoun/ )
If you’re interested in learning more about the “homeschooling moment” in the U.S., related conferences and conventions have begun to move back to in-person events. For a listing of events in your area visit: https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/homeschool-conferences/ .
For help creating the perfect STEM-focused homeschool curriculum, check out Global Student Network at https://globalstudentnetwork.com// (New curriculum offerings now available!)
If you’re interested in enrolling your student in an accredited K to 12 school that has been working with homeschool parents since 2004, check out the International Virtual Learning Academy at https://internationalvla.com/ .
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*The U.S. Department of Education indicates that a “core course of study” to be completed to move on to the next educational level or to receive a high school diploma, should include English, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. These courses must be part of a student’s curriculum during each of the four years of high school.
**The Florida Department of Education defines a STEM education as the “intentional integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and their associated practices to create a student-centered learning environment in which students investigate and engineer solutions to problems, and construct evidence-based explanations of real world phenomena with a focus on a student’s social, emotional, physical, and academic needs through shared contributions of schools, families, and community partners.” (www.fldoe.org)