There are good reasons to expect that many American families who switched to homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic will stick with it, even as public and private schools reopen in the fall.
So says Steven Duvall, director of research at Home School Legal Defense Association.
He has been tracking the remarkable growth in homeschooling since early 2020, a trend that has been documented by many organizations that tally demographics—particularly the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
As Duvall points out in his latest paper, published in July of this year, families who reported having at least one homeschooled student peaked at 19.5 percent of all US households with school-age children.
That’s a sixfold increase over the 3.3 percent of families with school-age children who said they were homeschooling in 2017, a figure taken from a similar, pre-pandemic study during the same year.
Duvall admits it’s impossible to predict exactly how homeschooling will fare as the health crisis eases. Nevertheless, he cites several studies that offer insight into why parents choose home education in the first place—and why they might
be inclined to stay the course even as more options become available.
To begin with, 87 percent of parents in a recent survey said that health and safety remains a top concern for them when deciding how to school their children.
Duvall speculates that this may make some parents reluctant to send their children back to brick-and-mortar schools, given that officials are still debating COVID-19 protocols, including vaccination requirements.
Safe and Learning
Parents will also be faced with weighing the risk of their children experiencing bullying if they return to school. Duvall points out research showing that 20 percent of students reported being bullied either in school or while traveling to and from school,
a statistic that explains why many parents say they started homeschooling to remove their children from unsafe environments.
What their students are learning also matters greatly to parents.
Duvall recounts that in surveys conducted over the past two decades, parents have routinely mentioned objections to school curriculum as a prominent reason for homeschooling. He adds, “if recent stories about the level of dissatisfaction that parents
have toward curriculum materials are any indication, it could soon become the leading reason why parents choose to educate their children at home.”
For a closer look at the research behind Duvall’s insights on homeschooling, you can read his entire paper here.