Do you remember 2019? It seems like it may have been a hundred years ago that we were living “normal” lives. The United States economy was humming along, homeschooling was growing at a slow but steady pace.

Now, public schools, churches, and restaurants have been closed for almost a year in many areas of the country, but something amazing is happening: parents are waking up to what’s happening in US public schools. In fact, this awakening is shining the bright light of public scrutiny into classrooms around the world.

It’s a “silver lining” of the pandemic.

Silver lining

The closure of our public schools has highlighted several things that have needed attention for decades. Modern parents’ “drop them off and let the professionals teach them” mentality has created a dependence on an education system that has become increasingly hostile toward the traditional Judeo-Christian values many parents hold dear. In fact, a significant number of schools have discouraged parents from participating in the education of their children. Activist teachers, school administrators, and even teachers’ unions have—in the absence of parental involvement—become involved in the sexual, political, and spiritual indoctrination of students.

In recent months, thanks to school closures, families have learned that there are teachers who do not want parents to listen in on virtual classes. We’ve seen for ourselves that political bias is very much a part of classroom instruction—starting in kindergarten. In Los Angeles, the teachers’ unions are refusing to go back into the classroom until the city defunds the police.

And we thought education was about the 3 R’s.

Turns out, education is not neutral. For many parents, these startling discoveries have prompted them to try homeschooling. And they are learning something wonderful: they can educate their own children! No more wasted time, no more wondering what is being taught. COVID-19 has presented us with an unparalleled opportunity to take back control of our children’s education.

Let’s not waste it.

A familiar feeling

I have spoken with hundreds of new homeschooling families since April. My husband and I, as the founders of the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center in Vancouver, Washington, are privileged to help hundreds of families make the leap to homeschooling. In late 2019, we had roughly 200 families. Right now, we have over 700. Most of these families have started their homeschooling journey, not by choice, but because they felt they had no other options.

I remember feeling this way 24 years ago when my husband and I withdrew our oldest daughter, Savannah, from 2nd grade at a public school outside of Canby, Oregon. As young parents, we had just begun to see the negative impact that “socialization” was having on our child. She seemed more attached to the kids at school than to her siblings, which made sense, given the sheer amount of time school was taking each day. I estimated she was gone about 10 hours each day. Precious time that someone else was getting with my daughter.

At the same time, we had been introduced to a few families who had taken what we thought was a radical approach to raising their kids—homeschooling! The more we saw, the more intrigued we became.

When Savannah was getting off the bus around 4:30 p.m. every day, these kids were pursuing their interests and real-life learning—like practicing music, building a fort, helping their mom prepare dinner, or just playing and exploring outside.

They had been done with school for hours, while my daughter was coming home with homework. Homeschooling seemed to offer these children the chance to enjoy learning, and as I compared schedules, I could see why.

Homeschooling began to look like freedom. We wanted more time to be together as a family, and we wanted to consistently disciple the hearts and minds of our children rather than give that responsibility to someone we barely knew.

We withdrew Savannah in the spring, terrified but eager to try homeschooling for ourselves. We were running toward what we saw to be an opportunity to change the trajectory of our family. More freedom. More life. An opportunity to be the main influencers in the lives of our kids.

It was the hardest decision we ever made—and it has resulted in more blessing than we ever imagined. Homeschooling was the beginning of a generational transformation in our family. We are grandparents now—and Savannah, the daughter we pulled out of public school so long ago, is homeschooling our grandkids. 

Freedom for all

This spring, the fifth of our seven children will graduate from our homeschool. Our grown kids have become entrepreneurs, college students, pastors, and parents themselves. Homeschooling has been one of the best things to ever happen to our family. This is what new homeschooling parents need to hear from those of us at the other end of the journey: homeschooling holds so much promise, but it’s easy to miss when you feel overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

It’s important to remember that today, parents are not running to something, like we did 24 years ago. Rather, they are running from something—an educational system that is morally and academically bankrupt. They’re running from mask mandates and plexiglass classrooms. They’re running from the systemic indoctrination of their children—but in the midst of it all, they’ve been given an incredible gift. The opportunity to try homeschooling.

Veteran homeschoolers also have a unique opportunity: to show new homeschoolers that they can run to something wonderful, rather than just run from something that’s frustrating and unpredictable. It’s time to open our hearts and our homes to these new homeschoolers.

If you’re a veteran homeschooler, consider mentoring and reassuring a newbie that all will be well. Consider sharing your homeschool story—being transparent about the ups and downs. It’s important to be real about the joys and the struggles of homeschooling: in the end, the struggles are worth it. They really are!

It is my prayer that these “pandemic schoolers” will find that homeschooling and pandemic schooling are not the same thing. I pray that they will discover the freedom and opportunity of homeschooling and that, like my husband and me, these parents will never send their kids back to public school.

Let’s shine the light of freedom into education for a new generation of children and embrace this opportunity for the gift that it is. Good things are coming!