Pre-pandemic, if someone had told you they were a homeschool parent, you may have thought of it as “weird” or “why would they do that?” Post-pandemic years later, homeschooling your kids has reached a new level of “normal” with more parents flocking toward the idea of teaching their kids at home.
Homeschooling Has Changed
Homeschooling began to rise from 10 to 11 percent in 2019, and then in 2020, it grew even more, according to Debbie Gerth, president of the nonprofit Ohio Homeschooling Parents.
“What we found was after 2020 and into last year, a lot of people were surprised on how much better education worked in homeschooling, so they stuck with it,” Gerth says.
And the numbers continue to climb. At first, the biggest setback was that parents were unsure whether they were certified to teach their kids at home or not. After being forced into it, they found that the individualized education worked better for their kids, and they could do it, too. They also found individualized curriculum is more helpful for their kids and they could get through to them quicker than in-person schooling.
“It is a true IEP plan (Individual Education Plan),” says Gerth. “There’s nothing better and more individual than homeschooling.”
The diversity of homeschooling has taken a positive turn as well, with more than 10 percent of homeschooling families being African American families, the fastest-growing demographic in the homeschooling population.
“It’s really cool to see that diversity coming in now,” she says.
Of course, there are downsides to everything. Before 2020, some cons were that people got thrown into it, confused and not sure where to begin, and now with countless opportunities for a curriculum, it can be overwhelming. In fact, there are at least more than 5,500 cataloged curriculum options to choose from. Luckily there are resources out there, such as ohp.org, to help you narrow it down and start from scratch.
Choosing your kids’ individual learning style can be another worry. There are seven basic learning styles of homeschooling to choose from including traditional classroom style (workbook and textbooks, one of the original homeschool styles); unschooling (a student-directed, interest-based education, learn by interest); Charlotte Mason (a lot of narratives, read alouds); and classical (study mostly very classical literature and involves a lot memorization); and more. It seems daunting at first, but being with your kid and being the parent, you quickly discover which learning style is best for your kid.
Why Parents Choose Homeschool
Parents these days are wanting to spend more time with their kids — especially with the uncertainty of a safe school environment and the health and safety of their kids.
“The number one reason that I found [why many families are choosing homeschooling] parents want to be able to have that time with their children and they’re learning that it is actually possible to teach them at home which is what they kind of learned during the pandemic,” says Sandra Kim, HSLDA media relations director.
Other big reasons include safety, the flexible schedule and ability to tailor a specific learning style to your kid.
“People have seen that this is a way of educating that has helped their kids to grow and flourish,’’ says Gerth. “That is why people have stuck with it. They spend more time with their family and they are closer to family.”
Families have also found that kids are learning not just to test anymore, they are learning for learning. And for kids with learning disabilities, individualized learning has been proven to be successful.
“If your child has had some learning differences at school, other research shows that children with learning differences do better at home because they are getting constant one-on-one time at home rather than one-on-one sometimes at school,” says Kim.
How it All Works
Some parents who are on the fence about homeschooling do the research and then back away from the follow through. But why? It can be a little intimidating and scary to take the leap, but once you do, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for you and your kids.
“Ohio is one of the more heavily regulated states when it comes to homeschooling,” assures Amy Buchmeyer, staff attorney at Ohio Homeschool Laws.
What qualifications do you need to teach your kids? A high school diploma or GED, or scores from a standardized test demonstrating high school equivalence, according to Buchmeyer. However, if you don’t have any of this, you may still homeschool under the direction of a person who holds a baccalaureate degree until your kids’ test results demonstrate reasonable proficiency. One more qualification you need is being a parent. Yep, that’s all.
In Ohio, the homeschooling age begins at age 6 until graduation (age 18).
Path to Homeschool
FIRST: Connect with other homeschool parents (Facebook is your go-to to find local homeschooling groups.)
SECOND: Submit a notice of intent (NOI) to homeschool to your local superintendent by the first day of school in your district (must include information, such as a brief outline of intended curriculum and a list of textbooks or other basic teaching materials.)
THIRD: Prepare to teach the required subjects, including reading, math and science.
NEXT: Provide at least 900 hours of home education per school year, remembering that everything counts. For example, a trip to the park or local library.
After submitting the NOI and assurance that you will meet these other requirements, you receive a letter from your superintendent excusing your student from compulsory school attendance for the school year, says Buchmeyer. How do you know which curriculum pattern to teach and how do you know if it’s the right one? This is all tailored around your kids’ learning style: do they do better with books? Or would they thrive more with the “unschooling” method where they get more play and explorative time? Every kid is different and you can choose which path is best for them.
With a little extra planning, you can even take advantage of free educational resources (public or college libraries, online, borrowed, etc.).
A Day In the Life
Every family is different. For homeschooling families – if you are wondering if you need to go about it a certain way – know that you can do it anyway that works for you and your family. If you work in the evenings, for example, try getting kids set with school in the morning or afternoon.
If you work in the mornings, get started before you leave and set the caretaker up with some instruction. When you return, wrap up the day in the evening. It’s completely up to you. No matter what, you will second guess yourself because you are a parent, and that is normal. Some days will be harder than others, you will make mistakes and you will adjust, says Gerth.
“I tell people just jump in and do it,” she continues. “It’s kind of like being a parent. It’s great to read up and to get grounded with the different styles and curriculum, meet people and join groups, but you don’t really know what it’s going to be like until you just do it; once you bring your kids home and actually start doing it, that’s when you start learning together as a family.”
What Homeschool Parents Say
Local homeschooling moms, Rachel Rhinehimer and Jenn Wulf, share about their different homeschooling experiences:
Q: Why did you choose to homeschool?
A: We felt strongly that God was leading us to homeschool for the preservation of the family. We didn’t want our kids introduced to hours of worldly influence without our guidance. – Rhinehimer
Q: How has homeschooling worked or not worked for your family?
A: Homeschooling definitely has pros and cons. We enjoy the extra time with our kids and getting to watch them learn. Some challenges for my kids have been staying focused on their school work. When you homeschool, you have to be self-motivated and that is challenging for some of my kids. – Wulf
Q: What is a homeschool day like?
A: We wake up, eat breakfast and log into their first class for the day. They have online classes, and lessons and assignments that they work through on their own. My older kids are able to work independently and I help them when needed. The kids take breaks for lunch and when they don’t have an online class to attend. – Wulf
Q: Do you have advice for other parents?
A: Don’t let the big picture of homeschooling intimidate you. You are capable of teaching your kids. Also don’t compare yourself to others; everyone’s homeschool day will look different. There is no set way to do it, and it doesn’t have to mimic a traditional school day. – Wulf
Q: Do you have a mentor who helped on your homeschool journey?
A: My mother. She homeschooled all 10 of us, and she is my go-to for advice. – Rhinehimer
Check out our favorite homeschooling resources to help you find what you need, even on a budget.
OHIO HOMESCHOOL LAWS; hslda.org/legal/ohio
OHIO HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS; ohiohomeschoolingparents.com
Largest and most diverse homeschool group in Ohio; a go-to guide to help get you started; groups, co-ops, playdates and more.
EASY PEASY ALL-IN-ONE HOMESCHOOL; allinonehomeschool.com
All-free, non-secular resource.
CHRISTIAN HOME EDUCATORS OF OHIO; cheohome.org
THE HOMESCHOOL MOM; thehomeschoolmom.com
Connect with the local homeschooling community; learn about Ohio homeschool requirements and more.
NATIONAL HOME EDUCATION RESEARCH; NHERI.org
Well-researched organization for homeschooled children.