Nationally, data suggests that even as classrooms reopened post-COVID, some students remained at home, with families opting to homeschool instead.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many American families turned to nontraditional options to educate their children, like co-ops, private schools, and homeschooling. According to experts, many of those families have kept their children out of public school systems and have instead continued homeschooling students, even as schools reopened post-pandemic.
A recent report from The74 on the topic opened:
It’s back-to-school time across America, but millions of families have stepped away from a traditional classroom. Instead, they have chosen to stick with homeschooling, an option that grew in popularity during COVID school closures and has remained above pre-pandemic levels ever since.
Homeschooling grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for populations of color that traditionally did not seek out the alternative form of education. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, Black homeschooling rose five-fold in 2020 and hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic numbers.
Homeschooling surged in 2020, with Black homeschooling numbers rising five-fold that year, according to the US Census Bureau. Their May 2023 Household Pulse Survey results showed that the homeschooling rate dipped from its pandemic peak but remains elevated at over 5% of the U.S. school-age population, or more than 3.5 million students.
Johns Hopkins University’s Angela Watson explained to The74 that homeschooling’s unwaning popularity is likely because of several factors, including “greater openness among today’s younger parents to nontraditional learning options,” partly because they grew up with homeschooling being more mainstream. Additionally, parents and students are more tech-savvy and adept at virtual learning, more easily adopting such practices than previous generations.
Growth among families of color, she thinks, in particular, is likely a response to growing networks of alternative education:
‘Minority families have begun to network as homeschoolers, something that white homeschoolers have done for decades. We think these grassroots support systems serve to expand homeschool participation in these populations.’
For others, families may choose to continue to homeschool post-pandemic due to “disappointment with the academic or social environment in local public schools and a lack of accessible private school options, as well as concern over curriculum, including what content is or is not covered.” According to The74, some parents say they are “simply disillusioned with standardized, one-size-fits-all schooling and want an alternative.”
The US Census Bureau has noted:
It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children.
In Maryland, homeschooling increased during COVID-19, like in much of the country. Some reports estimate a 53.6 percent increase during the pandemic. While most Maryland students have returned to school, under-enrollment remains a concern for several counties and what it may mean for school funding.