Most public school children in the U.S. have been schooled-at-home for the last three months of the 2019-2020 school year. Parents, many of whom are working at home full time, have been re-assigned as temporary teachers. Schools have been scrambling to re-vamp their curriculum to quickly become a more “blended” schoolroom model. Some schools have gone completely virtual with teachers conducting classes entirely online. Others have adapted by arranging homework pickup and drop-off programs while posting assignments and teacher talks online.
Much to the alarm of some public schools, as the new school year fast approaches, a surprising number of parents are opting to not send their children back to the brick-and-mortar classroom and will, at least until the Coronavirus pandemic ends, opt for continued home schooling.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic could change education forever.” (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-homeschooling-technology-oecd/)
“Around the world,” notes OECD, “schools in over 100 countries are closed to protect against the spread of coronavirus, affecting the education of nearly 1 billion children. For the lucky ones, homeschooling [took] the place of the classroom.”
Before the pandemic changed the face of public education, just a small percentage of children were taught at home. “In the United States, an estimated 1.7 million children were homeschooled out of a national school population of 56.6 million. “Today,” says WEF, “things look very different. Around the world, schools are using [online] platforms as well as conferencing apps… to deliver lessons for their pupils.” And all of these services are being administered to students in their homes.
AN INTERNATIONAL APPROACH
In countries around the world, K-12 education has morphed into an expansive experiment in blended learning that often includes utilizing new educational technology coupled with study-at-home approaches.
In the UK, virtual gym classes are delivered by a fitness instructor and have proved to be extremely popular (https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/pe-with-joe-1254.html).
In France, ““Ma classe à la maison” (my classroom at home),” can be accessed via laptop or smartphone as well as other remote devices. The curriculum provides four weeks of courses with what OECD describes as “Confirmed pedagogical content.”
In Japan, some private companies offer free online courses through a government digital platform in which students and parents can choose what they want the student to study
Karen Chegwidden, from the New South Wales Home Education Association reports that many parents are “seriously considering homeschooling or more flexible learning options post-coronavirus. “We’re getting all the usual enquiries, but alongside that we’re getting enquiries from people who are thinking they might want to do it for a bit longer.” (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-11/coronavirus-education-homeschool-after-pandemic/12228762)
POST PANDEMIC HOME SCHOOLING IN THE U.S.
The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) noted in an article written at the beginnings of public recognition of the Coronavirus as a pandemic (February 28, 2020) that “interest in online learning options is sure to increase as the coronavirus spreads, but other in-person schooling alternatives are also likely to gain notoriety.” Kevin Carey of the New America think tank spoke to the New York Times saying that the coronavirus in the U.S. “could lead to a vast unplanned experiment in mass home-schooling.” (https://fee.org/articles/coronavirus-may-lead-to-mass-homeschooling/)
The trend towards keeping kids at home and continuing home schooling this fall has been significant enough that some school districts in states that require a formal withdrawal from public school, and who have already laid off staff in light of existing school closures, are having a hard time processing required paperwork because they simply do not have enough people to cover the workload.
In some cases, it’s reported that school districts attempt to talk parents out of going the homeschooling route. “There’s two main reasons,” says the OECD. “School officials are fearful of losing too many students to homeschooling, and the second reason is perhaps a staffing issue to process these withdrawals. [It’s] not always an issue of trying to stop parents from homeschooling.”
The problem is, of course, financially based. Public school districts are funded based on the number of students enrolled in their system. School districts lose funding when parents choose to homeschool their children. The Philadelphia Tribune (May 21, 2020) reported that “Many school districts are asking for more money after being forced to go virtual. The School District of Philadelphia is facing a $38 million shortfall for the next academic year, which it fears will grow to $1 billion over the next five years.” (https://www.phillytrib.com/new/health/coronavirus/school-district-issues-call-to-action-for-public-education-funding/article__06db0d2c-01d4-50d9-9d72-bab9cb03214d.html)
THE FUTURE OF HOME SCHOOLING
EdChoice, a school choice advocacy organization, co-sponsored a survey of American parents of K to 12 students. Because many more American parents are engaged in at-home schooling with their children since the onset of the pandemic, the survey asked, “How have your opinions on homeschooling changed as a result of the coronavirus?”
52% of parents surveyed reported their opinion of homeschooling was either “much more” or “somewhat more” favorable. 22% of those surveyed responded that they had no opinion. Only 8% reported their opinion was “much less favorable.” (https://www.edchoice.org/engage/polling-american-k-12-school-parents-about-covid-19/)
Homeschool curricula for all grade levels can be found online. Options range from large corporations providing educational programming to smaller groups with a person-to-person focus. Global Student Network (https://globalstudentnetwork.com/), with over fifteen (15) years’ experience in providing home school curricula both in the U.S. and abroad, provides a personalized approach to K to 12 home school needs. GSN offers a self-paced learning model that meets all national education standards. For more information and assistance in moving your student to home schooling, contact: 1-866-446-9963.
SCHOOLS SEEKING MORE OPTIONS TO OFFER TO FAMILIES
With a growing number of families looking to remain at home, school districts are scouting for options that allow students to remain enrolled in their district but participate in distance learning other than school at home. GSN partners with schools to make this possible. From setting up the “backend” of student-directed online learning to training teachers how to track and report progress, GSN provides schools of all sizes with the online educational components necessary for building a program families are looking for. Schools find GSN affordable, user-friendly, and a key to online learning success for their students. With only a five student minimum and anytime-enrollment, GSN is a solution that works. If your school needs this option, contact a GSN customer support specialist today.