Millions of families chose homeschooling during pandemic

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Steve Jordahl (

desks in high school classroomHome-based education is surging in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic and now a longtime advocate for homeschooling says the positive feedback from parents is promising.

The China-born virus that shuttered Main Street stores and shut down assembly lines more than a year ago also meant students fled their classrooms, too, leaving tens of millions of parents scrambling for a solution amid the uncertainty.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, households using home-based education jumped from 5.4% in the spring of 2020 to 11.1% when  households answered the same survey in the fall. 

NPR, reporting on the homeschooling jump, said families with school-age children participated in the federal agency's Household Pulse Survey, an online survey.

The survey’s findings can be read here on the Census Bureau website.

Mike Donnelly of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association tells One News Now the number of homeschooled children in the U.S. is now hovering at approximately six million. HSLDA is hearing from many of them, he says, and is hearing positive comments. 


“Homeschooling can be very challenging but it also can be very rewarding,” he advises. “And what we've found is that parents are enjoying their time with their children.”

When the pandemic sent families inside their homes last year, it forced many parents to not only adjust to working from home but also arranging for their children to continue their education. Many parents attempted to cooperate with their schools to set up “distance-based” learning, which meant students listening to a teacher in front of a computer screen, but many parents began searching online for their own English, math, and science curriculums only to likely be surprised at the choices. Facebook groups dedicated to homeschooling also witnessed new parents join and ask questions about Abeka, Saxon Math, BJU, and Khan Academy.  

According to Donnelly, those rookie parents who have reviewed the curriculum choices available are learning what many homeschooling parents have already know: There are numerous options and the parent, ultimately, gets to guide the education.

“It allows parents to have more influence and contact with their kids, help guide them in ways that they think are best,” he says.

Polls found pleased parents 

In a commentary published at Forbes last December, homeschooling advocate Kerry McDonald said polling surveys conducted last year showed homeschooling was growing and that parents, still new to the concept, liked it. She pointed to an April 2020 survey by EdChoice that found more than half of parents said they happy with homeschooling.

“I remember thinking at the time that if families thought homeschooling was tolerable during the springtime tumult and isolation,” McDonald wrote, “then they would find it far more fulfilling under ordinary circumstances when they could actually gather with others, visit libraries and museums, attend classes and so on.”

In fact, the appeal for many homeschooling families is the day-to-day flexibility opposed to an eight-hour school day in school building.

black homeschooling mom and childMcDonald also points out that an online survey in May, conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, found 40% of parents said they would continue homeschooling when the lockdowns ended. A similar USA Today/Ipsos poll found the number of satisfied parents was 60 percent.

Regarding the Census Bureau survey, Donnelly points out the data collected in the survey also showed a jump in homeschooling among black and Hispanic families. Black families jumped from 3.3% to a whopping 16.4%, and Hispanic families responding to the survey showed a jump from 6.2% to 12.1%.

The survey also broke down its findings by large metropolitan areas and found, for example, that Boston-area families jumped from a barely-measurable .9% in the spring of 2020 to 8.9% by the fall.

The famously far-left San Francisco area jumped 4.8% to 10% during the same time period.


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