As homeschooling becomes part of the fall routine for many parents , some have elected to commit full-time to the experience.
Homeschooling isn’t new for Kathleen St. Clair. She has been homeschooling in Owensboro for more than two decades and is now teaching her sixth and youngest child, 6th-grader Katie Jane St. Clair.
But this year, her small, informal group of homeschoolers jumped from about 15 families to at least 45.
“With this pandemic, people are asking, what are my options?” St. Clair said. “Every week I hear someone say, ‘I’m homeschooling.’ It’s pretty exciting.”
By summertime, St. Clair was hearing about “at least two or three new people” each week interested in joining her local homeschooling group.
There were 15 new faces by the time she met with other moms two months ago. Many of the parents had children that were attending Owensboro Catholic Schools, the public school system and Maximillian Montessori Academy.
Now a few weeks into the semester, school seems nearly normal for the St. Clair family. “We really have not been affected,” St. Clair said.
There have been little things.
Book orders take longer. St. Clair orders her teaching materials through Mother of Divine Grace in California. The national homeschooling system serves about 4,500 kids per year on average and jumped to 7,000 kids this year.
The state regulations prevented a few planned outings for the homeschooling group this summer, and they plan to do field trips with smaller sets of kids this fall. The students have continued communication on apps like GroupMe.
But there could be a significant, positive side. The new families brought new enthusiasm and interest to the homeschooling group — with one family even suggesting a woodworking class.
There are plenty of resources online to aid first-time homeschoolers, so St. Clair believes the transition is easier than ever for parents. Plus, it’s noncommittal.
“Any time a person homeschools, it can be a year-by-year decision,” St. Clair said. “They can go back to school if they choose. I’ll be interested to see who sticks it out.”