San Antonio – Some San Antonio families are saying no thank you to the districts who want children to return to the classroom next fall, while others are turning to traditional homeschooling as an option.
Tim Lambert, with the Texas Home School Coalition, said the organization’s website and email have been busy with parents turning to it for answers on how to get started with homeschooling or asking how it works.
“Home schools technically are private schools, and each family has their own school. They choose their own curriculum, their own hours, their own graduation requirement,” Lambert said.
No one in the state has hard numbers on how many children are homeschooled in Texas, but the coalition estimates there’s more than 350,000 and predicts that number will likely increase because of the pandemic.
The Texas Education Agency has information on its website for those interested in exploring that option.
Lambert says there are resources on the coalition’s website to help parents pick the appropriate curriculum for their families.
“If you choose a curriculum, or you choose an approach, and it’s just not working, don’t be afraid to change and try something else,” he said.
The costs associated with homeschooling depends on the family, Lambert said.
“You can spend as much money or as little money as you want to on homeschooling,” he said. “There are a lot of free resources online for families who want to homeschool and have limited resources. There are also approaches and curriculum suppliers that have, you know, a total package of all the curriculum you might need for one particular student.”
Lambert said families can plan on having a schedule and not expect to spend all day going through the materials.
“Especially if your kids are younger. You can spend an hour or two hours with them and accomplish all that they need to do,” he said.
There are also resources available for parents who need mentoring and support, he says.
As far as children connecting with other children, Lambert says before the pandemic time, students would have meetup groups. But during current times, kids can connect with friends via video conference, he said.
Lambert said first-time homeschool parents will need support, and that is available through social media groups and mentoring programs. He urges parents not to be afraid to try something new to help their kids.
“Anybody can do this if you have a heart to do it, and you will find that you will learn as much as your children,” Lambert said.
Parents can notify school districts of their intent to leave their district to homeschool. The number of families who have decided to leave their district this coming school year will not be available until school begins in the fall.
Northside ISD reports the following number of students who reported they would be homeschooling in recent years:
- 2019-2020 - 753; some of these student notifications were made after the spring COVID-19 closure.
- 2018-2019 - 735
- 2017-2018 - 400
At South San ISD, the number of students who turned to homeschooling was as follows:
- 2019-2020 - 51
- 2018-2019 - 40
- 2017-2018 - 40
- 2016-2017 - 60
- 2015-2016 - 53