SAN ANTONIO – As students get ready to go back to school, many students in the San Antonio area are getting ready for homeschool.
There are about 750,000 homeschoolers in Texas, according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition and that number has increased drastically in the past year.
Whether it was because of the pandemic or more families deciding to keep their children at home, the number of families choosing to go the homeschool route increased in the past year.
KSAT spoke with a nonprofit in San Antonio that provides resources and guides families through the homeschool process. It’s called Family Educators Alliance of South Texas, or FEAST.
Rose Faubush, a resource specialist for FEAST said that there are laws under the umbrella of homeschooling that some families have trouble understanding or are not sure about so that’s where FEAST steps in. She said they are there to help them understand those rules and regulations.
Faubush said they have had about a 300% increase in the number of families interested in homeschooling this last year.
”While I’m on the phone talking on the phone with one parent giving them information, two or three calls are coming in and when we’re calling them back, emails are coming in. We’re getting people walking in asking for information, and it’s been busy,” Faubush said.
She said the biggest misconception about homeschooling is that there is a difference between public school at home and homeschooling.
In public school at home, the students are using a program that is tied to public school, students have to take the STAR test, and they have to follow the Texas education agency curriculum while having to follow a public school schedule. She said you also have teachers teaching the subjects and keeping track of the grades. With homeschooling, the parents get to choose the curriculum and the scheduling, parents are responsible for record keeping and keeping up with grades, as well as documentation for transcripts and a diploma.
How do parents teach high level subjects like physics or chemistry without a background in those subjects?
One of the biggest concerns some parents have when it comes to deciding whether or not to go the homeschool route is if they can actually teach some of the tough subjects.
Faubush said parents are always asking how they are going to teach high school physics and chemistry. She said parents are concerned about teaching at that level and don’t know how to do some of those subjects without having a lab.
Faubush said FEAST can provide you with the right resources to help you when it comes to tough subjects, especially at the high school level.
”There are so many things out there to help you when it comes to, ‘I’m not sure how to teach this part’,” Faubush said. “One of those is ‘co-ops’. My son had a fabulous co-op teacher. A co-op teacher is basically a tutor, and he met with her once a week, he and a small group of kids. She facilitated that learning, gave them work to do the rest of the week and he flourished with that.”
Faubush explains that when you homeschool, you are in charge of choosing the curriculum. So you can make adjustments to fit your family and child’s needs. She also said you end up becoming a learning facilitator for your child as they go through the process, so you also learn. She says since parents are the teachers for their children when it comes to homeschool you also have to decide this is my child’s future -- how much am I willing to put into the work.
How do homeschool students stay social?
In Texas, students who are enrolled in homeschool are considered private school students. Just like students in private schools have options for extracurricular activities and sports so do homeschoolers.
Faubush said parents can pick and choose between all of the social interactions or athletics your child participates in. She said it’s one of the first questions parents ask: how can I keep my child social?
”Kids get that are in homeschooling get it through clubs, athletics, there are drama clubs. Kids put on productions,” Faubush said. “So you find your niche and there are a lot of abilities for social interaction.”
There is also athletics for homeschool students. Starting in middle school through FEAST, homeschool students are able to compete in athletics like baseball, softball, volleyball, football, track, cross-country. She said they are also getting golf and swimming going. There are many resources through FEAST or the Texas Homeschool Coalition that provide social opportunities like field trips, group tutoring and other social outlets.
How do parents get their homeschool students ready for college?
FEAST also provides workshops that get students ready for life after high school.
“We have a consultation, it’s a workshop ‘high school planning and beyond’, and we tell parents ‘set them up either for starting a small business (where their strengths are) trade school, military, or college,” Faubush said.
Students who are homeschooled are considered a private school. So when they graduate, because the parents are the ones who are responsible for the homeschooling, the parents are the ones who give them the diploma that they’ve earned along with transcripts. By law, colleges in Texas have to treat homeschoolers the way they would any student graduating from public or private school, so the transcripts are accepted by area colleges.
Faubush said a homeschool diploma has just as much weight as a public school or private school diploma. The nonprofit does offer services for when students have completed high school, and they offer notarization services for those diplomas and transcripts.