Taste of home schooling generating new interest among parents - InfoNews

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Taste of home schooling generating new interest among parents

With Alberta schools closed Joel Reid, eleven, and his siblings have started home schooling in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
April 04, 2020 - 1:00 PM

Selena Valencia is on the fence when it comes to home-schooling her children.

The mother from Olds, Alta., has her three youngest in the Catholic school system but the oldest, her 17-year-old son, is taught at home.

Many parents are in uncharted territory with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are getting a taste of having their children learn outside a school context.

The lure of home-schooling next fall is beginning to grow for some parents like Valencia.

She was thinking of having her three younger children stay at home during what could be problematic junior and senior high years. Now, she says, the pandemic may move up that decision.

Another mother in the same community, Andrea Reid, says schools are providing assignments and some online learning. But her four kids miss going to class.

"My kids are used to being in a classroom with teachers directing them all the time," she says.

She and her husband both work, so home-schooling would be a challenge. But that could change, she says.

"We'll see how it goes for the rest of the year here. Who knows right now what's actually happening?"

Carlo Ricci, an education professor at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont., is also a volunteer liaison for the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents, a provincial home-schooling support and advocacy group.

"Are more people inquiring and researching and asking about home-schooling and that kind of thing? Absolutely."

He says anxiety many parents are feeling isn't a surprise, since the next few months are an unknown. But learning from home won't put students behind, he says.

"If they're doing this temporarily, it's just a short period of time and nobody's going to get left behind, because everybody's in the same boat."

Alyson Schafer, a Toronto-based family therapist and author, says home-schooling has been on the uptick because parents are getting more vocal and upset with the current educational model.

Now, she, says, they're also concerned about their children being with others in schools in case another wave of COVID-19 should strike.

"These things are all factors that add up to parents building a case for wanting to take matters into their own hands and home-school."

Schafer says anxiety over their kids' education is likely to die down, but the home-schooling experience could initiate changes, including a combination of online learning and shorter class times.

Paul Byrne, principal of the Centre for Learning at Home, which has 2,200 students in Alberta, says home-schooling has received a bad rap over the years but it is becoming more mainstream.

His phone started ringing constantly after provinces started shuttering schools because of the pandemic, he says.

"We are noticing a significant increase in inquiries for the next school year. I'd be surprised if we didn't have an increase," Byrne says.

"It depends on how long this goes on and how comfortable the parents are going to be at the end of August — if they feel the coronavirus has been conquered or if it's still lingering around with the possibility of another outbreak."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2020

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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