Curiosity in homeschooling in Yakima Valley sees surge amid pandemic | EDUCATION

Interest in homeschooling in the Yakima Valley has increased amid the pandemic as families seek learning opportunities.

Local homeschooling networks are reporting an influx of requests from new families interested in their programs, following a national trend. They are also taking more and more calls from parents seeking advice on how best to deal with homeschooling.

A homeschool cooperative, Classical Conversations, which has multiple locations across the valley where students meet once a week for personal lessons during the school year, is launching a new website this fall in response to demand.

“The pandemic has forced us to add more communities to meet the need,” said Tyffany Fries, the organization’s southeast Yakima support officer, adding that the new launch this fall comes a year after another website launched and filled .

New families joined their programs at HomeLink in Yakima last year. Jim Paine, the program’s administrator, said that some families felt that their students were not making any progress with online learning, so decided to switch to the once or twice weekly co-op setting.

But they also saw that some families left their program without cooperative support in order to fully study at home. Paine says the reason is because HomeLink strictly followed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department of Health.

“The COVID pandemic is an interesting phenomenon because some families we had really didn’t want their children to wear masks so they looked for other options. And there were families who went to a public school and did not do well online, so took the option of home schooling and using HomeLink, ”he said.

The local reports come amid a nationwide surge in homeschooling. According to the US Census Bureau, the rate of households in the US with home-schooling increased to 11% in September, up from 5.4% six months earlier.

Triggered by pandemic fallout, homeschooling is increasing in the USA

The sharp rise is dramatic, but interest in homeschooling grew steadily even before the pandemic. For example, in Washington, there were 13,645 families homeschooling their children in the 2018/19 school year, compared to 11,393 two decades ago. That was nearly 22,000 children across the state.

The two fastest growing groups of homeschool students prior to the pandemic were Muslim students and students with special needs. Amid the pandemic, reports suggest that the population of black homeschoolers is growing dramatically.

Some families have switched to homeschooling out of frustration at the public school district’s response to the pandemic. Others switched after seeing gains in distance learning and realizing that they had other options.

Although traditional homeschooling has increased independently of public schools, some local counties have seen an increase in enrollment in their fully online programs, including the Toppenish and Yakima school districts.

It remains to be seen whether the increased demand for alternative forms of school will continue in the new school year. But last August, Yakima Classical Conversation Program saw a surge in interest as families received more information from local public schools about what the academic year might be like. With a school year approaching, Fries expects a similar trend.

Not all requests result in families participating in classic conversations – in part because the number of students in each class is limited to up to 64 students in K-6 and 12 students in each grade 7-12. Fries said that some families at a. I am interested in the timetable on how to teach at home alone and would like advice from families with experience.

HomeLink and the Christian Association of Parent Educators in Yakima (CAPE) also received more inquiries from families exploring their options.

HomeLink’s Paine said that not all families looking into the option end up pulling off that option, in large part because it often requires a stable income from one parent while the other stays at home to educate the children which not all families can do.

“It is economically difficult for some families because they need twice the income to survive,” he said.

The age of the children is also an important factor, he said.

“A lot of families feel very competent at home teaching their elementary school age children, but as they advance and the math gets more complicated, science uses more labs and some of these things are not familiar enough for parents to be completely comfortable with Use it to teach students at home, ”Paine said.

That’s often the case when families turn to programs like HomeLink, he said, which have counselors who can provide extra support and help to families.

The directors of the local homeschool program said that regardless of the outcome, they are happy to speak to families about their options.

“We’re there to encourage people and just help them do what’s best for their families,” said Fries. “There are so many homeschooling opportunities in Yakima. There is simply something for everyone who needs it. “


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