ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Many schools in the Big Country have made the decision to temporarily close their doors as students test positive for COVID-19 and other illnesses in the classrooms, sparking a renewed interest in home schooling.
“The reason we chose to home-school our children was because it gave us really an opportunity to spend more quality time,” said home-schooling parent Kerry Goff.
Many parents, like Goff, are joining in creating a learning environment for their kids in the comfort of their own homes.
“It’s almost exciting to not always be confined to one classroom and always that classroom, but you can branch out throughout the community. And for us it’s important my kids feel like they’re a part of the community,” said Goff.
According to Big Country Home Educators (BCHE), a nonprofit organization in Abilene, enrollment rates have exploded within the last year.
“There’s always been growth, probably the last five years, but you know, starting last year it was extreme growth,” said BCHE Executive Director Abby Longley.
Longley believes that right now one of parents’ main attractions for homeschooling is removing the uncertainty.
“Right now parents are just not sure from week to week, sometimes day to day, and that can be stressful on the family, stressful on the learning. If they pull them out, home school parents are able to better set their own schedule,” said Longley.
It could be part of a larger trend continuing this year, as early data from U.S. Census Bureau shows home-schooling in Texas nearly tripled last year, from 4.5% to 12.3%.
“There’s not one way to educate, and more and more families are exploring all the ways there are to educate,” said Longley.
The increase in home schooling hasn’t been big enough to affect Abilene ISD, as only 17 fewer students are enrolled in the district than last year.