Homeschool Predictions: 2022 and Beyond
By John Edelson, Founder and President of Time4Learning
It has been remarkable to witness the growth of homeschooling during the past two years. This growth can be largely attributed to the global pandemic, as millions of families were faced with the challenges of remote learning in Zoom-type classroom settings. As children struggled, many families migrated to homeschooling as a way to take control of where, when, and how their children learned.
Two years later, the movement is growing strong as the percentage of families homeschooling in the U.S. has tripled. Today, nearly 4 million children (K-12) are homeschooled in the U.S., according to recent data.
As we approach the New Year, I would like to offer my thoughts on the future of homeschooling with a few predictions for 2022, and beyond.
Families Who Began Homeschooling During the Pandemic will Continue
Many families experienced the numerous benefits of homeschooling for the first time in 2020-21, and to their surprise and relief, their kids flourished.
Most parents tried homeschooling in 2021 as a last resort when their children were struggling with remote learning and changing, unsettling environments in schools. They expected to homeschool only during the transitional period until the difficulty was over. In fact, I coined the term “accidental homeschoolers” a dozen years ago to describe these families. The term applies equally well to today’s families who switched during the pandemic.
My prediction is that most of the families who took the leap into homeschooling during the pandemic will continue to homeschool through 2022, and beyond, due to the broad quality-of-life benefits that come with homeschooling.
Will they homeschool forever? Not necessarily, lots of families these days homeschool for four to five years before switching back to school-based education. Time4Learning pioneered the use of a curriculum that closely mirrors what goes on in schools so it becomes easier for families to homeschool for a certain amount of time, and then head back into the school systems.
Homeschooling Goals & Motivations Will Shift
Personal goals and motivations for choosing homeschool will change. I also see many families considering homeschooling due to the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 on their local school districts, such as school closures, the stressful environment of constantly changing policies, and the declining quality of in-person instruction, which uses a “one-size-fits-all” approach to instruction.
Some school districts and states will mandate masks and vaccines, which will lead many parents to homeschool. In other states and districts, mask mandates will not go into effect, causing some families to homeschool.
Yet another group of families will leave their school districts because of a drastic reduction in the number of teachers, which will lower the quality of education. The staffing shortage in education is a huge challenge, forcing some schools to close certain days of the year, and diminishing the quality of education.
Homeschooling Benefits At Home and in the Conventional Classroom Will Become More Evident
As homeschooling continues to grow, the benefits of homeschooling techniques will become more widely known, discussed, and applied. One such benefit that comes to mind is the innovative self-pacing method of instruction used in high-quality homeschool curricula like Time4Learning. In any classroom, on any subject, about half the students find the pace of instruction to be frustratingly slow. Once students start using an online curriculum that allows them to proceed at their own pace, many will resist moving back to in-person instruction.
I also predict that those who do return to the classroom will bring homeschooling methodologies with them. Traditional classroom instruction will move towards an individually-paced, computer-based method, while the role of the teacher will evolve into that of a coach who helps find resources, identify and address personal challenges, and provide guidance for deeper study in areas of real interest.
Innovative Technology Will Drive Needed Changes in Education
Dramatically-improved digital educational systems will be game-changers. There are many reasons why I foresee this. One reason is that the pandemic made one-to-one computing and home high-speed access the norm and no longer the exception. This allows for schools to really rely on having a solid tech infrastructure which will vastly expand the market. Another set of reasons has to do with the massive increases in tech. There was a period when all the development in EdTech seemed to get spent on switching out of Flash, converting to the modern educational standards, and shifting to modern technology. In most cases, this is behind us and companies are investing enormously in better instruction coupled with much more effective steering of students to the materials best suited to them.
As a father of two, it has been thrilling to witness the rapid evolution of homeschooling during the past two decades. Homeschooling has moved into the mainstream. It will be equally thrilling to witness where it goes from here.