How the Pandemic Has Launched Homeschooling Into the Mainstream
When I began privately tutoring as a fresh-faced 23-year-old in Los Angeles over 10 years ago, I had no idea that it would lead me down my current path. I thought to myself, this will be a great way for me to earn some extra money and stay on my toes academically as my original plan was to continue on to higher education.
However, as my clientele organically grew to include high-profile families, I started to notice a large discrepancy between passions and academic excellence. Students who already had budding careers as teenagers were forced to choose between school and work. Parents who wanted to travel were faced with the decision of leaving their children behind due to a strict school schedule. There was no reliable option for high-quality alternative schooling. With several years of private tutoring and homeschooling experience under my belt and a new partnership with the online private school Laurel Springs, I founded Novel Education Group in 2014. I had ONE client: Kylie Jenner. I had previously taught her and her older sister Kendall working under a different organization. However, Kendall graduated right before I started Novel. Kylie trusted me with her last year of high school, and from there, clients who were in search of efficient, reliable and flexible schooling began to trickle in. My team of tutors and I became experts on how to effectively implement a standardized school curriculum in a short 15 hours/week and create engaging lessons. As more families began to travel and make use of technology (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime), virtual schooling became a norm for not only us but a growing number of families. Little did I know how important of a role this method of learning would play in March 2020.
In the midst of the pandemic, we have faced waves of panicked parents looking for an alternative way of education but having no idea where to start. Some families are worried about busy work, some want to avoid getting other family members sick and some are concerned about the incomprehensible amount of time their student would have to spend wearing a mask. For one thing, it’s not natural to wear a mask, let alone for kids to wear masks. At home, there is no need for those barriers.
While the pandemic has certainly created more reasons for families to seek out homeschooling, one overall reason remains constant: wanting out of the traditional school system. Homeschooling is a way to elevate students’ learning experiences because it is more flexible, creative and adaptable for each student. Take our services for example. Instead of being in school for seven hours in a class with 20 other students and one teacher, our students are learning with their own teacher for only roughly three hours a day. After two Zoom meetings in a day, even adults feel fatigued. Multiply that by another two, add on lectures, busy work and technological distractions, and you get a recipe for an unhealthy, chaotic learning environment.
How the pandemic revealed the weaknesses of the classic American school infrastructure has become a hot topic for debate. It’s a system that depends entirely on children being together and in-person to function. I really believe the pandemic will create a long-lasting boost to this movement. Not only because these holes have become apparent, but also because it’s become more mainstream and socially acceptable to learn from home. Plus, there are still some families who aren’t comfortable getting a vaccine that hasn’t been rigorously tested yet. Overall, the homeschooling sector is diversifying, and it’s only going to continue to grow as families recognize the value in this truly authentic form of education.
Tiffany Sorya is the CEO and Founder of Novel Education Group.