EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – More parents in El Paso are looking into homeschooling instead of public school education for their children amid the pandemic.
Dan Vaughn is one of the parents choosing to homeschool his 4-year-old daughter who just started pre-k.
He and his wife planned to enroll her within the public school system, but they thought there were too many uncertainties for students staring school this semester.
“This is her first time to approach school and it didn’t seem like a good way to start her education,” said Vaughn, explaining he wanted her to think of school as a positive experience.
Vaughn says they were lucky enough to have flexible job schedules that allow them to homeschool, but he knows not all parents are in the same situation.
He says that many are faced with difficult decisions when students start face-to-face classes.
“For me, that’s a failure on the part of the system and how we treat people. We put them in these terrible situations where they’re forced to make his incredible decision. I have to make a decision between the health of my family, maybe even my own health, or my child’s education,” said Vaughn.
On the brighter side, Vaughn says homeschooling gave him the opportunity to bond with his daughter even more.
Vaughn says many parents are afraid of being their children’s teachers, but even with his three years of teaching experience, he says ” we teach our children every day,” encouraging parents to homeschool if they can.
“Yesterday we went out and picked up trash in the neighborhood. I want to teach my child civic responsibilities in connection with her neighborhood, her city, and people living around her,” said Vaughn, naming just one of the activities he included in his curriculum.
According to Vaughn, things like creating a schedule and a designated learning space for his daughter takes some adjusting, but it’s very rewarding for the parent and the child.
According to Associated Press, homeschooling applications increased 21 percent in Nebraska and 75 percent in Vermont this school year, but El Paso is also seeing a rise of interest.
Raquel Ruiz, president of the El Paso Homeschooling Association says they have seen an unusual increase of members this school year.
“Before, one to two families would join in a week. Now it’s five families a day. In March our group had around 300 members and now we’re about to reach 900 members,” said Ruiz explaining this increase never happened before the pandemic.
She says many parents are looking for advice, but she suggests if you want to do homeschooling for just one semester or until the pandemic wears off, it is better to stick with the online curriculum your school has provided.
“Homeschooling is a lifestyle change,” said Ruiz explaining this is a long-term commitment.
She says when deciding to home school several factors need to be considered.
A parent must be able to stay at home and understand that this decision may affect their financial situation.
Children will be home all day, which means parents will need to provide all three meals for their children.
Ruiz also adds that the most problematic part of homeschooling for parents is choosing the right curriculum.
El Paso Homeschool Association is one of many homeschool support groups that help parents decide which curriculum to pick.
Ruiz suggests finding something that will interest your child and yourself, since you will be the one to teach it every day.
She says sometimes parents choose a curriculum that doesn’t work out at first, but she adds this shouldn’t be discouraging. Changing the curriculum or trying out the lecture, later on, is always an option.
“Your home might get a little messy, your laundry might not get done, or the dinner might not get done right on time. Parents need to understand that might be a part of it,” said Ruiz offering encouragement for homeschooling parents or those helping their child with virtual classes.
She adds “if you need advice or you get stuck, join a homeschooling group for support and advice.”