Parents shouldn’t be afraid to homeschool their children, says Sam Sorbo, actress, author, and homeschooling activist.
Schools across North Carolina are closed through May 15 to slow the spread of COVID-19. Millions of students were sent home. Parents were given the choice of either waiting for school districts to develop an online learning plan or to give homeschooling a shot.
Sorbo has teamed up with the Texas Home School Coalition to provide families with free digital home education resources. Coronavirushomeschooling.com provides parents with homeschooling tips and lesson plans so they can start teaching their children at home.
Sorbo, a mom of three, wasn’t satisfied with the public education her children were receiving. She decided homeschooling was the answer to providing her children with a more personalized and faith-driven education.
With schools across the country closing and pivoting to online learning, many parents now find themselves teachers.
“The entire nation is now comprised of predominantly accidental homeschoolers,” Sorbo said.
School districts, the Department of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education are working on online instruction. Some districts, such as Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, began remote learning this week, but for most Wake County schools online instruction will start April 13. Many Wake County schools will provide remote lessons in the morning and leave the afternoon for teachers to hold virtual office hours, the News & Observer reported.
Some parents may opt out of public school and teach their own children. For parents who find themselves suddenly in the role of teacher, the task can seem Herculean, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, Sorbo said.
“We doubt ourselves because the system has taught us to doubt our abilities, our ingenuity, and doubt ourselves as parents,” Sorbo said.
But parents are more capable than they realize, the homeschooling advocate says.
Don’t try and turn the home into a school, Sorbo said. Children don’t have to sit at a desk for seven hours. Instead, they can spend a few hours going through lesson plans and educational activities each day. Even if parents aren’t familiar with the coursework, they can take part in the educational journey alongside their children, Sorbo said.
Sorbo has made several videos on homeschooling available on her website.
Homeschooling might not work for every family, she said. If both parents are still working, then homeschooling is a major challenge. Some sort of community support could help working families.
The COVID-19 outbreak may not lead more families to educate their kids at home rather than in a traditional classroom. But Sorbo thinks more parents will conclude they can successfully homeschool their children even after the crisis has passed.
Enrollment in district schools is on the decline and homeschooling continues to grow, said Terry Stoops, vice president of research and director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
“If homeschoolers combined to form a school district, it would be the third-largest district in the state,” Stoops said.
Parents who decide to homeschool their children should become familiar with their state’s laws, Sorbo said. Coronavirushomeschool.com has a state-by-state list of rules and regulations governing homeschooling. For North Carolina, parents must have at least a high school diploma and file a letter of intent to homeschool their children.
North Carolina is relatively friendly to homeschooling, Stoops said.
“Most homeschoolers disapprove of government regulations and inspections,” Stoops said. “Bureaucrats and elected officials generally respect their wishes. As a result, it is not difficult to start and operate a home school in North Carolina.”
“I want to encourage parents to become more entrepreneurial about their children’s education,” Sorbo said. “By and large I’m seeing a lot of parents going, ‘You know this isn’t that difficult, and it’s a lot more rewarding than I ever dreamed.’”