K-12 schools in Kansas have lost more than 10,000 students since the beginning of the pandemic, and homeschooling registrations have more than tripled during that period. Parents, concerned with issues such as safety, curriculum, regulations, and declining student achievement, are pulling their children out of public schools and taking on the responsibility and challenge of educating them.
Sandra Kim is the Communication Director of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA):
“Home school numbers are surging nationwide in recent years. Registrations have tripled for black students, doubled for Hispanics, nearly doubled for Asians.”
Home schools are classified by the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) as Non-Accredited Private Schools (NAPS). Tate Toedman is Assistant Director for Special Education and Title Services with KSDE:
“The current number of registered active Non-Accredited Private Schools (NAPS) is just over 46,000. It changes daily. This number is the number of schools and not students. This number would include what people normally consider homeschools. The numbers of NAPS have been trending upward since the pandemic:”
End of 2018– approximately 34,600 active non-accredited private schools
End of 2019– approximately 36,100 active non-accredited private schools
End of 2020—approximately 41,500 active non-accredited private schools
End of 2021—approximately 44,000 active non-accredited private schools
Compulsory attendance laws apply, and hours of instruction must be substantially equivalent to public schools, currently 186 days, at least six hours per day.
The Sentinel asked Emily Lickey with Classical Conversations to connect us with some homeschool families in Kansas to hear why they choose to homeschool.
“We are so grateful in our country, we have the freedom to choose what is best for our children. Our kids were getting bored in school, and after asking for more challenges, they only got more of the same. Child #3 found the classroom overstimulating. Bringing the children home has allowed them to learn at their pace, to work together better, improved their relationships, and broaden their interests. The culture and depth of their education has exploded at home.”
Former Elementary School Teacher:
“1. We believe faith should be a core part of, and a main driver for, the education of our children in all aspects of schooling. The Creator of this world must not be disconnected from learning about the world He created.
- Teaching right from wrong without a foundation of objective truth, which we find in the Bible, is ultimately fruitless. We believe that raising our children and teaching them to develop strong moral character is a critical role as parents, and that is difficult to do when the majority of their daily life is spent away from home and in the care of people and institutions that do not share our core beliefs.
- As a former public school teacher, I saw firsthand how kids fall through the cracks. I don’t believe this is the fault of the teachers. Rather, with such large class sizes, a wide range of levels of skill/abilities, and insufficient support, it seems like an impossible feat.
- Increased numbers of school shootings in recent years made us wary of sending our children there or continuing employment in a school.
- The COVID-19 pandemic was also a factor in my decision to stop teaching and only pushed us toward homeschooling more quickly.”
Former High School Counselor:
“There was a time in my life that I was determined that I would never homeschool my children; I was quite career-driven and did not think that being home with my children 24/7 was the path for me.
“The year 2020 opened my eyes to what the public school system was becoming for my children. Learning to read and write was no longer the main focus. Learning to accept, condone and celebrate radical ideas that were counter to our Christian faith seemed to have taken center stage in the classrooms. I have worked in the public school system for over 10 years, and each year, I continued to see the steady decline toward depravity.
“God prompted me into taking up homeschooling through the Classical Conversations curriculum in mid-2020, and while my youngest was just 3 at the time, she learned a lot simply by being in the vicinity of where the lessons were being taught. She shocked her grandparents with how much knowledge she had acquired! Today, at 5 years of age, she can read simple books, spell, knows how to skip count until 13 fluently, recognize multiple sight words, and connect a lot of scientific, historical, and geographical information to her little world.
“I enjoy having the girls learning their academic skills in the Christ-centered environment that homeschooling through Christian Classical Conversations provides. Jesus Christ is the center of our lives and we want them to learn the importance of having Him at the focal point of their lives. I have also noticed that what they know for their age is about two grades above what their public school peers are expected to know. In homeschooling, there is a lot less transition time, a lot more focused lesson time, a lot more needed play and creative time, a lot of flexibility for varied skills levels, and a lot more opportunity for the children to explore the world around them, making it their giant classroom, all to the glory of God in Christ Jesus!”
“To those considering homeschooling or wondering “Why?”
“As a family who proudly declared we would never homeschool, our oldest only attended one year at public school before we realized it was not a good fit for our family. Educating a child is so much more than teaching children to read and how to solve 3n+2=17. When we homeschool, we prioritize family and each individual child. We have the opportunity to build on their strengths but also encourage them through their weaknesses. School should not be a one size fits all. Socialization should not only be with peers who are the same age. We meet the child where they are each day and press forward. Our children are learning to make their own daily schedules with independent accountability.
“Our current government-funded system has children spending the majority of an eight-hour day seated to learn. When we look at statistics we learn that:
-Boys earn 70% of D’s and F’s and fewer than half the A’s.
-Boys account for 2/3 of learning disability diagnoses.
-Boys represent 90% of discipline referrals.
-Boys dominate brain-related learning disorders such as ADD/ADHD, with MILLIONS now medicated in schools
-80% of high school dropouts are male.
-Males make up fewer than 40% of college students.
“As a mom of boys, these statistics are staggering. I want so much more for my boys than labels and for them to feel defeated and less than their counterparts. In addition to having these eight hours a day completely planned and executed for them, it is not uncommon for these same children to go home to participate in various extracurricular activities that completely book their evenings and weekends. Our society is keeping children so busy they no longer know how to self-entertain or sit with their own thoughts. When we consider the lack of “free play” with natural consequences, we realize there is a direct correlation between that and the rapid decline in our children’s mental health.
“Homeschooling has come a long way in the recent years, yet we seem to be doing that by going back to our roots in the education system. The classical method of education actually dates back to how many of our ancestors learned. (Think William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, etc) For those concerned about socialization, the number of activities our children can participate in nowadays is endless. While homeschooling, our children have the opportunity to connect with children and adults in various walks of life, opening up the socialization opportunities even further.
“While we realize every family situation is unique, we also feel that shows the value of why every educational plan should be unique to each child. As parents, we know our children best-so why are we not the most qualified to make that educational plan for them?”
“Coming from a public school background, I never imagined I would be a stay at home mom, let alone a homeschool mom. Our journey from public school to homeschool was full of a lot heart change (in all of the best ways) but looking back on it now, I cannot imagine anything different for our family. We enjoyed public school and my children were doing well. Switching to homeschool was less about running from something but instead moving TOWARDS something. Staying home has been incredible for our family. My children LOVE to learn and teaching them is far more satisfying for me intellectually than working full time ever was. Our days are not rushed and all three of my kids are closer than they have ever been before. Through the support of Classical Conversations, I am confident that my children are receiving the best education that I can possibly give them and they have made amazing friends that they get to see at our weekly community day. When I sit down and think about the things I am grateful for, having the privilege to homeschool my children is one of the things at the top of my list.”