Homeschooling in Western New York: some districts report minor increases for fall 2021 school year

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 07, 2021

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — Jina, who asked we not use her last name, of Amherst, started homeschooling her oldest of four children about three years ago, pre-pandemic. She said she is seeing a growing number of families in her circle frustrated by COVID restrictions in public school.

“The goalpost kept being moved. So, at what point is enough enough for parents and their families when they realize this isn’t getting any better?” she asked.

National homeschooling data shows it doubled between the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 school years.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, an estimated 4.5 to 5.0 million grade school students in the U.S. were homeschooled during March of 2021. That’s roughly 8% to 9% of school-age children. That’s up significantly from the spring of 2019 when an estimated 2.5 million, or 3% of school-aged children were homeschooled. Frustration and fear of catching the virus likely chief among the reasons why parents are opting to keep kids home.

It’s still too early to say whether the 2021-2022 school year will see the same trend.

Districts like Hamburg and Niagara Falls are seeing a slight increase in the number of families choosing to homeschool.

Hamburg reported 12 additional families plan to home school this year. Niagara Falls school officials said nearly 40 more parents have decided to homeschool this year.

“It’s going to be a very interesting year for everyone educationally,” said home school advocate, Dan DiFrancesco.

DiFrancesco is the western New York regional representative for the Statewide Homeschool New York organization. It is both an advocacy and support group for home school families.

“I think a lot of them have found that it was very beneficial for their family,” he said when asked whether he believes more families will choose to homeschool again this year.

Homeschool children must have 180 days of instruction throughout the course of the year including weekends, nights, and during the summer. The hours of instruction per school year vary based on a child’s grade level.

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