During the pandemic, American families turned to homeschooling their children and, in record numbers. Now that schools have fully reopened and dropped their mask mandates, many parents have sent their children back into school buildings but many have decided to stick with homeschooling.

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According to AP News, “the number of homeschooling students increased by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell by only 17% in the 2021-2022 school year.” What does this mean? This means that of the 63 percent of families who turned to homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year, 46 percent have decided to continue homeschooling even though schools have fully reopened.

My husband and I are part of the homeschooling statistic. Thankfully, we had a group of incredible individuals who were willing to walk us through the necessary steps to begin homeschooling, many of them former and current teachers. We also opted to join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association which has been a godsend. We’re wrapping up our second year of homeschooling and can’t wait to start year three.

I reached out to Dr. Steven F. Duvall at the HSLDA for information on how many households switched over to homeschooling during the pandemic. While he is still working on the numbers for spring of 2022, Dr. Duvall, who has been following the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, revealed that 1.2 percent of households were homeschooling in New York in February of 2020 which is pre-pandemic. By late spring 2021, 16.8 percent of households were homeschooling, a percentage higher than any other state.

Many have a misconception that homeschooling is as simple as sticking a child in front of a screen and letting the screen do the work. In reality, homeschooling is a 24/7 all-in experience. Making dinner together turns into math class as ingredients are measured. Going on a weekend hike becomes science class as different types of flora are discovered and researched. All of these everyday life activities are turned into teachable moments above and beyond actual study work.

The law requires all homeschool families to maintain a portfolio which must include a detailed log of all educational activities for each child as well as samples of school. The portfolio and samples may be reviewed at any time by officials and so they must be carefully maintained on a daily basis. Additionally, students are required to receive an end-of-year assessment from a certified teacher who signs an affidavit which must be notarized for the school district that the child has successfully completed the grade in which they were just taught. And, just as kids who attend regular schools, homeschooled children also are required to be tested.

If done right, homeschooling can and will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do and you will be setting up your child for a bright future. There are quite a few questions people have about homeschooling and I thought I would share them with you in case you’re considering going down this path.

Do Parents Get Paid To Homeschool in New York?

No. You may be able to receive some reimbursement for educational supplies and such at the end of the year though and you can learn more about that here.

Is Homeschooling Easy?

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated but there are a strict set of rules that must be followed depending on which state you live in. New York and Pennsylvania are among the states with the most restrictive homeschool laws.

How Many Hours Are Required for Homeschooling in New York?

In New York, any student in grades 1 through 6 must log 900 hours of schooling each year. Any student in grades 7 through 12 must log 990 hours of schooling each year.

When Does a Kid Have To Start School in New York?

Any child who is between the ages of six and sixteen is legally required to attend school in the state of New York.

Can Homeschool Parents Just Pick What They Want To Teach?

While there is a little bit of wiggle room, education laws in the state of New York require that homeschoolers receive an education that is “substantially equivalent” to the education a child would receive in a public school.

Do Parents Have To Get Permission To Homeschool?

No. If you have a child who is already in school, you can withdraw them anytime you want and you do not have to get permission from the school to start homeschooling.  There are forms that you will be required to fill out and you will have to send a letter of intent to homeschool to your school district. You can learn about that here.

Want To Homeschool My Child Where Do I Start?

Starting the homeschooling process can be SO scary because there are so many questions and loads of things to make sure that you get right. The very first thing you should do is research homeschool laws in your state. Then, research some more. There are loads of amazing websites filled with homeschooling resources including Homeschool.com.

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