MISSOURI – Across Missouri, public school enrollment fell by more than 28,000 students this fall from the 2019-20 school year.
The state saw a 3.2% drop between public preschool and grade 12. This follows annual rate cuts of less than 1% since 2007.
While the reason for the overall decline is unclear, many parents have opted to homeschool this year to keep their children and families safe.
Local mother of two Natashia Hamlet gave her children the option of home schooling or continuing to public school when the pandemic began. They both chose homeschooling.
“I gave them a choice and that’s what they wanted to do… My daughter didn’t really like the restrictions they had right now; she doesn’t do well with an allergic mask, so she wanted to homeschool. My son hesitated, it took him a few weeks to make up his mind because he is very sociable. But he was worried about having to quarantine and have to take breaks from his studies and catch up, so he figured that at some point he was going to have to quarantine himself so he could as well do well. home school. ”
During unprecedented times, Hamlet says that having the certainty of homeschooling is heartwarming.
“I always recommend it to people. I think it sounds very scary, but with so much uncertainty right now, it’s wonderful to have a stable environment for my kids. Every day we know what our routine is, ”Hamlet said. “Everything that is going on with Covid is not going to break our home school routine and it’s very heartwarming for me… And it’s good for the kids – I think they need it. ”
Hamlet says there are an “overwhelming number” of resources for homeschooling, including a Joplin homeschool group on Facebook and the Homeschoolers’ Network (HSN), which they participate in once a week.
“I really like it, it’s a lot easier than I thought. Again there are a lot of resources and a lot of help out there… I think people don’t realize you can still do homeschool and have the program online which makes it right a little easier, ”she said.
The online program includes scoring, tracking and testing, making it easier for parents to get schooled.
“My son is gifted so this is something that I have considered doing with him before and it has been really easy. We’re doing an online program for him and he’ll get up before me and finish the majority of his work before I even get out of bed, ”Hamlet said. “So for him it’s been really good and he’s progressing really fast. He can test things or he can just move on when he gets it, so it’s been really beneficial for him.
Their school days include two hours of basic work, exercise, art and more.
“I also recommend people to reach out… There are so many house student co-ops in the area. And I think there is a misconception that kids don’t have the opportunity to socialize if you are homeschooling. With the co-ops, and so many places in Joplin have really opened up their businesses to offer homeschool days… Honestly, I think my kids are having more social interactions right now than a lot of kids out there. ‘school, just because they are able to go out every day, be active and meet other children, ”Hamlet said.
“I think that [misconception] holds people back. And by joining a group like HSN, they can still have a grade with their classmates and continue to do fun activities with other kids.
Hamlet recommends trying home schooling to any interested parent.
“I’m just trying to share my experience and it’s very positive, I really like it,” she said.
For more information on home schooling, visit Joplin Public Library Resources.