With swirling uncertainty around what the school year will look like, many Nova Scotia parents are considering taking their children’s learning home.
The Nova Scotia Home Education Association (NSHEA) says they’ve seen a 500 per cent increase in inquiries into homeschooling this year, which they say is a good thing.
“Homeschooling is a conscious choice that you plan for, and you research, and you tailor to your child’s needs,” said Leah Hemeon with the NSHEA.
“That’s the wonderful thing about homeschooling. It’s different for every single family because every child is different.”
Bernice Mosher of Lower Sackville, N.S., whose nine-year-old son Austin is just weeks away from the fourth grade, is one of those parents opting for home education.
For years Austin has been in the public school system, but come September, that will all change.
“We had a family discussion about it a couple of weeks ago,” said Mosher. “Austin’s terrified to go back to school. He doesn’t want to be in a crowd of people. He doesn’t even want to be in a grocery store right now, so it was kind of like OK, what’s best for him?”
The family has considered homeschooling since the pandemic began, but pulled the trigger after the province released its return-to-school plan back in July.
“You can’t put 60 kids on a school bus and expect them all to wear masks, or put them in a classroom and expect them to keep to themselves, constantly all the time. I mean, kids will be kids,” she said.
The influx in at-home learning interest has made for hectic times for homeschooling coaches like Kimberly Charron, who says the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
“In July when the province announced that the schools would be opening, that hour I had 20 inquiries about homeschooling right off the bat,” said Charron, who has homeschooled her children for 15 years.
“I have people contacting me once an hour, all through the day.”
The concerns parents are bringing forward, Charron says, include the safety precautions being put in place, overcrowding, as well as kids simply refusing to go back to school.
Even though parents got a taste of what it’s like to teach from home back in the spring, both Hemeon and Charron say homeschooling throughout the year is much different.
“What was thrust upon parents in March was not homeschooling, it was ‘here’s a package to do,’” said Charron. “When you’re homeschooling you’ll quickly find that you can cover in maybe a couple hours what you can in, maybe, a whole school day.”
“There are so many resources and supports out there that you can choose to homeschool however you want,” said Hemeon. “The inquiries are genuinely curious about what this looks like.”
Parent Bernice Mosher says she’s excited for the new challenge that lies ahead.
“Austin’s pretty happy about it, I’m pretty happy about it, and we’ll make it work.”