Number of NYC homeschooled students has more than doubled since COVID pandemic, data shows
Originally published by NYpost.com.
More New York City families are foregoing traditional public schools in favor of homeschooling, state data analyzed by The Post shows.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Big Apple homeschool students has more than doubled, to roughly 12,900 kids, according to the data.
The surge in city parents opting to homeschool coincides with a nationwide trend sparked by the pandemic — one that has continued even with the return of in-person classes.
“I like being engaged and involved in their lives,” said Julie Kvyatkovsky, a single mom of 9 year old twin daughters in Brooklyn, who shifted to homeschool after a disastrous foray into remote learning.
“It was so weird, so unstable, that I decided I was going to keep them home,” Kvyatkovsky told The Post.
“I sat them down and said, ‘Girls, we’re going to be doing something different — we’re going to be opening up our own school. I’m going to be the principal, the teacher, the gym teacher, the art teacher. Are you with me?’ ” she recalled telling her kids.
Kvyatkovsky turned her kitchen into a classroom, created homemade student IDs, and named their school — Home Sweet Homeschool.
She gave her daughters the option to return to public school, but they both decided to stick with the new medium at least for elementary grades.
The spike in homeschooling comes as New York City public schools have already lost tens of thousands of students during the pandemic. Some of those losses could be due to families moving out of the city, but experts explained why parents may also be looking for other schooling options.
“Parents go to homeschooling because something’s not working,” said John Edelson, the founder of Time4Learning, a popular online program that Kvyatkovsky uses with her children. “But that’s not why they stay.”
Edelson said parents got a “good look” at school curriculum and policy during the pandemic — and were “not impressed.”
He added: “This is a trend, not a blip.”
As recently as the 2018-19 school year, fewer than 5,300 New York City families were homeschooling, state data showed.
That began to grow amid COVID-prompted school closures and remote learning. And rather than slow down, the city saw the largest increase in pandemic-era homeschooling in 2020-21.
Close to 3,900 students moved to a home-based option at some point in the last school year, despite the public system resuming in-person classes.
Queens mom Carolina Brinkman will start homeschooling her fourth child this fall, as her oldest enters sixth grade.
Brinkman grew up in the New York City public schools, and as a high school student helped teach the younger classes. But rather than become a classroom teacher, she decided to pass along those lessons to her own kids at home.
“I almost never got to do science projects, because you have 30, 35 kids in the classroom,” she said. “My kids make up experiments. They’re learning how things react, they’re learning how to clean their messes.”
New York has some of the most stringent regulations for homeschooling, Brinkman explained.
A spokesperson for the New York State Education Department said those include written notice of intent to homeschool, usually in July — and other reporting requirements, like an individual homeschool instruction plan and quarterly reports to make sure students are on track.
Thomas Schmidt, senior counsel at the Home School Legal Defense Association, said that while homeschooling wasn’t as popular decades ago, many families who tried the option during the pandemic have decided to stick with it.
“Most people assumed if you were homeschooling in the ‘90s, late ‘80s, you were living in a log cabin,” Schmidt said.
“I think there is a significant number of families even though they began homeschooling because of this crisis, they found this really works,” he added. “They’re no longer making the decision to homeschool because of necessity — they’re really making that decision because this is what they want and believe what’s best for their kids.”
By NYPost author Cayla Bamberger.