Stories from New Homeschoolers: Schools Are Open Again. Now What?

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As life is slowly returning to normal after Covid-19 upheaval, it’s natural to start thinking ahead to the next school year. We asked families who chose to homeschool in 2020 because of the pandemic about their plans for educating their kids for the coming 2021-2022 school year. We asked:

  • Have you already decided to keep homeschooling or are you still on the fence about sending kids back to public school?
  • Is the choice a hard one or an easy one?
  • What factors are you weighing as you choose?

As we expected, there were some families who are eager to send their kids back to public school or private school. Homeschooling wasn't easy for them, and their children are longing to go back to school.

Plenty of others remain undecided in late April and early May about the fall.

But the vast majority of moms who answered our questions report truly enjoying homeschool to the extent that they want to continue on even when they don't have to because of Covid-19! The pandemic opened the door to an option many of them have never seriously considered. But now with nearly a full school year under their belts, these families have wholeheartedly embraced the lifestyle of home education and plan to stay the course for the next school year.

Here's a peek into their thoughts and experiences.

Families with a Mix of Homeschool and Other Choices

"Kid 1 will go back to public high school. For her mental health, and the sake of normalcy and continuing to work her plan. Kid 2 will stay home, as always. That was always the plan plus Covid-related immune issues. He’ll go to public school eventually, but it’s not time yet." —Jen M. P.

"Kid 1 has been in private high school all year. Kid 2 will join him, as was the plan all along. Kid 3 will be home. Kid 4 is severely/profoundly disabled and will likely return to public school because of his significant needs, assuming Covid is somewhat under control." —Kara P. S.

Homeschooling Works for Us! We're Staying the Course

We will homeschool next year. By God's grace, this year has been very successful in every way. Thank the good Lord!! —Pam S.

"We’ve decided to homeschool again next year. It wasn’t a hard decision for us, since this year had gone well and there’s a good chance that public school will not be quite back to normal yet in the fall. We discovered that homeschool allows us to help our kids manage their learning differences better than in public school. God willing, we hope to homeschool through high school." —Cindy L. F.

"Homeschooling again, for sure! Almost can't imagine sending my kids to school everyday again. (And they were in a great Christian day school!). I love the lifestyle, the pace, the freedom, the relationships being built….and on and on." —Ingrid S.

"I started as a COVID homeschooler. Prior to COVID, I wasn't aware that homeschooling could be done by parents who worked outside the home. Now, after this first year, I am dedicated to homeschool my children for as long as they will tolerate it! Our lives are forever changed by the ability to homeschool, and made so much richer by the curriculum that Sonlight has provided. There has been a lot of darkness associated with this past year, but Sonlight has been exactly that, our sunlight!" —Marcy L.

"We are absolutely homeschooling again next year! This lifestyle change has been fantastic for our family. My son is thriving in school again. My daughter had a fantastic kindergarten year. We have been able to enjoy activities outside our home like karate, swimming, and horseback riding that we didn’t have time for while in public school. My kids are happier than they’ve ever been and even though homeschooling is a lot of work for me, I know it’s what’s best and is also less stress for me. I know my kids are safe, learning, and happy!" —Rachel B.

Stories from New Homeschoolers: The Life Lessons We've Learned

"We were in public school prior to COVID, and fell into homeschooling suddenly this year. My husband and I both work outside the home and didn’t know how easy homeschooling could fit into our lives. What a blessing Sonlight has been for us! It has been hands down the best year my son (who is gifted and has ADHD) has ever had academically. We plan to finish his next four high school years with Sonlight and feel more positive about his future than ever before!" —Tara M.

"I am 99% sure we are homeschooling again next year after beginning last year due to Covid. The amazing books we have read together have been a highlight of the year. I also feel so much less stressed, which seems odd, I know, considering I could spend most of my days with my kids at school if I wanted, but we are all enjoying the slower pace of life, the mornings where we can take time to make a hot breakfast, snuggle on the couch next to a fireplace with good books, and be done by early afternoon with enough time for my four boys to go outside and play and explore. —Audrey A.

"For us it was an easy decision to continue to use Sonlight next year. My kids have learned so much this year and gained confidence in areas that they started to hate and now love. We have grown as a family and I have learned along side each kid. While the pandemic led us to this path, I know the Lord had this in our future. It feels like we are following what God wants for our family." —Kayla M. D.

"We are absolutely going to stick with it! My child has learned more and grown so much more than ever expected! In school. She was always struggling. Always in the office. Now, she is LEARNING! Socially, I thought there would be a concern but actually, play dates and individual time with friends has helped her to be more sensitive to people. We have more time for fitness and learning household responsibilities. A lot more pros than cons. It had been a great experience for us and I was the world's most skeptical mom. I interviewed upwards of 10 homeschool families. So happy with our choice." —Jodi H.

Homeschooling Again, But with Some Reservations

"We started homeschooling last year because of the mask mandate. We have decided to keep homeschooling. My daughter will be going into 2nd grade and my son will start kindergarten. Very excited and anxious because I have not started a child from the ground up. My daughter got her reading basics in public school kindergarten. It’s an easy decision for us but still kind of bittersweet because my son will never experience “school” the traditional way. For some reason I’m feeling guilty about that." —Erica E. W.

"We began homeschooling last year but had been entertaining the idea before the pandemic. Our children are thriving academically and so we plan to continue on. I’m learning so much alongside my children that I am really looking forward to next year. It was a difficult decision because my children miss their school, however we really believe this is the best decision for our family. We considered that one of our children is above grade level and one slightly below. Neither was served well at school. Once more in person activities are available, they will be able to make friends. It is also much less stressful to be on our own schedule and health-wise, my children are finally getting the sleep that they need. The will be safe, well rested and academically challenged at home." —Tracy N. A.

For sure we will homeschool next year and the next. We already bought our curriculum. My son is so happy with Sonlight. One of his friends from school just asked him if he wanted to come back to school and he answered so quickly, 'No. No, I am not coming back. I love to study at home!!'" —Jenny S.

5 Keys to Help You & Your Spouse Decide to Homeschool

We're Are Sending Our Kids Back to Public School

"This was an agonizingly difficult choice. My husband and I prayed through all of Lent and decided to send our kids back to school in the fall. I am homeschooling my 2nd and 5th grade sons this year, and we were considering pulling our rising 9th grader for next year. But we have decided at this time it is better for them to go back. We will be utilizing many Sonlight resources next year and in the years to come to supplement their public school education. We are so thankful for this year I have had at home with our sons." —Amy O. R.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to homeschool during a pandemic. 2020 was our first and last year homeschooling. We have 3 ninth graders and 2 sixth graders. For next year I've applied all five kids to a private Christian school that stayed open the entire school year. Kids were public school educated prior to this year. While I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time, it has been miserable for us. God is sovereign, and I'm eager to see what He accomplishes in our family through this. It was an easy decision, but will be a huge financial hit. Factors that contributed were my and my one son's mental well being as well as the other kids' academic needs. All thrive on competition that was lacking among the siblings."— Kelli C.

"Seems like I will be in the minority here, but this was our first year homeschooling and while I loved, loved, loved Sonlight, we struggled and so (for the sake of our relationships) we are sending the kids to a charter school. I feel like a failure but every single day ended up in yelling and tears from both parties. Wish it had been different." —Melissa W. G.

"CoraJane will not be able to return to in person school until she is vaccinated, hopefully 2022. She will return, not because we don’t like homeschooling. We actually love it. It’s just the best thing for her. We will always be super thankful that Sonlight was available to us. She has learned so much and I believe will be a much stronger student going forward whenever she returns." —Angela G. S.

Teaching History from Multiple Perspectives for 30 Years

We're Still Trying to Decide

"I am deeply conflicted about what to do next year with my soon-to-be kindergartener. Her father and I always imagined seeing her go to her first day of school—toting a tiny backpack full of supplies—to a brick-and-mortar classroom full of potential friends (just like her two much bigger sisters did). However, we loved the literature-based, Sonlight PreK curriculum we used this last year. Uncle Wiggly, Milly Molly Mandy, and that naughty Brer Rabbit will be characters we love and remember for years to come! While discovering many more fabulous Sonlight books and characters is a great temptation, I lament over the solitude of homeschooling and am horrified at the thought of teaching a child to read! We’ve already begun trying a phonics reading program and it is so challenging! The debate for school next year continues…" —Amy D.

"I'm a COVID homeschooler. So hard to decide. I like homeschooling: the academics, the flexible time, the bonding, the Bible time, and the values I teach him through the curriculum. But my son is the only child at home, and he is very active and sociable. I doubt co-op is enough for him, even if we feel safe for him to go. So we haven't bought the curriculum, and I'm preparing for both scenarios as we monitor the COVID situation." —Queenie C.

"We are Covid homeschoolers, but all in all loved this year. We hope to return to school in the fall (mostly for socializing) but we won’t if the numbers are still concerning😬. We learned this year that we can do this successfully and enjoyed it as a family. We would definitely consider it in the future if we aren’t getting what we need from public schools. We are also going to continue with some things either way: bible lessons at home regularly and history." —Martha R.

We're Homeschooling at Least One More Year

"We have decided to continue homeschooling our 3 kids. There were a lot of positives that came out of homeschooling that we want to continue exploring. Our plan is to homeschool another year and see how things are going. There has been a lot of growth with all 3 kids and I don’t think we would have seen as much if they had done virtual learning." —Nicole V.

"We will be continuing our homeschool journey for another year. We are just not comfortable sending them back yet in terms of COVID, nor the amount of recovery and figuring out the schools will be having to do. We may even continue homeschool indefinitely after that as well." —Andrea J. B.

"We are continuing our Sonlight Journey for the 2021-2022 school year! We watched how our kids thrived with HBL B and Horizons Math and the decisions was very easy to make. I can’t imagine a different lifestyle for us now." —Katie J. B.

"My husband and I both work full-time in very demanding jobs. I have learned so much about how my first grader learns best and have enjoyed learning alongside him. I appreciate the flexibility that homeschooling provides and that we can study what, when, where, and how we want. Our son has been challenged academically this year, I believe to a much greater extent than he would have in public school, and has been allowed to learn at a pace and in an environment that works best for him. Socialization always seems to be a concern of those who are new to homeschooling or don't know much about it, but he has friends nearby and from church and is active in sports and other activities. I have had to start some new habits and get more organized in order to keep up with everything, but these changes have benefited our entire family. Homeschooling on top of everything else is hard but well worth it, and our lives have been enriched as a result. We will continue to re-assess periodically but for now, we are all in on homeschooling for next year!" — Rebecca B.

"We are doing it again! I still can’t believe we are a homeschool family, but it has been a blessing in disguise. I want to do it through high school, but trying to take it year by year. Almost kindergartener and second grader!!" — Brittany G.

"We homeschooled for kindergarten this year, and we feel it was successful, so we decided to go ahead and homeschool again. We ordered next year's curriculum already!! Also we decided to take it year by year." —Katie B.

More From New Homeschoolers

This is the final installment in the Stories from New Homeschoolers Series:

Of course as advocates of homeschooling, we at Sonlight are thrilled to see so many families continuing to homeschool for at least one more year. And it's a tremendous blessing to know that we could walk alongside these parents and children during the difficult year of the pandemic. But we support every family's unique decision even if that means other options. The key to parenting is your loving involvement, whatever path you take for educating your kids.

You Can Homeschool

Are you ready to homeschool? Like the many moms quoted above, you can do this, too! Learn how to get started.

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