MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools has now extended the deadline for parents to decide their student’s fall learning options until July 24.
Parents can choose either virtual or in-person learning, but some parents may be considering a third option -- homeschooling.
“The most rewarding part is being able to be with them most of the time, and the biggest struggle is being with them most of the time, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword,” said Marilyn Lunsford, who is about to start her 16th year homeschooling her children.
The Olive Branch mom of three says it's a difficult, but rewarding process.
Lunsford also says it can be tough trying to find the balance of creating your own curriculum and providing structure like traditional schools.
“But we also don’t set up like a brick and mortar school. So we didn’t have school desks necessarily,” said Lunsford. “Sometimes reading time was on the trampoline, just laying in the sun reading,”
Homeschooling is becoming a popular option.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute about 2.5 million U.S. children were homeschooled in 2019, that is about 3-4% of school-aged children.
The group also found that homeschooling is growing in popularity among minority families. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white.
Due to COVID-19, more parents are trying to decide if homeschooling is right for them.
“Talk to your children, see what their thoughts are,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of the national non-profit Coalition for Responsible Home Education.
She says she's seen a rapid uptick of inquiries on the group's website as many parents across the country are having to decide between in-person learning, virtual or possibly homeschooling.
" A lot of it has to do with how much time and energy to put into this," said Coleman. "Parents who want to have their children at home, but also work a full-time job, we recommend they educate their children through one of those school district's virtual programs if possible because that will provide them with a curriculum."
If homeschooling is for you, Lunford says it's important to find a support group or consider a co-op where you use virtual or in-person tutors at least part of the time
"It can be done. It takes some adjustment to be able to do it because when you're grading and trying to teach, it is at least a part-time job," said Lunsford.
Something else for parents to consider is that homeschool curriculum often encourages trips to museums, libraries and parks. Many of those places may be closed due to the pandemic.
Parents in Tennessee must notify local school districts to let them know your plans to homeschool your child this year.
For more information about homeschooling, click here.