Some parents move to homeschooling amid COVID-19 uncertainty
KITCHENER -- With uncertainty surrounding the school year, some parents are taking their children's learning into their own hands.
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) says homeschooling is on the rise across the province.
This year, Kate Flemister decided to homeschool her two kids who would normally attend elementary school.
“We're treading into unknown water but the biggest positive is I will know what my kids are learning,” she says.
Flemister says she wasn't ready to send her kids back to school during a pandemic
She says because her son is on the autism spectrum, having to enforce physical distancing in a classroom would be challenging
“He needs to thrive in an environment where he can be close to his peers and interact and play with them. He doesn't fully understand distancing, staying apart, and I think that would definitely be too hard on him.”
But she says distance learning isn't an option for her family
“Online learning the way it’s worded right now, because again we don’t have full details, is sitting in front of a computer for several hours a day. Working with a teacher that’s likely not from your school and working with kids that are also not likely from your school.”
According to the OFTP, Flemister isn’t alone is making the move to homeschooling.
“We're about 460 members, around 90 more than this time last year. So it’s about a 25 per cent increase,” says Carlo Ricci of the OFTP.
The homeschooling advocacy group says COVID-19 may have played a role in the jump in numbers, with parents wanting to take charge of their child's learning.
“The virtual system is still externally imposed, it’s still following presumably the Ontario curriculum. It would still be run by the school board or a teacher and principal and that type of thing. Whereas homeschooling there is more flexibility,” says Ricci.
Flemister says her homeschool plan will work around her family's schedule.
As for her kids, they say they're excited about the change.
“I get to spend time with my family,” says Kieran Flemister.
“I don’t have to miss my family,” adds Ellie Flemister.
The Waterloo Region District School Board recently released its preliminary attendance findings for returning students come September.
They say 78 per cent of elementary students and 87 per cent of secondary students will be attending classes in-person.
Meanwhile, more than 8,900 elementary students will be participating in distance education