The National Home Education Research Institute found between 6 and 7 percent of school-age children were homeschooled during the 2020-2021 school year – a significant increase from between 3 and 4 percent of school-age children in the spring of 2019.
The Templeton Unified School District has experienced that increase firsthand with their homeschooling program growing at an unprecedented rate.
The TUSD home school program offers a home-centered independent study program for parents who choose to homeschool their children.
“I think that a lot of the elementary kids and middle school kids, even high school kids, couldn’t handle doing this,” said Donnia Callahan, Templeton Unified School District Certificated Teacher for Templeton Home School.
Callahan says the homeschool program had about 65 kids participate during the 2019-2020 school year – that number jumped to more than 300 students by the 2021-2022 school year.
“Kids and parents didn’t want to have their children placed on Zoom all day and so they were looking for something that was different,” said Callahan.
Tessa Robinson is just one of many parents in the Templeton Unified School District who decided to pull her kids out of the traditional school setting during the pandemic and switch to a homeschooling format.
“The biggest reason we decided is that we’re non-mask wearers is the biggest one,” said Robinson.
Robinson did not want her children wearing a mask or getting a COVID-19 vaccine and wanted to provide her children with consistency because she was not sure if they would eventually be mandated at the school, which would cause her to pull them out again.
“I just want them to be well-rounded. So, having them here and teaching them that stuff is what we needed to do for our family,” said Robinson.
Melissa Wheeler homeschools five of her children but said she made the decision based more on curriculum and school policy rather than the pandemic itself.
“Parents have found out what’s being taught to their children in schools. The LGBT propaganda, the masks were a huge issue in the schools, the threat of the COVID vaccine being mandated,” said Wheeler.
She said she and her husband are opening a resource center in the fall for those looking for alternate approaches to schooling their children.
“There’s a huge need in the community. One of our local private schools, they have 80 kids on the waiting list. Families are frantically searching for an option,” said Wheeler.
The Wheelers are hoping to provide that option with the Kern Resource Center. Services at the center will also be available to those located on the Central Coast looking for home school resources.
“Yeah we’ll have 16 home school coaches on campus, and they’ll be licensed teachers, and we’ll be opening in September,” said Wheeler.