COLORADO SPRINGS — The number of families homeschooling has doubled in Colorado.
"Our boys were enrolled in the neighborhood school, even when COVID-19 hit we thought they would go in the fall. There was just a lot of uncertainty in terms of what school was going to look like, and I was even getting anxious. We really didn't want a lot of electronic devices after reading Glow Kids that this was not going to fit for our family," said Maria Tipton.
She's been homeschooling since the start of the pandemic, just last week she decided to do it for another year.
"We kept seeing the delta variant go crazy and we felt like things might continue that way. There might still be some uncertainty and because they did so well last year, I enjoyed teaching them so let's do it another year," said Tipton.
What she thought had been temporary, she's found beneficial to her children.
"My youngest was crying because he couldn't write the first letter of his name, but by the end of the year, he was writing his full name and went from not reading to reading chapter books above level. He's starting kindergarten this year, and we learned chess together," said Tipton.
Tipton says homeschooling has brought her family a lot of reassurance.
"Just having that certainty that this is our schedule, we know what's going to happen, regardless of what's going on outside of our this is how we're going to school," said Tipton.
Tipton is among many parents who've made the switch.
"We didn't really want to home school at first but then my son came from kindergarten and regressed a year. He would cry every morning, every night, there was a lot of homework, it just wasn't a good fit for us," said Maleena Rubio. "When everyone goes on spring break, summer break, winter break we go out. We go on vacation which is nice, everything is calm and it's not as busy."
She says there is a stigma among the community over homeschooling.
"The socialization myth. It is a myth. There are a lot of groups around town that get together. There's a bunch of moms, I'm not the only one, there are hundreds of moms that have a lot more experience than I do. Sometimes we get together and bring our kids together to do classes and field trips," said Rubio.
"Our homeschooling community is very active, diverse, and there are a lot of us doing it for different reasons," said Leah DeRose-Wilson.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, the number of homeschoolers has doubled in Colorado. With some districts like Colorado Springs District 11 going from roughly 135 students to 1035 students, Academy School District 20 from 382 to 642, and Falcon School District 49 507 to 826.
"I checked in with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association to see the national rate. They said year over year, eighteen percent increase and all over the United States eight and fifteen million kids are now being homeschooled," said Colleen Prayne
She's the founder and owner of My Homeschool Hubwhich specializes in mentoring services.
"We have a team of mentor moms that work one on one with homeschoolers. Whether they are new homeschoolers or have been homeschooling a long time and starting middle school or high school. We will work with you and you can choose your mentor mom for one on one. They can help you by customizing it to ongoing support, frequently or infrequently as you want help. We also have an umbrella school which fulfills the legal reporting," said Prayne.
Prayne says she's seen a significant increase in families reaching out to get started with homeschooling.
"Last year it exploded and I thought it was big, but this year it was even more than it was last year," said Prayne. "Some people are schooling because they saw up close and personal what their kids were doing and needed help with, some are concerned with going back to school with masks and some are concerned about going back to school with masks," said Prayne.
She says now is the perfect time to switch.
"They're tools, support systems, and enrichment programs," said Prayne.
Which are a big help for families just starting out.
"I didn't see myself in that box of educator, but really as a parent, you can do it. Just go online and look at what is available. There so much," said Tipton.
With the recent uptick in homeschooling, My Home School Hub plans to host a free conference on August 14 at Fervent Church (3337 N Academy Blvd). Families will be able to learn how to get started homeschooling, get curriculum, and go over state regulations.