RICHMOND, Va. -- Questions and concerns about what school would be like during a pandemic led a number of Virginia parents to give home-schooling a try.
Karen Shumway is currently homeschooling two of her children. Her third has already graduated and is now away at college. For the Shumway family, homeschooling feels natural. They started from the very beginning for a number of different reasons.
Karen said that at the beginning, the process was daunting.
"It was, it was scary. Because at the time, like, I didn't know anybody who was homeschooling," Karen said.
However, since the beginning of the coronavirus, more families have begun switching to homeschooling.
"We're seeing a tremendous increase in interest in homeschooling," Yvonne Bunn said.
Bunn provides support to homeschool parents through the Home Educators Association of Virginia. She said that the growing trend is building off the momentum from last year.
In 2020, homeschooling in Virginia increased by 48 percent. The number of students grew from 44,000 to 65,000 and Bunn said that she expects even higher numbers for the 2021-2022 school year.
"I think parents have been waiting to see what's going to happen with the government schools. Are they going to require masks? Are they going to require COVID vaccines?" Bunn said.
Aside from dodging many coronavirus-related concerns, parents who made the switch to homeschooling during the pandemic quickly discovered additional benefits.
"We have one-on-one instruction, so you're choosing the curriculum, you're choosing the level, you're working with your child one-on-one and that's all a formula for educational success," Bunn said.
Bunn is encouraging parents who may be new to the world of homeschooling.
"I'd like to let people know that they can do this," Bunn said.
For new parents who have questions or concerns about homeschooling, the Home Educators Association of Virginia has resources available online.