The number of parents in P.E.I. who are homeschooling their children has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Department of Education says the number of students being homeschooled has increased from 235 in 2019-2020 to 474 this year. After the first full year of the pandemic, there were as many as 556 children learning at home.
Parents don’t need to provide reasons to the province in order to educate their children, but an Island support group for homeschool families said it is all tied to the pandemic.
“For some of them, it might have been about the masks, it might have been about the regulations that were in school,” said Laura Peric, the secretary of P.E.I. Christian Home Educators.
“It could’ve been … about the disruptions — so you’d go in for in-person classes and then a couple weeks later, they’d be back home — and how hard that was on the children. As well as the testing.”
Peric, whose organization helps families regardless of religion, said she’s seen an increase in the number of new people joining the group, though some of that can be attributed to people arriving in the province.
She said members were almost evenly split between those concerned about their children getting COVID and those who were more concerned about having to deal with the protocols.
She also said that having more parents work from home may have made their decision to homeschool easier.
While Peric said she’s unsure how many parents will put their children back in schools as P.E.I. comes out of restrictions, COVID-19 gave many a reason to try homeschooling.
“Maybe it was a little eye-opening for parents that had never considered homeschooling that, yes, there are some challenges, but there’s challenges with public school, too,” she said.
“Whether it’s interruptions, whether it’s the classical bullying and all of those things the public school is trying to take care of, but doesn’t always have the resources to take care of them. And so here we have an opportunity, another way for you to educate your child that’s available.”
When asked about the trend, the Department of Education said in an email that its stance on homeschooling has not changed and that families “have the right to choose the kind of education that is right for them and their children.”