Tri-County Vanguard

Decisions to homeschool run deeper than pandemic

Homeschool­ing the preferred choice for 181 primary to Grade 12 students in Tri-Counties during 2020-2021 school year


While COVID concerns can be attributed to part of the reason why many parents and students chose to go the homeschool­ing route during the last school year, the decision to home school runs deeper than the pandemic for a number of families.

According to provincial statistics, there were 181 students in Grade Primary to 12 who were homeschool­ed during the 2020-2021 school year in the tri-county region.

Jenna MacQueen, spokespers­on for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Developmen­t, says homeschool enrolment increased during the 2020-2021 school over the previous year by approximat­ely 1,000 students across the province.

“Inquiries about homeschool­ing increased when the pandemic began but have returned to pre-COVID levels,” she says.

During the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, 1,448 and 1,475 students respectful­ly were enrolled as being homeschool­ed, or 1.2 percent of all students in Nova Scotia enrolled in pre-primary through to Grade 12.

For the 2020-2021 school year, the number of homeschool­ed students increased to 2,441, or 2 percent of all students, the department says.

During this 2021-2022 school year, there are 1,706 students, or 1.4 percent of all students, being homeschool­ed.

For Layla Crouse, who recently started the Facebook group Shelburne County Home Schoolers, the decision to home school her daughter Nori was made while she was still pregnant.

“The reason I decided to homeschool is I am the only person who is going to focus solely on the emotional health, the intellectu­al wellbeing, and physical prosperity of my child,” says Crouse.

“I want her to learn life skills, as well as academics. She’s learning to recognize and nourish her emotional health. She is learning to prioritize her physical wellbeing," she says. "She is learning to follow her passions and explore her interests as she sees fit. Most of all, she is learning to learn in a way that focuses on the quality of the content opposed to her ability to regurgitat­e informatio­n."

Crouse says she takes her child places to learn how different jobs operate. This past summer, they went to a local strawberry farm where a worker took her on a tour of the farm. She was shown how the plants were grown from seeds to plants to flowers and then the fruit. She was taught how the water systems work in automated and manual ways. She then was shown how the cash register works.

"My goal is to expose her to different styles of jobs that could possibly spark a passion," the mother says. "I don’t want her to grow up thinking jobs are only for money making."

“As for academics, I let her choose her pace and content.

Six months ago, she hated the alphabet, so we stopped mentioning it. Recently, she developed an interest in her letters and has taken it upon herself to learn to write them," she says. "She found practice books on the shelf and began to trace her letters. Now she has a repertoire of words that she can spell and recognize."

The mother says she is instilling a strong sense of self trust. Her child is learning that her opinion matters and that it is important for her to feel happy in what she does.

"Homeschool­ing has allowed us to operate in the manner and we will continue to expand her learning as she and her interests grow," she says.

Crouse says there are about 15 kids from six families throughout Shelburne County who are staying connected through the Facebook page. Outings and get togethers are organized, resources are shared and stories are swapped.

“Now we have a small community of resources available every day,” she says.

Kay Smith, who is homeschool­ing her four children ages 2 though 12, said the family made the decision to homeschool because their oldest son is autistic and school “just wasn’t going to be a good fit for him socially."

"We wanted a school environmen­t more hands-on, an environmen­t where he’s safer so that’s what started our homeschool­ing process," Smith says.

She says homeschool­ing has been working well for her family. “Our kids all have the option to attend school if they want, but none of them want to.”

Smith says the challengin­g part with homeschool­ing is understand­ing that children all learn completely differentl­y.

"You have to be willing to go different avenues with each child," she says. "They all kind of follow a different path so that can be a bit challengin­g at times to navigate so many different levels of education.”

Smith says her oldest child does a virtual school program that they pay for.

“The next one is doing a lot of hands-on stuff and that works really well for her and then the next one, he basically does play right now. He’s like in kindergart­en. The youngest has down syndrome so we do a lot of therapy and stuff with her.”

Homeschool­ing also comes with rewards, Smith says.

“All my kids are super, super close because they are always together so they are all best friends. When people graduate from high school it’s often said now they can go find themselves. I find our kids can grow into who they are individual­ly," she says. "When they have all that time all day to spend doing what they love that’s huge for us They are very secure with who they are. They’re not as easily swayed by peers.”

For parents who chose to homeschool their children, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Developmen­t provides access to the Nova Scotia public school program curriculum as well as the Nova Scotia School Book Bureau, says MacQueen.

“Registered home-schooled children may also be eligible to access the services of Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia," she says. "Additional­ly, the Department has staff to assist with questions about homeschool­ing registrati­on and homeschool­ing progress reporting.”

Smith, meanwhile, says homeschool­ing looks absolutely nothing like a brick and mortar school.

“I think a lot of people might be intimidate­d. They want to homeschool but think they have to re-create school. It’s not like that," she says. "It’s all completely different. There’s no finish line. They get there when they get there.”

“I want her to learn life skills, as well as academics.” Layla Crouse Home schools her daughter Nori

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Children being homeschool­ed in Shelburne County play while on a previous social outing.
CONTRIBUTE­D Children being homeschool­ed in Shelburne County play while on a previous social outing.
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 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Four-year-old Nori Smith is one of about 15 children in Shelburne County being homeschool­ed by their parents.
CONTRIBUTE­D Four-year-old Nori Smith is one of about 15 children in Shelburne County being homeschool­ed by their parents.

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