Reader submitted content. Article is from Kerry McDonald’s homeschool blog.
Private and hybrid online learning providers are expanding their reach and hybrid homeschooling programs continue to grow in rural and metropolitan areas.
In Indiana this week, two private, virtual learning providers were granted permission by the state’s board of education to operate in the state. These two providers will be Indiana’s first private, online schools and will be able to participate in the state’s school voucher program which allows taxpayer-funding of education to follow students instead of being funneled into government school systems.
“In total, 13 states have created five new programs and expanded 13 existing programs,” EdChoice’s Mike McShane wrote recently at Forbes.com. “Hundreds of thousands of families across the country will become eligible to participate in the next year or two, offering new opportunities that previously were financially out of their reach.”
McShane is also an expert on hybrid homeschooling models, which were growing in popularity prior to the coronavirus and are attracting many more families today. McShane recently published a new book on hybrid homeschooling, which he considers to be the future of education.
Hybrid homeschooling programs typically involve part-time, full-day attendance a few days a week at a brick-and-mortar building, with teachers working through a curriculum with students. The remaining days are spent at home, with parents helping to facilitate the curriculum and keep kids on track. Most hybrid homeschooling models are private, although there are examples of public charter schools, such as Da Vinci Connect in Los Angeles, that follow this approach.
In Massachusetts, a private hybrid homeschool program named Grace Preparatory Academy opened in 2012. It is religiously-focused and emerged from a parent homeschool co-op. Students attend the academy two full days a week with teachers and learn at home with their parents for the remaining days. Annual tuition is $3,900 per student with financial aid available, and represents a tiny fraction of the average tuition cost for other private school options in the state. Grace Prep saw their enrollment spike during the 2020/2021 academic year and the upcoming fall looks to be just as busy.
These hybrid homeschooling models, along with the “pandemic pods” that took root over the past year, create even more affordable learning options for families. A group of parents can get together to create a hybrid homeschool program or a learning pod that reflects their distinct educational philosophy and curriculum approach. They can rent a space in their community or take turns running a program out of participants’ homes. These hybrid programs could develop into a full-time, accredited school or remain a flexible, part-time option. The possibilities of hybrid homeschooling have been considerably broadened over the past year, helping more families to find a customized education environment for their children.
Whether it’s private, virtual schools that are entering new markets or hybrid homeschooling programs that continue to grow and adapt, the avalanche of education change sparked over the past year shows no signs of slowing.