CLEVELAND — Classrooms across Northeast Ohio may be filling up this week, but there’s a large population of students who will be continuing their education elsewhere: home.
The Sir Louis family, who lives in Summit County, took the homeschooling route years ago.
"We’re all different ages and we’re all in the same classroom it’s kind of like old school," said Mary Grace Sir Louis.
Mary Grace is one of four children in the family. She and her three brothers have all grown up learning through their homeschool setup. Their teacher is mom, Amy.
"They all learn very differently," said Amy.
Amy was also homeschooled as a child growing up in West Virginia. Her parents fought to change laws homeschooling laws at the state capitol. She said while traditional homeschooling isn’t for every family, it can certainly work for many.
“If you and your children decide what works for them and you listen to your kids and you don’t try to put them in a tiny little educational box of some kind, I kind of think the sky’s the limit for what homeschooling can do for a family," she said.
Amy revealed a big misconception about the learning process: Homeschooling families are home all day long.
“We’re gone all the time. We have classes and field trips and sports teams and choir," she said. "There are some homeschooling families that are home more than others, but by in large we are all out and about quite a bit."
The Sir Louis family is just one of thousands in the Buckeye State opting for traditional homeschooling.
According to data from the Ohio Department of Education, traditional homeschooling is gaining popularity. Preliminary data shows homeschooling grew by 25% between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020.
The trend is also picking up steam nationwide.
Research from the National Home Education Research Institute shows in March this year there were almost five million kids in grades K-12 who were being taught at home. In the spring of 2019, there were only two and a half million.
"I literally get 100 questions a day," said Debby Gerth.
Garth is the president of the nonprofit Ohio Homeschooling Parents. It's a support group and source for information.
"We have all different types," said Gerth. "We have you know Christians and atheists and left-wing right-wing and in between, libertarians and we put that aside on this group and we help each other.”
Amy has been a member for five years. She now moderates and guides other parents. A group now up to more than 17,000 members.
“It’s up 202%," Gerth said.
Gerth and Amy both said when it comes to homeschooling there are two major benefits: time spent together and individualized learning.
"It's time that we don't ever get back with our kids," Gerth said.
"They can actually take time to focus really on where there's a weakness or something that they're struggling in," Amy said.
Amy said if parents want to fully dive into homeschooling, she recommends finding other families, asking questions and remember - homeschooling doesn't mean you'll be doing every bit of teaching.
"It isn’t that I have to be great at everything. It just means I have to recognize when my kid has an educational need and figure out the best way to meet it," she said.