As school leaders across Oklahoma try to figure out plans for the fall amid growing COVID-19 concerns, some families are choosing to learn elsewhere: at home.
Experts said there is a growing interest in homeschooling. At BiblioMania Homeschooling Materials in Tulsa, staff said they have been seeing a lot of new customers since the COVID-19 pandemic began and expect even more in the coming days.
One of the new customers is Brandi Caffey, whose family lives in Jenks and children attend Bixby Public Schools. The mother of two said she is putting a pause on getting her bachelor’s degree so she can focus on her children's education. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma rises, she is preparing to homeschool her 4 and 7-year-olds.
"Because if every parent who can homeschool would, then it would naturally decrease the number of children in public schools and make it easier to keep everyone safe," said Caffey.
While she is shopping for supplies, it sounds like her lessons are clicking with her kids.
"COVID-19 is a virus, and it's spreading because of germs and other people's germs and hands, so we have to stay six feet away and wear masks everywhere," said 7-year-old Beckham Caffey.
Susan Stenberg, owner of BiblioMania Homeschooling Materials, said her consignment business represents 4,400 families and is not surprised there is growing interest in homeschooling.
“They're saying, ‘We need to do something different. What happened at the end of the school year did not work. We need an alternative, and I'm scared to death, but I love my kids and I'm willing to do whatever's necessary,’” said Stenberg.
The Oklahoma Department of Education said it does not have data on the number of students being homeschooled since that is not something it oversees.
Stenberg said there are free resources online and local support groups to help figure out the best learning method for each student.
"There's a lot of ways to teach and a lot of us are doing things that's either a classical approach or a literature-based approach, where it's very, very flexible and you can make each subject work for that child's learning style," said Stenberg.
She recommends every student first take free placement tests to help determine the level of knowledge for each subject.