No place like… home?

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More parents aer choosing to homeschool their kids. According to the U-S Department of Education, there’s been a 3.4% increase in homeschooling since 1999, the same year as the Columbine High School shooting.

After mass school shootings, we’ve heard parents threaten to take their kids out of school and homeschool, but are they really going through with it?

We looked into if the gun violence in U.S. schools is pushing parents in Virginia to homeschool their kids, and if there really is no place like home.

10-year-old Summer Greene has big dreams.

“I kind of want to teach, I kind of want to be a paleontologist, work at NASA, chef and I really want to act,” Summer said.

Before chasing a career, she will have to get a high school diploma. Summer will do all that school work at home in Roanoke with her mom and brother.

“I just really like it, spending time with mom,” Summer said.

For about two to three hours every morning, Summer, her brother, Logan, and her mom, Michelle, have lessons on their couch in their living room.

The decision to homeschool was years in the making for the Greene family.

“I remember seeing the Sandy Hook shooting and she had just gone into kindergarten and he was in Pre-K and I started looking into it then,” Michelle said.

Michelle said she finally took her kids out of public schools in February 2017 after a bullying incident, but she said safety was a also a major reason.

“Everyday I would panic and just wonder when I was going to get a phone call,” Michelle said.

It’s been over a year and Michelle said she feels even more confident in the change. Especially after seeing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February 2018.

“I’m reminded everyday the reason why I pulled my kids out, that I’m doing the best thing possible for my kids,” Michelles said.

She’s not alone. The Virginia Department of Education said thousands of parents are choosing to homeschool.

We looked into the numbers of the past five years in the Commonwealth.

  • Statewide there’s been a 23.8% increase in homeschooled students.
  • In Roanoke County, there’s been a 60% increase in the past five years.
  • There’s been a 26% uptick in Lynchburg schools.
  • In Pittsylvania, there’s been a 10% increase.

We did find a decrease. There was a 4% drop in homeschooling in Montgomery County.

We also surveyed hundreds of Virginia homeschool parents on private groups on Facebook.

  • 100% said they are not surprised that homeschooling has increased.
  • 45.2% believe their local public school system does not have enough security.
  • 49.5% were afraid of a school shooting happening when their child was in school.

We also asked them the reason behind homeschooling their children and what year they decided to do so.

The majority said having an individualized education was the main reason. Meaning, they wanted a curriculum that fit their child’s needs.

Parents said contributing factors were medical conditions, like allergies, bullying and safety concerns.

We also saw the biggest jump in the year parents chose to homeschool was after mass school shootings. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, numbers started to trend upward.

“Were you ever scared that somebody with a gun could come to school,” Stacey Spivey asked.

“Yeah,” Summer responded shaking her head yes.

A sobering answer from a 10-year-old, but a new normal for most children going to school everyday in America.

 “Our kids are growing up so much faster because they have to. I want my kids to be able to have a childhood,” Michelle said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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