Manitoba's parents are increasingly choosing to homeschool their kids, the Winnipeg Free Press report. So marked is the trend that Education Minister Nancy Allen has decided to look into why so many families are turning to the homeschooling option over enrolling their children in traditional school.
The growth rate among homeschoolers is impressive. Since last year, nearly 600 children were classified as homeschooled, a 32.1% increase over the year before — and the numbers are growing faster than the Manitoba student population as a whole. When asked to explained the change, Allen said that her department hasn't had a chance to analyze it in depth, but said that it is up to each parent to decide which academic approach best suits their children's individual needs.
Home-schooling has more than doubled in the past decade, from 1,050 in 2002 to 2,399 on Sept. 30, 2012, when the official head count was taken.
Allan pointed out the province gave home-schooling families an extra month this past year to report, but couldn't explain how that might affect year-to-year results so dramatically.
There is anecdotal evidence some immigrants with strong religious beliefs are choosing to school their children at home.
Ian Mogilevsky, the president of the Manitoba Association of Christian Home Schools says that parents could be reacting to the secularization of the society they live in and keep their kids home to avoid corrupting them. He added that homeschooling allows families to instill their own values in their kids without undue influence from outsiders.
Mogilevsky himself homeschools his large family. Of his 7 children, the eldest daughter now attends university after being taught at home, while the rest are following her footsteps.
Mogilevsky expects the number of homeschoolers to grow further due to a recent passage of the Bill 18, which compels schools to accept petitions for formation of gay-straight alliance groups as long as the school receives any kind of government aid.
Having such extensive online resources available helps parents teach at home, he said. "Parents are learning right beside them. Individualized attention and individualized programming that they're able to provide to their kids is really excellent."
Monique Turner, president of the Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home, echoed Mogilevsky on growth: "We've been seeing growth in our membership. People want to be home with their kids — they enjoy teaching their kids," she said.
There are factors outside religious faith that might drive parents to look at alternatives. Among them are bullying and simply the ability to provide better quality of instruction than is available at the local school.