Leamington mom Sadie Banroie said the pandemic was the final push she needed to home-school five of her six children.
"When the pandemic hit, I kind of took on home-schooling them myself and found material," Banroie said. "I thought, I can do this and ... it was something that had been at the back of my mind for the longest time."
With schools reopening next week, Banroie said she's happy to have made the decision to home-school at the start of the pandemic so she's not among the parents trying to choose whether their children should attend in-person classes or online.
This anxiety among parents, children and teachers seems to have created a new interest in home-schooling, according to WE Home School group director Stephanie Pouget. The group consists of home-schoolers across Windsor-Essex, an association that was in operation pre-pandemic.
These days, Pouget said the group gets at least three to four calls a day from new parents wanting to home-school and she estimated that about 500 families in the area are currently learning on their own.
"A lot of people seem to be concerned sending their kids to school ... and so they're opting to keep them at home ... doing their own curriculum, their own home-schooling and it's quite exciting to see so many new families joining us," she said.
Pouget, who's done it for 12 years with her children, told CBC's Windsor Morning that for parents choosing to teach their kids it's all about staying curious and enjoying the educational journey with your child.
"You really just have to have a love for learning, you end up learning with your child as you go and that's really fun," she said, adding that it's exciting when your child finally has that breakthrough moment of understanding what they are learning.
Not only that, but she said the myth that home-schooled children don't get as much socialization is false.
Prior to the pandemic, she planned field trips and outings with other families taking part in unconventional learning programs.
'It's very challenging'
It's not about having an extensive knowledge in any one subject, Pouget said, adding that the older the kids are, the easier it gets.
Pouget said her oldest daughter, who now studies at the University of Western in London, says that home-schooling helped her better organize her classes and time in university.
Banroie's children are not at the post-secondary level yet, but her oldest just entered Grade 9 and her youngest is starting pre-school.
While she said it can get difficult, she's used many online resources, purchased curriculum books and connected with other families for support.
"It's very challenging and I was afraid all these years I wouldn't be able to do it or give the children my all," she said.
But Tuesday's first day of classes went well and she said she's looking forward to the rest of the year.
As for her children, she said they're adjusting just fine and getting the attention they need to learn.
She said she'd recommend the experience to other families who are able to stay home.
"It's not as scary as it seems to be and it is a big learning curve, like there is a lot that you need to learn before you jump into it," she said. "It's just so worth it, I'm glad that we started and I encourage other mothers or families to give it a try."