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Homeschool numbers still trending up in Yellowstone County

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Posted at 6:39 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 20:39:29-04

BILLINGS — During Covid, homeschooling became a popular form of education. For a lot of families, even as society tries to move past the pandemic, homeschooling is continuing an upswing in popularity.

The Yellowstone County Homeschooling Educators annual meet and greet took place Thursday at Pioneer Park and had between 500-700 visitors in the homeschooling community attend. It's an event that takes place every year and allows home-schooled students to interact and get involved in different activities throughout the year.

"This event is for any homeschool families, and it's K-12 and basically it's just an opportunity for home schoolers to come together and kick off the school year with something fun. It's great way to find resources and connect with other parents," said Jaimie Christiansen, vice president of the Yellowstone County Homeschooling Educators.

Montana’s homeschooling community has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years, largely because of Covid. The number of home schooled students in the county jumped from 666 in 2019-20 to almost 1,400 in 2020-2021. The state saw that number balloon from almost 6,000 to almost 10,000 in the same period.

Numbers have dipped a bit but there’s a belief that it’ll become a more common occurrence throughout the region, and flexibility is a big reason why, according to Whitney Medina, who's been homeschooling her kids for five years.

"One of the things that we love about home school is what it’s done for our family and the relationships that we have. We can also get work done in summer for the next year to create more flexibility for ourselves with time off and vacations," said Medina.

Homeschooling numbers have dipped a bit from last year, as the pandemic has slowed. However, some are now returning to traditional schools and classrooms. Homeschooling and the community connection involved with it has become a big draw for the Medinas and many others. While it's an alternative to traditional learning, the popularity is remaining steady despite a small drop after the initial reaction to the pandemic.

"You have more control of your kid's education, and we love it and think it’s a great investment for our kids," added Medina.