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COLUMBIA — Brianna Thoenen wears more hats than most.

She’s a homeschooling parent, but before that, she worked as a teacher in both public and private schools.

“Being a teacher, I knew what I wanted for them,” Thoenen said about her kids. “So when we weren’t seeing that, we decided to switch to homeschool.”

Thoenen said her favorite part about homeschooling is being able to arrange her whole world around her children’s education.

She’s not alone; homeschooling is still wildly popular compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s definitely scary,” Thoenen said. “Because you’re now responsible for making sure that your kiddo is getting an education. But it’s also completely doable. It really is.”

The Associated Press reported that 3% of U.S. students were homeschooled before the pandemic. It reported the number of homeschooled students in 18 states peaked by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, but is now at 46%.

Thoenen said she has nothing against Columbia’s school systems. She respects the value of public school systems as someone who used to work in them. But, she said homeschooling is an eye-catching option for families who have had their schedules redefined by the pandemic.

“A lot of people worry that their kiddos won’t be socialized with the homeschool aspect,” she said. “But we’re seeing the exact opposite. We’ve made so many more friends just over the last year because of the group activities that we participate in. And several businesses around Columbia do homeschool days.”

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