FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For many students all across the country, heading back to school has looked different than ever before. Some students have had to adjust to different protocol such has mask requirements and some students schooling has completely changed.
State numbers show that students who left public school and are now homeschooled has almost doubled. Homeschool registration is not required in the state of Indiana, so the Indiana Department of Education says that they do not maintain a total number of Indiana students who are homeschooled.
For one Fort Wayne family, the decision to homeschool was one that that had been thought through for years, however once the pandemic hit, it made the decision easier. Christophe Dessaigne turned into full time working dad to full time working dad and teacher to four students overnight. “It was an opportunity to give them some consistency throughout the year not knowing what COVID was going to change in terms of the rhythm and also it was a great opportunity to just build relational capital and just spend more time with the children,” he says.
Dessaigne teaches his three children and one of his 3rd grade daughter’s friends from their home. The family has transformed part of the home into a classroom filled with materials, books, maps, and even a 3D printer. “[The sunroom] really separates the classroom from the rest of the house so we know when we are in here it’s to study,” he explains.
Although the transition was well thought out, it still brought along challenges. “During school I’m Mr. D and they have to call me Mr. D and they have to treat me like they treat their teachers and so there’s that balance and when the school day is over at 3:00 they come to me and they say, ‘Dad? Is school over? Can we hug you?’ and that’s the routine of the day and that worked well,” Dessaigne says.
The children have loved the transition and feel as though they are being educated in ways they wouldn’t be in a standard classroom. Their grandmother in France teaches them French over Zoom calls. 3rd grader Taliah Dessaigne says, “you have to act like they’re your teacher but it’s still like you’re with your family and it’s all different because there are some people you don’t know at school but everybody here you know.”
Micah Dessaigne, 6th grader says, “We can just do a lot more of the things that we want we can go at our own pace and I find that I learn a bit more because of how quickly I’m learning.” Noah who will be in the 4th grade says, ” I feel like we have more opportunity to have more experiences like cooking.”
When asked what is their favorite subjects to study as a homeschooled student, each of the Dessaigne children had the same answer, cooking. “I can just express everything into foods and at the end I get to eat it so that’s one of the best parts,” Micah explains.
For the Dessaigne family, the transition to homeschooling has been great. “I would say if anyone is thinking about doing it, just do it. If you think about doing it, it probably means you want to do it. As a father, you don’t need to be perfect, you need to be present and I think the opportunity to be present during all those days and all those hours with them has been a gift and something I really enjoy,” Christophe says.