It's hard to believe, but this is the third academic year that has been impacted by the pandemic.
While most schools are open for in-person instruction -- New York City public schools for the first time in 18 months -- classrooms throughout the country are closing up again because of coronavirus outbreaks, sending students back home for remote learning.
The pandemic put pressure on even the most easygoing of families when it came to sharing living space, especially in those early days of lockdown. As adults sought to carve out space for working from home, they also had to create spots for their kids conducive to learning. While sitting at the kitchen table might be fine for doing homework, spending hours in a virtual classroom requires a better setup -- and it's become a must-have for many homebuyers.
The open floor plans that were highly desirable prior to the pandemic made it difficult to create the privacy and quiet needed for working and learning. So people got creative, turning corners and even closets into offices and Zoom rooms. Those makeshift spaces became a major selling point for homeowners who decided to take advantage of the hot market.
According to data from Realtor.com, million-dollar listings that highlighted learning space as one of the home's amenities spent about two weeks less on the market than homes that did not. This past May, there were 1,178 listings that noted learning space (or a related term), up 58% from the previous year. Investors who can configure their properties to include a home classroom setup will have an even greater edge in a low-inventory market.
At the start of lockdown in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 5.4% of households were homeschooling children. That more than doubled by the beginning of the 2020-2021 term, with 11.1% of households homeschooling. Some states did not see significant increases in homeschooling, but others did. Alaska saw the highest increase of 17.9%, and Florida increased by 13.1%
The national survey also noted an upward trend in homeschooling across race groups and ethnicities. For Hispanic households, homeschooling nearly doubled from 6.2% to 12.1%. Asian households went from 4.9% to 8.8%, while homeschooling households in the Black community increased fivefold, leaping from 3.3% to 16.1%.
It's worth noting that homeschooling was already a way of life for many households prior to the pandemic. According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), there were about 2.5 million homeschooled students in spring 2019, or about 3% to 4% of school-age children. However, what was previously considered an alternative approach to education became a necessity during the pandemic.
Having spent the better part of the last 18 months at home, people are reimagining what their homes should look like. Whereas working professionals and students were out of the house for most of the day prior to the pandemic, shutdowns forced everyone to stay home 24/7. Home became the place for play, rest, and work, and it continues to be so for many. Even as we slowly start to return to "normal," pandemic-established routines at home have become a way of life.