NEW YORK (PIX11) – An 11-year-old Bronx boy on the Autism spectrum has thrived while being homeschooled, freeing him to find his voice and become more outspoken.

The child struggled in traditional school where he would get stressed about his inability to communicate how he feels, but he flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were shut down, according to his mom.

“For him, it’s worked out well,” said the boy’s mom, who declined to have her name used. “He’s learning how to communicate with other people and really understand them. He’s more outspoken than he used to be.”

Whether it’s squeezing in some geography during a cross-country drive or a conversation with a teacher who doesn’t believe in climate change, New York City parents have opted in droves to homeschool their kids post-pandemic.

Nearly 15,000 kids were homeschooled in the Big Apple last year, more than double the pre-pandemic stats, according to Chalkbeat. The report said most of the increases happened in low-income districts.

The spike correlates with national trends, which show homeschool enrollment increased by 30% in the 2021-22 school year, including by 65% in New York City, according to the Urban Institute.

In the first two years of the pandemic, public schools nationally lost about 1.2 million K-12 students, according to the UI data. Most were elementary or kindergarten students. 

“It’s a fascinating process,” said a Queens mom who is teaching her 7-year-old daughter at home. “The pandemic changed people’s lives and made them reassess things.”

Many of the parents expressed their frustration with the New York City public school system, whether it was that they were unable to get a seat in a desired preschool or the rigid classroom setting that forced them to switch.

Homeschooling allows parents to decide what and how their kids learn. The families have opted for a more hands-on approach, such as a trip to the park to learn about nature or a zoo to learn about animals as part of the curriculum.  

A showbiz couple from Astoria who opted to homeschool their 9-year-old son, Dylan, said the shift allows them to work gigs around the country. The experience has been positive for Dylan, who acted in a Broadway play and learned about the states on a road trip to Las Vegas.

“I never imagined myself as a homeschool parent,” Lyn Philistine Sutton said. “The positive thing is the flexibility and the experiences we have as a family. We’re lucky we can do it.”

It’s not all about hitting the books, either. Many of the moms said their kids are social, and participate in playgroups, recess, field trips to parks and theaters, sports, and have access to art history, comic books, and drawing classes.

Homeschool kids also have access to city and state help, like special needs services. The city also provides parents with some criteria outlining the educational requirements. The parents have to submit progress reports to the Department of Education, but they get to decide if their child advances to the next grade or is held back, the moms said.

“It’s not an easy decision. It was hard,” said another Queens mom homeschooling two young kids. 

For more information on homeschooling, resources are available at New York City Home Educators Alliance on Facebook and Instagram.