Many people don’t have faith or have lost faith in the traditional school system. Therefore, more and more of them look for the advantages of homeschooling. Less than half a century ago, only thirteen children enjoyed this type of learning. Today, there are approximately two million children (3.4% of all US students) whose parents decided to replace traditional schooling for the home education.
Some studies which are financially supported by the U.S. government claim that the number of homeschooled families doesn’t increase. But, the fact is that these families refuse to participate in government surveys related to their children which put the obtained data in doubt. Without the reliable results, no one can say precisely how many children are there learning in their homes, and all existing official data is actually only indicative.
Table of Contents
- What Is Homeschooling?
- The History of Homeschooling
- What Statistics about Homeschooling Show
- The Most Common Reasons for Homeschooling
- How to Start Homeschooling
- Methods and Materials for Homeschooling
- Helpful Tools for Successful Homeschooling
- How Does Homeschooling Work – Available Programs for Homeschooling
- Homeschooling Pros and Cons
What Is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling or home education means that children have the ‘school at home’ without the traditional classroom with 25 to 30 students who are forced to learn the same school curriculum. It is a flexible and individual education which fit your child’s learning style best. This ‘organic’ type of education lets your kid take advantage of her natural interests throughout her own path in real life.
It would be great if states’ homeschooled laws in the U.S. were complying. Unfortunately, it is not a case. Generally, a student becomes homeschooled if her (his) parents send a report that their child will be educated at home instead of at a private or public school for at least part of her (his) education. But, in Texas, for instance, homeschoolers don’t need to register at all.
There is also an issue with ‘Umbrella Schools’ in Florida. Families who choose to homeschooled need to provide direct reporting including sending an annual evaluation to the local school district. Well, the tested method of avoiding this obligation is enrolling the student in a Cover (Umbrella) School. It is the legal way of signing up the child (who will actually learn at home) in a private school which allows the family to avoid the obligations they have towards the state.
Also, there are ‘homeschooled public schools’ and ‘homeschooled charter schools’ in Florida, Alaska, and California. Basically, they get the state’s funds to take responsibility for the education of the children. After a student enrolls in that kind of school, the school organizes distance education.
What to say about Florida Virtual School opened by the state? It is a virtual school which provides homeschooled education, but these students are not in the official homeschooled statistics because they are not counted as homeschoolers.
All in all, homeschooling becomes a progressive movement in the U.S. but also around the world. More and more parents prefer educating their children at home instead of choosing a traditional private or public school. They believe that only homeschooling can offer adequate progressing for their kids.
The History of Homeschooling
The roots of homeschooling are based in the colonial time. For decades, children in the United States received formal education in their homes. From the mid-19th century, when free public education was created, the public school system expanded throughout the one and a half century.
But, from the 1980s and ’90s, Roman Catholic parents tried to make their children more interested in religion. The idea was to allow the child to have all the accesses to online learning, extracurricular activities, and friendships, but without severe drawbacks including bullying or standardized lesson plans.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics conducted the National Household Education Survey about the number of homeschooled students in the country. These data have related to homeschooler demographics in the U.S. and considered as the most reliable starting from 1999.
According to these data, there were 1.1 million homeschooled children in 2003, about 1.5 million in 2007, and in 2011 this number increased to 1.77 million kids. That growth has continued, and some experts claim that nowadays there are over two million homeschoolers in the US.
According to the data of the National Home Education Research Institute, the number of children who are homeschooled in the U.S. rapidly increase by 7% to 15% (up to 25% in some states) each year.
The S. Department of State even provides homeschooled curricula and resources for Foreign Service families if they decide to homeschool their children.
What Statistics about Homeschooling Show
Anyway, the homeschooling rate grew from 1.7% in 1999 to 3.4% in 2012. Among these students, approximately 83% are white, 7% are Hispanic, 5% are black, and 2% are Asian (these percentages can vary slightly depending on sources).
Over 89% of homeschooling families are wealthy and live in towns (10%), in cities (21%), in suburban areas (28%), and in rural areas (41%). When it comes to gender, 54% of girls are homeschooled as well as 46$ boys.
As for these children’s parents, 32% of them have a vocational degree or some college, 26% have bachelor’s degrees, 23% finished a high school, 18% have graduate or professional degrees, and only 2$ don’t have a high school education.
Even though the Statistics show that homeschooling parents are today white and well-educated, who make an income above the Federal poverty level, homeschooling rapidly grows among other minorities as well.
Some parents start with homeschooling from the very beginning of their child’s life, but some of them choose to combine standard education and homeschooling. There is a list of homeschooled students by grade categories:
- Kindergarten through 2nd grade – 23%
- 3rd through 5th grade – 23%
- 6th through 8th grade – 24%
9th through 12th grade – 29%
Surprisingly (or not?), the most significant number of homeschooled children are high schoolers. The reasons are probably connected with a safe school environment. These students are often exposed to physical violence, alcohol, drugs, and sexual abuse. Parents most likely decide to homeschool their children during this critical time in a young teen’s life to provide a secure place to learn for them.
The Most Common Reasons for Homeschooling
Reasons for such a decision vary, and they are not only connected with religion as before. Parents can decide to educate their child at home because of concerns over food allergies, racism, special needs, or because their child is interested in a career in the arts or sports. The most common reasons why homeschooling parents decide to avoid traditional school education for their children and pick out homeschooling in percentage:
- 91% of them are concerned about the schools’ environment (safety, negative peer pressure, drugs)
- 77% want to provide moral instruction for their children
- 74% are dissatisfied with the academic environment
- 64% want to provide particular religious instruction to their children
- 15% pick out this type of education because of child’s physical or mental health problems
- 16% of the reasons are connected with the child’s individual needs
The results of the one survey from 2012 showed the list of reasons why parents thought about homeschooling as an option for their children and compared results with the similar research from 2007.
Up to 25% of parents were concerned with school environment safety. The results from 2007 showed that 21% of parents worried about their child’s safety, which makes a significant growth.
About 36% of parents thought about picking out homeschooling from a moral and religious point of view in 2007, but in 2012 there was only 21% of parents who gave that reason as crucial. Other motives that parents state were:
- 19% – The skeptical attitude toward academic instructions
- 5% – Preferring a non-traditional approach to learning
- 5% – Special child’s needs (physical or mental health issues)
21% – Other reasons including the importance of family time, financial concerns, travel requirements, and so on
How to Start Homeschooling
When homeschooling is mentioned, everybody talks about children, but parental preparing is crucial if they want their children to learn something. No matter what people usually think, these parents usually excellently prepare themselves. About 25% of them finish at least one course. They choose an online or in-person course equally.
After that, school at home can begin. There are tips which can help if you are one of the homeschooling parents and don’t know how to get started.
1 – Find the law about homeschooling in your state
The same as public school curricula are not the same in every state; homeschooling curriculum also varies from state to state. In the beginning, you need to find the rules about homeschooling in the state you live in given that there are 50 different laws related to this type of schooling.
The fact is that all states allow education at home, but some of them require standardized tests for homeschooled students as they reach the third, fifth and eighth grades (Pennsylvania) or parents need to register themselves as a ‘private school’ (California).
Most states organize conventions about the issue, and you should attend at least one of them to inform yourself. Also, you can contact HSLDA or a homeschooled association of your state. Don’t miss to call your local school district and check if you need to formally withdraw your kid from the school to prevent a truant officer’s visit who will come to your home to investigate the ‘educational neglect’ of your child.
2 – Pick out the adequate approach
The huge advantage of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to control what and on which way your child will learn. If you prefer a traditional school environment organized in your home, look for a structured (traditional) curriculum approach. It is based on the great works of Western literature.
If it is not a case, a few other options are available. For a start, talk to other people and look for their experiences. It is a way to discover if some approach fits your child or not. If not, find some other solution.
3 – Look for help in your local homeschooling community
To avoid loneliness and boredom, look for families in your local community who also have accepted homeschooling. Plus, as this type of schooling gains in popularity, many museums, ZOOs, and similar institutions organize events adequately designed for homeschooled students.
Discover homeschooling co-ops. You can crop up and trade expertise there. The local and state support groups are organized to support and encourage homeschooling. There are a lot of parents who are willing to share their experience of their kid’s homeschooling and the ways how they have managed the issue. The conversation with them can be helpful in so many ways.
4 – Be patient
If you want to be a homeschooling parent, you need approximately a year to get into the homeschooling system. So be patient with yourself and additionally with your child. During the first few months, you can try out different philosophies of education and curricula. Over time, you can tailor the chosen curriculum according to your kid’s needs and keep trying until everything feels right. The essence of homeschooling is that it should be enjoyable for both a child and a parent.
Methods and Materials for Homeschooling
You can choose to use a regular curriculum set, books from the local library, computer software programs, online materials, to select a distance learning school, or to make a combination of the above which fit your kid best. Various homeschooling curriculums are widely available, and students usually receive them from:
- Homeschooling catalogs (77%)
- Websites (77%)
- Public libraries (70% )
- Bookstores (69%)
- Public school districts (17%)
Private schools (13%)
If your child prefers learning on the computer, you can choose the online system Time4Learning as a valuable program for homeschooling as both supplementary and primary homeschooling curriculum.
Helpful Tools for Successful Homeschooling
Curriculum lesson plans – It represents an overview of the included number of lessons for each subject and grade. Your child will have access to two or three grade levels of curriculum for each particular subject, which allows her to learn and review at their own pace.
The finder of lesson activity – This is actually a shortcut for parents to find a preview of a specific lesson or desirable extra exercise.
A worksheet for planning the lessons – It will help you to estimate the number of activities for your child for every particular day.
Online forum for parents – Find some of many parental forums online, and talk to other parents about lessons, exercises, and adequate tools. All of that will help your child in achieving better results.
How Does Homeschooling Work – Available Programs for Homeschooling
1 – Traditional Program – In this case, the family keeps the standard school structure. They buy textbooks, curriculum, schedules, tests, teacher guides. If you choose this way of educating, you should work with your child for a generally accepted period of time and include tests and ‘homework’ on each subject. However, many parents prefer flexibility and the unique curriculum for their child. This type of programs requires a bunch of records about grading and processed school material.
2 – Online homeschooling program – This concept allow your child to build 21st-century skills without requiring too much parental teaching. Many online programs for homeschooling have pre-recorded videos. Your child can watch and re-watch them until she learns the lesson. All the tests are graded immediately, and you can see your child’s progress at any given time.
If you opted for this type of education, pay attention that some online programs are not as flexible as they seem. They have pretty specified live classes and login times, and your child needs to adjust her activities to their scheduled school day. The best online homeschooling programs will provide an Academic Advisor and give note-taking guides to help you with your questions and doubts as well as the required obligations.
3 – Blended programs for learning – In essence, this type of education implies learning by using the advantages of both the traditional curriculum and online. It means that your child will get the best of both ways. The top-rated programs will offer your child curriculum based on her learning style. So, you should check to the learning style assessment various programs provide before making an ultimate decision.
It is also a perfect choice for you as a homeschooled parent. You can teach your kid subjects you love and have adequate knowledge about, and let an online expert explains subjects which you don’t prefer much.
4 – Un-schooling – This method allow the child to build life experiences and learn through her personal interests. Parents who chose this type of homeschooling believe that the more personal their child’s learning is, the more she will desire to learn and retain the knowledge.
If you choose un-schooling, your focus should be on exploration, and your child will learn through non-traditional methods like playing, household responsibilities, traveling, extra-curricular activities, elective classes, and internships. The point is to allow your child to learn what she is interested in rather than respect some pre-conceived ideas of what every child of a certain age has to learn.
Homeschooling Pros and Cons
Discussion about the homeschooling is not slowing down. Today, homeschooling is entirely legal in all states, and many of them make attempts to persuade the homeschooled students to participate in school activities for at least the part of the day.
For example, even 28 states encourage homeschooled students to get involved in interscholastic sports. Additional 15 states consider accepting ‘Tim Tebow Laws’ which allows homeschoolers access to school sports.
The question is – Is homeschooling better than traditional school education? More and more people (and not just in the U.S.) think that the answer is – Yes! They believe that homeschooling offers the child better possibilities to develop individual interests and needs.
1 – Top Benefits of Homeschooling
♦Homeschooling is an active method of personalized learning. The primary idea is that a child needs to learn in a personal style and speed which is most appropriate for her. Plus, you as a parent are in the position to understand and provide the right kind of instructions for your child. It’s up to you which curriculum and child’s schooling schedule will select.
♦Your child can learn about what she really cares about. Without the formal curriculum, she will explore a range of topics she is interested in, including higher class material if it suits her so. Only a few parents can pass on this knowledge by themselves. Others rely on workbooks and online learning platforms like Khan Academy. Also, approximately one-third of homeschooled students (middle and high school) in the U.S. take various online courses.
♦The fact is that children learn only English, science, math, and history in many homeschooled families, but your kid’s education is not limited to those subjects. In fact, according to NCES’s data, homeschooling programs for high school students usually include several lectures:
- 88% of students learn basic algebra
- 69% of students learn about earth sciences or geology
- 69% of students enjoy biology
- 34% of students prefer physics or chemistry
- 32% of students master computer science
10% of students choose calculus
♦There is no fear of peer violence and bullying which can lead to anxiety and depression, absence from classes, and bad grades. All in all, homeschooling allows learning in the peaceful and harmonious environment.
♦You can create strong bonds with your kid, show her that education can be fun, and offer her the personal interaction. Don’t avoid discussion about controversial topics and spend more time together.
♦The usual misconception is that homeschoolers have difficulties with achieving social skills. On the contrary, thanks to social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, your child has an opportunity to form a lot of friendships.
♦Even though homeschooling means that your child will learn only at home, it is not entirely correct. They have enough time and spend it at libraries, in community colleges, in the local museums, and so on. All that will affect your child and help her to mature more quickly. Plus, she will spend more time with adults in the real world, which means that she will avoid wasting time in the artificial school environment.
♦Your child has an opportunity to achieve more in the long run. Some relevant researches suggest that homeschooled child gets better grades on standardized tests and does better once they enroll college. A 2009 study shows that up to 67% of homeschoolers graduate from college comparing to 59% of public school students, 54% of students from Catholic schools, and 51% of private school students.
♦There is a probability to make a flexible schedule and to provide ethical and religious instructions for your child as her daily activity. You can also spend some extra time discovering and developing all unique talents she has.
♦The most fun thing is that you can travel whenever you decide. Your child can learn while the family visits different places even though public schools are still in session. There a a video about it.
2 – Top disadvantages of homeschooling
♦Basically, homeschooling is very stressful for parents, but an excellent choice for a child. Be aware that it doesn’t fit every parent especially if you are not well-prepared. If you have no will and patience to commit to being an effective teacher, it is better to avoid it regardless of the many advantages of this type of learning.
♦You will need to spend time with your child all day long. I know that it sounds great, but sometimes that period during the day the kid spends at school is the only part of the day when you can do something just for yourself. It can be pretty challenging in moments when your sweet little one becomes unbelievably restless. Well, kids definitely don’t prefer staying at home all day long.
♦You need to spend a lot of time reviewing numerous curriculum programs and choosing this one which suits best the learning needs of your child.
♦You will be forced to explain to relatives and friends, which can’t or won’t understand your decision, your reasons for homeschooling. People tend to despise different choices and hardly accept unusual patterns.
♦Finding homeschooled friends and playmates for your child will take additional effort and time.
♦Finding various ways to motivate your child day by day can sometimes be exhausting and irritating.
♦You are now in the teacher’s shoes and need to find an adequate way to avoid being impatient and frustrated when your child can’t understand the lecture. You need to do it daily.
♦Maybe you are not in the mood to discuss with other homeschooled parents to get new ideas about solving lecture’s problems, but it is necessary if you want your child to learn all essential topics from the school curriculum.
♦You need to spend more money on learning materials and books.
The homeschooling trend continues to increase with no signs of slowing down. There is a full specter of reasons behind the expansion of the homeschooling movement in recent years. The most important motivations for parents to pick out this type of their child’s education are recent changing in the system of public education, the progress of technology, and the increased number of online charter schools. All this allow the parent to select a curriculum that fits their child’s learning style. Plus, family relationships have more possibilities to strengthen in this way, and the child is safer at home without drugs, alcohol, peer violence, or sexual abuse.