Monday, April 17, 2017
Homeschooling in the United States
Homeschooling has been around for centuries, not just in this nation, but around the world. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Sandra Day O’Connor, Alexander Graham Bell, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louis Armstrong, Sor Juana de la Cruz...all benefited from a home education.
Homeschooling is considered the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million homeschool students in the U.S... and that number only increases each year.
Although homeschool has been traditionally associated with conservative Christians, the reality is that today, homeschoolers are very diverse and they encompass every walk of life: rich, poor, liberal, conservative, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, religious, non-religious...homeschooling is for everyone. (Notably, it is quickly growing in popularity among minorities.)
Families decide to homeschool their children for a wide variety of reasons. Some are disappointed in their local school options, while others homeschool for religious reasons. Some families travel a lot, and others simply want to nurture family relationships. Parents may decide to homeschool for their child’s safety (bullying issues), or they may have a child with health problems or physical/learning disabilities and can’t get the resources and support they need from their school district. Many child athletes are homeschooled to make more time for their rigorous training schedules. And some parents may choose to homeschool in order to nurture and strengthen their child’s bilingualism. The reasons vary from family to family.
Homeschooling is parent-led. This does not necessarily mean that the parent teaches the child everything (although they might). The beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility. Kids might learn their core subjects from their parent(s) or take classes on specific subjects online or at a local education center. Their entire curriculum may be online and parents don’t teach at all. Or maybe they are part of a homeschool group that meets once a week where the students learn all the subjects in a group setting, then spend the rest of the week at home doing assignments and memorization work.
You DON'T have to spend a fortune to effectively educate your children! On average, families spend about $600 a year per homeschool child. Curricula vary in price. A good, accredited curriculum can cost upwards of $1000 a year, but many families buy the same curriculum gently used on eBay for half or less. In addition, there are many inexpensive or free lesson plans and materials available on the internet and in local libraries.
Remarkably, homeschool students on average score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Their performance is not impacted by their parent’s level of education or income. They tend to be more mature, more disciplined, and more confident than their public school counterparts. In fact, as a result of their overall academic and social performance homeschoolers are being actively recruited by colleges (see section 8).
Homeschooling can begin at any grade level. While many homeschoolers are educated at home throughout their grade school and high school years (K - 12), there is a large number of children who are only homeschooled for a fraction of this time.
Homeschooling is allowed in all 50 states. Each state has different laws about homeschooling; a few are more restrictive, but others have very little regulation.
Overall, the popularity of homeschooling has waxed and waned in U.S. history, but currently, it is on the rise and provides an opportunity for parents to oversee their children’s education and help nurture their unique talents.