The Growth of the Homeschooling Movement
Many parents, teachers and students are not satisfied with current state of education, and are doubtful that initiatives such as the Common Core will improve matters. Fed up with the state of education, some families are choosing to opt out altogether. Several surveys have shown that homeschooling is on the rise, growing seven times more quickly than the rate of public school enrollment. Nor is this movement strictly limited to conservative Christian households. As the movement grows, so does its diversity.
Who is Your Average Homeschooler?
Though homeschoolers are still in the minority overall, only 4% of families in the U.S., the test scores of homeschooled children are well above average, consistently scoring on the 65th to 89th percentile. Not only this, but parents spend thousands of dollars less on average to educate their children than do children in public schools.
Parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. Religious or moral reasons are still the most common answer given for choosing to homeschool at 36%. Other common reasons are concerns over school environment and safety, and being dissatisfied with the state of education at their public school. Many other parents choose to homeschool due to their child having special needs, or because the family travels a lot and or has a unique schedule or lifestyle.
The reason that homeschooling can be the answer to all of these situations is because it is so flexible. Some families follow an un-schooling method, which is primarily student-driven, while others follow a more regimented curriculum. Most families blend different learning methods to come up with one that suits their family’s needs. This is especially important for parents of students with special needs. There are also many online resources and technology that many parents take advantage of. Some public schools even offer some or all of their classes online for free; others offer special enrichment programs that are catered specifically to local homeschoolers.
Recent studies have also found that homeschooling is more common in minorities and single-parent households than previously thought. From 1999 to 2003 homeschooling among minorities grew by 20%. While it is more common for homeschooling families to have one parent at home in order to do the teaching, but some surprising statistics show that homeschooling still occurs even in families with both parents in the work force, as well as in homes with one working parent. These statistics also demonstrate the great amounts of flexibility available with homeschooling: no two families will look exactly alike nor follow the same schedule.
The Future of Homeschooling
The most frequent critique of homeschooling is concerns over student socialization. Parents are also often concerned that students will not get to participate in sports, music and other school activities. The truth is that families can find these opportunities if desired. Some public schools allow homeschooled children to participate in sports, and there are community leagues as well. Tim Tebow has publically spoken out about the rights of homeschooled athletes to participate in high school sports. Many towns have active homeschooling co-ops which offer classes, music lessons and opportunities for children to act in plays and socialize with peers.
Homeschooling became legal in all 50 states only as recently as 1993. Since that time the movement has done nothing but grow. It’s safe to say that we will see more growth in the future, as technology makes it ever easier for children to learn wherever they are, and families become more diverse.
That being said, homeschooling is not for everyone. The task requires a serious commitment for both the parents and the children, and requires support from family, friends and community. Families should honestly analyze their individual situations to make the best choice for them.