Homeschooling is on the rise in the U.S., and parents are choosing to homeschool their kids for a variety of reasons.
Traditionally, the public viewed homeschoolers as religious fanatics, over-the-top control freaks, or progressives who believe that traditional schooling stifles creativity and that real life experiences offer the best education, or a combination of any of these. Nevertheless, no matter your opinion on the subject, the fact is that homeschooling has been on the rise in the U.S. over the past ten years.
In March 2016, the National Home Education Research Institute, an Oregon-based nonprofit research organization that conducts research on homeschooling, released the results of their study which concludes that there are about 2.3 million homeschooled students in the United States, up from approximately 2 million children in the spring of 2010. The document states that the population of homeschooled kids grew about 2 percent to 8 percent a year over the past few years. In fact, homeschooling is an educational practice that is now bordering on “mainstream”, whereas it was viewed as a “cutting-edge and alternative” form of education a decade ago.
These days, the homeschooling community includes a wide variety of people – atheists, Christians, and Mormons; low-, middle-, and high-income families; people of diverse educational backgrounds; folks of varied races and political beliefs.
Top Reasons and Motivations for Homeschooling
According to the NHERI study, parents choose to homeschool their children for more than one reason. The most common reasons are because parents wish to:
Customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child,
Accomplish more academically than in schools,
Use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools,
Enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings,
Provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults,
Provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, racism, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools, and
Teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs and worldview to children and youth.
More Reasons for the Growth of Homeschooling
In addition, the growth of homeschooling can be largely attributed to the fact that there are more resources, such as curriculum, available for parents in order to help them get started and guarantee that they are following the law.
Contrary to popular (and misguided) belief, home educating is not at all isolating and crippling. Because of the large number of homeschooling families, you can be sure to find a network or group wherever you live. Homeschooling networks help expose children to all kinds of activities outside of the classroom and allow for social interaction in the form of sports classes, drama or book clubs, and the like.
In fact, the NHERI study concludes that in terms of social, emotional and psychological development:
Homeschooled students are doing well, typically above average on measures of social, emotional and psychological development.
Home-educated kids regularly engage in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their immediate family members through field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.
In terms of academic performance, homeschooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile scores above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. In addition, they typically get above average SAT and ACT test scores that colleges consider for admissions.
Given all these facts and figures, families who are considering homeschooling their children should do so carefully. Each family, parent, child, situation is different. While home educating may work for some families, it may not work for all. Research your options carefully and consider the matter from all angles. Talk it over as a family so you can decide what’s best for you.