No Longer on the Fringe: The Homeschooling Population Continues to Grow
To some, homeschooling may seem like a relatively new trend, something that only just started over the last 10 years or so. The reality, however, is far different. Home education has taken place since as far back as 350 BC, with Alexander the Great. In fact, homeschooling was commonplace in North America from colonial times until the 1900s, which marked the movement toward compulsory school attendance. The list of famous homeschoolers from way back when is quite long, with such names as Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Booker T. Washington figured prominently. Eventually, however, compulsory attendance laws rendered widespread homeschooling a thing of the past, and it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that we began to see a significant resurgence.
Fast forward to today, and homeschooling, in some form or fashion, is legal in every state (and has been since 1993). Not only is it legal, but the number of families homeschooling their children is growing by leaps and bounds. Since 1999, the homeschool population has grown approximately 75 percent, and all signs point to continued growth going forward.
According to the Why Homeschooling Is Growing infographic:
- The number of home-educated children ages 5 to 17 grew over 61 percent from 2003 to 2012.
- The number of parents choosing alternative educational options for primary school is increasing at a rate seven times faster than the number of parents who choose to enroll their kids in traditional school.
- Since 1993, the homeschooling population has seen increases of about 15 to 20 percent each
The big question is why. What is making homeschooling such a popular choice for today’s families? Of course, like many things, there are no simple answers. The fact of the matter is there are many different types of families homeschooling their children, and those families have many different reasons for making this choice. However, there are some reasons that seem to come up over and over again.
The following are among the top reasons families home educate:
Safety is a top reason parents give for choosing to homeschool.
At home, children are free to concentrate on their studies rather than dealing with such issues as school violence, bullies, access to drugs, exposure to gangs, or negative peer pressure. Some opponents of homeschooling counter this benefit by claiming that homeschooled children are not well socialized.
However, the vast majority of homeschoolers socialize with other children in their neighborhoods and through co-ops, homeschooling groups, outside-the-home classes, and extracurricular activities. In fact, one might argue that some home-educated children develop a high level of social skills because they typically learn to communicate and get along with people of all ages rather than just a very narrow peer group.
Quality of education is another top reason many families choose to homeschool.
Many families choose to homeschool because it allows them to deliver a personalized, quality education. At home, parents can not only teach the basics but also tailor learning to their child’s unique interests. Likewise, home educating allows children to learn at their own pace rather than rushing through certain topics to keep up with an entire class or slowing down when a classroom of students needs more time but they don’t. Parents also mention the availability of quality curriculum materials and resources as reasons to homeschool. Home educators can choose the learning materials and resources that work best for their children rather than using whatever happens to be school district approved. Though many homeschoolers don’t view test scores as the ultimate proof of knowledge and achievement, studies show that homeschoolers score well on standardized testing, often outscoring traditionally educated students, and most have no difficulty getting accepted to college.
Ability to travel is also a draw for many families who opt to home educate.
Flexibility is one of the great things about homeschooling, and for families who travel, it’s a particular draw. With homeschooling, families have the ability to alter learning schedules to account for travel, taking learning on the road with them or even incorporating visits to museums, landmarks and historical sites into their travel plans. Homeschooling is also a viable option for families living abroad. Some families even embrace carschooling as a way to learn on the go.
Reasons for homeschooling run the gamut from safety and religious/moral convictions to educational quality and the ability to delve deeply into certain subjects. There’s one thing all homeschool parents share, however, and that’s an appreciation of the right to choose when and how their children learn.