If you’re thinking about taking your child’s education into your own hands by opting for homeschooling, you may be surprised to learn that you’re not the only ones who believes a home education can be just as good, if not better, than a conventional one. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that the number of homeschooled children continues to rise, having grown by nearly 300,000 between 2007 and 2013. Currently, it is estimated that there are 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States and the rate is expected to grow by between 2% and 8% in the next few years. The National Home Education Research Institute notes that homeschooling children is a positive move from a financial perspective, since less children attending public school saves the nation some $16 billion a year. Homeschooling is also affordable for parents, it seems, since there an array of free teaching resources available for homeschooled children, and parents can save on items like uniforms, the school bus, school trips, etc.
Reasons Why Homeschooling Appeals
According to the NCES report, the following are the reasons why so many parents are attracted by the idea of homeschooling:
- Concern about the school environment: Some 91 per cent of parents said they were concerned about the environment in traditional schools. The newspapers are rife with reports regarding the effect that tragic events such as the Sandy Hook shooting have had on parents’ faith in the public school system, at least in so far as safety is concerned. Another factor that may lead parents to shun the traditional school environment is bullying, since statistics indicate that the majority of bullying still takes place at school (around one in three children report having been bullied at school, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- The role of morality: Around 77% of parents cited their desire to educate their children in morality as well as in academic subjects, as an important reason for their decision to homeschool their children.
- A desire for quality academic instruction: Some 74% of parents said that they were dissatisfied with the academic instruction offered in traditional schools. Indeed, many parents believe that they can use available time to better advantage and broach a wider range of subjects in a more profound way, at home. Statistics show that homeschooled children obtain excellent marks, whenever parents take a structured approach to education. From an academic perspective, homeschooling can also be an excellent choice for academically advanced children, who benefit greatly from a highly individualistic education where they can spend more time and effort on areas of interest. Homeschooling also allows students to advance at a pace they feel comfortable at, and to consult interesting material from a wide variety of sources.
- Children with special needs: Some 17% of parents said they chose homeschooling because their child had special needs, while 15% cited a physical or mental issue as the reason for their choice.
- A desire for difference: One of the most interesting reasons provided by parents had to do with opting for a different type of learning experience. Many parents seek to encourage an analytical frame of mind in their children, and an active approach to education, where children are free to inquire, analyze, interpret and apply what they have learned to real-life situations.
- Additional reasons: A small percentage of parents had reasons which did not fall within the categories mentioned above. Their reasons for opting for homeschooling included time considerations, finances, distance, etc. For some, homeschooling is simply the most realistic or “doable” option.
Is homeschooling for you and your child?
If you are considering homeschooling your child, it is vital to do as much research as possible into the pros and cons. For instance, is it economically viable for one partner to work from home, work part-time or forego an income in order to homeschool one or more children? Do you have the time that it takes to ensure your child receives the social stimulation they can obtain from other children? (Most homeschooling parents and kids belong to groups in which children regularly socialize and/or study together for a few hours a week). You should also make it a point to speak to other parents who homeschool their children, so you can obtain a better idea about they structure their day, find necessary materials and ensure their children are socially integrated.