Homeschooling has been on the rise in the United States over the last ten years.
According to the U.S. government and education researchers, the number of students being homeschooled has doubled in the last decade. Overall, if current national growth in homeschooling continues, and some expect it to accelerate, the number of students being homeschooled in the U.S. will surpass 2 million by 2018.
So, why do parents choose to homeschool their children?
In researching a number of surveys, and anecdotal evidence, Calvert Education has put together the top 5 reasons why parents decide to homeschool their kids (click on each item to jump to that section):
The National Household Education Survey (NHES), which is conducted every four years by the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), says that highest rated reason parents choose to homeschool is the negative environment of their child’s public school. Over 26% cited a negative environment as their most important reason, and over 90% listed it as one of their reasons for making a change to homeschooling.
What environmental factors are parents concerned about?
Most often, parents are concerned about bullying. In large part, bullying is difficult for parents to see, because unlike a report card or a letter from a teacher, it is difficult to know if your child is being bullied at school or online by classmates. Incidents where students tease, steal food or money, inflict physical harm, or progressively use more abusive or hurtful language, can often be dismissed by teachers and go unreported by the children who experience the bullying.
As kids get older, bullying and their effects become even more severe, often magnified by growing social pressures in school. Bullying can lead to lower grades and self-esteem, poor sleeping habits, depression and more.
Of course, parents also are concerned about other things that impact their child’s welfare in school, such as school violence. Though most types of school violence have been decreasing over the last several years, there has been a recent increase in theft and assault.
So, how can homeschooling help?
Homeschool becomes a solution for many of these kids and their families because it removes the psychological and physical torment that happens with bullying. The other benefit to homeschool is that it eliminates the fear that comes from being bullied or other problems kids face in schools today.
Parents who homeschool as a result of their child being bullied often report significant academic improvement, as well as greater personal happiness. What’s more, concerns about socialization are often reduced, because parents are able to remove bullies from their children’s lives and structure new social experiences for their kids. They also have better control over the positive relationships their children already had and can encourage those more.
With the implementation of Common Core in many states, declining state education budgets, increased student enrollment, and other factors, many parents believe that the quality of education in today’s public schools has declined. The NHES survey noted that a “dissatisfaction with academic instruction” is the second highest reason why parents decide to homeschool their children.
Homeschooling gives parents more control over what their kids are learning. For many homeschooling parents, there is a strong belief that public school curriculum is not providing the right knowledge and skills for children. A recent Career and College Readiness survey showed that less than half of high school students feel academically ready for college. Other surveys have shown that college professors believe students are less prepared for college work. The number of college professors who believed students were prepared for higher education has dropped from 28% to 14% in the last 10 years.
With crowded classrooms and fewer resources, it is more difficult for teachers to provide one-on-one instruction to students. However, with homeschooling, parents are able to use a state-approved curriculum, and provide the personalized instruction that is often missing in today’s public schools. Parents also can supplement their children’s learning with additional lessons. And they can spend as little time or as much time as needed on each subject to ensure their children are learning the material and feel confident they have mastered the course lessons.
Lastly, homeschooled children tend to score better on state and federal standardized tests. According to research from Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, home-educated kids “typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.” This is true regardless of the parent’s income or if they have experience teaching. In fact, the results are even better for black homeschool students who score 23 to 42 percentile points higher than black students in public schools.
Another important reason why parents decide to homeschool their children is that they want less exposure to bullying and peer pressure in the public school system, and more tailored social interactions that support their values.
Homeschooling parents can do this by taking the course curriculum, and making the world around them the classroom. While most public school students spend large amounts of time in classrooms listening to lectures (over 150 days per school year), homeschool students have more activities that take place outside of the home. With a flexible homeschool curriculum, families are better able to go to museums, parks, and historical sites, and participate in community service activities as part of their daily learning.
The impact of homeschooling in this manner often improves emotional and psychological development in children. It also strengthens family connections when students homeschool with their siblings. What’s more, kids gain a greater awareness of the world around them, and can develop a stronger sense of civic responsibility.
Children with learning disabilities or physical handicaps do not often thrive in public schools. With limited resources and time, it is difficult for many of these kids to get the specialized instruction they need to learn.
By homeschooling, parents can use specialized curriculum, like Calvert’s Verticy for students with learning differences. This approach gives you more specialized educational tools to help your child gain the knowledge they need.
The other benefit of homeschooling is that in most cases you can still use any of the public school services that are available. For example, services for speech therapy, dyslexia, physical handicaps, remedial classes, art, music, and other offerings are all still an option. This gives you even greater flexibility as a parent to make sure your child has the best of all possible worlds.
According to the U.S. government’s census data, younger Americans and families with children are the highest percentage to move, and to move the longest distances.
At Calvert, we have many military families, as well as those who have diplomatic positions within the U.S. government, that have to cope with frequent movements that take them from place to place. There also are families who have to move, because a new job for one parent is in another state or another country.
One of the most challenging components of moving is maintaining consistency in education. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that the curriculum and lessons can be done from any location. This helps to ensure that there are no unnecessary interruptions in learning.
In the case of Calvert, not only is the learning schedule flexible, the lessons are designed to be compatible with or exceed state and national guidelines. This ensures that kids do not take any steps backward when moving from one place to another.
There are, of course, other reasons why parents decide to homeschool their children.
At Calvert, for example, we have a number of students who are athletes, and have rigorous travel schedules. Others are in fine arts, music, and theater, and have rehearsal, work, and performance schedules that make traditional public school impossible. The flexibility of Calvert’s homeschool curriculum allows parents to better manage their kid’s schedules.
Another reason to homeschool that we have seen is that parents want to create an environment where their kids enjoy learning.
In most public schools, there is a lot of pressure being placed on kids. More and more, kids are becoming stressed over the volume of homework, the need to memorize a lot of information, and the daily routine of being forced to do things without any input into their learning. After a while, learning ceases to be fun and engaging.
Homeschooling parents with Calvert have seen that they now have more time during their day to focus on activities and lessons that encourage learning. And our parent support group helps one another by providing recommendations for ways to take the curriculum to the next level.
There is no doubt that homeschooling has become a mainstream education option for American families who want a better education for their children.
Though are some very popular reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children, at Calvert, we understand that a parent’s decision to homeschool can be based on many factors.
As a company, Calvert has been homeschooling children for over one hundred years. We are sensitive to each parent’s goals for their child’s education. That is why we have a team of educational professionals and a strong group of parents who are there to provide you support, and help you personalize your homeschooling experience.
If you have questions about how to make the transition to homeschooling your kids, please reach out to our team.
Don’t forget to download our Free Guide to Homeschooling Success.