Home schooling in the USA has evolved rapidly since it first came to widespread public attention, after many years of being limited mainly to rural areas.
With an estimated two million or more home-schooled students across the USA, it’s still a minority, but it’s a significant percentage of the school-aged population.
Many states are in favor of educational freedom – so, provided you have the right resources there at home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t join the home-schooling revolution.
There are plenty of places online where you can buy the learning tools you need – from atlases designed especially to aid learning, at Maps Online, to book stores and learning-related discussion forums.
So if you’ve never seriously considered home schooling as an alternative to mainstream education, it might be time to look again at your child’s education, and whether you might be able to do it better.
Reasons for home schooling
A 2007 survey by the Institute of Education Sciences reveals the main reasons why parents choose to home school their children.
For 88% of parents, concerns about the school environment was a major factor, while 83% preferred the freedom to include religious or moralistic teachings that might not be prioritized at school.
Nearly three quarters (73%) were dissatisfied with the quality of academic teaching, and 65% simply liked the non-traditional nature of home schooling.
Other less significant reasons included children with special educational needs, physical or mental health problems, and a variety of individual factors.
How home schooling is treated
As home schooling has emerged, it’s gradually been worked into the state legislature – but that can mean it’s treated quite differently, depending on which state you live in.
In some states, home schooling is dealt with in its own right, with legislation designed specifically for the various issues that might be encountered.
Elsewhere, home schooling is simply treated as part of the state’s laws on compulsory education – and as long as your child receives the right number of hours’ instruction each week, you’re away to a good start.
Finally, some states treat home schooling in the same way as any private schooling – that means you might need to demonstrate that your teaching is to the standard of other private education institutions.
Depending on your home state, you might also need to notify the relevant authorities before taking your child out of public school.
You may need to keep your child enrolled in a public school, or you may be prohibited from doing so – it all depends on where you are in the country, so make sure you know your local laws.
Progressing from home schooling
Moving from home schooling into the public collegiate system can again vary from state to state, but home schooling is increasingly being recognized as a viable form of education.
That means, even if your child hasn’t completed any standardized tests, they may still be welcomed into the college admissions system.
It’s a sign of how far home schooling has come in recent years – and an indication that it is quickly becoming a ‘normal’ alternative to the public schooling system, that doesn’t shut out the possibility of further education in the future.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents considering homeschooling.