The homeschooling movement in the United States has steadily increased in numbers since its origins in the 1980s. Today there are somewhere over 1.5 million children homeschooled in the country, and the numbers increase by about 1.3% each year. There are a wide variety of reasons parents may choose to homeschool and an even wider variety of ways in which they accomplish it every year. These aren’t children sitting in vintage desks in lone rooms, while their mom or dad dictates from the lectern. These children are learning in the kitchen, in the forest, in the fields, in science museums and art galleries, in neighbor’s houses, in the living rooms of grandparents, on city streets, and everywhere in between.
Parents may choose to homeschool because they live rurally and their local school is very far away, or maybe their local school is close by, but underfunded and struggling. Perhaps their child was bullied at school or is simply not flourishing there. Some homeschooling families choose to do so because they disagree with the public school’s mandatory focus on the Common Core, or they can’t afford a private school. There is no one reason to homeschool, and likewise, no one method for how to do it. It isn’t for every kid and it certainly isn’t for every parent. Homeschooling is not an insignificant time commitment and requires considerable job flexibility on behalf of the parents.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and comes with requirements that vary state-by-state. Broadly, parents must submit yearly lesson plans to the state, and at the end of the year, their child is evaluated (in person, not by testing). Homeschooling is an intentional practice, not a passive one, where parents direct their child’s learning based on broad guidelines provided by the state.
Many parents don’t see homeschooling as all wildflowers and skipping children learning arithmetic effortlessly, while baking their mother a gluten-free gingerbread cake. And, of course it isn’t, no matter what the Instagram filters show us. There is criticism that homeschooling is a privilege of those who don’t need to work. There is concern that it creates anti-social children who will be woefully underprepared for “real life”. Critics say that it undermines already struggling local schools by removing would-be students and would-be energized parents. Opponents say that children should get the experience of school, of having to sit for long periods of time and accomplish tasks that are asked of them by their teachers and peers.
What do you think? Have you considered homeschooling your children? Do you already? Were you as a child? Share with us your thoughts, your experiences, your wisdom. Homeschooling: yay or nay?
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