Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Homeschooling...

In 2007, the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES), conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), determined that 2.9%, or over 1.5 million, school-aged children were being homeschooled in America.1 It is now thought that the number has risen to over 2 million (the same number that attend charter schools) and continues to grow. Between just 2007 and 2010 the number of children being homeschooled rose by 7%. (By comparison, over the same time period, children enrolled in schools increases by 1%).2

So clearly, homeschooling is an important trend, but who's doing it and why? Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that homeschooling families come in all races, religions, ethnicities, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds, though the majority so still come from white, well-educated, middle-class homes. The top three reasons for home schooling given? In order of popularity: Concern about the school environment, to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools.3

Debates rage about whether homeschooled students are socialized enough, are monitored enough, test well enough and are prepared enough for college. Generally, the public tends towards concern that homeschooling is not regulated in many states and the National Education Association has officially come out against home-based education. However, recent studies are starting to indicate that homeschooled students may have more of an academic leg up than previously thought. One recent study indicated that on average, homeschooled students scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests, but it has been argued that there is no way to be sure if that is because of the students themselves of the way they were educated.4

Regardless, homeschooling has carved out its place in the American educational system, with every state hosting at least one homeschooling association and public programs cropping up more and more regularly.5 Through museums, theaters, clubs, sports, events, co-ops and other venues, today's homeschoolers have more support and more educational opportunities than any other time in history.

This is one reason Kaleidoscope is launching its Science and Math Cooperative this fall. We have many amazing homeschooling families in our community, and with the new coop we'll be able to create a wonderful opportunity for our homeschooled kids to learn together.

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