The government says that 1.77 million students were homeschooled in 2012, which is an 18% increase since the last study in 2007. In fact, the number of homeschooled children has been steadily increasing each year, and is expected to continue to rise.
The most recent Federal Government study concluded that about 3.4% of the K-12 students or 1.77 million students were being homeschooled in the United States as of spring 2012. The study was performed by the National Household Education Survey Program (NHES) and the results are available on the Dept of Education Website as part of the National Centers for Educational Statistics.
You can jump to the following sections:
- Homeschool Growth Trends
- Reliability of Government Homeschool Study
- The Definition of Homeschooling
- Latest Demographics of Homeschoolers
- Common Reasons for Homeschooling
- Academic Performance of Homeschooled Students
- Homeschool Methods and Materials
- Some Helpful Tools and Resources
Annual Growth Trend of Homeschooling
It wasn’t until 1993 that all 50 states made homeschooling a legal option. According to the National Centers for Educational Statistics (NCES), by the spring of 1999, an estimated 850,000 students across the United States were being homeschooled. This amounts to 1.7% of students. In 2003, 1.1 million students were reported to be homeschooled, which equals 2.2% of students. This figure continues to increase, as in 2007 there were 1.5 million homeschooled children totaling 2.9% of the school age population. Finally, the latest report conducted in 2012 shows that there were 1.77 million students being educated at home, equaling 3.4% of students in the United States.
It is highly unlikely that the above homeschooling statistics are completely accurate. In fact, the actual figure is thought to be much much higher. This is because not all of the 50 states have reporting laws. For example, New Jersey is one of the most liberal homeschooling states. Parents are not required to inform any departments or agencies of their intent to homeschool, and no proof of homeschooling is required at any time. The NCES survey itself even states that readers should “Interpret data with caution; coefficient of variation is 30 percent or more.”
The homeschooling trend continues to remain on the rise with no indication of slowing down. The National Home Education Research Institute reports that parents are opting to educate their children at home verses in a public or private school for the following reasons: parents are able to select a curriculum that matches their child’s learning style, family relationships are strengthened, children are kept safer, as they are not exposed to physical violence, drugs and alcohol, or an unhealthy sexual situation, and parents are able to instill the moral and religious values that are important to them in their children.
Reliability of Government Homeschool Study
Let’s say that you had lost faith (or never had faith) in the traditional school system for your family and you decided to homeschool. You spend time researching the current homeschooling laws set up by your state, but you may have trouble understanding them completely. You do your best to follow the laws, but you might be a little unsure as to whether you were fully compliant or not.
When the government called to survey your family situation, would you be really eager to participate in their survey? Would you quickly tell them that you had decided to educate your children at home?
It is easy to see why so many homeschooling families aren’t as willing to complete government conducted surveys. Even if you wouldn’t have a problem with it, most families find the surveys intrusive. They aren’t willing to submit any information that they don’t legally have to. Without risk of over generalizing, it is safe to say that homeschooled families are “pretty annoyed” about how much of their tax money is going into school systems, as well as surveys that don’t benefit them in any way.
In conclusion, some might say that the government undercounted the homeschoolers, since homeschooling families tend to not participate in government surveys, particularly surveys about their children.
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The Definition of Homeschooling – Murkier Than You Might Think
Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them as being educated at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education, and if their part-time enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week. Students who were schooled at home only because of a temporary illness were not included as homeschoolers in DOE’s National Centers for Statistics. Lets consider what this means.
What about kids in umbrella schools? In Florida, for instance, families can homeschool, but they must provide a certain amount of direct reporting. This includes an annual evaluation sent to their local school district. One very popular method of avoiding these responsibilities is to enroll your student in an Umbrella School (or Cover School). The family has now legally enrolled their child in a private school and has no reporting requirements to the state.
What about publicly supported homeschools? In states like California, Alaska, and Florida, there are now “homeschool charter schools” and “homeschool public schools,” a mind-bending set of new combinations. Essentially, the homeschool charter schools get the funds (“full time” student equivalents) from the state to take responsibility for the children’s education. Then, they enroll students and provide distance education. In Florida, the state itself has opened a distance learning virtual school (Florida Virtual School) that provides homeschool education, but these students are not counted as homeschoolers in the homeschool statistics.
Latest Demographic Characteristics of Homeschoolers
The age range of homeschooled students represented in the NCES study is 5-17 years old. Of these students, 51% are of the female gender, while 49% are male. Ethnicity is reported as 68% White, 15% Hispanic, 8% Black, and 4% Asian or Pacific Islander. Of the home-educated families that completed the survey, 34% were reported to live in a suburban area, 31% in a rural location, 28% in a city setting, and 7% in a town. 20% out of 80% of these families are considered poor because their income level falls below the poverty threshold. The homeschooled students were found to be in the following grade categories: 23% kindergarten through 2nd grade, 23% 3rd through 5th grade, 24% 6th through 8th grade, and 29% 9th through 12th grade. Finally, the survey took a look at the education of the parents. They found that 11% didn’t complete high school, 20% had completed high school or received a GED, 30% had vocational, technical, or at least some college training, 25% obtained a Bachelor’s degree, and 14% went on to graduate or professional school.
The above statistics demonstrate that homeschooling parents typically are well-educated and make an income above the Federal poverty level for their family size. Although most families classify themselves as white, homeschooling is rapidly growing among minorities as well. What was surprising to discover is that there are a larger number of high schoolers being homeschooled than any of the other grades. Perhaps this is due to the number one reason for homeschooling: a concern for a safe school environment. By high school students are often exposed to drugs and alcohol, physical violence, and sexual situations. Parents are most likely homeschooling their children during this critical time in a young teens life to provide a safe place to learn.
Common Reasons for Homeschooling
Nearly three percent of the population homeschooling is huge: six percent is mind-blowing. And so far, the significance of this trend is not really discussed or understood. Yes, these kids are protected from harmful influences at school. Yes these kids get a lot of personal attention. Yes, these kids learn to spell really really well. Yes, they go to college and to fine colleges in disproportionately high numbers. Yes, they’ve shown themselves to be creative (the best-seller book Eragon was written by homeschooler in high school). But, overall where does this trend lead? What does it mean for us as a society? What about when it’s an immigrant groups that decide to homeschool and to do it with an education that is very alien and foreign to American values?
The 2012 survey conducted by NCES gives us an insight as to why parents are opting to homeschool their children. Surprisingly, the most common reason given is the concern for a safe school environment. This figure went up to 25% from 21% in the 2007 survey. It now surpasses the previous common response, which is to teach children from a religious or moral point of view. This figure previously ranked at 36%, but has now dropped to 21%. Other reasons for homeschooling include a dissatisfaction with academic instruction (19%), a desire to provide more of a non-traditional approach to learning (5%), to meet the additional needs of a special needs child or a child with physical or mental health issues (5%), and for other reasons, such as financial concerns, a desire for more family time, or require travel (21%).
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Academic Performance of Homeschooled Students
The National Home Education Research Institute reports that children who are educated at home typically score 15 to 30% higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. This is true of students who are taught by parents with or without a formal education, and students whose parents fall within a wide range of income brackets. In other words, a parent’s education and financial standing have no bearing on a homeschooled students ability to score higher on standardized tests than children who attend a public school.
Homeschooled students also score in the above average range on their SATs and ACTs, says NHERI, which are important tests that colleges and universities consider for admissions. Because of this, home-educated children are being recruited by many colleges and universities. In fact, homeschooling has become so popular that many institutes of higher education have a tab on their websites dedicated specifically to homeschoolers who wish to apply for admittance into their schools.
A study conducted by Michael Cogan of the University of St. Thomas revealed that homeschooled students graduated college at a rate of 66.7%, which is almost 10% higher than students who came from a traditional public high school. The study also showed that homeschooled students consistently earned a higher GPA than the other students enrolled in the college.
Homeschool Methods & Materials
Curriculum materials are widely available to homeschoolers. Parents can choose to use a boxed curriculum set, online materials, computer software programs, a distance learning school, books from the library, or any combination of the above.
- Have you noticed how much your children like learning on the computer? The computer and internet have become valuable tools for homeschooling parents.
- Online learning can form the core of the homeschooling curriculum or can supplement other programs. Many parents consider Time4Learning’s online system to be the Best Homeschooling Program.
- As one ten year old boy put it: “Time4Learning is the best. It’s official. We use several curricula but Time4Learning is the best.”
- Time4Learning is a great homeschooling partner. Time4Learning is a small family-owned business that strives to treat each member personally. We answer every email daily (including weekends!). We provide ongoing technical assistance and an active parents forum where parents can discuss their homeschooling ideas.
- Time4Learning is a great homeschool curriculum choice. Some parents use Time4Learning as supplementary, others use Time4Learning as the primary homeschooling curriculum. Time4Learning has curriculum for homeschooling children in preschool, grade school, middle school, and high school.
Some Helpful Tools and Resources
Welcome to Homeschooling Guide – Are you new to homeschooling?This guide was written by seasoned homeschoolers to answer some of the difficult questions new families often struggle with.
Curriculum Lesson Plans – An overview of the number of lessons that are included for each grade and subject. All students have access to at least 2 (and in most cases 3) grade levels of curriculum for each subject, so they can move ahead or review at their own pace.
The Lesson Activity Finder – One of the many helpful tools that Time4Learning offers its members. The activity finder is a shortcut that makes it easy for parents to preview lessons or find extra practice for their child. You can visit our hints and help section for more information about the activity finder.
Lesson Planning Worksheet – Wondering how many lessons to have your child do each day?Estimate the number of activities per day using this easy to use, printable worksheet.
Online Parent’s Forum – Reach out to homeschoolers in your area, join discussions, ask questions and trade ideas on our online community of homeschooling parents. Having the support of seasoned homeschoolers can really help make your homeschooling journey a success.
Sign up for Time4Learning and gain access to a variety of educational materials, which will engage and challenge your child to succeed. Make Time4Learning a part of your children’s homeschool resources.