The Growing Impact of Homeschooling in America

President Theodore Roosevelt said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." This is just one of many possible reasons why homeschooling families choose to take their children’s education into their own hands.

Other reasons for homeschooling include:

  1. A disappointment in the public schools
  2. Concern of the safety environment of schools
  3. The belief that education should include religious teachings
  4. Gifted and challenged children that would not thrive in the public-school system

Homeschooling for religious reasons is no longer the primary cited motivation for homeschooling, although this stereotype might never die out.

The Growing Number of Home Educated Students in America

Way back in 2000, the number of homeschooled students in the United States had already surpassed the number of children enrolled in the entire New York City public school system. Today, the homeschool population continues to grow at a rapid pace.

America’s Tradition of Homeschooling

In many ways, homeschooling is an American tradition. In colonial America, families of all classes would band together to educate their children. This was, of course, taking place inside the home as the K-12 public school system had not been invented.

Parents, tutors, and the older children combined efforts in education. The origins of the very first primitive single-room schoolhouse lie in what looks surprisingly like a homeschool co-op. Families gathered together to hire a teacher who could share in the overall responsibility of education.

However, the same collaborative techniques were used.

Once the small one-room schoolhouse was upgraded, education moved forward with ever increasing institutionalization and formalities.

The Contemporary Homeschooling Movement

Just how important is the growing contemporary homeschooling movement? What impact will it have on America and established public schools?

Although no one can know for certain what direction homeschooling is headed, it is possible to make several educated guesses. Additionally, we can theorize about the impact it will have on the overall education enterprise.

Three Observations about Modern Homeschooling

The first observation is that homeschooling very well could fit within an even larger movement of individuals and small groups creating localized sustainability and moving away from public bureaucracies.

A second observation was made clear during the 2016 presidential election. It illustrated how divided the American public is on the issue of public school. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hoped to assimilate homeschooling families back into the public system through vouchers.

Even if homeschooling were to dominate the K-12 education landscape, the natural progression is to start forming small groups and institutions that start looking a lot like schools. This evolution, from family to co-op to country schoolhouse to public school already happened once. It would likely happen again.

Predicting the Future of Homeschooling in America

Assuming that homeschooling does continue to grow in the US, what will be the result?

No, America would not turn into a nation of unsocialized freaks. (Although, many homeschoolers wear “weird” like it’s a Red Badge of Courage.)

  1. We can expect to see an increase in adult education. Homeschool moms and dads obligate massive time and energy to “full time job.” No matter the state, homeschool parents are involved in seeking, teaching, and grading curriculum. Most parents are required to do this productively.
  2. must learn what is normally taught to children of a given age, find materials and projects that teach specific skills, and learn how to use their own time and that of their children productively. In a roundabout way, homeschooling is the biggest “unofficial” parent-training program in the world.

Although I am a homeschool supporter, it would be irresponsible to ignore the potential harm. Namely, the broad issue of parent/student accountability. Quantifying students in public school is difficult. It is considerably more difficult to quantify a homeschool student’s performance.

Nevertheless, the evidence that we do have supports a trend of homeschoolers aiming for academic excellence. Reference this 2012 master’s thesis by Kathi Moreau and the U.S. Department of Education’s official report, the statistics about nonpublic education.

Studies have shown approximately 75 percent of homeschooled students attend college while 50 percent of their public schooled peers drop out of school (Chang et al., 2011).

Furthermore, the Bib Jones testing service for homeschoolers found that nearly 25% of them are enrolled in one or more grades above their “age level.” When their median test scores were taken, every grade performed above their private and public school counterparts.

This frequently attributed academic prestige has a dark side. Homeschooling itself is neutral but places a great deal of power in the hands of the parents. If homeschooling’s potential for physical isolation and leniency in official reporting is abused, there is potential for abuse and even death. Homeschooling’s Invisible Children is devoted to shedding light on the infrequent, but tragic cases of homeschooling gone wrong.

This post was contributed by Jyoti Bhatia. A stay-at-home mom, Jyoti loves to write about home education, parenting, education, management, toddlers management, etc. Jyoti volunteers & contributes as a part of the team.