You’re not alone if transitioning your children to homeschooling is on your mind.
According to 2016 United States Department of Education data, the homeschooling population for ages 5 - 17 had swelled to 1.7 million students. And as a percentage, homeschoolers doubled from 1.7% to 3.4% from 1999 to 2012.
Homeschooling has gained in popularity for three main reasons:
- 34% of surveyed parents cited concerns at traditional schools around safety, drugs and negative peer pressure
- 17% were dissatisfied with academic instruction
- 16% preferred religious-focused learning
Not limited to rural families and households, homeschooling advocates and practitioners include 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow; NFL Hall of Famer and ABC Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan; and Jessica Mendoza, ESPN baseball analyst. They cite family influences and an educational system that accommodates the travel demands of their professions as reasons homeschooling has worked for them as students and parents.
The following considerations can help families successfully make this important change:
Know your local rules and regulations
Though legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, homeschool education requirements can be as different as the states themselves. Variables include the number of required homeschool days, support options, curriculum, the educator’s qualifications and record keeping. Your state’s Department of Education website is the best initial source for this information.
Understand the college or university perspective
College requirements can differ by school or state, whether public or private. Accordingly, you’ll want to research whether homeschoolers are held to different admission standards than traditionally educated students. Expect that your student will be required to take an ACT or SAT-style standardized test. Something you can control is how you document the homeschool experience, test results or other thresholds. Know before you start or decide to homeschool how colleges and universities evaluate homeschoolers. This can help balance a short-term decision with long-term effects.
Combine structure with flexibility
Schedules and discipline deserve added emphasis when schooling occurs outside traditional classrooms. Many homeschoolers still need a proper routine and dedicated space to achieve in this learning style. This applies to wake-up time, meals, active learning, breaks and even exercise and activities. If possible, a dedicated space in the home will help promote discipline and assert your expectations for academic achievement and study time.
Think integration, not isolation
The growing numbers of homeschoolers likely means that many homeschool households are already in your community, adapting the same as you. While learning will largely occur family by family, local resources can often provide the equivalent of gym class, field trips and similar events that bring homeschoolers together. Try searching Google, Facebook or a local parenting blog to find locales that connect students and parents for everyone’s benefit.
If you’re only in the consideration phase for a homeschool transition, these resources can help make your next step an informed step: