As parents, we have a lot of decisions to make that will affect our children. One of the most important is what kind of education they will receive. Unless you fork over thousands of dollars for private school, chances are, your child attends the local public school. While there are also magnet and charter choices, these are often similar to the local schools or hard to access. So what is a parent to do if the school in their area isn’t meeting their child’s needs? Well, many are turning to homeschooling.
Based on recent statistics, there are about 3.2 million children being homeschooled in the United States, about one in 50, and that number is expected to rise. Although there are parents who always had plans to homeschool, there are still many more who never planned to. We call them “accidental homeschoolers” and our research suggests they make up more than half of current homeschoolers. Some of the most common reasons families turn to homeschooling are: bullying, having a special needs or gifted child who isn’t receiving adequate attention, regular travel and relocation, and health issues.
Even though homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, there are many homeschooling myths that remain. Below are some of the most common.
- A homeschool should mirror a traditional school set up. Most families new to
homeschooling will typically try and replicate a school setting in their home. It’s usually what we think of when we think “school”. However, in most cases, a school’s structure won’t work well at home. A homeschool setup can and should be done in the way that works best for parent and child.
- Homeschooled students miss out on socialization. This is by far the biggest fallacy among people unfamiliar with homeschooling. Most homeschool families find that their children are better socialized than those who are traditionally schooled. Many homeschool groups and co-ops arrange field trips, cooperative study, sports and a range of other activities.
- Homeschooling is expensive. One of the most common mistakes new homeschooling parents make is to spend thousands of dollars on curriculum and books that turn out to be ill-suited for their children. Start slowly. Inquire about free trials, borrow books or rent curricula to see how your child best learns and excels.
- Homeschooling laws are complicated. Homeschooling is legal in all 50
states. Getting to know your state’s homeschool laws is an important first step to the homeschooling decision. We often recommend that parents connect with homeschoolers through co-ops and groups. Those experienced homeschoolers can provide a wealth of information and needed support.
There are many parents who didn’t plan to homeschool. These “accidental homeschoolers” sometimes start homeschooling abruptly with little preparation, lots of misconceptions, and with no real idea on what sort of education they hope to provide. However, it doesn’t take long for these families to realize that homeschooling opens the door to not just a different education for their children, but a much enriched family life.
Guest Writer-John Edelson, Founder and President, Time4Learning.com and Time4Writing.com
John Edelson is the founder and president of Time4Learning.com, a comprehensive online curriculum for homeschool, afterschool and summer use. Serving students in PreK-12th grade, Time4Learning’s multimedia lessons are student-paced and cover math, language arts, science, social studies, foreign language and more. If you’re new to homeschooling, visit Time4Learning.com to see how we can help you get started.