Why Do People Homeschool?

4/8/2021

Homeschooling is a globally growing education solution. This schooling method gives parents and students more control over their own education experience, rigor, and pace.

Every January, America celebrates Educational Choice Week. More families than ever are choosing to homeschool. In the United States alone, 4 to 5 million students are “homeschooled kids”, learning daily in a homeschool environment. This number encompasses students from every demographic, race, religion, and political background. The reasons to homeschool vary from family to family, but there are some trending themes. So why do people homeschool? This is a question that millions of parents asked themselves amid school closures during the pandemic of 2020.

A bar graph indicating the most commonly reported reasons to homeschool among surveyed families. Why do parents homeschool? 22% reported wanting to create a safe environment. 12% reported wanting increased instructional value and one on one attention. 9% reported a desire to inject morals and values into the daily routine in a more meaningful way. and 8% of parents reported discipline, class size, and religious environments as their reasons to homeschool. 76% of homeschool families are satisfied with their current education situation. This information is based on a 2019 National Survey published by EdChoice.

If you were forced into a pandemic-driven homeschool situation by your child’s school district over the last year, you know that wearing the hat of parent and teacher at the same time is extremely difficult. Why would anyone choose to educate their child from home?

What does it mean to choose homeschool?

Homeschooling is a choice parents make to remove or never enroll their school-age children in public or private schools in their district. Many homeschool parents will argue that online chartered schools do NOT meet the definition of “Homeschooling.”

Homeschool parents cultivate their own learning programs by picking, choosing, and combining different homeschool curriculums on the market. Parents typically vet these curriculums themselves and adjust as necessary until they find the best fit for their own child. They don’t have to go it completely alone, though. Many homeschool families are part of a larger community of homeschool families known as a “co-op”.

Homeschool co-ops are groups of families of homeschooled kids working cooperatively to achieve common goals. Co-ops can organize social events, community service projects, or field trips that bring homeschool kids together.

How do homeschooled kids turn out? Will they be behind their publicly-educated peers?

Many families choose to teach their children at home despite false theories about homeschooled kids. There are misconceptions about how homeschooled kids develop socially and perform academically. Why do people homeschool if their kids are going to be academically behind? Why do people homeschool if homeschooled kids turn out ‘weird’?

Three adult volunteers plant during a beautification project of some kind. Research indicates homeschooled kids volunteer and contribute to their community at higher rates than their institutionally educated peers.

While homeschooled children’s experiences may look different, the National Home Education Research Institute reports that homeschool students, on average score higher on SAT, ACT, and standardized testing than students involved in institutional education. NHERI reports that homeschooled kids are more likely to participate in community-based volunteer work as an adult than publicly schooled students. They also report data that indicates homeschooled adults are more likely to vote, and are more politically tolerant than their institutionally educated peers.

Top 6 Reasons to Homeschool According to Parents

While studies and surveys have turned up dozens of different reasons to homeschool, there are about 6 emerging trends when this question is brought up among homeschool parents and families. Futuclass decided to dig into the depths of the internet’s data realm and figure out what motivates families to pull their children from institutionalized education. Why do people homeschool?

Two boys wrapped in their blankets work on school work at their kitchen table, illustrating the most common answer to the question, "Why do parents homeschool?" Safety and control of their environment

1. Safety and Control of Environment

Almost a quarter of surveyed parents cite safety and security as their number one reason for choosing to homeschool their kids. With the rise in school violence across the globe, parents fear the security limitations of their local districts.

Having complete control over their child’s educational environment means many things to parents. It means reducing exposure to violence. Eliminating the presence of drugs. Negating peer pressure - all things that can go unchecked in crowded school hallways.

Bullying and cyberbullying are making headlines as students are suffering at the hands of their peers. A lot of this behavior originates at school and can be eliminated by pulling students out of their public district or institution.

2. One on One Attention and Instructional Quality

Students who are struggling can ‘fly under the radar’ among a larger class of their peers. We see this when class sizes get too large. (Spoiler alert! Reason #6)

But did you know that an entire class of students can ‘fly under the radar’ among a group of same-aged peers? It’s a fact that some school districts are providing sub-par or inadequate instruction in one or more subjects. Those students are falling behind by national comparison.

There are a lot of reasons why a district is delivering lousy instruction. They may be using flawed delivery methods. They may need additional training to deliver the material. They may lack support resources, materials, and technology. Schools are often not meeting or even addressing basic education standards set forth by their governing bodies.

In these circumstances, the disparity between students and their same-age peers grows year over year. The only solution some parents see is to handle it on their own before it’s too late. Parents of homeschooled kids say they feel they can deliver higher quality instruction at home than is available to their child within their home district or alternative institutions.

A young girl wears a t-shirt that says, Right to be Wrong, BE Free. Go Your Own Way. Injecting personal morals and values in a more meaningful way is one of the reasons to homeschool reported by surveyed parents.

3. Morals and Values Instruction

While guidance counselors put a lot of effort into anti-bullying, kindness, and activism programming in most public schools - it falls short according to some parents. Raising good citizens is as important as raising smart ones. Many parents cite their reasons to homeschool as being backed by moral convictions. They want more community service and volunteer opportunities integrated into their child’s education.

Being productive members of society, and good stewards of the environment and its resources are secondary to programming students for standardized testing. It’s because of this lack of direct moral lesson planning that some parents choose to educate their students at home.

NHERI reports that adults who were homeschooled are more likely to internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a high rate, which is exactly what some homeschooling parents hope for.

Many homeschool families want religion at the core of their curriculum, and that is why they choose to homeschool. This is an image of a bible, pages blowing in the wind at sunset.

4. Religious Environment

With a clear line of separation between church and state, public schools are not able to offer religion anything more than a historical context. In the US, prayer and worship are now allowed in publicly funded schools.

While this may seem to go hand-in-hand with the morals and values instruction, parents who cite religious reasons for homeschool often want a curriculum that is biblically or religiously based.

They are looking not just for encouragement to be good citizens but to adhere to their particular religious beliefs by ingraining them in as much of the education process as possible. There are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and even Buddhist-based homeschool curriculums that run a thick thread of religion through the center of their programming.

Lack of discipline for bullying is often one of the biggest reasons to homeschool according to surveyed parents. This image shows a boy wearing a backpack and headphones holding another boy up against a wall, gripping the front of his jacket. The boy on the wall looks frightened.

5. Discipline

One of the many difficulties of being a school administrator is doling out fair and appropriate discipline. It becomes a bone of contention with parents who believe their child has been over-disciplined, or that an aggressor has been under-disciplined.

Disagreements about discipline often boil down to published school policy. With these policies in writing in widely distributed handbooks, it doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle-room for discretion based on circumstances. So a student smuggling a switchblade knife in their locker ends up with the same punishment as the kid who forgot to take their nerf gun out of their backpack this weekend.

This inability to compromise with parents on discipline has caused plenty of parents to pull their children from school. This ensures that they have complete control over proper discipline for academic and behavioral infractions.

Why Do People Homeschool 9.webp

6. Class Size

Large class sizes can overwhelm even the best teachers. Students who are struggling get left in the dust. Students with special needs or learning disabilities get lost in the shuffle. They often can’t be given adequate accommodations to succeed.

Having a huge class size eats up a lot of transitional time. This means less time spent per day on meaningful instruction. This lost instructional time translates into lower student achievement. Class size is one of the first things parents ask when scoping out new or potential school districts.

Small class size can be a huge selling point or bragging right for a school. It often goes hand in hand with increased student achievement. One of top the reasons to homeschool comes back to keeping a child from falling through the cracks. Parents want their child to get meaningful instruction, and some individualized attention.

So what causes huge class sizes? It boils down to budgets. School districts can’t afford to add teachers, or building space to spread students out and lower class size. This is something that is out of parents’ control, and they find the solution in homeschooling.

How Do Parents Prepare Homeschooled Kids for the 21st Century?

Teaching students in 2021 is a different world than teaching students in 1995. Textbooks have transformed into iPads. Lunchmoney is loaded on debit cards. Elective classes include subjects like computer-aided drafting, computer programming, and advanced AP classes. Chemistry, biology, and physics have become inquiry-based and hands-on.

"A student sits at her desk at home with a VR headset at home. Virtual reality is one of the ways homeschool families are expanding their curriculum in new and innovative ways to keep their kids engaged

How are parents possibly expected to keep up with these subjects at home - especially if they don’t have a modern teaching degree in their toolbox? The simple answer is to rely on experts. Just like we’d call a contractor to build an addition on our home, calling in the professionals to construct parts of our child’s education can be helpful.

Why do parents homeschool if they don’t know how to teach it all? Not even trained public school teachers know how to teach it all. This is where Futuclass comes in. Homeschooled kids can experience engaging and interactive chemistry, biology and physics lessons right in their own homes, with no need for an expensive lab! Safety is one of the most commonly cited reasons to homeschool.

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