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Why do people homeschool and how do homeschoolers compare academically?

     When a family is considering homeschooling there are an awful lot of questions that might arise either from themselves or from their family and friends. Our family homeschooled 6 children in varying degrees all the way through high school. Our oldest son was homeschooled for the entire 12 years outside of a one week stint in fourth grade when he wanted to try "real" school. Yes, he was back in a week. Some of our five daughters were homeschooled for the majority of the twelve years and a few were only taught at home for the younger years. We have tried to make sure our children's education suits their specific needs.

     Homeschooling is still on the rise in the U.S. with an estimated 2.04 million children taught at home. These statistics can be difficult to find out as there are many states that don't even ask for homeschool students to be registered. Combine this with the fact that the National Home Education Research Institute estimates that almost 10% of students in states that enforce registration are not registering their children. According to the latest U.S. Census, there are 55.5 million students in pre-K-12 grade. Private schools account for 11% of that number. Assuming about 2 million homeschoolers, that would leave 3.6% being homeschooled. There could be a crossover number of those considered in private schools and those that are homeschooled. The National Center for Education Statistics put the number of homeschooled children in 2007 at 1.5 million. You can see that homeschooling is continuing to rise.

     The question that often arises is, "why do people choose to homeschool their children?" As with anything in life, the choice to homeschool is not generally based on one specific reason but generally is a mixture of several reason. Many people assume that the main reason for choosing homeschooling is for religious reasons, the ability to instill a family's moral beliefs into their child's education. While this is one of the main reasons it is generally combined with dissatisfaction with the product of the public schools as well as creating a safer learning environment for their children. Needless to say there are also many other reasons for homeschooling your children. Children with special needs often do better in a home environment where more personal attention is available. Another reason people choose to homeschool is the ability to cater a program to their specific student's needs. If you want to accentuate math, or science; if you want to focus on certain styles of teaching; homeschooling offers the greatest advantages. You can build a curriculum or teaching style perfectly suited to your student.

     Another major reason for homeschooling that must be considered are the statistics that show that homeschooled students perform at a much higher level than their public school counterparts. The most definitive study done on this was by Lawrence Rudner in a study entitled "Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students" in 1998. This study found that while public school students average in the 50th percentile in standardized tests, the homeschool students typically scored in the 70th to 80th percentile in those same tests. The study also found that 25% of homeschool students were enrolled one or more grades above their peers. These statistics didn't seem to be affected by the education level or the economic level of the parents.

     Homeschool students have also been found to be able to relate better to those outside of their peer range. They are generally comfortable in relating to people of all age groups.

     Homeschooling will continue to grow as an education alternative as long as the public school system continues to fail our students in both safety as well as academic progress. Teaching your children at home is a wise and rewarding decision that not only benefits your family but also society as a whole.


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