The demographics of homeschooling parents are changing, writes Kathleen Berchelmann for ChildrensMD. No more is teaching children at home something only done by the religious or those whose homes are too rural to make going to a high-quality school practical. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, and even public school teachers are increasingly turning their back on the traditional in favor of teaching their children themselves.
More than 2 million children around the U.S. are homeschooled, a number that is 75% higher than it was in 1999. And the number is expected not just to grow, but to grow exponentially over the next decade — especially since the advent of free virtual public schools and quality curriculum all around the country.
Even so, the stereotypes surrounding families who choose to homeschool are so persistent that Berchelmann herself hid her own homeschooling efforts from her colleagues for over a year, afraid that she might get tarred with the same brush.
The difficulty was compounded by self-doubt. As a full-time professional, Berchelmann wasn't at all certain that the experiment would pay off.
I wasn't sure I could homeschool my kids well. I feared the whole year would be an academic failure and emotional nightmare. I was so unsure about this homeschooling experiment that I even kept a spare school uniform in case I had to send my kids back to school at the last moment.
This week our kids are finishing their standardized curriculum and we will spend the rest of the school year doing enrichment activities. Alas, I think we can call this success.
In the end the first year turned out to be a rich learning experience — and not only for her kids. To aid other families in her situation, Berchelmann lays out 18 reasons why her family decided to abandon public school in favor of educating at home.
Among the reasons – and surely among the major concerns among aspiring homeschooling families – is time. According to Berchelmann, homeschooling took less time every day than driving did. By the time the four kids were driven to each of their individual schools, followed by other academic enrichment activities, simply staying at home and using that time to learn made more sense.
Our kids are excelling academically as homeschoolers. Homeschooling allows us to enrich our children's strengths and supplement their weaknesses. The kids' education moves as fast or as slow as required for that particular subject area. They are not pigeon-holed and tracked as gifted, average, or special needs.
Homeschooling is not hard, and it's fun! We bought a "box curriculum" from a major homeschool vendor, and all the books and the day-by-day curriculum checklist came in the mail. We have a lot of fun supplementing material through YouTube and online educational sites like Dreambox, Khan Academy, and others. Our kids do about half of their math online.