Do you have an outdated notion of homeschoolers as socially awkward religious zealots?
This week, as part of their web-only series, TODAYshow.com reports that home-schooling is becoming more mainstream.
According to TODAYshow.com, though homeschoolers represent an estimated 3 percent of the population, “evidence suggests that home-schooling is a growing trend in America.”
Indeed, religious faith and practice continues to be one of the primary reasons people home school (83% cite that as a reason).
But parents who homeschool cite many other motivations, including the opportunity to spend more time with their kids, a more flexible schedule, and the opportunity to travel.
In some cases, parents opt to homeschool because they feel there are no other good options — their local school isn’t working for them and they can’t afford private school. In other cases, parents opt to homeschool because of their children’s special needs.
Because homeschooling numbers are often underreported, it’s difficult to get an exact national number, but the more recent surveys (from 2006-2007) show that an estimate of 1.5 million students are home-schooled. The same surveys from 2003 and 1999 show “there’s been an increase of 74 percent in the past 10 years,” according to TODAYShow.com.
Brian D. Ray, head of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute, says that the actual number of homeschoolers in America is between 1.9 and 2.5 million students.
In Florida, the number of homeschooled students has increased 7.5 percent since 2008, and in both Ohio and Minnesota, homeschooling ranks have jumped by 5 percent.
The demographics of the homeschooling population are also changing. According to Ray, people of color currently make up about 15 percent of homeschoolers, up from less than 10 percent a decade ago.
What preconceptions to do you have about homeschooling? Would you consider it for your family?