Homeschooling is “parent-led home-based education,” according to Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. in a January 2015 paper entitled “Research Facts on Homeschooling” published on the National Home Education Institute website. Ray argues that it could be the quickest-growing education trend in the U.S. and that it has been growing in many other countries as well.
Ray contends that the homeschool population is growing at about 2 to 8 percent each year, and that there are about 2.2. million children homeschooled in the U.S. today. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association put the growth rate at 7 percent as of 2009, and it also stated that the homeschooling movement graduates about 100,000 students per year. Minorities are a fast-growing population in the homeschool community as well as about 15 percent of them are non-white. Children from all walks of life homeschool, not just rich, white, Christians. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “White (83 percent) than Black (5 percent), Hispanic (7 percent), or Asian or Pacific Islander (2 percent)” homeschool.
Parents who decide to homeschool tend to do so for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons parents homeschool are that they want to individualize their children’s curriculum and learning environment and that they want to accomplish more academically than public schools can. They also want to use different educational methods with their children and build their family relationships. Parents may also homeschool because they want to keep their children safe from violence, sexual behavior, bullying, etc., and they may also desire to teach their children a particular set of religious or moral beliefs, says Ray. The National Center for Education Statistics states that as of a 2012 study, “91 percent of homeschooled students had parents who said that a concern about the environment of other schools was an important reason for homeschooling their child, which was a higher percentage than other reasons listed.” The Office of Non-Public Education in the U.S. Department of Education notes that 77 percent of parents who homeschooled did so because they wanted to provide moral instruction to their children, and 74 percent did so because they were not completely happy with the academic instruction at other schools, according to the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012.
As far as academic performance goes, children who learn at home often do much better than public school students on standardized tests, between 15 and 30 percentile points better, reports Ray. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association reports, “[H]omeschoolers have actually increased the already sizeable gap in academic achievement between themselves and their public school counterparts-moving from about 30 percentile points higher in the Rudner study (1998) to 37 percentile points higher in the Progress Report (2009).”
This above-average achievement is true no matter the level of education parents – although there was a somewhat noticeable difference in achievement depending on parents’ education level, but it was still well above average — have or how much money the household earns. The Home School Legal Defense Association notes that “Overall the study [Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics – 2009] showed significant advances in homeschool academic achievement as well as revealing that issues such as student gender, parents’ education level, and family income had little bearing on the results of homeschooled students.
Homeschooled children are not the necessarily the awkward, isolated kids that stereotypes would have the public believe. In research studies, they have done well, usually above average in areas of emotional, social, and psychological development. Homeschooled children are also involved in activities outside their homes, such as scouting, church, sports, and volunteer work, according to Ray.
As adults, homeschooled children tend to be involved in the local community in a service capacity more often than the general public. They are also more civically involved. Additionally, they attend college and succeed more than the general population, states Ray.