For years, the American educational system has been scrutinized, berated, belittled, and criticized when it comes to the education of America’s children. For some families, private schools, while expensive, are a tuition-guaranteed, well-rounded education. Charter schools, which are privately operated public schools sanctioned by the state departments of public instruction, are an alternative as well. A growing type of education, home schooling, is becoming ever increasingly popular. In studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, in 2003 there were approximately 1.1 million students who were home- schooled. According to a brief written by the U.S. Department of Education, the definition of “home schooled” encompassed “students whose parents reported them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education and if their part-time enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week. Students who were schooled at home only because of a temporary illness were not included as home schoolers.”
In addition to the statistics on the number of students enrolled, the U.S. Dept. of Education also surveyed those parents who home schooled their children to find the reason why parents chose this educational option. The reason given most often (by 31% of parents surveyed) was that parents were concerned about the “makeup” of the school population. Another top reason parents chose to home school their children was to provide religious or moral instruction, which they would not receive in a public school. Interestingly enough, only 16% of parents were dissatisfied with the academic instruction available at other schools.
Home schooling requirements differ from state to state. It is important for anyone considering home schooling to “do their homework!” Each state has certain legal requirements in order for your child to be home schooled. In North Carolina, for example, parents who home school need to have a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent; the place of instruction has to be inspected by the local fire marshal to make sure it meets the educational code requirements; and the parent must keep meticulous records. These are just a few of the state requirements. Nevada, on the other hand, requires that a home schooling parent have a teaching license or certification. But they do not require inspections, nor do they require recordkeeping or the administration of achievement tests. As you can see, there is a lot of variance, so it is critical to contact your state department of public instruction to find out the requirements that apply to your situation before you begin home schooling. Your state department of public instruction will also have a listing of support groups, places for ordering teaching materials, and other resources to help you as you seek to provide this unique education for your child.
While home schooling has its own set of non-traditional educational challenges, it can also be creative, fun, and memorable for your child. Whether your child learns through traditional public schools, private schools, or home schooling, the most important thing to keep in mind is that a child’s education is vitally important to their future successes as an adult.