First, the basics. Homeschooling is a right, guaranteed in many documents including the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.S. signed. Anyone restricting your rights to homeschool is operating outside the law – even when they claim to be the law.
There are, depending on your source of information, between 1.5 – 6 million homeschoolers in the United States alone. In every state and every community, people are homeschooling. You are not alone. But there are often restrictions and requirements placed on homeschoolers by the state. To find out about the requirements for your state, use this link:
This will take you to a page on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s site, one with a map of the United States. Click on your state. This will take you to a page with the info you will need to know to homeschool within the law. You may be required to register a homeschooler with a local school district. You may have to meet with a school district teacher, say once a month, and demonstrate your progress by showing essays, tests, even curriculum that you may be using. You may have to do none of the above. Thanks to this site, it’s easy to find out what is required.
Given the huge number of people homeschooling, it clearly can be done. People homeschool for different reasons. Amongst the most common are 1) They don’t trust schools; 2) Schools aren’t safe; 3) They want their children exposed to certain ideologies and beliefs; 4) They want a superior education made available for their children; 5) They want their children to be free to learn about things that interest them rather than just the proscribed subjects by the state; 6) They want to be free of “homework” and its endless control over a child and his family’s life. There are many other reasons. The truth is, you don’t need any reason at all to homeschool – at least, not a reason that you need to explain to any authority. Homeschooling is your right.
How do homeschoolers do in the world? Well, let’s start with a history lesson. What do these people share in common: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison (author of the Constitution), Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin all have in common? They all homeschooled. In fact, prior to this last century a majority of the people who made history in politics, science, in any area you care to consider, were homeschooled.
How about today? Will your homeschooled child be allowed into college? I recently interviewed a College Dean, Greg Lampard from College America (they have some 18,000 students, I believe) and we discussed exactly that subject. He informed me that his college actively seeks homeschoolers. Why? Because per the Dean, homeschoolers do between 10-15% better in their grades and in testing, and by other measurements, than children from school situations both public and private. (So much for the argument that your child should be taught by “an expert”, a “trained teacher”. Their results are not as good, per all national test score measurements, as homeschoolers get!)
And of course, there’s the fabled “socialization” issue. Again, the Dean informed me that homeschoolers as a group are more able to work with others and get things done than students from schools. I have absolutely seen this to be the case, after teaching in schools for about 15 years, and then homeschooling and working with homeschoolers for the past 10 years. And what sort of “socialization” does a child receive in public school? Research done by a university working with the Department of Education and released just a few months ago showed that some 46% of all school children are harassed in any given school year by other children. A report issued by the Dept, of Ed. in 2004 stated that between 6%-10% of all public school children would be sexually abused by a teacher or school staff member during that student’s time in public school.
The argument heard most often against homeschooling is that the child will only have family, and will not know how to be around others. Well, as a homeschool single dad with two children, I made certain they had extracurricular activities, saw their friends every week at our house or at their friends, had sleepovers and whatever was needed. They were surrounded by people they and I knew and trusted. They were always safe, and surrounded with love and concerned family and friends. My children are VERY social, at ages 20 and 24 today.
Through personal experience I discovered that the socialization issue is actually a lie, a way to control and to scare people back into public schools. Schools are paid by head count. They are paid for each student who shows up, that’s why roll is taken in class first, before anything else is done – it’s about money. So schools do not want you to homeschool! Teachers do not want you to homeschool, it places their livelihood in jeopardy.
Bottom line – homeschooling has for a very long time, many centuries, been the most successful form of education! It is legal, though you may have to jump through some hoops that simply should not legally exist.
Millions of people successfully homeschool every single day. You can, too.
Thank you, Steven, for sharing your perspective and passion for ensuring our children are educated well. I appreciate you taking time to write this post.
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