Homeschooling has an interesting history in the United States. While parents have been teaching their children at home for much longer, established homeschool curriculums were not developed until the 1960s. At the time, this wasn’t legal in all 50 states and the homeschooling population consisted of a fringe minority of counter-culture families. For some, it was a defiance against secular schoolyard principles that didn’t align with a family’s religious perspectives. For others, there was a general distrust of the traditional schooling environment that promoted parents to make this choice for their children.
What was once considered an “extreme” way of resisting cultural norms in the 20th century is now an increasingly popular option in the 21st.
So, what changed? What has prompted more and more parents to take charge of their children’s education by homeschooling? Perhaps the biggest catalyst for this shift was the legalization of homeschooling across all 50 states in 1993. In the 25 years that has passed between now and then, the number of homeschooled children in the United States has skyrocketed to an impressive 2.3 million. Some estimates place this number as high as 3.5 million students. When one considers the fact that less than 900,000 students were homeschooled as of 1999, it becomes abundantly clear that homeschooling is no longer a “fringe” movement, but rather a mainstream form of education.
Technology Has Changed Homeschooling in a Big Way
With the internet readily available to many of us, the way that we approach many subjects has changed. Education is no different, least of all where homeschooling is concerned. Parents have access to more information that helps to inform them of the subjects that they will teach their homeschooled children. They can engage their children in online activities to help strengthen their skills, store reports and other information online, and connect with other homeschooling families with the click of a button.
The technological advancements that we have seen since the beginning of the 21st century have made homeschooling a more accessible option for many families. Knowing this, it is no surprise that more people are taking advantage of this opportunity. Before this tech-driven era, conventional schools were seen as the only option for most students.
Shifting Attitudes Have Played a Part, Too
For a long time, homeschoolers were seen as somehow “strange.” This is because the choice to homeschool was unconventional, even controversial, for a span of several decades. Misconceptions about this educational practice were common, with few people capable of adequately dispelling the myths. However, as more people have found the resources to get their own homeschooling curriculums designed, this perception has drastically changed.
The public more readily embraces the concept of homeschooling, especially at a time where traditional education institutions are highly criticized. Oversized classes, too few educators and not enough resources have made the average school a place that parents are concerned about. It’s obvious that more students in a classroom under the supervision of only one educator spells out problems – especially in terms of individualized attention and focus. Outdated materials and too few materials caused by inadequate budgets have parents worrying about the quality of education that their children are receiving.
These extremely valid concerns are driving more parents to make the choice to homeschool their children. The homeschooling environment guarantees the child receive the attention that they need and allows for a degree of flexibility that the conventional classroom environment cannot.
It is not likely that homeschooling will be dwindling in popularity any time soon. In fact, the case for homeschooling is so strong that we can only expect to see the number of homeschooled students steadily increase, as it has since the late 90s.