Let’s face it. There are a lot of homeschooling families in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and in Vermont generally. But between public school options and a few private or independent schools sprinkled throughout the NEK, some seemingly quite adorable, even quaint (did someone dare say ‘quintessential’) and close-knit, why do parents choose to homeschool?
Like it or not, homeschooling or the idea of it, that is, statistics show one thing: homeschooling is becoming more mainstream. Millions of children across the country are homeschooled. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, over the past 8 years, there has been relatively a 74 percent increase in homeschooling.
That explosion may partly be explained by alternative online education options, like K12.com, a real-life online classroom for home study students, or Vermont-based alternative school, Oak Meadow, which offers homeschool curriculum and online study. But the decision to homeschool is often deeply personal, even gut wrenching at times and sometimes an ever evolving or periodically revisited decision, as parents try to find the ‘right’ academic fit for their children.
1. Flexibility. Some families opt to homeschool because it’s convenient or flexible (or offers a certain lifestyle), particularly if the family travels frequently (e.g., in today’s increasingly global economy, national or oversea travel or living is a fact of life for many households), moves often (e.g., military), or has athletic, highly talented or ‘professional’ children (e.g., competitive athletes, musicians or actors).
2. Proof is in the pudding. Homeschooling is no longer unchartered territory. There are home study graduates in nearly every university, college or occupation. Parents can easily get their hands on packaged curriculum, online classes and virtual schools, and other resources that give families increasing confidence to homeschool–i.e. less worry about ensuring their children learn what they need to know.
3. Problems at the school. Parents often opt to homeschool after dealing with ‘problems’ at public or private schools, such as behavioral issues (real or imagined by the school) or excessive student ‘boredom’ (such as not being challenged enough in what has become an increasingly ‘standardized test-score’ focused classroom).
4. Labels. Some parents turn to homeschooling after a school applies–or they fear a school will afix–a label to a child, such as ADHD, who may simply be a very energetic child or one who learns on a unique timetable or learns better without the typical classroom style of teaching.
5. Religious/Spiritual. Some parents opt to homeschool because of religious or spiritual reasons, such as an interest in interweaving Bible Study or philosophies with traditional class subjects.
6. Bonding time. Some parents opt to homeschool because they deeply enjoy spending time with their children and want to maximize the amount of time they have with their children and to get to know them before they leave the nest.
7. Interest-based learning. Some parents choose to homeschool because they want to facilitate interest-based learning. For example, if a child loves a particular subject, activity or sport, to give the child room to explore that interest fully. Alternatively, parents may wish to see that their children are educated following other models, such as Classical Education or Waldorf.
Of course, there are many other reasons why parents homeschool. If you homeschool or are contemplating homeschooling, what are your reasons?