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MAIN Arrow to Education Education Arrow to Home Schooling Homeschooling

As Education Options Grow,
More Parents Opt For Homeschooling

Homeschooling Parents face more choices than ever when determining how best to educate their children.

A century ago, parents had few educational options. Then, in 1906, Virgil Hillyer, a Harvard University-trained scholar and head master of Calvert School, a private school in Maryland, gave parents a new choice: a formal k-12 elementary school curriculum they could use to teach their children at home. Soon, people all over the United States, especially in remote areas, as well as those living abroad, flocked to use lessons based on classroom instruction at Calvert School.

Almost a century later, homeschooling continues to flourish, even as newer educational options have emerged. A recent Calvert School study found more than 1.8 million school-age children in the United States are educated in their homes, an increase of 38 percent since 2002.

 

“What makes homeschooling so appealing is its affordability coupled with how it helps children reach their full potential,” said Jean C. Halle, president of Calvert School's distance-learning operations. Since parents are not professional teachers, Calvert provides them with daily, step-by-step lesson plans, textbooks, workbooks and supplies as well as academic support.

Homeschooling appeals to people from various education levels. Calvert School's study found about 19 percent of homeschooling parents did not graduate from high school; 45 percent took some college courses; and the other 36 percent graduated from college.

The income level of homeschooling families also varies. Sixty-three percent of homeschoolers earn less than $60,000 in household income annually. Another 21 percent earn between $60,000 and $90,000 annually, and about 16 percent of homeschooling families earn more than $90,000 a year. The majority (85 percent) of homeschooling families spend less than $900 a year on homeschooling, Calvert School research found.

Calvert School suggests parents ask the following six questions to determine if home schooling is right for their family.

Would one-on-one instruction help your child?
One-on-one instruction, when delivered in a complete program offering placement assistance and academic support, helps many children to excel academically. Homeschooling provides an alternative when the traditional academic setting is not ideal. Homeschooling also supports the unique educational needs of children who are academically advanced or in need of remediation, those experiencing physical or behavioral challenges, or children whose extra-curricular activities or family situation make attending daily classroom instruction difficult.

Do you want to?
Homeschooling takes between 2 1/2 to 5 hours a day. Successful homeschooling families structure their days around their lessons. By creating a “school room” within the home, families often quickly establish an atmosphere for learning. In addition to finding that educational opportunities abound -- practicing math at the store, discussing science concepts while walking in the woods -- these families enjoy the freedom to pursue other interests, including travel, performance, athletics.

Are you qualified to teach?
Home teachers come from all walks of life and education levels. A curriculum prepared specifically for homeschoolers with detailed lesson plans, incorporating activities, assignments, and discussion questions, helps make sure you teach the right lessons in the best sequence.

What do you teach?
Finding age-appropriate textbooks, workbooks, and other materials can be time-consuming and complicated. Although some families gather their own lessons, many families opt for a complete curriculum to ensure there are no gaps in their child's education. Relying on educational professionals to find the best educational materials and guide your instruction maximizes your teaching time -- and gives you the peace of mind that comes when your child excels.

What grade is right?
Selecting the right grade is critical. Completing a pre-enrollment assessment and working closely with a curriculum provider's educational experts for suggestions accelerated or remedial work, when necessary, helps guarantee your child's success in homeschooling.

Are there state requirements?
Homeschooling is legal throughout the United States, although state regulations differ. Most states require families to keep records, and some curriculum providers offer accredited programs that meet state standards for homeschooling. Contact the state or local board of education for more information or visit the Home School Legal Defense Association or call them at (540) 338-5600.

What will it cost?
Homeschooling's costs are significantly less than a private school education. Most programs cost less than $1,000 a year per child. In exchange for your labor, homeschooling offers families the reward of valuable time together -- which can be priceless.


More about homeschooling around the Web:

Getting Started in Homeschooling - Check out an extensive library of how-to articles including tips on assessment, getting started, pros and cons, and related help with continuing a homeschooling course for grade school or high school.

 

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