Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Homeschooling movement is growing, so is "unschooling"

Elections, Homeschooling, THE ECONOMY

Even though I graduated from being a homeschool mom in 2007, the Home School Legal Defense Association still sends me email updates. These notices help me keep up with what is happening within the homeschool movement.

This week's notice reported that the homeschool movement grew 36% between 2003 and 2007, according to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). "'Homeschoolers can now be found in all walks of life,' said Michael Smith, HSLDA President." Also in HSLDA's report: (My emphasis)

The NCES estimates 1.5 million homeschooled children, or 2.9% of the school age population in 2007. This is a significant increase from 1.1 million in 2003, or 2.2% of the school aged population.

The NCES survey also considered the reasons parents are turning to homeschooling. Parents continued to cite the negative peer influences of public school, the desire to provide religious or moral instruction as well as concern about the academic quality of public school as their reasons for homeschooling.

The greatest change from 2003 was an 11 point increase in the desire to provide religious and moral instruction which went from 72% in 2003 to 83% in 2007. Concerns about the school environment, however, remained the top reason with 88%.

“Homeschooling is a mainstream educational alternative. It will continue to flourish as parents and children continue to experience the social and academic benefits of a home based education,” said Smith.

USAToday also ran a story about this in Home schooling grows:

The ranks of America's home-schooled children have continued a steady climb over the past five years, and new research suggests broader reasons for the appeal.

This 2007 NCES survey differs from the 2003 survey in that they added a 7th reason for homeschooling: UNSCHOOLING:

The 2007 survey added a seventh: an interest in a "non-traditional approach," a reference to parents dubbed "unschoolers," who regard standard curriculum methods and standardized testing as counterproductive to a quality education. [Parents could choose more than one reason for homeschooling in the survey.]

"We wanted to identify the parents who are part of the 'unschooling' movement," Mulligan says. The "unschooling" group is viewed by educators as a subset of home-schoolers, who generally follow standard curriculum and grading systems. "Unschoolers" create their own systems.

The "Other reasons" category was also up 12% since 2003 to 32% in 2007 and "included family time and finances. That suggests the demographics are expanding beyond conservative Christian groups...Anecdotal evidence indicates many parents want their kids to learn at their own pace," says Robert Kunzman, associate prof at Indiana University's School of Education.

Many homeschoolers I know have children who have learning disabilities such as ADD and Dyslexia. These children are very intelligent but not suited to the regimented, traditional school environment. They need to learn at their "own pace" in their own way.  Rather than medicating them, these parents choose to school them at home. These children do very well with Unschooling--hands on doing rather than sitting and reading about it. Thomas Edison would be a very good example of this type of student. He was kicked out of public school and labeled as being "addled". His mother then homeschooled him.

My son and I incorporated unschooling into our homeschool years. We had some classes that were very traditional--math and Spanish were on video or DVD. We also turned my son loose on projects he was interested in--unschooling.

KBroccoli, Author of the Homeschooling ADD Kids blog sums up Unschooling very well:

Unschoolers believe that learning can take place at any time, anywhere. They also feel that standard subjects taught in school, such as math, reading, science, history, geography, etc., can (and should) be learned not just when sitting down for a learning "session", but during everyday life tasks.

...Unschooling is not about pulling a kid out of school so he can watch TV and play video games all day. It's not about not learning. To the contrary, it's about integrating education and the real world.

With the looming recession, I do wonder if the trend toward homeschooling will grow or decline? (Homeschooling generally requires a stay-at-home parent, although I do know of some part time working parents who homeschool. Some families have family businesses to make up the income loss of their single income status.) 

Will parents who send their children to private school switch to homeschooling to save money? Or will parents be faced with sending their children to public school so that both parents can work? Time will tell. 

If you are thinking about homeschooling, I encourage you to look at the HSLDA website. There are many helpful resources there. Also, seek out homeschool support groups and ask if you can attend their meetings. Look online for curriculum: Rainbow Resource, Sonlight, Beautiful Feet Books are a few companies that come to mind. I would be happy to answer any questions, if I can, via email.

Please, comment content should relate to the subject of the post. Although I try to respond to many, do not interpret my lack of a response as agreement.



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Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, Vicki Mckenna, Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, Mark Levin, CNS News


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