Our story at NextGen Homeschool began in 1984, when Dean & Karen Gotcher began homeschooling their three children (authors Rosanna & Elizabeth, and my husband Kenny) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Back then, homeschooling was almost unheard of unless you were in very rural areas. Although homeschooling was legal, most people didn’t consider it or even think about it. When my family began homeschooling in 1988, we drove about an hour to connect with a “local” homeschool support group. There were very few homeschool curriculum options and no homeschool enrichment programs or activities designed to complement the homeschool experience.
Thirty years later, the homeschooling landscape has drastically changed. Today, if you tell someone you homeschool, you don’t have to explain to them what that means. You don’t have to keep your kids in the house until after 3pm to avoid being noticed by inquisitive neighbors who may think you’re breaking the law. You don’t have to worry for one second about the quality of resources available to you: We have an overwhelming number of curriculum options, and in more populated areas, outside enrichment options to choose from — even from the public school system. Colleges no longer question homeschool transcripts, and many reach out specifically to attract homeschooled students.
However, the biggest change that I’ve noticed is that people don’t ask me “why” I homeschool as much as they did when I started homeschooling just four years ago, which tells me that not only are people more familiar with it, they understand why parents might choose it. As discontent with the public school system has increased, the economy continues to struggle, and headlines are dominated by reports of school dangers (from bullying to extreme violence), the number of families choosing to homeschool continues to grow. In fact, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year. (Source: Education News, May 21, 2012.)
Recently my sisters and I were reflecting on many of these changes, as well as the attention that homeschooling is attracting in the media. My sister-in-law Rosanna was just interviewed by a national TV news show about homeschooling freedom in Oklahoma, where she lives and was homeschooled, that will be broadcast this week. So we decided to take a look at the raw data and current statistics on homeschooling for ourselves to answer the question: What does homeschooling look like in our country three decades later?
How Many Are Homeschooling?
- Approximately 1,770,000 students are homeschooled in the United States—3.4% of the school-age population. This number has more than doubled since this report was first conducted in 1999.
- In five years (from 2007 to 2013), homeschooling has grown 17% when looking at the total number of students who are homeschooled.
- More homeschooled students live in suburban areas (34%) and cities (28%) than the number that live in rural areas (31%).
- While the distribution of homeschoolers by grade (grouped as K-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, 9th-12th) is fairly even across the grade segments, the largest segment of the homeschooling population are in high school (29%).
- Slightly more homeschooled students are female (51%).
Why Are Parents Homeschooling?
Source: U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Report
- 91 percent of parents said it was because of a concern about the environment of other schools.
- 77 percent of parents said it was because of a desire to provide moral instruction.
- 74 percent of parents said they homeschool because of their dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools.
- When asked to select the single most important reason for homeschooling, more parents (25%) said it was because of their concern about the environment of other schools. Dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools ranked second, chosen by 19% of parents.
How Are Homeschooled Students Performing Today?
You can find more related statistics and articles about the growth of homeschooling on our new Pinterest Board: Homeschooling Facts & Figures.
Why do you think homeschooling is on the rise? If you homeschool, why did you decide to do it? If you don’t homeschool, what reasons would lead you to consider it? Are you surprised by the changes in the homeschooling landscape? Tell us what you think in the comments below.