The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) estimated that in the U.S. in 2010, there were over 2 million children being homeschooled. That represents about 4% of the country’s schoolkids.
Most parents who are homeschooling are doing so for religious or moral reasons. But the homeschooler demographic is changing. According to Linda Perlstein, writing in Newsweek, there are an estimated 300,000 homeschooled children in America’s cities, many of them children of secular, highly educated professionals.
Why Is This Happening?
Here’s what Perlstein has to say:
Many of these parents feel that city schools—or any schools—don’t provide the kind of education they want for their kids. Just as much, though, their choice to homeschool is a more extreme example of a larger modern parenting ethos: that children are individuals, each deserving a uniquely curated upbringing. That peer influence can be noxious. (Bullying is no longer seen as a harmless rite of passage.) That DIY—be it gardening, knitting, or raising chickens—is something educated urbanites should embrace.
And she continues:
Several homeschooling moms would first tell me, “I know this sounds selfish,” and then say they feared that if their kids were in school, they’d just get the “exhausted leftovers” at the end of the day. Says Rebecca Wald, a Baltimore homeschooler, “Once we had a child and I realized how fun it was to see her discover stuff about the world, I thought, why would I want to let a teacher have all that fun?”
Parents Want A Unique, Customized Education For Their Child
Some parents are concerned that the current push under the No Child Left Behind Act for more and more academics starting ever earlier is not what education should be about, and they fear that their kids will get turned off to school altogether.
Others worry that their children won’t get the education that’s exactly right for them; by doing the schooling themselves, at home, they can assure that their kids are delving deeply into the subjects that interest them most.
As a teacher, I can say that with differentiated instruction, we try to accommodate all students’ needs and learning styles, but it’s impossible to do that perfectly with a classroom of 30 unique, individual kids.
But is that such a bad thing? Don’t children need to learn to work together with their peers and help each other? And is it such a good idea for children to be constantly with their parents as they are growing up?
It is true that nowadays there are lots of resources available for homeschooling parents including, in some cities, curriculum, centers and classes designed especially for these youngsters.
And yet, I worry that these homeschooling parents will become the helicopter parents of the future, unwilling to let their children flourish independently, or to give them the freedom to grow as separate individuals.
Will These Kids Know How To Interact With Others From Different Backgrounds?
And, as someone who grew up in a very isolated town in the southwest of England, it also concerns me that these children won’t know how to interact with people from backgrounds quite different from theirs.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Multimedia Photography And Design – Newhouse School