The U.S. Department of Education believes nearly 2 million children are being home-schooled nationwide — a 74 percent jump since 1999, the year of the Columbine High School massacre.
According to the Education Department, 36 percent of parents take their child out of school for religious reasons. Another 38 percent either don’t like the school environment or the way the teacher is teaching. Other reasons included safety concerns, dissatisfaction with the school system, caring for special-needs kids and the chance to spend more time with their children.
The latest national numbers on home-schooling from 2006-07, estimated by government surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, says 1.5 million students are home-schooled.
But Brian D. Ray, head of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute, says the actual number of home-schoolers in America is between 1.9 and 2.5 million. Ray obtained data from private home-school organizations and co-ops to supplement statistics from state departments of education, finding that “a notable number of home-schoolers might not show up on government records.”
Explaining why the exact numbers are so hard to pin down, Professor Milton Gaither, author of “Homeschool: An American History,” stated, “Historically, many home-schoolers were suspicious of the government in the first place; they are not the type to like to be studied and many want to remain as private as possible.”
Gaither said another challenge is that regulations vary widely from state to state.
“There are 50 different laws in 50 different states, and because of this diversity, it’s impossible to have a national blanket statement about the status of home-schoolers,” he said.
Whatever the actual numbers are, it is clear that a trend toward home schooling is inching its way up the American education system, and proponents are citing the benefits.
Kathleen Carper, president of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, said, “Most studies show a tutorial approach to education is the best approach, and that’s what you have with home-schooling.”
The South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools estimates some 19,000 children are home-schooled statewide — a 131 percent increase from 1999.
In listing the pros and cons of home schooling, familyeducation.com cited educational, emotional, religious and physical freedom as special considerations, including closer family relationships, more stability during difficult times and more well-rested kids. Other sites list reduced physical and emotional harm from bullies, less exposure to peer pressure and temptations as well as reduced exposure to corrupt ideologies.
Among the disadvantages to home schooling were the potential of socially underdeveloped children, weaknesses in the education received, a heavier financial burden than expected (purchasing the curriculum needed, computer software and other resources to teach lessons) and the exhaustion of parent and child balancing their roles as teacher and student as being mentally, emotionally and physically draining. Without question, discipline, organization, structure and advance preparation are all included in successful home schooling.
There are clearly risks in both and advantages to both. Such is life. Each family has to decide what is best for their children and provide them with the best education possible. They may differ in their views of the social, spiritual and safety measures taken to protect their children, but many parents are aware that they must answer to a Higher power for how they care for their offspring.
As Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him.” — GOD’S WORD Translation. Would you agree that any inheritance from God should be treated with extra care and given priority in our lives?
For many parents, it is no burden to home school their children. In fact, they consider it a privilege. Children being a “reward” from God also suggests that everything we invest in them academically, socially and spiritually will be repaid in ways we may not be able to imagine.
It seems the first form of child education in the Bible was closer to home schooling than public schooling, according to Deuteronomy 6:6-8. It included educating one’s children whenever and wherever the parents could instill instructions into their child’s heart.
Personally, I was educated in the public school system and I have never regretted it. I made new friends, learned new things — yes, got into a few fights, coped with peer pressure and defended my faith in high school. True, the level of violence in schools today was not there when I attended, but neither was the need for more youths to be exposed to the truth found in God’s Word and the hope it offers for our future.
There are pros and cons to public, private and home schooling. Each family must decide what is best for their child, for their future and the best way that they can show their Maker that they view their children as a gift and inheritance from God.
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