The number of children being homeschooled in America has increased by 75 percent over the past 14 years in all states, according to a report in the online journal Education News. While only four percent of all school children nationwide are educated at home, “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,” the report noted.
A study by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) found that as of 2011 there were an estimated 2.346 million children being homeschooled in the United States. The findings were based on data from both state and federal education agencies as well as private home-school groups. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, called the phenomenon remarkable, noting that in the early 1980s, on the leading edge of the homeschool movement, “there were only an estimated 20,000 homeschooled children.”
Although the pioneers of homeschooling in the United States were largely conservative Christian parents concerned about the negative values permeating public school curriculum, over the past several years the reasons parents choose to educate their children at home have become more diverse. A 2006 study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of parents who taught their kids at home did so out of concern for the public school environment, citing such issues as “safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.” Another 30 percent said that home schooling offered them the ability to “provide their children with religious or moral instruction.” An additional 16.5 percent of parents cited dissatisfaction with “the academic instruction available” in the public schools, while about 14 percent said they chose homeschooling because of special needs of their children.
As for academic achievement, numerous studies over the years have confirmed that homeschooled kids outperform students in traditional classrooms.
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