Wednesday, December 20, 2023

New on the Homeschooling Front. . .

According to surveys and reports, homeschooling in the U.S. increased dramatically during the pandemic — and, now with the pandemic in the rear view mirror, it appears that homeschooling is here to stay. More than that, homeschooling seems to be the fastest-growing form of education in the U.S. (according to the Washington Post).  Purporting to cover more than 60% of the American school-age population, the survey found the increase in homeschooled students who began during the pandemic has continued through the 2022-23 school year.  That said, the reality is that there are probably school districts larger than the total numbers of homeschooled students in the US -- an estimated 2.2 million+ homeschooled students.  This should come as a surprise to none of us.

Although there are a variety of reasons why families might choose to homeschool, including religious as well as political, those who began during the pandemic did so primarily because they found the makeshift online classes a failure educationally and then continued for educational reasons as well -- enjoying the ability to meet your child at his or her level for each individual subject.  The curious thing is that this is spread across race, ethnicity, and economic divides.  Some are looking for a safe and secure environment for learning and others are looking to safeguard their children from influences in society and neighborhoods.  Others are more concerned about making sure their children get a head start in this world.  It is safe to say that the mandates placed upon public schools to squeeze into their educational day cultural programs have also spawned the desire to focus on the the core curriculum without the school becoming a place to repair or address flaws and failings in the homes and communities surrounding those students.

There  are a few downsides to homeschooling.  One is that the standards vary -- although typically homeschoolers score as well as or higher than their public school counterparts on the standard educational measurement tests administered by states.  Another is that children are sometimes isolated at home with their parents and have not socialized with other children their age -- although this is mediated by homeschooling cooperatives and groups that work together to provide the full range of social and personal relationships that can be missing.  

There are some families who choose homeschooling because they are not sure the public schools can provide the support and services they need for their children's developmental disabilities .   choosing homeschooling because schools aren't always able to provide their children with the services that best suit their needs.  There are also some families who find the news of school violence to be a profound encouragement to school their children at home.  There are some families who might choose private schools but the high costs of tuition and other expenses are not feasible for their budgets.

The end result is that homeschooling is here to stay and it provides a unique opportunity for churches to provide a place for co-ops to meet, a means of supporting the homeschoolers with arts and music that are a good fit for churches and their musical staff members, and a way to reach out to those who may be looking for a church home in which values and beliefs are supported and encouraged.  It is no surprise that conservative Christians tend to predominate homeschoolers but there are many on the opposite end of the spectrum who also are teaching their children at home.  Finally, it is good to know that there are great resources available to homeschooling families -- many of them Lutheran!  You are not on your own and there is a wide web of direct support and internet resources to help you out.

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