Last week I was chatting with a friend who just pulled her kids out of their local public school in January to homeschool them. I was curious about what motivated her decision.
“I really wanted my kids to have more time with their siblings, to really cement those strong family bonds,” she said.
She also wanted to rekindle their innate love of learning, giving them time to pursue their own academic interests, and dive deep into projects about which they’re passionate.
“It’s so easy to homeschool now,” she said. Her own parents had homeschooled her when she was a child, and she’s found that there are so many more resources for homeschoolers than ever before.
Homeschooling has changed
It really is incredible when you see all that’s available to homeschooling families today. My husband’s parents homeschooled him back in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it was a different world then.
“I feel like we were pioneers,” my mother-in-law said, looking back on her decades of homeschooling.
She remembers painstakingly making her own school supplies, from flashcards to handcrafted math manipulatives, because those kinds of materials were hard to find back then. Outside of the occasional homeschool convention or mail-order catalog, there weren’t many options to research homeschool curricula and materials.
Today, by contrast, there are literally thousands of homeschool programs and millions of homeschool materials available online. My children are homeschooled and we use online programs for lessons in art, music, and foreign languages, as well as countless YouTube videos and Google images to supplement subjects like science and geography.
On top of that, homeschool families decades ago often found little support. Homeschooling was so uncommon that many people didn’t even know what it was.
My father-in-law remembered that the first time he heard of a family homeschooling their children, he asked, “Is that even legal?” Years later, my mother-in-law was met with endless confusion and questioning when she took her homeschooled children to the grocery store in the middle of the day.
“It was very foreign to people to see kids out during the day with their mom and not in a classroom,” she said.
But in spite of the comparative lack of resources and support, they loved the challenge and adventure of homeschooling their children.
“I’ve never once looked back and felt regret for homeschooling our kids,” my mother-in-law said.
A much better experience
Today, it’s such a different story. Besides having an absolute abundance of online support, programs, materials, educator training, and other resources, homeschooling families today often find themselves surrounded by a supportive local community.
That’s the case for my family, as we live in an area where homeschooling is very common. Local libraries, museums, and nature centers offer special classes and events, like homeschool science fair, on weekdays especially designed for homeschooled children. My kids have dozens of homeschooled friends; in fact, more families we know homeschool their kids than don’t!
Homeschooling really has become mainstream, especially after the pandemic brought a major surge in its popularity. About 11% of children in the United States are now homeschooled, and the rise has been highest in the Black community, with 16.1% of Black families homeschooling their children.
Many families have been delighted to find that homeschooling feels like a way to “hack education,” as kids are able to complete the same amount of schoolwork in far less time than in a traditional classroom.
So if you’ve ever thought about homeschooling, I’m here to offer you a gentle nudge of encouragement. There’s never been an easier time to homeschool your kids, thanks to all the online resources and support available. And it’s becoming so popular that you’ve got a good chance of finding a supportive local community.
With any luck, you might not even get any confused comments at the grocery store … here’s hoping, anyway!