Answering homeschool questions
Homeschooling is by definition a combination of family strengthening and educational enrichment.
Despite legislation to place restrictions on charter schools operating homeschool programs, the decision to homeschool is one being made by a growing number of families every year. The reasons are as varied as the families themselves, but the motivation is unanimous: “I think a big part of my husband’s and my decision was we wanted to be the main influence in our children’s lives and spend the majority of time raising them,” said South Lake Tahoe mother of three, Kristen Lincoln.
There are no solid figures on the number of students nationwide who homeschool. There are a variety of ways one can learn at home, and tracking both public and private schooling, plus keeping information on families who teach without assistance from outside programs or through tutors is difficult. It has been estimated, however, that about 1 percent, or 500,000 of the nation’s school-age children are homeschooled, according to information by the HomeSchool Association of California. That number falls in line with area college enrollment rates of about one percent for previously homeschooled students.
Along with a growing interest in homeschooling is a growing interest in what’s being taught and by whom. The following are commonly asked questions about homeschooling and some of the most common responses:
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is any learning that is centered inside the home and in place of traditional schooling. There are some families who supplement their child’s school education with home teaching, but such education is typically not considered to be homeschooling.
There are a number of reasons people homeschool. Homeschool families choose to learn at home for religious, financial and personal reasons. Some parents would rather take on the responsibility of teaching their children than turn it over to traditional school systems. Others are responding to special educational needs that traditional schools may not have the resources to provide.
Who does the teaching?
Parents of homeschooled children are the primary educators. Depending on the type of homeschooling they choose, they are not without guidance in their efforts. “Being a homeschool parent doesn’t necessarily mean you do all the educating of your children. It simply means that you direct your child’s education which is centered in the home,” Lincoln said. Public charter school distance-learning programs often provide curriculum and credentialed teachers who visit the home on a predetermined basis. Some families require more interaction with their teachers than others. Many homeschool parents are degreed, and many are not. There are no requirements for parents who homeschool. However, all public school teachers, both charter and traditional, must be credentialed.
What about socializing, or lack of?
Homeschool students don’t spend time in the classroom with traditional school children. They don’t play on the playground at recess and they probably won’t attend a prom unless they move to traditional school at some point before senior year. But homeschooled children are often involved in outside-the-home activities which enable them to socialize with children their own age. “My children participate in many group activities where socialization takes place with children of many diverse educational backgrounds. To name a few would be Spanish classes, science, art, gymnastics, dance, 4-H, church, youth group, soccer, skiing, horsemanship, musical theater …” Lincoln said.
Who can homeschool?
The question lends itself to differing opinions. Some people believe everyone has the right to homeschool. Others feel that only those who are qualified to teach their children everything they need to know in life can do it as well as it needs to be done. The truth lies somewhere in between. Every parent has the right to decide to teach their children at home. And there are a number of ways to homeschool. According to the HomeSchool Association of California, there are four ways parents can homeschool and comply with state and federal education laws: They can establish a private school in their home; they can enroll their child in a private school that offers independent study; They can employ a private tutor or themselves hold a teaching credential; or they can enroll their child in a public school that offers independent study.
How do homeschooled students do in the college setting?
It’s difficult to track homeschooled students once they reach college, primarily because the number of homeschoolers is so small, about 1 percent of college students, that studies aren’t being conducted. “It’s hard to do research with an N of 1,” said Dr. Nancy Sprotte, assistant director of enrollment at California State University Long Beach. Community colleges are utilized widely by homeschooled high school students who want to enrich their learning with the variety of courses taught on college campuses.
Is it difficult for homeschoolers to gain acceptance into four-year colleges?
“All students need to meet admissions requirements. They must be a graduate of a high school, they must have completed a 15-unit college prep pattern in various subjects, they must meet the eligibility index (through SAT scores) or, if they have a 3.0 or better, can establish eligibility without the SAT,” Sprotte said. Students who can’t provide school transcripts from accredited schools, “are evaluated individually,” she said.
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