In the last academic year, homeschooling more than doubled across America. Many families turned to home education during the Covid-19 crisis, experiencing for the first time what 3-4% of families had already chosen to do for their children’s education.
Veteran homeschoolers know many of the new home educators found the experience unpleasant and felt unsuccessful, while others were surprised to find a new freedom. Dr. Roger Smith, who began homeschooling in 1988, states, “The first reaction of one beginning to homeschool is to try to copy what the school does, but do it at home. Homeschooling is not about the location, it is a whole new way of approaching learning.”
The 2020-21 school year forced millions of students from the traditional classroom to resort to other forms of education. Many pursued online instruction, while others formed “pods,” or micro-schools, others participated in “virtual school” through the public school they had previously attended. Some parents began instructing their own children, buying curriculum designed for parent-taught home education.
All the different methods have been referred to as homeschooling, but the results of the different approaches vary widely, and should not be considered the same.
“A decade ago, standardize testing, such as SAT and ACT, revealed home educated students outperformed their peers by 30-35 percentile points. Unfortunately, those using a virtual school approach performed worse than those attending a brick and mortar school,” Dr. Smith reports.
Homeschool experts recognize the differences in the learning style of each child, and help guide parents to using the method that best fits each child in order to make learning more efficient, effective, and pleasant. This level of flexibility is unachievable in large groups like needed in traditional schools, thus forcing some children to learn in ways that is not best for them.
Dr. Brian Ray, an internationally recognized researcher on homeschooling notes, “all education research agrees that low student-teacher ratio, customized instruction, and a teacher that is genuinely interested in the success of the student predicts a good outcome. That is why homeschoolers have found such success.” He further notes the success of home education was unaffected by the socioeconomic level or the educational level of the parent.
The transition from a traditional school approach to that of a home educator is often difficult. Resources for getting starting or adjusting methods are critical for the success of home educators. HomeschoolFreedom.com is a site built to help guide new homeschoolers through the process of transitioning and the many decisions families face. Each state has an organization to help homeschoolers navigate the laws addressing homeschooling appropriate to that state. Louisiana’s organization is HomeschoolLouisiana.org. Local support groups offer encouragement, guidance, and activities to enrich home education. Two area organizations are Franklin Parish Homeschoolers and Northeast Louisiana Christian Homeschool Association.