Homeschooling is on the rise in the United States, but it can be a mystery to those who have never participated. Why do families choose homeschooling? Must they follow one nationwide standard? Here are seven homeschooling statistics and facts to shed some light on a growing educational movement.
Facts & Stats About Homeschooling
Statistics show that homeschool students come from families of all different backgrounds, just like students in traditional schools. Yet these same statistics can paint a picture of the commonalities found in homeschooling families.
Fact #1: The Top Reason for Homeschooling is Concern about the School Environment.
Homeschool attendance is steadily growing in the United States; for example, the number of homeschooled children nearly doubled between 1999 and 2016. What's behind the growth of the homeschooling trend?
A whopping 80% of parents surveyed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) between 2015 and 2016 reported that ''a concern about the environment of other schools,'' namely, ''safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure,'' was the greatest motivator for homeschooling their children, according to a 2016 report entitled Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016. Parental apprehension about the environment in traditional schools even beat out concerns about academic quality, which came in strongly at 61%.
Fact #2: Legal Regulations for Homeschooling Vary Widely from State to State.
Early on, prospective homeschooling parents discover the importance of following homeschool regulations in their own state. Depending on where homeschooling families live, each state of the union takes a different approach to homeschooling.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, only 10% of states have strict laws regulating homeschooling:
- New York
- Rhode Island
Eighteen states have moderate regulation of homeschooling, 16 have low regulation…and 11 states don't even mandate that parents notify authorities when they decide on homeschooling for their children.
Fact #3: Washington, DC, Prohibits the Homeschooling of Other People's Children.
In many states, homeschooling parents join together, forming cooperatives to support each other. These homeschool co-ops allow for the pooling of resources and provide opportunities for socialization.
Often, homeschooling parents take turns teaching each other's children—particularly in situations where they have specialized expertise in certain school subjects. In our nation's capital, homeschooling families can form co-ops for mutual support; however, parents or guardians are only allowed to provide homeschool instruction for their own children.
Fact #4: Florida Families Can Homeschool Outside the Home.
In contrast to the stricter District of Columbia homeschool regulations, homeschooling families in Florida can look to other adults to provide instruction for their children. Further, per the Florida Department of Education, homeschool students in the Sunshine State can get their education outside of the home—and they aren't required to spend a specific number of hours in their homeschool classroom, wherever it may be.
Fact #5: Until 1984, Homeschooling was Illegal in Virginia.
Starting in the 1970s, homeschooling families in Virginia fought a series of legal battles at the state level to get the Commonwealth to accept homeschooling as legal. Largely spearheaded by the Home Educator's Association of Virginia (HEAV) and other groups, their efforts were eventually successful, and homeschooling became legal in Virginia in 1984. As of 2018, Virginia families were homeschooling about 37,000 K-12 students.
Fact #6: Compulsory School Attendance Can Delay Early Homeschool Graduation.
Several states have compulsory school attendance for children up to a certain minimum age. In Idaho, for example, all students are subject to compulsory school attendance until age 16—whether they're homeschooled or attending a traditional school. So, if a homeschooled child in Idaho graduates from high school at 14 or 15, homeschool must continue until his or her 16th birthday. In this case the extra time could be used to explore the college curriculum, poising the homeschooled high school student for early college graduation.
Even with compulsory school attendance, homeschooling families in Idaho can teach almost any subject they like, and in whatever manner that appeals to them—whether it's primarily through textbook-based instruction, the Socratic method, or video lessons, or even a combination thereof.
Fact #7: Graduates of Homeschooling Programs are Eligible for Special Scholarships.
In addition to eligibility for regular college scholarships available to their peers from traditional schools, homeschool students have their own special scholarships. Some of these include:
- Sonlight Curriculum Foundation Scholarships for Christian homeschool students
- Three Scholarships from the Home Education Recognition Organization (HERO) program:
- State of the Arts Scholarship for applicants active in the visual or performing arts
- Craig Dickinson Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence
- Mason Lighthouse Scholarship for civic-minded students
Along with scholarships sponsored by independent organizations, many colleges and universities have scholarships targeted at students from homeschooling families.
Study.com offers resources that parents can use to homeschool their child. Learn more about our homeschool resources.