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Today’s Homeschooling Learning Journey

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Today’s Homeschooling Learning Journey

By Linda Dobson

HOMESCHOOLING. The word conjures up many different images in the minds of those who contemplate it.


Homeschooling is enjoying a remarkable renaissance.

Some see siblings gathered around the kitchen table as their mother reviews a list of vocabulary words prior to a test. Others envision the families they bump into at the grocery store, the nature center, or the skating rink during the day. Still others recall the teen down the street, an autodidact, accepting responsibility for his own education and tasting what the world has to offer. A growing number think of the family participating in the new charter school or alternative education program offering homeschoolers a variety of classes and a loaded computer for home use.

All of these images are correct. Homeschooling is all of the above.

Homeschooling Isn’t New

Homeschooling has permeated mainstream consciousness as an acceptable educational alternative. However, there’s a lingering misconception that it’s a new educational approach, a product of the last few decades, when more and more parents grew uneasy, for myriad reasons, with the idea of sending their children to public school. If you place tax-supported public schools on the timeline of humanity’s learning history, though, the idea of public school emerges as the recent educational idea, an experiment begun a mere 160 years ago.

Homeschooling is not new. It is, however, enjoying a remarkable renaissance, embraced by families in numbers unthinkable just 35 years ago. But it was about 35 years ago when Dr. Raymond Moore, former U.S. Department of Education programs officer, with his wife Dorothy, began sharing their research revealing the negative effects of too-early schooling with those who would listen, eventually including readers of Reader’s Digest.

The year 1977 saw the creation of Growing Without Schooling (GWS) magazine, the result of former schoolteacher John Holt’s belief that, despite his and others’ best efforts at reform, the problems of the modern school system were a part of the system itself. GWS became a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and support, and soon many who thought they were alone in their desire to homeschool felt connected across the miles.

In the 1980s many private religious schools lost their tax-exempt status. This helped bolster homeschooling numbers as a large number of Christian-schoolers turned to homeschooling rather than put their children in public schools. Supported by already well-established networks, this segment of the homeschooling population bloomed.

Homeschooling Continues Incredible Growth and Support

More information-packed magazines, like the internationally distributed Home Education Magazine (1984), followed. Support HEM2011 homeschoolinggroups sprang up in big cities and rural towns. Individual families engaged in legal battles. Homeschoolers in many states pitched in untold volunteer hours to create state organizations that helped knock down legal misunderstandings, resulting in the (relative) peace of teaching your own children in all fifty states which we enjoy today. In 1990, Good Housekeeping published my article titled “Why I Teach My Children at Home,” one of the early instances of mainstream media interest, which grew into an October 1998 Newsweek cover story.

See also “How Homeschooling Is Like the Frog In the Toilet. Really.

Figuring out how many families are actually homeschooling today remains an interesting but inaccurate guessing game. Current estimates range between a conservative 1+million and a recently heard 5 million. The true number probably lies somewhere within this range. More revealing and more important than anybody’s guess at the actual number is the observable growth of support groups across the nation, and the ever-swelling variety of families turning to homeschooling.

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2 Responses to “Today’s Homeschooling Learning Journey”

  1. Lisa says:

    we are homeschooling four of our five boys. Our second boy who is 16 is loving it! Our 12 old boy is not so keen, but our other two boys are happy as long as they can play after homeschooling.
    I so wished we had of thought of homeschooling years ago. Maybe then our boys would have a brighter future and a better understanding of the real world 🙂


    • grandma_linda says:

      As Mom always said, "Better late than never," Lisa. As parents we'll always second-guess ourselves; in the meantime, follow your heart doing what you know is right! Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

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