Citizens of the United States like to have many choices available to them, and the area of education is no exception. From the primary grades through high school, home schooling is one of the options. It is legal in all fifty states, although the requirements vary widely from state to state.
Home schooling has been a part of American heritage since the days of the country’s founding. The first immigrants, as well as the pioneers who moved westward in later years, home schooled their children by necessity until they were able to establish community schools. Fourteen of the forty-three United States presidents were home schooled, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. Inventors Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and composer Irving Berlin were all home schooled for at least part of their educational careers.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s a new home schooling movement took shape, largely among Christian parents who desired to weave biblical teaching throughout their children’s education. They wanted to be certain that what their children were taught was in agreement with their personal beliefs, and they were concerned that the secular public education institutions were not accomplishing this goal.
In the early days of modern home education, state laws were highly restrictive or even prohibited parents from teaching their children at home. However, as the number of home schooling families grew, and as they organized political and public awareness groups, the idea of educating at home became more mainstream. Eventually, all fifty states passed laws allowing parents to teach their own children. Many states relaxed their restrictive requirements to allow more freedom and flexibility for home educators, especially as statistics began to reveal the academic success of home-schooled children.
Today, parents teach at home for a variety of reasons. While desiring to educate according to the family’s religious belief system is still the number one motivation, the ability to tailor-fit education to their children’s particular learning styles and unique interests is attractive to many parents. Some feel that the individual attention their students receive at home will help them to learn more successfully. Concern about school violence, negative peer pressure, and drug and alcohol use is another reason why some choose home schooling. Still other families have a highly mobile lifestyle that makes attending a traditional school very difficult to achieve.
Because children who have been home educated consistently integrate well into schools of higher learning, most colleges welcome home school graduates. Awareness of the positive results of home schooling has also grown in the business community, and many employers are eager to hire those who have been educated at home. Home school graduates have developed a reputation for integrity, taking initiative, and carrying responsibility well in the workplace. Thus, the concern once voiced by skeptics that home schooled children would not be prepared to function normally in society has been disproved as time has gone on.
Whatever the reason, home schooling appears to be growing ever more popular. According to some estimates, numbers have grown from tens of thousands of children home schooled yearly in the 1970’s to two million or more by 2003, the latest date for which nationwide statistics have been gathered.
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