When I started homeschooling—during the last century—I got a lot of flak from all corners. My former elementary school teachers took up a collection and gave my twin sons a Little People School Bus for Christmas in the hopes of sparking a rebellion. My Christian pediatrician lectured me on the perils of undertaking such a reactionary experiment. My school superintendent called me in for a meeting to dissuade me from “homebound instruction,” (as if my kids were tied and gagged in the kitchen).
Funny thing is most those folks changed their tune along the way—I even had a nice note from the superintendent when my sons graduated from homeschooling. Have you noticed the same shift in attitude? Do most people take your choice to homeschool with less alarm and maybe even a nod of support these days?
That’s because the road less traveled is getting busier every day… homeschooling is on the rise in every corner of the globe and among all segments of the population. And the list of reasons folks give for choosing to homeschool is getting longer. Religious convictions still figures largely into the equation, but now school bullying and the opportunity for individualized instruction vie for the top spot. And “convenience” is a newly-cited motivation.
Convenience!? How in the world did homeschooling become a convenient choice?
Well, I have a theory about that – fueled largely by the technology revolution; barriers to homeschooling have been falling rapidly:
1. It costs too much to homeschool.
Not anymore. Just a few mouse clicks away is a free and world class education. Tell the truth now: the first place you look for information is Wikipedia, right? Back in the dark ages of homeschooling, a set of encyclopedias was considered a necessary and costly investment. Rumors of homeschool moms fighting over used copies at library sales were not exaggerated (I might have participated in a couple of those brawls). Wikipedia was just the first to light the fire under the demand for free content on the web. Now you can find excellent lectures at Academic Earth, great tutorials at Khan Academy, and entire courses streaming free at Learner.org. And as I type, free textbooks are being built at CK-12.org.
2. I’m not confident I can teach my child.
It’s been ages since I’ve heard a parent make this statement. If there is one word I would use to describe the difference between 20th century homeschoolers and those in the 21st it is “empowered.” This is a generation that rightly questions the need for “experts” and “professionals” to teach their kids. We use WebMD to diagnosis our illnesses before we call the doctor, we disregard Consumer Reports in lieu of crowdsourced reviews, and our favorite bloggers and YouTube are all we need to figure out how to help a child who is struggling or how to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.
3. It’s so isolating.
Are you kidding? It’s so crowded, is more like it. Most of us have to choose between multiple co-ops in our area and even the most remotely located families can jump online to find a plethora of classes and support groups to join.
Which brings me to my question for The Busy Mom’s readers: What do you think God is up to here? Why is homeschooling gaining broad acceptance and getting
easier to opt into every day? Hmmm….I wonder.
Debra Bell is the best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling and other products published by Apologia Press. Her four children—all graduates of homeschooling— are married, degreed and employed (and also love Jesus). After homeschooling, she completed a doctorate in educational psychology. She blogs about brain science and 21st century homeschooling at debrabell.com. Find Debra on Facebook as well.