Trending Now: 21st Century Homeschooling

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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.

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Debra Bell Feb 2010Debra 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.

Heidi
Heidi

13 Responses to Trending Now: 21st Century Homeschooling

  1. Shauna McCoy says:

    Very encouraging to a new homeschool mom!

  2. Michele Flowers says:

    I agree there are so many reasons why people today are turning down this road. I believe if God exist for a family than he will follow the child to their school, whether he is invited or not. My reasons rest with the ideas that times have changed but our schools have not. My children are out of the box thinkers, not advanced or behind, but classroom had a label, assessment or graph say what they weren’t doing good enough. Public schools aren’t doing much better…the NCLB is helping administrators pull the wool over parents eyes through testing. “Our scores are exemplary” given the fact that the passing has been lowered to the 40′s so kids who can’t do basic math are sliding through. My husband graduated with the same diploma I did, however he had been placed in resource classes his whole life because they didn’t test for dyslexia then. And he can hardly read and write. God may lead them on the right path, but whose to say that they continued to follow it? Or that they aren’t doing what they are called to do? Not us, for sure.

  3. Dana Lenzo says:

    I think God is bringing the focus back to families and away from the rushed-materialistic world. As He intended so long ago!

  4. Heather Wahl says:

    The other thing that makes homeschooling “convenient” is the growing INconvenience of public schools. As a kid, my mom sent me out the door to walk to a bus stop, and I came back 8 hours later. I did my homework (none at all in younger grades, and mostly unsupervised in later ones). I’m not saying this was ideal, but it was “convenient.”

    If I wanted to send my kids to a school similar to the ones I went to, I’d have to drive them. Our neighborhood school has a dismal success rate. Even if we went there, there are no sidewalks on a road still scarred from multiple drunk driving incidents. I wouldn’t walk that road by myself during the morning rush, let alone with kids.

    Driving to a better school would take about 90 minutes round trip, including loading and unloading younger siblings, waiting in a long line of cars at the school, and driving back home. Then another 90 minutes in the afternoon.

    That’s three hours a day, driving. (Which means my poor toddler would spend 15 hours a week in her car seat!) Add time spent on homework and supplementing their education, participating in multiple fundraisers, classroom volunteering, and it’s quicker to homeschool. Way quicker.

    So “convenience” may not be my main reason for homeschooling, but it’s up there.

    • Heather Wahl says:

      Incidentally, over the course of a year I’d be spending over $1000 in gas doing all this driving. Which makes homeschooling actually cheaper than public school, too.

  5. Debbie Guthrie says:

    I was also one of those 20th century home-schooling moms. We began back in the 80′s!! When God first told me to home-school, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t know anyone who home-schooled and no one was happy about it. Both of our families thought we had lost our minds. I brought them home in the 3rd and 6th grades and they stayed home until they went to college!! We started home-schooling support groups whenever our military life moved us again. I have to admit, I’m glad I’m done, but if I had to do it again, I would and I would have started sooner. My daughter is now home-schooling her two children. Her son is special needs and while that raised some eyes, she has received support in Alaska where she lives. There is no better feeling than taking to college and dropping them off knowing you have done everything you could do for them.

  6. Amber says:

    I truly laughed out loud about convenience. Being a military family our home education choices maximizes our family time together. I wish I had been brave enough before my oldest started school. We brought her home in 2nd grade and have since schooled our younger two as well. Every year we seem to find more reasons our choice works for us.

  7. Chris says:

    I have to admit, I have always been a homeschool skeptic. I’ve always laughed it off that I wasn’t “spiritual enough” to school my children and being around there 24/7. Due to bullying and our family’s new unprocessed/sugar free diet, I will be embarking on homeschooling 2 of my 5 (one is a toddler, one junior finishing out at the high school, and one going to half day Kindergarten) this coming up school year. I truly have no idea what I’m doing, but I do know that I have a heavenly Father to show me the way.

  8. Angie says:

    I am seriously thinking about homeschooling my child for kindergarten with the K12 program, but most importantly I want to do what God wants for our family. It’s nice to read articles that promote homeschool, and shows how there are a number of reasons for it. I enjoy other mothers perspective on the topic of homeschool, for there are so many positives with homeschooling! Thank you.

  9. sherri says:

    I am on the fence about continuing home schooling for several reasons. First, I want them to have a Biblical education, but the Christian schools in our area are either too far, too expensive or both; Second, convenience, like some others have mentioned–it puts us on our own schedule, and allows more free family time, chore time, fun time, and let’s face it, time for the kids (and me) to get sleep that we all really actually need. I also like the fact that I can have them all at their own learning level on each subject, which can mean a different grade level for math than english sometimes, and I don’t have to worry about deadlines if someone is sick, or we want to take a vacation. On the other hand, I have been home schooling my oldest for 2.5 years and he is NOT a self motivator. I have a toddler which can be a huge distraction. And, my twins just entering 5th grade in the public school just started making friends last year, they were too shy before that. So, this year they wanted to go and be with their friends. I am worried that I might cause them some damage taking them out before they have really learned how to socialize well. But, I am petrified of what the public school system is going to teach my kids who are still young in their faith. (especially after an incident in 4th grade where the teacher did not notice the other children in the class on a website with videos inappropriate for ANYONE). Not to mention the book report deadlines, huge paper piles including forms I need to fill out, homework, getting up at 6am to get the bus, when my toddler stays up most days until midnight and we are late morning people here! NOT looking forward to all of us losing sleep for the next year. So, there you have it, many of my pros and cons, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do and they are supposed to go back in 2 weeks. I’m even considering getting a placement test done for my oldest who should be going into 8th grade this year, so he could be in school one year with his siblings. Anyone have any ideas, I’ll be glad to hear them! My kids are looking forward to going to school, and I keep going back and forth with it, I know this indecision is not good for them either!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Sherri, I can totally understand your angst :) I don’t think many mothers, even homeschooling moms, are without their doubts and frustrations about homeschooling. It’s often difficult, and it can even be lonely. But here’s the thing: you need to follow God. If He’s asking you to keep your kids home, then do it. Don’t worry about “hurting” your kids—because in the long run, if you’re being obedient to God, then your decision will be what’s best for them. Get together with your husband and pray this thing through until you have some peace. You may not have total peace :) but you need to have what I call “mostly peace” (remember the Princess Bride?) If the Lord wants you to put them in school, you’ll know it. Hang in there.

  10. […] As a homeschool mom, I feel that TECHNOLOGY… is such a blessing from God! It has opened doors in my childrens’ education that would never have been there 10 years ago. One of my favorite blogs, The Busy Mom, had a guest blogger, Debra Bell, sharing this exact idea, “Trending Now: 21st Century Homeschooling.”  […]

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