Here's an interesting article from Newsweekon the popularity of homeschooling with "urban, educated" parents.
We think of homeschoolers as evangelicals or off-the-gridders who spend a lot of time at kitchen tables in the countryside. And it’s true that most homeschooling parents do so for moral or religious reasons. But education observers believe that is changing. You only have to go to a downtown Starbucks or art museum in the middle of a weekday to see that a once-unconventional choice “has become newly fashionable,” says Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford professor who wrote Kingdom of Children, a history of homeschooling. There are an estimated 300,000 homeschooled children in America’s cities, many of them children of secular, highly educated professionals who always figured they’d send their kids to school—until they came to think, Hey, maybe we could do better.
We've come a long way in the 25+ years of my experience. (Not that "evangelicals or off-the-gridders who spend a lot of time at kitchen tables in the countryside" comes close to being an accurate description of the home education movement at any time that I remember. It was always much broader than that.)
One consequence of the increasing popularity of homeschooling is that there is now enough collective knowledge that journalists are less likely to write utter nonsense. I found the article to be fairly accurate. An exception would be the section equating homeschooling with attachment parenting, which they define as, "an increasingly popular approach that involves round-the-clock physical contact with children and immediate responses to all their cues." This bizarre description makes it sound as if mothers continue to carry their eight-year-olds around in slings all the time. No normal one-year-old would put up with that, let alone someone of school age.
Other than that, it's a pretty fair article, considering it was written by someone on the outside looking in. And considering the really clueless articles that have been written on homeschooling over the years.
Monday, January 30, 2012 at
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Children & Family Issues:
The real problem with home schooling is the lack of interactivity with other students. Also, there are lots of classes not offered by the home school, like band, chorus and team sports.
Phil, you are right that homeschoolers generally have less interaction with other students of their same age, but homeschoolers generally find this an advantage not a problem. It means they have more time to interact with people of all ages and life situations. No two homeschooling family are alike, so no doubt there are homeschoolers who see very little human reaction, but is certainly a very tiny minority.
As for those extra classes, that is also a clear disadvantage of homeschooling, but every choice has trade offs. One of the great developments over the years as homeschooling gains popularity is that there are much more opportunities of that type available to homeschoolers than there were 10 or 20 years ago.
I know that in some states, kids can participate in some public school activities like band and sports. Here in CT, they can not. The flip side of this, I think, is that we are also free of a lot of the paper work and requirements of other states.
Here is what I have found. If there is a need in the homeschooling community for a class or an activity, someone steps up to make it happen. In some cases this means that a parent organizes the activity themselves. In other cases, it means a parent contacts someone who can provide the activity.
For something like band, there are several options. If you are good enough, there is the state youth orchestra. I have also heard that one of the homeschool groups in our area has a band/orchestra that you have to try out for. In our case, my son was able to play in the band at a local private school. (This very small private school has also started offering other courses like science and math to homeschoolers. Community colleges also offer classes.)
Homeschoolers are a diverse group. I am sure there are those who sit at the kitchen table day after day doing lessons with no outside interaction. There are those that are probably not home at all, either running from activity to activity or participating in a co-op. And then there are those of us that fall somewhere in the middle. I have to be careful to balance our out-of-the house activities with our "school" work, so that we can get things done.
Some of the activities/classes we have participated in over the last five years include: writing classes, science classes (engineering; physical science; biology), book clubs, art classes, skiing, science fairs, international fairs, and art shows. We have also participated in homeschool days at museums and gone on group field trips to historic sites. My local homeschool group plans hikes, days at the park, and an annual field day. My son’s newest activity will be to join a group formed by one of the teenagers to do community service.
Well, I’d better wrap this up so I can get my stuff together as we head off for ski club. We’ll be back this afternoon and then tonight my son will be participating in the local science fair. Lots of socializing today!