Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private school. In the United States, about 2.9% of students, or about 1.5 million children, are homeschooled. Most homeschooled children are homeschooled only, but about one in five are also enrolled in public or private schools, which they may attend for 25 hours or less each week. By enrolling part-time at a school, homeschooled students can study subjects such as foreign languages and sciences, which may be more difficult to teach at home. They may also be eligible to participate in academic and athletic extracurricular activities.
Motivations for homeschooling vary, but may include dissatisfaction with the school environment, religious or moral reasons, or dissatisfaction with the quality of academic instruction provided in local schools. Surveys suggest that the most common motivations for homeschooling are concern about the school environment (e.g., safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure), a desire to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools. Parents may also choose to homeschool children with special needs that the parent feels the school cannot or will not meet. Other, less common motivations include concerns about family time, finances, travel, and distance.
In the United States education is compulsory. Every state has some form of a compulsory attendance law that requires children in a certain age range to spend a specific amount of time being educated. The most common way for parents to meet these requirements is to have their children attend public school. However, parents have always had some degree of choice in where and how children are educated. Thus, the legality of homeschooling has been debated, and that debate has focused largely on whether it is legal for parents to withhold children from school and educate them in a home setting. Since the 1980s, the focus of the debate has shifted to questions about the distribution of resources and state control over homeschooling. The legality of homeschooling is generally accepted, but debate continues over whether homeschooling communities can access state school funds, facilities, and resources and whether the state can regulate areas like curricula and standardized testing.
Today, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, although it is regulated in different ways by each state. Homeschooling laws can be divided into three categories. First, in some states, homeschooling is treated like a type of private school. In these states, homeschools are generally required to comply with the same laws that apply to other schools. Homeschools in California, Indiana, and Texas, for example, fall into this category. In other states, the requirements for homeschooling are set by the particular parameters of the compulsory attendance statute. These states' compulsory attendance laws do not make any specific reference to "homeschooling. " Homeschools in New Jersey, Maryland, for example, fall into this category. Third, in other states homeschool requirements are based on a statute or group of statutes that specifically applies to homeschooling. In these states, the requirements for homeschooling are set out in the relevant statutes. Often, these statutes refer to homeschooling by another name. For example, in Virginia it is "home instruction," in South Dakota it is "alternative instruction," and in Iowa it is "competent private instruction. "
States also differ in the level of resources they make available to homeschooled students. A minority of states require public schools to give homeschooled students access to district resources, such as school libraries, computer labs, extracurricular activities, or even academic courses. In some communities, homeschoolers may meet with a teacher periodically for curriculum review and suggestions. Other states give districts the option of giving homeschooled students access to such resources.
Access to interscholastic athletic competition varies from state to state. Some state athletic associations ban homeschoolers from interscholastic competition, both by prohibiting homeschoolers to compete for a state federation member school as well as by prohibiting member schools to compete against independent teams made up of homeschoolers. In such states, homeschoolers may only compete amongst other homeschoolers or against schools that are not members of the state's interscholastic athletic federation. Other states allow homeschoolers to compete for the public schools that they would otherwise attend by virtue of their residence. Still other state interscholastic athletic associations allow homeschoolers to organize teams that compete against other established schools, but do not allow homeschoolers to compete on established school teams.
Motivations for homeschooling
Motivations regarded most important for homeschooling among parents in 2007