By Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
Homeschooling reached a remarkable milestone in North Carolina during the 2014-15 school year. With enrollment topping 100,000 students, the Tar Heel State now has more homeschoolers than students in private school.
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The trend isn't limited to North Carolina, either. A recent Florida study pegged homeschooling growth there at nearly 10 percent, and the National Home Education Research Institute estimates it at 2 percent to 8 percent a year nationally. "It's no longer a fringe movement; homeschooling is mainstream," said Terry Stoops of the North Carolina-based John Locke Foundation.
The reasons for this trend toward homeschooling abound, according to the e-book "Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children's Future," a collection of 26 essays from the pages of PJ Media. Here are eight of them, along with excerpts from the book, that all parents should consider as they weigh how best to educate their children:
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- Parents teach the values, not the state: That means no politically motivated lectures about marriage "equality" or fear-mongering about global warming. Education is focused on the basics – reading, writing, math, science, history – and biblical values are embraced, not scorned.
- Hands-on learning is encouraged: Formal education doesn't have to be bound inside a textbook. Homeschoolers have the freedom to learn by doing. Sometimes that even involves fire and explosions, no-noes inside a school. Paula Bolyard expects the next generation of scientists and inventors to include many homeschoolers. "They're not used to being told: 'You're not allowed to do that – it might be dangerous!'" she said.
- Education is not tied to a schedule: Parents don't have to get their children excused from school for any reason. They are free to adapt the schedule to the family's needs or even on a whim. "Homeschool can go with you wherever you roam," Megan Fox said. "It's a beautiful thing."
- Classes are not segregated by age: Unlike in most public and private schools, homeschoolers interact with people of all ages, including adults. They do not spend six hours a day confined to a room with 30 peers. This helps prepare them for college and the workplace.
- Parents pick the curricula: One of the common gripes of teachers is that they don't have enough say over what to teach or how to teach it. Education bureaucrats set the rules; teachers follow them. Parents who teach their children at home can change direction any time the needs of a particular child warrant it.
- Bullying is not allowed: Sibling rivalry may lead to an occasional conflict, but parents are there to intervene when it does. Bullying at school often goes unnoticed or unpunished – and sometimes leads to suicide. Cyber bullying has amplified the problem. If your child is being bullied in school, homeschooling is a viable, and safer, alternative.
- Homeschooling improves the family dynamic: Children aren't cranky and exhausted when they get home after being forced to sit still in a desk most of the day. They "are more influenced by their parents than their peers, and so they naturally enjoy being together, even in the teen years," Fox said.
- Homeschoolers excel in education and civic life: They score in the 75th-85th percentile on standardized tests. Three-fourths of them go to college. And they get more involved in their communities and are more likely to vote.