According to Dr. Brian Ray, head of NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute), http://www.nheri.org/ as many as 4 million families may be currently homeschooling in the United States. Estimates are hard to pin down as states vary quite a bit in their regulation of homeschoolers, but according to Dr. Ray, home education has been growing by a rate of about 15% per year, for the last several years.
My parents made a decision to homeschool more than 26 years ago. My dad heard a commercial on the radio about that said if you could read, you could teach your kids at home. When he told my mother this, she thought he had lost his mind. My parents were struggling to pay for private school tuition and would soon have three school-age children. Mom finally relented and decided to "take the plunge" into homeschooling. Now more than two decades later, my mom is homeschooling her granddaughter. My same niece has been reading since she was three, and at four years of age is working several years ahead, and she's not even old enough to attend public kindergarten!
When I was growing up, it seemed as if no one had even heard of homeschooling. On our weekly morning visit to the library I can recall the same librarians asking me over and over again, "Why aren't you in school today?" Nowadays, even if you haven't met a homeschooling family you've at least heard of the concept of homeschooling.
My family is now in our seventh year of official home teaching, and only one of my five children has ever attended public school.
As a co-leader of a local homeschooling organization, I talk with many families each year who are considering homeschooling. The first thing I tell parents is that "Homeschooling is not for everyone," but that "Anyone can homeschool." Neither of my parents had a college education, but still managed to turn out five honor roll students. One of my brothers who is a high school Spanish teacher graduated from college with his Bachelors and his Masters in just three years and three summers at Truman State University. My brother feels that homeschooling gave him an edge to better prepare him for college and for teaching.
For those interested in learning more, the public library has a variety of books available on the subject of home education. One of my favorite books is called, “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling?” by Lisa Whelchel. As homeschooling continues to grow, the number of resources available does as well. The library now offers a program called “Homeschool Explorations” at many of our local branches. Even the Missouri Department of Conservation offers classes specifically geared toward homeschoolers.
Getting started with homeschooling can seem overwhelming at times. While the internet is a great resource, it can be difficult to sift through the wealth of information out there on the subject. HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), http://hslda.org/ , is a wonderful resource for those who want to research homeschooling. HSLDA has an excellent article called "You Can Homeschool" on their website, as well as links for homeschool laws in all 50 states.
FHE (Families for Home Education), http://www.fhe-mo.org/ , is a lobbying organization for homeschoolers in Jefferson City, Missouri. This group works to ensure that Missouri's great homeschooling laws are not negatively impacted through new legislation. FHE has a lots of information for new homeschoolers listed on their site, including a great resources guide called "First Things First." This publication contains everything you need to know about homeschooling in Missouri.
Getting plugged into a homeschooling support group is probably my favorite way of obtaining information on homeschooling. The group I'm a part of meets at First Christian Church of Florissant, on the first Thursday of each month. A representative from FHE will be visiting our group this Thursday evening, March 7th at 7pm. This meeting is held in the "Student Center" at 2890 Patterson Rd. If you are exploring the possibility of homeschooling and are interested in finding out more information, this would be a great meeting to attend.
If you are considering homeschooling I encourage you to learn as much as you can and try to keep an open mind on the subject. You never know you may end up "taking the plunge" just like my mom did. Even if you feel inadequate to teach your kids at home, I want to encourage you that if I can do it, you can too!
If you have further questions regarding homeschooling and want to contact me personally, please email me at email@example.com .