Home Schooling in Lawrence and Beyond

The Lawrence Journal-World has an interesting set of articles on home schooling in Kansas. It’s called “Learning Outside the Lines.”

More Parents Opt for Home Schooling describes the big picture.

“A study by the National Center for Education Statistics said 1.1 million students were being home schooled in 2003–the most recent year data was available– and the U.S. Department of Education estimates the number is increasing by 7 percent to 15 percent each year. Home schoolers make up 1.7 percent of the 50.2 million K-12 students in the United States.

The National Home Education Research Institute, an advocacy group that conducts its own research, estimates the number of home-schoolers to be closer to 1.7 million to 2.1 million.”

The article says that home schooling took off through the interest of hippies, but of late has been adopted by conservative Christians. Obviously, home schooling can serve people of different belief systems, as should be the case. Both types of families see similar benefits of home schooling: one-on-one teaching, more family time, less peer pressure, a flexible schedule, and a customized curriculum.

Home school by the numbers contains information from 2003. More than 1 million students (2.2 percent of the population) are taught in a home school. It also contains the fascinating observation that home-schooled students at KU had higher ACT scores as incoming freshmen than the incoming class as a whole.

Experts debate research findings looks at the methodological issues involved in evaluating home schooling as an idea. As a group, home-schooled children outperform the general population on the ACT, but the group that administers the test says that there are too few numbers involved to make statistically valid comparisons. The article sensibly closes with a quote from a KU professor who says, in brief, that home schooling can work well for some families, but not all.

Home-schoolers say socialization not a problem addresses what is perhaps the most commonly cited objection to home schooling. Critics say that home schooling shelters children from the big, bad world, and the need to negotiate with others. Yet of course no child will be sheltered indefinitely. People learn, socially as well as academically, at different rates, so this concern is most likely overblown.

Three Couples Share Reasons has a promising headline, but doesn’t get into much depth.

Locals helped change state activities policy talks about the old question of whether home-schooled children (yes) and students in virtual schools (maybe) can be excluded from extracurriculular activities of district schools.Several children and parents talk about their home schooling experience. Some use a standard curriculum, some rely on support from virtual schools.

A 14-year old, who learns at home, talks about unschooling, in Rain Quinlan deals with home school stereotypes. (If her curriculum seems ill-defined, scroll down to the comments on that article to find alternatives.)

Rain’s mother offers her view of the experience in Sarah Sobonya says unschooling led to creativity. “There’s an idea among some people that home schooling parents need to know everything their children will learn, or they’ll need to hire a tutor for those topics. I haven’t found this to be true,” she writes.

Kansas home school laws open to interpretation discusses the ambiguous state of home schools in Kansas.
“Kansas does not specifically recognize home schools. Technically, home schools are considered nonaccredited private schools, says Kevin Ireland, a Kansas Department of Education staff attorney. Such schools are not accredited or approved in any way by the state, although they must register the name and address of their school with the Kansas Board of Education.” It also mentions that Rep. Pat Colloton, D-Leawood, would like to increase state regulation of home schools–but that home schoolers are a politically active bunch.

Meanwhile, National Group Pleased with Kansas Home School Laws.

In former home-schoolers transition to college, work, we hear from some students themselves. Our favorite? A former home-schooled student now at KU. On some occasions, he plays the stereotype. “People think I live under a rock. It’s really weird. Sometimes I tell people, ‘I’m a hermit. I live in a cave. You’re the first person I’ve seen all year.’”

Colleges look to recruit home-schoolers quotes one college official: “Academically, home-schoolers are typically very well prepared for college, due to the discipline and self-motivation required to home school. We’re happy to have them.”

Finally, the audio and video files are good complements to the articles.

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