Academic journal article Education

Demographics of Home Schoolers: A Regional Analysis within the National Parameters

Academic journal article Education

Demographics of Home Schoolers: A Regional Analysis within the National Parameters

Article excerpt

School days, school days, good old golden rule days

--Unknown

The schools ain't what they used to be and never was

--Will Rogers

Introduction

This manuscript addresses the relative congruence that a (self-selected) sample of families which home-school their children from one area of the country shares with the larger national sample of families which also home-schools their children. In addition to the demographics, the primary motivations to choose home-schooling were also examined between the regional sample and the national sample.

Although the notion that children learn about their environs, in part, from their home-life is hardly new, an up-surge wherein home-schooling is actualized in lieu of non-residential (public or private) schooling is relatively recent (Ray 2000). In the 1970's, home-schooling was nearly extinct (Ray, 2000). There were only about 15,000 children being home-schooled (Grossman 2001) or only .03% of the total number of students (Bureau of the Census 1976).

Although current estimates do vary, a generally accepted figure is that just over a million children--or about 2.2% of all student ages 5 through 17 years--were being home-schooled in 2003 (Bureau of the Census 2007, National Center for Education Statistics 2003). The trajectory of the number and percentages of such home-schooled students appears to continue to be upward. In addition to addressing the relative congruence of a regional sample of home-schooled families with a national sample of home-schooled children, this article also discusses a comparison of similar demographics between America's home-schooled children and those children who are non-home-schooled.

The 7 to 12 percent growth in home-schooling since 1972 has been variously attributed to an increase in violence in schools and an overall parental dissatisfaction with public schools, inter alia (Grossman, 2001). Aligned with parental dissatisfaction, a good benchmark to understand this up-surge would begin with the works of Holt (1964, 1967) and Illich (1971). John Holt has been considered the father of the modern home-schooling movement (Solomon 2002). Holt was aware that few people inside or out of the school system would support or even tolerate allowing children more freedom, choice, and self-direction (Dobson 1998). Holt began to change his own ideas about schooling when he started communicating with Ivan Illich, the author of Deschooling Society (1971). Illich's ideas both challenged and complemented Holt's perspective. Holt, himself, challenged the belief that the current school-system was not merely a good idea gone wrong; instead, the entire concept may have been a bad idea from the start (Dobson, 1998). He began meeting with parents that had already taken their children out of public school to learn at home. Holt (1972) analyzed the free school movement in his book titled Freedom and Beyond. In 1977, Holt founded the magazine Growing Without Schooling, to lend support to these families that had decided to home-school (Dobson 1998). It should be noted that, although Holt was a supporter of home-schooling, he never stopped trying to change the public schooling system through reform (Fargena, 1999). For an extensive history of "tutoring"--which would include home-schooling--see Gordon & Gordon (1990).

Method

The sample for this study was composed of self-selected volunteers from the total population of families who are members of the local Home School Association which was in a large southwestern metropolitan area. Participants in this study were those members who returned an on-line questionnaire which was posted on the Association's web-site. The sample size consisted of 130 families with a wide range of diverse demographics, backgrounds, and educational experiences.

Data Collection

The questionnaire was emailed to the site manager of the website for the local Home School Association. …

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