According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 1999 the percentage of K-5 students who were home-schooled in the United States was 1.8% and by 2003, it had gone up to 1.9%. At the same time, the percentage of home-schooled middle schoolers rose from 1.6% in 1999 to 2.4% in 2003, showing a much larger increase. What’s the news on homeschooling middle school students? This article covers some of the basics.
The Increasing Popularity of Homeschooling Middle Schoolers
The NCES data doesn’t provide hard facts about why the percentage of homeschooled middle schoolers increased so much more than the percentage ofhomeschooled elementary students, but we can use other information to make some guesses.
First, according to NCES 2003 homeschool statistics, the reasons that people gave for choosing homeschooling are potentially more potent at the middle school level. The reason given by most of the more than 1,000,000 homeschooled students’ families was their concern about aspects of the environment at other schools, including worries about safety, the availability of drugs, and negative peer pressure. Evidence shows that these concerns are greater at the middle school level than in elementary schools.
The second most popular reason for homeschooling middle school students was that families wanted to provide religious or moral instruction, and this could certainly be seen as becoming more of an issue as children reach young-adulthood and are placed in situations in which drugs and negative peer pressure are more likely to exist, which is true in middle school vs. elementary school.
The third most widespread reason for homeschooling middle school students was dissatisfaction with the academic instruction in other schools. Because middle school typically steps up academic demands on students, it is also the time at which the failure to provide good instruction may become more obvious. Similarly, if a student’s previous instruction has not been up to par, this, too, may become apparent in middle school.
Stepping beyond the NCES homeschool statistics, and thinking about the age, perhaps another part of the equation results from the desire to remove children from the intense atmosphere of scrutiny into one’s physical development and the emotional and psychological volatility that can go along with it. The issues of cliques, social cruelty, and loss of self-esteem that can drastically affect the middle school experience can be avoided in the home school.
Advice For Homeschooling Middle School Students
Of course, it is important to check your state’s education department guidelines and rules for homeschooling. This information will likely consist of some hard and fast mandates and other areas in which you have more freedom of choice. Keeping this in mind, as a nod to your child’s development – as is true in many middle schools – even if you have not done so before, you might wish to begin him or her some choices about his or her schooling. A typical example in public middle school is allowing a student to choose which foreign language to study. Home economics programs may also allow a student to have choice in the recipes s/he cooks and/or the garment or other pattern s/he learns to sew.
Because laboratory science and algebra are characteristically introduced in middle school, the prospect of a) teaching in an area in which the parent does not feel him or herself to be expert and the prospect of teaching a subject that has very particular (and possibly somewhat expensive) equipment requirements may surface for the first time. Possible ways to address both issues include:
- homeschool support groups for assistance in instructional strategies
- homeschool support groups for shared purchases
- cooperative homeschooling, with parents each teaching in subject areas that they are comfortable with and well-versed in
- partnerships with a public or private school, which the student attends part-time for subjects that are outside the parent’s expertise or ability to teach for whatever reason
- a private tutor for one or more particular subjects
Another reason to turn to a school or gym is if your child has a particular interest or gift in, or you want him or her to have an experience with team sports or ensemble music or theatre performance. Most schools have a variety of school and community-based ways to address these desires. Park and Recreation Departments sponsor community sports at various age levels, and there are a growing number of community youth choirs, orchestras, and theatre groups.
National Center for Education Statistics: nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/homeschool