Homeschool News

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

The PISA results are in, and once again, the United States’ student test scores look pretty grim compared to those from other developed countries. The test, taken by 15-year-olds from 69 different countries, shows that nearly a third of the U.S. test participants aren’t hitting minimum math competence. 

Obviously, many factors come into play when it comes to these kinds of numbers, but the O.E.C.D., which analyzes the test data, does have a few notes. “Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms.”

- - -

Questions about homeschoolers participating in public school extracurriculars continue to pop up—this week, in West Virginia, where some parents want to open up public school extracurricular activities to private school students and homeschoolers. If you’re in WV, here’s your chance to weigh in.

- - -

And finally: College acceptance letters are so 2015.

The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay is sending its college acceptances out via Snapchat. Yes, this means students are now forced to pose with screenshots for their “look-where-I-got-in” selfies, though if they’re willing to wait a few extra days, the full acceptance packet will arrive in their mailboxes the old-fashioned way.


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

It’s a short news week, so let’s jump right in:

We’ve got a new Secretary of Education! What, if anything, will this mean for homeschoolers? Time will tell, but Betsy DeVos is an advocate for school choice in Michigan.

- - -

We talk a lot about how homeschooling offers students they might now have in traditional classrooms, and here’s a great example: Homeschooled teens participating in Generation Joshua may have contributed to the results in a few key Senate races. (If anyone knows of a similar liberal organization, please post in the comments!)

 - - -

And finally, should homeschoolers be allowed to participate in public school extracurricular activities? New Jersey’s Lenape Regional High School District says no, turning down a 9th grade homeschooler’s request to play on his public high school’s team. Honestly, I see both sides of this, but I think I tend to come down on the side of it being fair — if not always fun — that public school activities can be reserved for the kids who attend them. What do you think?


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Good morning!

The controversy over an Alberta Christian homeschool continues, and CBC talked to some former students about their experiences. (Aside: It's so interesting to me that people think accreditation protects against a bad education or creates a good one. The U.S. school system seems to indicate that just isn't the case.)

—-

I love stories about things other homeschoolers are doing—like this Indiana homeschooler who’s been building this gorgeously intricate fairy house for the past few months. (I wish there were more pictures!)

—-

For a lot of families, online schools offer a kind of middle ground—they take the burden of at-home education off parents’ shoulders while still allowing a more flexible academic experience for kids. But they may not be the right fit for every student, and online high schools may not always deliver the education students need, according to  this interesting CNET report.

—-

And finally, good news for students applying to college: The new FAFSA form (the form that determined how much federal financial aid a student is eligible for) is easier than the much-vilified old version of the form—but it’s still a job to fill it out, according to NPR.


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Fellow homeschool nerds will be interested to check out the National Center for Education Statistics’ report Homeschooling in the United States: 2012. (That’s the most recent year data’s been compiled for.)  Of note: There were an estimated 1.8 million homeschoolers in the United States in 2012; about one-third of middle and high school homeschoolers took online courses in 2012; and about one-fourth of homeschool parents took a course to prepare to teach their kids at home. 

- - -

Homeschooling is on the rise in Israel, where compulsory education laws mean parents who want to homeschool must get permission from the school and have check-in visits with the country’s Education Ministry. Israel’s Education Ministry estimates that there are 550 homeschooled children in the country, which doesn’t sound like a lot but which represents a huge jump from the 229 homeschooled children reported in 2008.

“Why homeschooling? Because it’s great fun,” says Sagi Galor, the father of one of the homeschooling families profiled in this piece.

- - -

College costs may be increasing in the United States—the average cost-per-year for one of Forbes magazine’s top 10 colleges is a whopping $64,602—but students who are willing to think outside the geographical box can find affordable higher education overseas. France, especially, seems poised to become an international education destination for U.S. students.

- - -

Usually election years are a great learning opportunity for homeschoolers (and if you’re pulling together a last-minute plan of study, we have some great resources in the fall issue), but the tone of this year’s election has made it harder to bring into the classroom. The Boston Globe peeks inside a few classrooms to see how teachers are handling the election this year — though it’s not homeschool-specific, there’’s a lot of interesting input from teachers navigating these complicated issues that might prove useful for homeschool parents, too.

- - -

And finally, homeschoolers have long appreciated Minecraft’s educational potential, but the popular online game has recently launched Minecraft Education, designed for use in classrooms. The best part about the launch: The starter teacher’s guide to Minecraft, which may be just what you need to finally, really understand how the Minecraft world that your kids are so obsessed with actually works.


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Two views of homeschoolers in college: First, a delightful little piece on college “culture shock” for homeschooled students, containing this gem of a quote: “I think students can potentially go through an entire career of home schooling, go into college and still do quite well,.” (Note that the trio of siblings profiled were homeschooled for religious reasons.) In contrast, a student at McKendree University writes that adapting to college life is no more challenging for her than for any incoming freshman. While research clearly indicates that homeschoolers succeed in college (often better than their non-homeschooled peers), it’s useful to remember that there are still plenty of people out there who just don’t get it.

The Standing Rock protests have raised a number of interesting questions, so perhaps it’s no surprise that now it’s raising questions about homeschooling. Some protesters have set up school in a tent, where homeschoolers can study general and Native American subjects, but the North Dakota State Superintendent of Schools says homeschoolers using outside teachers are in violation of North Dakota’s homeschool laws.

And finally, charter schools can often be a resource for homeschoolers, but how do you know what you’re getting? We’ve been following the Post’s series on charter schools in California, where things can get pretty complicated.


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

It's a short news round-up next week, but the first one's a doozy!

This week, we discovered one of the most random homeschool rules we’ve run into in a while: In one Michigan school district, students can only bring a homeschooled date if the date provides “a letter of good standing on school letterhead, including contact information, from a school official/administrator from an accredited program of study.” Since accreditation isn’t required for homeschoolers in Michigan, this rule seems particularly odd.

- - -

Who knows how this year’s election will change the testing outlook for kids, but the most recent standards for childhood academic testing call for states to set their own standards.

- - -

And finally, dreamy photos of unschooling in New Zealand.

 


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Homeschooling in the news

Just when you think homeschooling is finally losing its weird factor, the U.S. Secretary of Education pipes up with concerns about homeschoolers missing out onexperiences with peers and interaction with non-parent adults. He basically hits the annoying homeschool commentary trifecta, managing to bring in socialization, the “I know some homeschoolers who are awesome, but” argument, and the suggestion that homeschoolers don’t get “the range of options” more traditionally schooled kids do. Kind of a bummer, right?

- - -

The fastest growing homeschool demographic? African-American families, who are opting into homeschooling in growing numbers, thanks to lack of access to higher level math and science classes and to racial-based bullying in addition to the desire for a personalized education.  

- - -

Letting go of extra stuff can have all kinds of benefits — and for at least one mom, homeschooling was one of them. Prior to her toy purge Allie Casazza counted down the minutes until nap time and couldn’t wait for her kids to go to school; after scaling down stuff, she opted to become a homeschool mom.

- - -

And finally, election day is drawing nigh. NPR summarizes where Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on educational issues.


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

A little roundup of homeschool stories in the news

Homeschooling in Romania has been making headlines since two high-profile parents have opted to pull their daughter out of the Romanian school system. “I’ve realized that the education system, organized in groups of people who have to demonstrate in front of others how much they know and how much they’ve learned, is obsolete for the times we live in,” wrote former pop singer Dana Nalbaru on her blog, explaining her family’s decision. Homeschooling isn’t officially recognized in Romania, though some families have gotten around the legalities by enrolling in umbrella schools abroad.

 - - - - -

It’s no secret that homeschooling and entrepreneurship go well together, but it’s always inspiring to read about a family business like Jalen’s Bakery in Fresno, California. Jalen Bailey was just 8 years when he decided baking was his passion, and his mom was able to help him through the process of starting his own business.

 - - - - -

One of the pluses often cited by homeschoolers is the fact that homeschooling lets kids work at their own level rather than some arbitrarily determined grade level—if you’re aces at math, you can keep moving ahead; if history isn’t your thing, you can pursue it at your own pace. A recent study suggests that this flexibility may be an even bigger benefit than we knew—in some classes, as many of half of the students may be ready to work at a higher grade level.

 - - - - -

And finally, homeschooling has proven a good option for some kids with ADHD, and one mom talks about her experiences homeschooling her son with ADHD in a recent issue of ADDitude magazine: “We’re free from the idea of grade levels, and instead of teaching a first grader, I can just teach Blaise, with all his quirks and difficulties and strengths.”


Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

A round-up of homeschool-related news from around the world

It’s a quiet week as far as homeschool news goes, but here’s what’s on our radar:

  1. The news catches up to something homeschoolers have been saying for a while: Homeschooling in 2016 looks really different from homeschooling a decade ago.
  2. A 12-year-old homeschooler becomes the youngest Ivy League student on record. Jeremy Shuler was too young to set up a Common App account and had to submit all this paperwork via snail mail, but he started Cornell as a freshman this fall.
  3. Who doesn’t love getting a peek inside other homeschoolers’ lives? This photo collection definitely shows what real-life homeschooling looks like.
  4. Texas is one of the easiest states to homeschool in, as far as legal requirements go, but some Texas families may turn to homeschooling for less-than-happy reasons, thanks to a statewide commitment to reducing special education numbers.

Homeschooling in the News: Your Weekly Update

Our weekly roundup of homeschool news you need to know

We thought it be interesting to include a weekly roundup of homeschool-related news stories here on the blog. (If you like this and would like it to be a regular blog feature, let us know! We’ll use your feedback to decide whether this is something we should keep doing. :))

1. Homeschoolers continue to outperform their traditionally schooled peers on the SAT, researchers found after analyzing 2014 test scores. “These are notably large differences,” wrote the researchers. Homeschoolers whose tests were considered in the analysis also had significant demographic differences from schooled participants, notably race (most homeschoolers—more than 70 percent—were white) and parental education level, which tended to be higher in homeschool families.

2. Preschool is the new kindergarten, but do kids really benefit from such early academic readiness? Probably not, discovered a senior fellow in economics studies at the Brookings Institution, who found that preschool attendance had almost no impact on future test scores. (This article also suggests that Sesame Street can work much like a preschool equivalent of Khan Academy.)

3. Though the Department of Defense doesn’t keep track of homeschool statistics, homeschooling seems to be on the rise in military families, where frequent moves and deployments make homeschool’s flexibility a bonus. “We we just kept homeschooling through all of this because it gave us the flexibility we needed,” said Rebecca Owens.

4. It’s too early yet to tell how California’s new, stricter vaccination laws will affect the state’s homeschool numbers, but at least some families are opting to homeschool rather than opt in to the now-required vaccinations for public school.

5. And finally, if you’re planning a trip to Colonial Williamsburg this year, you can enjoy significant savings during the site’s homeschool days from Sept. 10 to Sept. 25. In addition to reduced ticket prices ($8 per student instead of the usual $20), homeschoolers can participate in hands-on activities and interactive experiences.