According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the report entitled Homeschooling in the United States; Statistical Analysis Report, published in February 2006 in the NCES Newsletter, the numbers of children receiving a home based education are increasing.
Since local school budgets are often based upon the enrollment of students, this trend can be disturbing for school administrators. Not only is their professionalism called into question when parents without a teaching certificate presume to educate their children at home, but their annual working budget is affected when enough children are removed from the system. Additionally, teachers and administrators have to deal with each child individually, should they re-enter the system, and carefully assess their needs and aptitudes, which may be sprawled out across several grade levels.
Creating an environment where families can keep their children at home, schools don’t lose budget money and parents are all teaching to the same standard and curriculum are just three of the needs that are met by internet home schooling.
Home Schooling Programs
By enrolling children in a public school program that provides parents with home school resources, many districts are attempting to standardize the home school education. Some parents welcome the professional help of teachers and access to special education services, like speech therapy. Some families, however, aren’t impressed with the one-size-fits all curriculum and object to these programs entirely.
Internet Home Schooling
Online education programs have been available for post secondary and K12 education for several years. Parents, independent of their State Education Department have, at their expense, enrolled their children in virtual school programs enjoying the consistent curriculum that’s guaranteed to meet state standards.
In recent years, several State Departments of Education have adopted homeschool programs whereby the student enrolls in a public school, and the school gets the budget money (sometimes as high as $12,000 a year per student) and sub-contracts the child’s schooling to programs like the K12 homeschool program.
Home School Resources
Advocates for clear and legal distinctions between public school and homeschooling, like the Washington Homeschool Organization, aren’t happy with the marketing of these programs. In the WHO Advocacy Committee’s Report on alternative education, they state that these programs “present to the public and governing bodies a more familiar, supervised, and regulated form of homeschooling and that the eventual result could be a lobbying of the legislature by public education to amend or abolish the Washington Home-based Instruction Law and to absorb the homeschooling community into public education under the auspices of alternative education.” In plain English, when a child is enrolled in a virtual school program sponsored by the public school district, a parent is no longer the child’s primary teacher, and that a widespread acceptance of these programs could mean the end to a parent’s right to homeschool independently of the public school system. Some parents speculate that because these programs are complicated, they could possibly be covert attempts to convince families that homeschooling is difficult, inspiring them to drop out and return to the classroom.
Another objection to these programs has been that the curriculum is very reminiscent of a classroom experience, with information presented into subjects whereas in real life, there are no subjects. Several homeschooling families use curriculum that looks nothing like a classroom, such as the Charlotte Mason and Waldorf methods that rely heavily on high quality literature, imaginative play and lively discussions. Still others teach solely from life experiences, making each day a rich and stimulating exploration of life. No boxed curriculum will meet the needs of these busy families.
Is Online Education for Your Family?
Be aware of the homeschooling laws in your state of residence. Your district might offer an internet home school program, and you might be allowed to opt out of the program. Knowing what your rights are, and weighing the pros and cons of each decision are usually the best approach.
Ask yourself if you really want to simulate a classroom style of teaching and learning in your home. If you’re homeschooling simply to remove the children from a negative peer-saturated social environment, then a virtual school program might suit your needs. If you’re looking to customize an educational plan that’s individualized, then look beyond your state department of education’s internet home schooling program.
Homeschooing in the United States 2003 Executive Summary
WHO Advocacy Committee’s Report on Alternative Education
Best Laptop for Online Homeschooling
States Spying on Students with Free laptops