Homeschooling: Time for a Name Change?

Although I do not believe homeschooling will work for everyone, it is a viable option for many parents who believe their children are not receiving the best education at their current institution.  However, after researching the multiple ways parents can homeschool combined with state requirements across the country, I realized that “homeschooling” may not necessarily be the best term to use to describe what some parents are trying to do and are doing  for their children.

For example, in some states, parents have the option of finding another person or people to teach their child.  And these services do not necessarily have to be received in the home.  It could happen at any location.  Therefore, that type of arrangement would not be considered  “homeschooling” in the traditional sense.  Some families form relationships with other families and teach their children together.  And although this instruction happens in one of the homes or several of the homes, again, it does not always happen in a “home”.  Trips are often made to the museum, library, discovery centers, parks, and other places where children can receive “real life” experiences.  As I noted in the homeschooling chapter of my book, Students Are Only As Dumb As Their Teachers: An Educator’s Call to Curing the Dumbness in Education, one lady took her children along on business trips across the country and around the world.  So, much of what they learned did not necessarily happen in the home or through a traditional curriculum.

However, the term homeschool originates from the idea that parents, for whatever reason, do not want to send their children to a traditional school; therefore, they teach them at home. But as the times change and life becomes more complex, people have found a number of ways and locations to teach their children.  So, it is my belief that the term “homeschooling” should either be replaced or used in conjunction with another term that fully captures how and where parents are teaching their children.

So, what terms do I think should be used to describe this new phenomenon that has happened in the home school movement?  Well, this could fall under the category of “althernative education”.  What many parents are doing could certainly be considered an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar education most children receive.  However, this term is already being used to describe a process of education that has been designed for students who may not be able to function in the regular school environment.  However, these students still attend a traditional school.  The difference is only in the methods used and the types of students attending.  But the definition could certainly be expanded to include how people “homeschool” their children. 

 There is also what most educators refer to as “Independent Study”, but again, this often happens on school property.  This generally involves a research project that the student is allowed to do in addition to or instead of the regular school curriculum.  It could also be used as a supplement for students who need extra stimulation.  But this definition could also be expanded to include how parents are teaching their children outside of the school building.

A deeper study of the state homeschooling  requirements  across the country and how parents are actually educating their children is needed in order to determine what this new term should be.  At this juncture, most people understand what homeschooling means, but I am not sure if most people truly understand the number of ways parents are teaching their children, which is not always in the home or by the parents.

Although many of my colleagues are not in favor of homeschooling, mostly for social reasons, it should not be discounted as an option for some children, even if it only means a small percentage of the student population.  Even if it means the prevention of leaving students, who would otherwise be “left behind”, behind.  After all, that is what the No Child Left Behind Act is all about, right?  Ensuring that we leave no child behind? 

Some very succesful people were educated in the public school system.  And although there are no studies that I am aware of that shows that they were successful because of or inspite of their public education, it is still not for everyone.  And even if 1% (although I think it is more) of the student population could benefit greatly from learning in another environment and in a different way from their peers in the traditional school setting,  I think it should certainly not be discounted by the very people who really don’t want to leave any child behind.

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