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Homeschooling is booming.

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Homeschooling is booming.

A historically high number of US parents see their kids as too cool for public, private, or charter school and have opted to educate them at home instead.

The number of homeschooled children during the last academic year was 51% higher than in 2017–2018 in states with available info, according to government data crunched by the Washington Post. At the same time, public school enrollment dropped by 4%.

Though homeschooling rates have decreased from pandemic highs, what used to be a niche education arrangement favored mostly by religious parents is now going mainstream nationwide.

  • WaPo’s analysis puts the total number of American kids learning their ABCs at home between 1.9 million and 2.7 million, exceeding the Catholic school student body in the US.
  • The uptick in alternative schooling doesn’t seem to be associated with a low quality of traditional education, as it’s popular in academically high-performing districts as well.

Why has homeschooling gotten so big?

Parents cite several reasons for doubling up as education administrators: schools failing to meet their kids’ unique needs, bullying, and increasing concerns that curricula don’t align with their values. But there are also economic factors at play. Government programs in several states offer parents thousands of dollars’ worth of homeschooling support each year, while nonprofits provide funds to homeschoolers too.

The booming homeschooling rates have created an entire industry catering to parents who don’t want their kids to spend their days waiting for the bell.

  • OutSchool, a platform that allows parents to design bespoke curricula out of crowdsourced classes, has brought in $255 million in VC funding since 2015.
  • Companies like Prenda, which describes itself as an “Airbnb for education,” help parents set up microschools where five to 25 students learn under a supervisor.

While lunch is doubtlessly better at home…many education experts are skeptical that most parents can match the teaching skills of trained teachers. They note that few requirements exist to ensure quality in homeschools, and they worry that homeschooled kids might miss out on formative schoolyard socializing.—SK

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