(Editor’s note: This story deals mainly with Hemet Unified School District and U.S. statistics on home-schooling. The TC also is interested in talking with local parents/guardians currently homeschooling their children.)
Homeschooling in the U.S. is growing by leaps and bounds. From 1999 to 2012 the number of children being homeschooled jumped a whopping 75 percent and that number is expected to surge over the next 10 years, according to a report by Education News.
Parents elect to homeschool their children for many reasons — religious beliefs, personal needs, peer pressure, disappointment in the public school system, family-run business, etc.
Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer reasons, “If a child is helping with the family business, home schooling might be more suitable. Or there might be extenuating circumstances where the child is a better fit in a homeschool program rather than being in school.”
Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute wrote, “There are about 2.04 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010 in the United States. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2 to 8 percent per annum over the past few years).”
The curriculum must be California approved, but “the rigor of how it is delivered can vary greatly,” said Kraemer. Academically, many believe that homeschool students are more advanced than students in traditional public schools. “The students that we’ve recently got from the homeschool program have been a little behind,” Kraemer observed, however.
Based on Ray’s studies, “The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)”
Some districts are now offering independent study programs such as Hemet Unified School District’s Family Tree Learning Center. “We have the learning tree program for elementary kids K-8; they do independent work under the guidance of their parents, but they do have to go down to Hemet to meet with their teacher once a week to review their work,” said Kraemer.
The Helen Hunt Jackson program serves high school students. “We have a teacher that comes on Tuesdays and she meets with high school students at Idyllwild Elementary,” Kraemer added.
Kraemer feels there can be drawbacks to homeschooling, “Putting academics aside they say that most people who get fired or terminated from their job is not because they can’t do the job, it is because they have trouble socializing with their co-workers. That is so much part of being in school, the socialization factor and learning how to interact with people. It is really important to your future success.”
Kraemer believes that some kids can still be socialized in a homeschool program but it is more difficult. “I’ve seen kids be very successful in home-school programs that have managed to teach them socialization skills. Some parents do a really good job on taking their kids on field trips in the homeschool program and they really get out and see the real world.”
Under normal circumstances, homeschooled students do not participate in after-school programs, but there is an exception in the HUSD program.
“We do the Missoula Children’s Theater every year. It is a production where the PTA hires a company and they send out two people, usually theater students, who work with the kids for the play,” said Kraemer. “They work with them for one week. This year it is going to be the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ It’s the first week in December.
“They do a phenomenal job. They bring props and everything and they work hard with the kids to study their lines,” Kraemer said. They practice four days a week to get their lines down and then they do their performance at the end.
“I extend that to the homeschool kids because I think it is a good opportunity for them to participate in something they wouldn’t normally get to participate in. The PTA is behind it, too. They thought it was a good idea to incorporate the homeschooled kids,” said Kraemer.
Academically, Idyllwild Elementary broke 900 on its Academic Performance Index this year while the Family Tree Learning Center score was 726.
The Helen Hunt Jackson independent high school study program dropped 26 points to 682.
Still, Kraemer believes the program can be successful for some students, “Some of the students who have left here as eighth graders and gone on to HHJ [Helen Hunt Jackson] are really good students. I know of one student that graduated high school in three years. He’s now in his first year of college.”
Resources for parents interested in learning more about homeschooling include The Homeschool Association of California (www.hsc.org) and the California Homeschool Network (www.californiahomeschool.net).
For more information on the Family Tree Learning Center and Helen Hunt Jackson programs, call the HUSD at 951-765-5100.
Category: Idyllwild News