What Homeschooling REALLY Looks Like in 2016

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Homeschooling began its resurgence back in the ’80’s.  I actually knew a kid who was homeschooled way back then. {gasp} I was in high school and he was our pastor’s elementary-aged son. I thought it sounded different, but really cool. I was rather jealous.

As it has increased in popularity and become so mainstream, the face of homeschooling has undoubtedly changed since those early days.

What Homeschooling REALLY Looks Like in 2016

What is homeschooling like in 2016?

Homeschoolers are out in the real world.

Thanks to the pioneer homeschooling families who paved the way and faced the reality of jail time for truancy violations, today’s homeschoolers have countless opportunities. They aren’t cloistered away in the basement, as many seem to think, but are out in the place popularly referred to as the real world.

In 2016, homeschooling parents often have to limit their kids’ activities so that they have time to stay home and do school.

Learning can take place at:

  • Co-ops. Many homeschooled kids take electives and/or core classes at parent-taught homeschool co-ops.
  • Homeschool classes. Many areas offer supplemental homeschool classes. These are different from co-ops in that they’re not typically taught by member parents. Rather, families pay a fee for the classes their children are taking. The classes are typically taught by people with work experience or degrees related to the topics they’re teaching. Like co-ops, these can include both electives and core classes, including those taught for high school credit.
  • Enrichment classes. Homeschoolers also take enrichment classes available from organizations such as zoos, aquariums, art studios, and facilities such as the YMCA. These classes may also be organized by homeschooling families and taught by parents or experts from the community such as artists, photographers, or tutors.

In addition, activities for homeschooled kids include organized sports, dances, orchestra, band – just about anything that is available for traditionally-educated children is available for homeschoolers, including yearbooks, senior banquets, prom, graduation ceremonies.

Homeschooling families are diverse.

Because many of the early homeschooling pioneers were conservative Christian families schooling for religious reasons, many people think still describes the majority of today’s homeschooling families. Mine is a conservative Christian family, and while we still hold a statistical majority, we do so only slightly.

In 2016, people from all faiths and socio-economic backgrounds homeschool their children. Homeschooling parents include stay-at-home parents, doctors, lawyers, former teachers, single-parents, and both single- and dual-income families. They are from Christian, secular, and non-Christian faith backgrounds.

And, we’re not just homeschooling moms. There are many dads out there who are the at-home, teaching parents.

Homeschoolers have access to quality materials.

Early homeschooling families often had to piece together their own curriculum from the library or public school textbooks. Homeschooling families still enjoy the option of using an eclectic mix of curricula to create the best fit for our families, and we are certainly no strangers to the library.

After years of writing my own unit studies, I spent many years schooling in a very eclectic manner. And even as recently as the last decade, it was quite common to see comb-bound products with card stock covers and office-store-copied pages for sale at the curriculum fairs – and I have been happy to purchase those materials because they represented some wonderful products.

What Homeschooling REALLY Looks Like in 2016

In 2016, homeschooling families have access to professionally-printed products in addition to:

  • First-rate science equipment
  • Online classes – including group classes with homeschooled students from around the country (and the world)
  • Apps for tablets
  • Live classes with instructors via Skype (and even online dyslexia tutoring)

There are many other examples, but the point is that homeschoolers are not being shortchanged in the materials necessary (and many not necessary, but nice to have) to provide a quality education.

Homeschoolers are going to Harvard.

One of the questions about homeschooling that parents often hear is, “What about college?”

In 2016, colleges are admitting – and many actively recruiting – homeschooled students, including prestigious universities such as Harvard. Instead of limiting a student’s options for secondary education, homeschooling can actually improve them.

Granted this isn’t true everywhere. Some colleges still have very outdated policies regarding homeschooled students and may require parents and students to jump through hoops for admissions.

One kid I know did dual-enrollment in high school at a local community college for the majority of her junior and senior classes. When it came time to apply for admission as a college freshmen, the school wouldn’t accept her transcripts – even though most of the grades for the last two years came from them! It was crazy.

She wound up enrolling in a school whose admissions policies made sense and is now well on her way to a nursing degree.

Even though the secondary educational options for homeschooled students are plentiful, college isn’t the best choice for all young adults. There are many alternatives to a college education and many definitions of homeschool success.

Homeschoolers are weird.

I’m tired of trying to convince people otherwise, so I’m just going to go with it. Homeschoolers are weird. You know, if it makes a person weird to follow his or her passions regardless of what others think and to happily carry on as one’s authentic self.

I love what Jenn at Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling has to say about the issue of weird homeschoolers:

These days you hear so many people encouraging individuality. Phrases like “Be Yourself” and “Don’t worry about what other’s think of you” can be heard or read online every single day. But really what people are saying is “Be Yourself” as long as it fits inside the box of what society has deemed as “normal”.

In 2016, homeschoolers are still weird – just as wonderfully weird and diverse as their public and private schooled counterparts.

Having only homeschooled since 2002, I can only imagine how much has truly changed since the early days of homeschooling’s resurgence three decade ago. (Which, incidentally, makes me feel really old since I was a teenager then.)

Because of how much things have already changed, I wanted to include 2016 in the title and body of this article. I thought it would make a nice time capsule of sorts because it won’t be long until people are looking back at the way we homeschooled way back in 2016.

How would you describe homeschooling in 2016? What does it look like for your family?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

images courtesy of depositphotos

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. One major staple for us is Netflix. You can find some sort of documentary or movie on just about any topic there. In fact, we’ve completely gotten rid of cable in lieu of Netflix streaming. My 16 yr. old son has learned the vast majority of his astronomy and military history through Netflix. Besides that, I think that today’s homeschoolers are very lucky in that we literally have information at our fingertips, thanks to the internet. While I love the library and actual, physical books, sometimes it’s not always possible to get there. Technology is such a huge asset.

  2. I have been homeschooling since the late 1980’s and things are so much easier these days. Back then it was very challenging to find curriculum materials. There was no internet then either. What a different time it was.

  3. I was homeschooled in the 90s, and I think we were on the cusp between homeschoolers being “out-there” and now being more mainstream. I’m now homeschooling my kids and it’s WAY easier-I could practically homeschool for free between the many quality online resources (although I pay for some) with minimal effort on my part-a change from the olden days when you had to piece it all together from your local library. And of course nowadays I’m no longer afraid of the truancy officer lol.

  4. I love this post so much! Everything you’ve said is dead on, and I wish those outside of the homeschooling spectrum would ease up on criticism!! Thank you for sharing my thoughts from my socialization post also 🙂

  5. I’m new to homeschooling, we just started this year. I’ve heard about the co-ops and I would like to find one in my area. I live in baton rouge, la. Thanks for any advice!

  6. I started homeschooling my oldest son in 1989, and my youngest homeschool student is now in 7th grade. I’ve seen a lot of changes over those years, all good, but it was exciting to be pioneering back in the day. 🙂

  7. My parents homeschooled me beginning in the mid-80’s. I graduated from homeschool in 1999. I now homeschool my three children and things sure have changed. There is certainly a lot less skepticism now then there was when I was homeschooled. Or maybe people are afraid to voice it? Anyway, it seems more widely acceptable somehow.

  8. I was homeschooled back in the 1980s, and am now homeschooling my kids. We knew one other homeschooling family the entire 6 years I was homeschooled, living in 3 different states. I’m loving the variety of options for homeschoolers these days, the way different styles of homeschooling are acknowledged as viable, and just the fact that we can connect with other families and meet at the park on a random Thursday morning! Or go to the zoo with a group of friends, so there are more mom eyes on the kids.

  9. Spot on! I’ve been homeschooling for seven years now and it just gets easier and more accepted. However, this may be just because I am no longer fielding questions from friends or defending myself to family.

  10. I was homeschooled starting in 1984, my parents were arrested for it that same year in OK (and they were released, thank goodness), and I graduated in 1990. I’ve been homeschooling my 5 kids since 2000, and have at least 12 years to go.

    It has most definitely changed, and I waver between “for the better” or not. ? I miss those early, simple days. We didn’t join 11 different activities a week, and our family was very close. We influenced others to homeschool in our little town, so we weren’t alone. We used ACE curriculum, and Rod and Staff in the later years.

    It really is a great time to be homeschooling, and the Internet makes a huge difference, so I’ll reminisce in the old days and be thankful for where we are now.

  11. Thanks for continuing to link up with us on Hip Homeschool Moms! Once again, I love your article! I chose it as one of our featured favorites for tomorrow’s HOP. 🙂

  12. This is great!! having only been homeschooling for 4 years now we’re not finding much different and I’ll admit I don’t often think of all the struggles that those came before us must have faced. I’m thankful that it’s becoming more mainstream and find that the majority of the public is often supportive. I constantly hear “good for you! schools aren’t like they used to be.” But I guess, thankfully, homeschooling isn’t either.

  13. We don’t have many co-op option s available to us but we do have an awesome Nature and Science musuem that holds homeschooling science days and we participate in a homeschool ice skating class. It’s so nice to find that businesses and museums are reaching out to the homeschooling community.

  14. We use a lot of Youtube for homeschooling. This morning, we were watching Blue World\’s video on octopus (our theme for the week) and then we watched one on sea turtles and another on penguins. So much good discussion in my house and in the kids play about the different types of animals that live in water and how they are similar and different.

    My kids also like watching/listening to the read-aloud books that many people have put on Youtube. You can even find the Magic Treehouse books!

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