Education Next: Homeschoolers more likely than public-school peers to attend community events, visit museums, and more: New analysis of Education Department data

28 Jul

Parents and others often think of school choice in terms of public school or private school. There is another option and that is homeschooling. Homeschooling is one option in the school choice menu.  What is Homeschooling?

Family Education defines homeschooling.

Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word “home” is not really accurate, and neither is “school.” For most families, their “schooling” involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.
Essentially, homeschooling involves a commitment by a parent or guardian to oversees their child or teen’s educational development. There are almost two million homeschoolers in this country.

There is no one federal law, which governs homeschooling. Each state regulates homeschooling, so state law must be consulted. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a summary of each state’s laws. State Homeschool Laws The American Homeschool Association (AHA) has resources such as FAQ and the history of homeschooling at AHA


Daniel Hamlin wrote about activities of homeschoolers in the comprehensive examination of the homeschool population, Homeschool Happens Everywhere: Less formal instruction, but more family and community activities:

Homeschool families report higher rates of participation in cultural and family activities, suggesting that students have opportunities to acquire cultural capital outside of formal instructional time. Indeed, increased opportunities for hands-on learning may be a fundamental reason why some families opt to homeschool. Participation in these types of activities also may play a compensatory role, possibly offsetting what may be forfeited by not attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school. And it may offer a glimpse of the potential unique benefits to homeschooling, such as more frequent exposure to museums and art galleries and other community-based opportunities to engage with high culture.

This initial foray into the relationship between cultural capital and homeschooling underscores lines of inquiry for future research. Little is known about how homeschool parents attempt to teach art, music, and foreign languages. Furthermore, it remains uncertain whether a lack of instruction in humanities subjects among homeschool households signifies a rejection of conventional forms of instruction or is a consequence of unobserved barriers that these families face.

These findings cannot fully answer the concerns raised by Bartholet about child safety and homeschooling. Child neglect and abuse are urgent problems in some share of all families, and it is true that some children find refuge and access social-service supports through their schools. However, national survey data does not indicate that this is a concern for the majority. Critiques that homeschooled children grow up in cultural and social isolation may be overstated and mischaracterize the practice.

A richer understanding of homeschooling is especially relevant as families across the United States contemplate an uncertain return to full-time formal instruction in school buildings in the fall of 2020. Taking the activities of homeschool families as a guide, reduced classroom time or continued closures may potentially free up more time for different sorts of educational activities that parents and children can pursue at home. Even if museums and libraries remain closed, they have created rich online tours and educational programs in the wake of the pandemic, like those offered by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Louvre, NASA’s Langley Research Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Is the knowledge students gain from these sorts of activities equivalent to what they develop through experiences at school? What might be the benefits, as well as the limitations, of exploring education in this way on a broad scale? In the pandemic age, we may be about to find out.                                                         

Here is the press release from Education Next:


Homeschoolers more likely than public-school peers to attend community events, visit museums, and more

New analysis of Education Department data

Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s recent call to ban homeschooling purported that homeschoolers are isolated and at urgent risk of harm from maltreatment, under-education, and parental abuse. But concerns that such students are in danger appear, at the very least, overblown, reports Daniel Hamlin in a new article for Education Next.

He finds that homeschooled students are more likely to attend a community event, visit a museum, and engage in family activities than their counterparts in public schools.

“Critiques that homeschooled children grow up in cultural and social isolation may be overstated and mischaracterize the practice,” Hamlin writes.

For more information, read “X.” To speak to the authors, please contact Jackie Kerstetter.

About Education NextEducation Next is a scholarly journal committed to careful examination of evidence relating to school reform, published by the Education Next Institute and the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School. For more information, please visit

Many of our children are “unschooled” and a far greater number are “uneducated.” One can be “unschooled” or “uneducated” no matter the setting. As a society, we should be focused on making sure that each child receives a good basic education. There are many ways to reach that goal. There is nothing scary about the fact that some parents make the choice to homeschool. The focus should not be on the particular setting or institution type. The focus should be on proper assessment of each child to ensure that child is receiving a good basic education and the foundation for later success in life.


‘Hybrid’ homeschooling is growing                            

New book: Homeschooling, the little option that could

Homeschooled kids make the grade for college

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