Every homeschool family has a unique story to tell. There are countless variables that can go into the choice to be a homeschooling family. However, the one that comes into play for everyone is their location. This is because each and every one of the 50 states have their own rules and regulations for homeschooling families.
With everything that has happened in the last year and the number of students that were and are forced to have school at home — you might be surprised to learn that homeschooling used to be illegal. Why? Good question! Let’s find out.
How Homeschooling Started
Things in the homeschooling world really started to change during the 1970s. The movement was led by a man named John Holt. He felt that the classroom had turned into a bad environment for children. That it was oppressive. And he had experience as an elementary teacher. He taught students with methods that were not traditional at the time. In his view, education and schooling were two different things.
He pushed for parents to pull their children out of public school and begin homeschooling. He founded a magazine, Growing Without Schooling, in 1977. It didn’t take long for the momentum to pick up. Especially after his friend, published a book in 1981, Home Grown Kids. Holt is considered to be the founder of what homeschooling has become today.
Breaking The Law
The biggest issue with homeschooling was the compulsory education laws. They required kids to attend school — public or state-accredited private school. These laws were designed to accomplish a couple of things. One is two improve literacy rates. Another was to discourage the widespread child labor practices that were going on in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the immigration boom between the 19th and 20th centuries, education was viewed as the best way to assimilate immigrant kids.
In the United States, Massachusetts was the first to enact such a law, in 1852. If parents failed to comply with the law, they were fined or even had their parental rights taken away and their children were apprenticed to others. Many of the states created compulsory education laws. Their aim was to put education primarily in the hands of state-run, public schools. The cause? It was fear of immigrant and religious values. Homeschooling was not widely accepted for the next several decades until things began to change in the 1970s.
The first big change in court came in 1972. A group of Amish families went to court to fight for their right to educate their kids in a way that more closely aligned with their values. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Amish parents would be exempt from these laws after the eighth grade.
Homeschool Legal Defense
In 1983, a couple of homeschooling dads who were also attorneys founded the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Their mission: “To preserve and advance the fundamental, God-given, constitutional right of parents and others legally responsible for their children to direct their education.”
At that time, homeschooling was still against the law in nearly all of the states. Parents who wanted to go that route would surely be up against legal issues. But the HSLDA was there to help. They’d assist homeschooling parents with finding attorneys, expert witnesses, and other court-related costs. They were a driving force in advocating for the right of the parents to homeschool their children. And they were successful. By 1993, homeschooling was legal in all 50 states.
The Homeschooling Explosion
Since then, homeschooling has continued to grow at a fast pace. The reasons to teach kids at home continue to increase. There are medical and other health reasons, military families who are always on the move, and bullying, just to name a few. The resources available for families who want to homeschool continue to increase too. By 1999, the number of homeschool students had grown to 850,000. In 2016, the number had doubled again to 1,690,000.
Everything changed again in 2020. But this time it wasn’t in the courts. It was because of a global pandemic. Thanks to COVID-19, families and schools have had to adjust the way students are being taught all over the world. This has led to another explosion of families switching to homeschooling.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household Pulse Survey, there has been another substantial increase in homeschooling since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is the first data source to offer both a national and state-level look at the impact of COVID-19 on homeschooling rates. The findings are rather interesting. Here’s what was discovered.
At the end of April 2020, 5.4% of U.S. households with school-aged children reported homeschooling their children. A few months later, at the end of September, that number had grown to 11.1%. Again, the homeschooling number has doubled. (This does not count students attending public school virtually due to the pandemic). This study shows that families are searching for new and improved ways to educate their children. Especially methods that are reliable and meet the health and safety needs of their kids.
Check Out Big River Academy
If this sounds like the situation your family is in, Big River Academy is here to help. Big River Academy is an online school designed to bring the best aspects of traditional education into the safety of your home. We have quality live classes for both middle and high school children. Your child will hear our voices, see our faces, and we will know them. Our students are a part of a learning community that meets in a live classroom weekly with teachers who are available during separate office hours.
It is our mission to create an online community in which students can connect with other students and their instructors. To bring the best components of traditional education into the safety of our students’ homes.
In an effort to make this possible, we go the extra mile to bring success to our homeschooling families. We give our students with practical courses and meticulously provide them with college preparatory experiences. Part of this is our Christian curriculum that features courses loaded with Bible-based knowledge for families that desire their kids to connect their faith and academics.
We love what we do at Big River Academy and hope that you’ll let us be part of your child’s education. If you have any questions feel free to email us or message us on social media. Make sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram and YouTube to keep up with the excitement at Big River Academy.