The Land of Homeschoolers

These are homeschooling articles I enjoy reading.  Virginia Commonwealth University‘s  Capitol News Service posted a lengthy article: Home Schooling on the Rise in Virginia by Allison Landry and Amber Shiflett.  Homeschoolers were the homeschooling experts in this article, rather than people who like to study homeschoolers.

“My son chose home schooling when he was about 3. I didn’t realize that’s what was happening at the time. We tried having him go to preschool, and it was not a good fit for him,” said Wilson, the government affairs director for the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers.

“Once I started questioning preschool, I suddenly found myself in this land of home-schoolers.”

Across the United States, a growing number of parents like Wilson have chosen home schooling as an alternative to public schools. In Virginia, the number of home-schoolers has increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

There are now more than 32,000 home-schoolers in Virginia. If they were a school district, it would be the ninth-largest in the state – with almost as many students as the Norfolk Public Schools.

Homeschooler after homeschooler offered their experiences, from Ann Zeise to VaHomeschoolers President – Parrish Mort, to two Fairfax County homeschooling moms.  Since Virginia homeschoolers report their homeschooling status, homeschooling numbers were presented for each county.

The school divisions with the most home-schoolers are Fairfax County (2,929), Loudoun County (2,119), Chesterfield County (1,954), Prince William County (1,345) and Virginia Beach (982). That’s not surprising, because those are highly populated areas, and the home-schoolers there represent a tiny fraction of the school-age population.

But in Floyd County, in Southwest Virginia, the 269 home-schoolers represent nearly 12 percent of all school-age children, according to data analysis by Capital News Service. In Surry County, in the Hampton Roads area, home-schoolers represent 11 percent of all school-age children.

There was a former PTA president who shared her opinion of her non-homeschooling experience:

Missy Edwards, the former vice president of the Parent Teacher Association at Lanier Middle School in Fairfax, expressed that concern. She has three children, who have all attended public schools. Edwards said she has been actively involved in her children’s academic paths throughout high school.

Like many public school parents, Edwards believes home schooling cannot provide the type of benefits that public schools do.

“I don’t believe that home-schoolers can benefit from the social and academic capabilities of dealing with real-world issues,” Edwards said. She said public school “has provided my kids with socialization skills that I wouldn’t be able to give them if I had them at home with me every day.”

Real world issues often do not exist in the classroom, except for issues such as school socialization.

The homeschooling crew was gracious.

While Edwards said that she could never be a home-school parent, VaHomeschoolers leaders Amy Wilson of Prince William County and Parrish Mort of Cumberland County said public schools have always been an option for their children.

“If they told me they wanted to go to public school, I would let them give it a try. So far, they both prefer home schooling,” Wilson said.

Mort agreed: “Every year, we’d re-evaluate. It’s one child, one year at a time. If they chose to make a different choice, it was fine.”

Their response was typical of many homeschool parents – one day/year at a time, review and go the best direction for each child.  That is the glory of educational choice, which often keeps families homeschooling year after year.

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