Number of Families Homeschooling Drops, Probably For The First Time

Graph from the study being discussed.

When the pandemic shut down the schools, many parents were horrified to see what their children were being taught on a daily basis. Others saw that “zoom school” just wasn’t a good way to educate children. As a result, many parents started homeschooling. Along with others, I read the news reports (like this one) covering this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, I have a rather cynical view of my fellow parents. I think that a lot of people who have children would be better off with pets, because they don’t really want to spend the time, effort, and energy necessary to properly raise their children. Thus, while I was happy to see more parents choosing the most effective model of education, I was skeptical that it would last.

Well, homeschooling researcher Dr. Brian Ray has released an analysis that at least partially confirms my cynical view. Using data from the United States Department of Education, the United States Census Bureau, an Education Next survey, and all state-level departments with relevant publicly available data, Dr. Ray estimated the number of students being homeschooled in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and then compared those numbers to previous estimates. The results are shown in the graph above.

Notice that homeschooling grew quite a bit from 2020 to 2021, which is consistent with the news reports. However, in 2022, the numbers dropped, which is consistent with my cynical view of my fellow parents. Nevertheless, I am actually surprised at how little the numbers dropped. Look at the growth in homeschooling from 2016 to 2019. In that three-year period, it grew by about 9%. Compare that to the growth from 2019 to 2022, which includes the year of decline. That growth is 25%! So even after a lot of people left homeschooling, the growth has still been unusually high.

Now, of course, there are at least two caveats here. First, it is very difficult to estimate the number of children being homeschooled. However, given the fact that Dr. Ray has been doing it for decades, I think he is probably the most reliable source on the matter. The second caveat is that 2022 might not be the last year in which the numbers drop. We will have to wait and see.

Nevertheless, given what we know now, it seems that many more parents have discovered the fact that homeschooling is the best solution for their children. More importantly, they have stuck with it (at least so far). This gives me more hope for the next generation.

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