School & District Management

How Do Parents Prepare to Home School?

By Sarah D. Sparks — November 07, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The burgeoning popularity of home schooling has not necessarily been matched by preparation for the parents who are doing it, suggest new federal data on home-schooled students.

Some 1.8 million American students were taught at home in 2012, representing only 3.4 percent of all K-12 students. That’s small, but it’s twice the rate of home schooling in 1999, according to the most comprehensive home schooling data to date from the National Center for Education Statistics.

While large majorities of parents cited the desire to include religious or moral teaching, the deciding factor for nearly all parents was concern over students’ safety at school. As my colleague Arianna Prothero notes over at the Charters & Choice blog:

A large majority of home schooling parents said they chose to home school their children because of concerns over the environment in their original schools. Ninety-one percent said factors such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure helped drive them to home school their children.

Yet it’s uncertain how prepared parents are to instruct their children across a wide array of grades and subjects.

A little less than half of parents who home-schooled held at least a four-year degree of their own: NCES estimated 26 percent of home schooling parents in 2012 had a bachelor’s degree, and another 18 percent had a master’s degree. Close to a third had a high school diploma or less.

The report found 3 out of 4 parents of home schoolers had no training before beginning to teach their children. About 11 percent took a class in person, while another 14 percent of home schooling parents took an online or hybrid training course.

As the chart to the left shows, parents most frequently relied on websites, libraries, and home schooling publishers for instructional materials. The report did not include information about the content or quality of any particular material, though it did find most home-schooled secondary students had covered basic algebra and earth sciences.

States have begun to consider more regulations on home schooling in recent years, as the practice has grown in popularity. Still, states differ considerably in their requirements for home schooling parents, and more families are also looking to cooperative arrangements with other families and charter schools.

Chart: National Center for Education Statistics data finds the majority of home schooled students get curriculum from online and print sources. Source: NCES


Want more research news? Get the latest studies and join the conversation.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Best Ways for Schools to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Being better connected to families and the community and diversifying the education workforce are some of the ways to be ready.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educators' Support for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Is Rising Dramatically
Nearly 60 percent of educators say students who are old enough to receive COVID vaccines should be required to get them to attend school.

4 min read
Mariah Vaughn, a 15-year-old Highland Park student, prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during the vaccine clinic at Topeka High School on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.
Mariah Vaughn, 15, a student at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kan., prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at her school in August.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
School & District Management 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week