Homeschooling in the USA

Homeschooling in the USA is one of the fastest growing education movements in America. Since the 1970s homeschooling has become a viable alternative with numbers steadily rising to approximately 3.5% of the school population pre Covid pandemic.

homeschooling in the usa

70% of American parents now feel more comfortable with the idea of homeschooling according to a recent 2020 Education Choices study.15% of new homeschooling parents plan to continue homeschooling post pandemic and 40% said they are likely to choose an alternative to traditional school in the future.

Why Are People Homeschooling in the USA?

Parents choose to homeschool for various reasons but during the Covid pandemic child safety was a primary concern. This table demonstrates the issues most important to parents homeschooling in the USA in recent years.

Important reasons for homeschooling 2012 2016 2020
Religious instruction 64% 51% 15%
Moral instruction 77% 67% 26%
School environment 91% 80%
Dissatisfaction with academics 74% 61% 18%
Non-traditional approach 44% 39%
Special needs 16% 20%
Individualized attention 35%
Safety concerns during pandemic 50%

Sources for: 2012 & 2016 results and 2020 Statistics results.

How Covid Impacted Homeschooling in the USA

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions has seen homeschooling in the USA grow dramatically.  National Census Data from the Household Pulse Survey, indicated 11% of the school age population were being homeschooled in the USA in 2020.

States with significant homeschool population jumps of over 10% included.

  % Jump from 6 months prior 2020 Homeschool Population %
Alaska 17.9 27.5
Florida 13.1 18.1
Massachusetts 10.6 12.1
Mississippi 11.6 15
Montana 10.6 13.1
Nevada 13.1 10.6
Oklahoma 12.4 20.1
Vermont 12.8 16.9
West Virginia 11.2 16.6

 

New York State which had the lowest percentage of homeschooled children pre pandemic, grew from 1.2% to 10.1%.

States that saw no real change in homeschool numbers were:

  • California 8.6%
  • Delaware 8.9%
  • Iowa 6.6%

These states were already above the national average of 3.5% prior to Covid.

Legal Requirements for Homeschooling in the USA

Education requirements for homeschooling in the USA are controlled at state level. Notification and reporting requirements vary widely from state to state. New York State homeschool requirements are some of the most difficult to satisfy with quarterly reports, set subjects and mandatory testing. While Alaska has some of the easiest homeschool laws, with no notification required to homeschool.

Here’s an overview of how HSLDA categorizes the level of regulation for homeschooling in each state.

Homeschooling Trends Globally

Students homeschooling in the USA are the largest population of homeschool students globally. However, homeschooling is also on the rise internationally.

During the pandemic homeschooling numbers in the UK increased by 200%. Australia  saw an 18% increase in registered homeschoolers. Homeschooling is also popular in New Zealand, India, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and Russia.

In some countries, such as Germany and Sweden, homeschooling is illegal and parents who homeschool are at risk of having their children taken from them.

Articles of Interest on Homeschooling in the USA

The normalisation of homeschooling in the USA by Michell Stevens ©2003

Homeschooling During COVID-19: Lessons Learned from a Year of Homeschool Education

Many studies have shown that the academic outcomes of homeschooling students are at least as good as a school could provide and often better.