Given all its benefits, you might wonder how many people homeschool. That is actually an interesting question and one that is quite difficult to answer. The number of homeschooled children is difficult to determine for two main reasons:
- Many homeschoolers aren't counted in anyway. Many states don't require homeschoolers to register in any way. In these states, it is virtually impossible to calculate the number of children who homeschool. And, because many homeschoolers want to avoid government interference in their schools, they don't typically volunteer for any sort of registration process.
- Political and social agendas bias studies. Many studies of this question are biased either by anti- or pro-homeschooling biases. For example, it is incumbent in the agendas of organizations such as teacher's unions to minimize the number of homeschoolers for political reasons. School systems don't want the number of homeschoolers to be known accurately in the event that these numbers would detract from the funding made available to their schools, which is often based on the total size of the populations they serve. School systems can see homeschoolers as a threat to their funding sources.
There have many attempts to calculate the number of homeschooled students in the United States. For the reasons mentioned previously, the results of these studies vary widely. The U.S. Census Bureau (Home Schooling in the United States: Trends and Characteristics by Kurt J. Bauman) estimated that 791,000 children were homeschooled in 1999. Today, as a general idea, most agree that the number of homeschooled children in the United States is somewhere between 900,000 and 2,000,000. Those with a pro-homeschool view would like to lean toward the higher end of the range while those with an anti-homeschool bias would tend to lend credence toward the lower end of the range.
Regardless of the estimated total homeschool population, most experts (pro- or anti-homeschool) agree that homeschooling is increasing in popularity at an extremely high rate; many estimates place the growth rate between 7% and 15% per year (Reaching the Homeschool Market by Mark Lardas in Tdmonthly magazine, October 2003).
In addition to the quantifiable evidence of the growth of homeschooling, there is significant anecdotal evidence that the homeschool movement is large and continuing to increase in influence. For example, the number of publishers and retailers whose business is related to homeschool continues to increase. Businesses that provide discounts and other incentives to students are more frequently including homeschoolers in their definition of student (examples include Apple Computer and Microsoft). The number of homeschool associations, Web sites, and other resources for homeschoolers continues to increase dramatically. And, while not so long ago it was unusual to hear about homeschooling either personally or via the media, it is a topic that seems to pop up regularly now.
Although the exact number of homeschoolers isn't clear, what is clear is that the number of homeschoolers is significant and continues to grow at a brisk pace. As more people discover its benefits, we can expect this trend to continue.