By Ashley Bateman / Heartland Institute
In keeping with national trends, increasing numbers of Mainers are moving their children out of traditional schools and into the home.
From 2005 to 2015, the number of registered homeschool students in Maine increased by 35 percent, according to the Maine Department of Education. Approximately 5,500 children, or 3 percent of Maine’s K-12 students, were homeschooled in 2015, the Portland Press Herald reported in 2016.
“Over the last 10 years, the state has seen a steady increase from year to year on the number of children who are homeschooled,” the Bangor Daily Newsreported in August 2017.
Regarding overall U.S. numbers, the National Center for Education Statistics reports, “Approximately 3 percent of the school-age population [about 1.8 million U.S. children] was homeschooled in the 2011–12 school year.”
Maine Homeschool Laws ‘Decent’
Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, says Maine doesn’t present many impediments to homeschooling.
“The homeschool laws of Maine are decent, and they are administered in a fairly friendly way, so that tends to keep things harmonious,” Woodruff said. “There are no major issues we are fighting right now.”
Ed and Kathy Green founded Homeschoolers of Maine, or HOME, in 1990 to support fellow homeschooling families. A lack of early-education options had led them to homeschool their four daughters in the early 1980s.
Kathy Green says homeschooling provided her family unique benefits not found in traditional schools.
“It didn’t take long for us to realize that there was something very special about learning together as a family,” Kathy Green said. “We noticed a bond developing as they learned and grew together that we had not experienced in our own growing-up years.”
Ed Green says other families are also realizing the advantages of homeschooling.
“Rising numbers of homeschoolers indicate its success,” said Ed Green. “Results of numerous nationwide studies continue to show that homeschooled students are doing at least as well academically, if not better, than their public school counterparts. More importantly, though, parents themselves see better results in their children. When parents see that their children are happy, healthy, and thriving as homeschooled students, word spreads. More and more people are learning about the benefits for their family and sharing that with others.”
‘We Are Here to Help’
HOME hosts and supports activities, field trips, and annual events and produces active social networking and regular publications, “all aimed at providing information, support, and encouragement on a daily basis to homeschoolers throughout Maine,” Kathy Green said. “We are here to help families to be successful in their mission.”
‘A Wider Swath of People’
Brian Ray, founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says homeschooling is more mainstream than it used to be, now attracting all types of people.
“Because the homeschool movement has matured in terms of numbers and experience, that means people who choose it do not have to be as zealous or ideologically strong as they did 10, 15, 25 years ago,” Ray said. “There’s a wider swath of people, philosophically and politically, who are trying to home-educate.”
The Greens say caring parents have historically gravitated toward directing their children’s education.
“[Good parents] have an inherent desire to provide for the health, well-being, and education of their children in every way possible,” Kathy Green said. “That desire is what drives parents to seek an alternative when something isn’t working out in a traditional school setting. Today, most families know that home education is an option.”
“Home education has existed since the beginning of time,” Ed Green said. “It is a model that cannot easily be duplicated elsewhere, since any alternative would take the home, the family, and the special uniqueness of each child out of the equation. A private home education is tailored by the parent to fit the needs of an individual child as she grows and changes. Parents can be creative and flexible and adapt at a moment’s notice. This is a very difficult task to achieve in a school setting.”
Ashley Bateman (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.
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