WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As the new school year is set to begin, thousands of students across North Carolina will be staying home.
Statistics from the North Carolina Department of Administration show homeschool rates are increasing.
In the 1998-1999 school year, around 21,500 students were homeschooled across the United States.
Twenty years later, those numbers have increased by more than 100,000 with an estimated 135,749 students in home schools.
In Southeastern North Carolina, the statistics have also shown steady growth in most counties, the largest being Brunswick.
Angie Fairchild is a board member at the Wilmington Cooperative School, a home-schooling option for children ages 5-8. She said there are many reasons parents choose to home-school their children.
"My personal experience with the local homeschool community aligns with the data showing that home-schooling is definitely on the rise," Fairchild said. "You will find that every person's reason to home-school is unique, and their approach to schooling is also unique."
She listed some of the reasons parents choose the option to home-school:
- "Parents views on education don't align with the pedagogical approach used in conventional schools. The nature of the disparity between what parents are looking for and what schools are able to deliver is likely unique to each family."
- "Parents are concerned about problems at school: overcrowding, teaching to the test, bullying, high pressure, school violence. After each of the recent school shootings, the online homeschool forums see a few new members join and ask questions about homeschooling motivated by fear of violence."
- "Parents want more control over what is taught. Sometimes this has a religious, political, or demographic component, but sometimes parents think that schools are just not teaching the things that children will need in their future lives (obviously this relates to point 1). This line of reasoning has lots of interconnections."
- "Parents want to spend more time with their kids, they want to travel, or they need a more flexible schedule."
- "A particular child isn't thriving in school, or is asking to be homeschooled. I've spoken with some families whose children develop serious issues with anxiety and depression which they attribute to the public school environment. Other children just learn differently or at a different pace compared to what is expected at public school and parents think that particular child may be better served with a more individualized education."
The Fairchild family's approach is a hybrid of self-directed learning combined with somewhat of a traditional curriculum.
Twenty-two children attend the Wilmington Cooperative School, though all are registered home-schoolers.
"Some people come here just a few days a week. Some come every day," Fairchild said. "Some people have a very structured curriculum they follow at home. Others take more of an unschool approach, which is completely self guided and directed. In our family, we do a little bit of a hybrid."
Other families, like the Gasparovics, choose to follow a traditional style with more flexibility. Stephanie Gasparovic's children attend a university-style homeschool.
They attend class on a campus two days each week, and work from home for the other three. After sending their daughter to public school, they decided the less stressful lifestyle was a better fit for their family.
"I just felt like there was so much pressure for her and I just wanted her to be a kid," Gasparovic said. "Our goal in life is yes, we want them to have a great job and want to have them succeed in life, but all in all, our main goal is their hearts and how they treat other people and that's the big picture for us."
They enjoy doing work on their porch in the warmer months and having more time to spend together as a family.
"I feel like we're super blessed to be able to do this because I know there are a lot of working families that have to work two jobs," Gasparovic said. "I never want to come from what we do is better than what the public school systems are."