According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of students, nationally, who are homeschooled has jumped by 61.8 percent since 2003.

Granbury is one of the many cities in Texas where homeschooling has become a trend.

Words by Claire Wilkison

Photography provided by Ashley Keith

There are currently 79.9 million children living in the United States of America. In 2015, CNS News reported that 1,773,000 of those children were being homeschooled. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of students who are homeschooled has jumped by 61.8 percent since 2003. “Texas leads the nation in the number of families who home school,” as stated by the Texas Home School Coalition Association. “We estimate that more [than] 300,000 children are being taught at home.” The questions that arise from these statistics is why? Why are parents choosing to teach their child at home instead of choosing the more traditional route? Another major question that public school teachers should be asking is, will this number continue to rise?

Granbury is one of the many cities in Texas where homeschooling has become a trend. Ashley Keith, a native to Granbury, used to be a typical parent who believed that public education was the only route to take. It wasn’t until she was blessed with four high-energy and passionate children that she consideredteaching them at home. When discussing her purpose in choosing homeschooling, she mentioned that learning shouldn’t be confined in a classroom. She further explained that learning should “take place all day long as we do life together, in our home or wherever we happen to go that day. Since a primary goal of education is to prepare a child for real life, it’s nice when the setting for that education can be real life.”

When Keith and her husband were debating about whether to homeschool their children, they took many reasons into consideration. A majority of their reasoning was their relationship with God and the sheer amount of time they are given with their children. Keith also explained that “parents are designed to truly make great teachers of their children. They know their kid’s best and- whether they recognized it as such- they have already been teaching them since the day they were born.”

Despite personal reasons, research shows that homeschooling does have many benefits to not only families, but to the community as well. The Education Research Institute explained that, taxpayers don’t seem to pay any money towards homeschooled students due to the simple circumstance that they’re not enrolled in a public school system. This is mainly due to families not needing taxpayers to fund the education for their children. The research institute also made note that “homeschool families spend an average of $600 per student for their education.” Other benefits of homeschooling include; improving family relationships, guided social interactions with other children and adults, providing a controlled environment and an individualized curriculum. Others decide homeschooling is important for the values and beliefs they can bestow on their children that public school cannot do. Ashley Keith mentioned that she hears from homeschooling families that “they have a strong desire to slow down and savor life with their children, not over-schedule and rush through it.”

Mother and home-schooler, Ashley Keith, explains learning should “take place all day long as we do life together, in our home or wherever we… go that day. Since a primary goal of education is to prepare a child for real life, it’s nice when the setting for that education can be real life.”

The public education system was created to form statewide and national standards. There are in fact many positive outcomes by enrolling a child into public education. But in recent years, there has been an outcry in the Texas’ public education system because of all the assessments that students have to undertake. As many know, Texas has a long history with mandated testing starting in 1980 with the TABS test. But since 2003 when they began with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the amount of children who are homeschooled has risen. If you agree with the saying, “there are no such things as consequences” then you’re probably on the right track as to why more and more families are choosing to enroll their students in homeschooling. Audra Cain, a fellow homeschooling mom from Granbury, explained that she preferred to have a primarily parent led system. “Currently, parental access and involvement is very limited in a public school setting. This is ultimately what has led us to our choice for home education.” When asked if she was concerned if her children were missing out on characteristics only found in public school she explained, “I don’t believe that children were created to require a setting like that of a public school in order to become high functioning, capable and knowledgeable adults.”

Public school teachers worry for children who are introduced to homeschooling purposely because of social settings. For some homeschooling families in Granbury, they have found a solution to this problem: co-op activities in the community. In Granbury alone, there are several social opportunities for children who homeschool. Ashley Keith explained “we’re a part of Classical Conversations chapter that meets her in Granbury once a week. This has been an invaluable encouragement to our family on this homeschooling journey.” Classical Conventions is a group that supports homeschooling parents all around the world. The purpose of the group is to “cultivate a love of learning through a Christian worldview through fellowship and other families.” Other co-op options in the area include FAITH and Hood County Homeschoolers. As for Keith’s family they participate in regular community service by visiting nursing homes, participating in ministry fundraisers and food drives. As for Fine Arts, her kids participate in weekly piano lessons at the Travis Academy of Fine Arts located in Fort Worth. They also offer a series of fine art classes to homeschoolers in the metroplex area. In the Granbury area, other great fine art options include the Granbury Theatre Academy at the Opera House and Club Music Art and Drama (Club MAD) at Acton United Methodist Church. For athletics, Keith’s family participates in a program called Upward which is the world’s largest Christian youth sports provider.

Depending on your situation and your family, homeschooling could be something that you are capable of managing. It has many benefits and within the Granbury area, they’re plenty of groups and activities that your child can be a part of in order to develop their social skills. Audra Cain left me with an important message that I must pass on to readers, it is a “true blessing to have this breadth and depth of options for education our children. That cannot be said for most of the world, and it is truly a problem of privilege to be faced with making [such a] choice.” With that in mind, she is correct. According to World Vision, “57 million primary-school-age children are not enrolled in school. 53% of those are young girls.” These are the children that are faced with “exploitation, early marriage and early income earning potential.” The truth of the matter is, we are lucky to live in a country where we have so many options toward earning an education. From a public school teacher perspective, it’s nice to see parents taking initiative to teaching their own children the ways of life. I know from a personal stand point, some students aren’t so lucky. No matter the choice you choose, always choose education.