Most are aware that the number of homeschool families in the United States saw a significant spike two years ago. This was largely due to nationwide lockdowns and school restrictions during the pandemic, which “forced” many parents into homeschooling their children.
But how do the numbers stand today? Is homeschooling continuing to rise across the nation, or is it seeing a decline?
NHERI Finds How Many Homeschoolers in the U.S.
Dr. Brian Ray and his team of researchers at the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) set out in a recent study to answer how many homeschoolers there were in the U.S. during the 2021-2022 school year.
This study sheds light not only on current homeschool trends but also on what the future of homeschooling might look like in terms of growth or stagnation.
The Number of Homeschoolers Over the Years
In the study mentioned above, Dr. Brian Ray and his team of researchers remind readers that a homeschooling-esque education was mostly standard in the United States before the turn of the 20th century. Over the next several decades, however, its prominence declined as the public education system gained traction.
By the 1970s, homeschooling was rare in the United States, with an estimated 13,000 homeschool students. Yet over the next two decades, the homeschool movement was revitalized and has seen steady growth ever since.
By March 2020, Dr. Ray estimated a total of 2.6 million homeschool students in the United States. During the next academic year (2020-2021), which naturally saw a dramatic increase due to the pandemic, Dr. Ray estimated 3.7 million homeschool students nationwide.
How Many Homeschoolers Are in the U.S. in 2022?
As sources for the study on how many homeschoolers are in the U.S. for the 2021-2022 academic year, Dr. Ray and his team relied on reports from the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the United States Census Bureau (USCB). They also reviewed available data on homeschool percentages by state as reported by individual state departments.
What data did these sources find? According to the USCB report, 5.22% of all school-age children in the United States were homeschooled from March to May 2022. A second report from Education Next discovered that the percentage of homeschoolers in the U.S. in 2022 was 6.6%.
However, Dr. Ray and the researchers at NHERI are skeptical of the accuracy of this data. Among other reasons, Dr. Ray points out that homeschool parents are generally less prone than traditional school parents to respond to government surveys regarding their children’s education. Second, several school-age years (specifically 5, 6, and 17) are not mandatory in the United States, meaning many homeschool students of these ages were left out of the reported data on how many homeschoolers are in the nation. These reasons make it difficult to estimate precisely the number of homeschoolers in the U.S.
So, adjusting to predict the number of homeschoolers included in non-compulsory school ages, Dr. Ray estimates that 5.56% of all school-age children in the United States were homeschooled during the 2021-2022 academic year. This corresponds to roughly 3.1 million homeschoolers.
The Future of Homeschooling
Proponents of the homeschool movement often claim that the number of homeschool families continues to increase yearly. But does the recent data from NHERI support this claim?
While homeschooling has been on a steady upward trend over the past several decades, there was a dramatic increase during the 2020-2021 academic year because of COVID-19. But as schools began loosening their restrictions, many parents who were “forced” into homeschooling returned to having their children attend a traditional school.
This would explain the 16% decrease in how many kids were homeschooled during 2022 as opposed to the previous academic year. However, while lower than the pandemic-caused spike during 2020-2021, the number of homeschoolers in the United States during 2021-2022 is still higher than in previous years, confirming the claim that homeschooling is, overall, continuing its steady upward trend.
Interested in More Homeschool Statistics?
Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations®, recently interviewed Dr. Brian Ray from NHERI on his podcast Refining Rhetoric. Among other homeschool statistics, Dr. Ray talked about current homeschool trends, the number of homeschoolers in the U.S. from 2020 to 2022, and the future of homeschooling. You can listen to the conversation on your favorite podcast streaming app or the Refining Rhetoric website.
Also, be sure to read for yourself the study summarized in this post. Among other homeschool statistics not mentioned here, it provides a chart breaking down homeschool percentages by state. And if you’re interested in reading more research studies from NHERI, which cover a range of homeschool statistics and trends, check out their website.
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