About 3 percent of the school-age population—around 1.7 million students—was homeschooled in 2016. We know that homeschooled students have different educational experiences than students who are enrolled in public or private schools, and recently released data explore some of those differences.
The Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) provides information on homeschooled and public and private school students based on a nationally representative sample. Parents provide information about their children’s formal education and learning activities outside of school.
The survey asks about six broad types of family learning activities that students experienced in the month prior to the survey. The 2016 results indicate that homeschooled students were more likely than their peers enrolled in public or private schools to participate in five of these six activities.
In 2016, higher percentages of homeschooled students than of students enrolled in public or private schools visited a library; a bookstore; an art gallery, museum, or historical site; and a zoo or aquarium in the month prior to completion of the survey (figure 1). A higher percentage of homeschooled students also attended an event sponsored by a community, religious, or ethnic group with their parents in the month prior to completion of the survey. The one activity for which there was no measurable difference between homeschooled and students enrolled in public or private schools was going to a play, concert, or other live show.
Figure 1. Percentage of 5- to 17-year-old students participating in selected family learning activities in the past month, by homeschool and enrollment status: 2016
NOTE: Includes 5- to 17-year-old students in grades or grade equivalents of kindergarten through grade 12. Homeschooled students are school-age children who receive instruction at home instead of at a public or private school either all or most of the time. Excludes students who were enrolled in public or private school more than 25 hours per week and students who were homeschooled only because of temporary illness. Selected activities with the child may have included any member of the household.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES), 2016.
The NHES data do not tell us why these differences exist, but parents’ availability of time and parenting style may be a factor. However, more research is needed to understand these differences.
A recent report, Homeschooling in the United States: Results from the 2012 and 2016 Parent and Family Involvement Survey (PFI-NHES:2012 and 2016), provides the full complement of data from the NHES about homeschoolers’ experiences in 2016. In addition to family learning activities, the report provides information about the following:
Reasons for homeschooling
Providers of homeschool instruction
Amount of time homeschoolers spent attending public schools, private schools, or college
Participation in local homeschool group activities
Homeschool teaching styles
Sources of homeschool curriculum and books
Online coursetaking of homeschool students
Homeschool subject areas
Parent expectations of homeschooled students’ future education
For more information on the National Household Education Surveys Program, please go to https://nces.ed.gov/nhes/.
By Sarah Grady