Most parents take the fact of schooling for their child for granted. Some take their local public schools as the de facto option for their child. Others may take for granted a local ecosystem of private schools for granted.
But we are rapidly moving away from schooling as a default option. Homeschooling rates have doubled, from roughly 5 percent to 10 percent, due to COVID. Some proportion of homeschoolers are actively "unschooling," deliberately rejecting all structured curricula. Other homeschoolers start by imposing "school at home" but then gradually realize that much of what is done in school is a waste of time.
In addition, the number of alternative schooling options is exploding. The Montessori and Waldorf systems have each been around for more than a century. The Sudbury Valley system of self-directed learning has been around since the 1970s. The past few decades have seen the rise of Acton Academies, Agile Learning Centers, Prenda microschools, and many others. COVID saw the rise of many local "learning pods" in which parents gather together to create micro learning environments which are somewhere between homeschooling coops and microschools. In hotbeds of homeschooling and alternative schooling such as Austin, there is no sharp line between homeschooling, on the one hand, and enrolling your child in a school, on the other. Some schools support a la carte educational options so that your child can take a math course and a band course at school while reading and doing art at home - or whatever mix works for you. Finally, the extraordinary wealth of online resources is again breaking down the boundary for parents everywhere between homeschooling and enrolling in a virtual school. Any parent can mix and match to create an optimal experience for their child.
Indeed, as more parents discover the wealth of optional paths available outside the system, more parents realize that while learning is important, while healthy social relationships are important, while healthy physical activity is important, and while mentors are important, schooling-as-we-know-it may not be the best place for many children to obtain these experiences. Indeed, in some cases schooling may be actively harmful for some children. So more parents are considering the tradeoffs between the convenience of free government supervision for their child, on the one hand, and the long-term happiness and well-being of their child, on the other.
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The government schooling establishment may try to brainwash you into believing that their offerings are necessary. But we now have many decades of successfully homeschooled children showing that it is not. Students without traditional high school credits have many ways of demonstrating academic competence to universities, including passing Advanced Placement (AP courses), local community college courses, online college courses, as well as exams such as the SAT or ACT. A student who has demonstrated their academic ability by means of passing a few college level courses in high school while also scoring well on the SAT and doing something significant in real life will be able to get into almost any university they please.
So instead of thinking about "school" as necessary, think about what your child needs in order to do well in college level courses in their teens along with the importance of real world achievements in college admissions. For detailed examples of the latter, see Cal Newport's book How to Be a High School Superstar. For more details on how to support your child in a DIY alternative education, see "How to Give Your Child an Expensive Private Education for $3,000 per Year." For more on how to take control over your child's education, with or without schooling, see The Education Game.
This space will provide ongoing guidance and frameworks on how to identify and provide the best path for your child's learning journey - with or without traditional schooling.