Most states do not require homeschooling parents to show any evidence that they are educating their children. In eleven states, including Texas, parents are not required to notify education officials that they are homeschooling. In these states, there is no record of who is being homeschooled. Many states require parents to provide notice of homeschooling, but offer no followup to ensure that instruction is being provided.
Instruction does not always look the same in a homeschool as in a traditional school, and it does not have to. Many homeschooling parents use hands-on learning or unconventional school calendars. It is when learning is not taking place that there is a problem. Learn how to tell the difference between eclectic homeschooling and educational neglect.
State laws regarding homeschooling and educational neglect vary widely. In some states, educational neglect in a homeschool setting can be reported to the school district; in other states, it should be reported to social services, or both. What constitutes legal educational neglect—and thus what can be reported—also varies.
Homeschooling can be a wonderful experience; it can also be a disastrous, negative experience. Viewing homeschooling as either all good or all bad can make it difficult to be a resource and advocate for all homeschooled children. It is when friends, neighbors, and family members understand how widely homeschooling experiences can vary that they can most effectively support the homeschooled children in their lives.
The Homeschoolers Anonymous Basic Survey asked participants to identify their primary homeschool teacher. “Myself,” wrote one respondent before continuing: “I also was responsible for teaching my brothers.” “From first grade on, I did everything by myself,” wrote another. “No real effort was made in my homeschooling,” wrote a third. Educational neglect can have serious repercussions when a child reaches adulthood.
While reporting educational neglect to the authorities is important, doing so is not always possible, and it may not be the best option in some cases. What else can you do to support homeschooled children who are not receiving an adequate education? Here are some practical ideas for encouraging a child’s parents to provide them with a better education. You can support these children by being a resource.