How Many Homeschoolers Are There in the USA?

Last August, a new study was released showing a continued increase in the number and percentage of students who are homeschooled in America.  The last time the U.S. government released data about the number of homeschooled students was back in 2007. Since I am doing a series about homeschooling in general (How to Start Homeschooling, Choosing homeschool curriculums, etc.), I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share some of the results of this study again. This information was based on a survey called the National Household Education Surveys Program.

How many homeschoolers are there?

In 2007, 2.9% of students were homeschooled. In 2011-2012, 3.4% of students were homeschooled.

In 2007, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million. In 2011-2012 that number had increased to 1.77 million. [Dr. Brian Ray (2011) estimated (using methods different from those used by both government studies) that there were 2.04 million K-12 homeschool students in the United States in spring 2010. See this NHERI report for more information.]

Just so you know, this is about the same number of students as are enrolled in charter schools across the U.S.  According to the National Center for educational statistics there were 1.78 million students enrolled in charter schools in the 2010-2011 school year.

Where do homeschoolers live?

The rates of homeschooling were highest in rural areas where 4.5% of students were homeschooled.  The homeschooling rate was 3.2% in the city, 3.1% in the suburbs and 2.7% in towns.

What grades are the students who homeschool in?

One things that surprised me about the newly released statistics was that the homeschooling rate was actually higher in the upper grades. Just from conversations I’ve had with others, I had assumed that many people choose to homeschool in the younger grades and then put their children into traditional school (public or private schools) in middle school or high school.  I had it totally wrong!

The percentage of K-2 students who homeschooled was 3.1%.

The percentage of 3rd-5th grade students who homeschooled was 3.4%.

The percentage of 6th-8th grade students who homeschooled was 3.5%.

The percentage of 9th-12th grade students who homeschooled was 3.7%.

Overall, the vast majority of students in the U.S. attend public schools… based on some of the statistics I found,  a pie graph of U.S. students might look something like this:


You can take a closer look at the study and these statistics by going to NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) pamphlet: Parent and Family Involvement in Education… 2012, Tables 7 and 8 (pages 27 and 28).


You might also be interested in the post: Let’s Talk about Homeschool Successes which compares homeschoolers to their public schooled counterparts and talks about test-taking, graduation rates, etc

And you might be interested in our family’s answer to the question, “How Long Will You Keep Homeschooling?”

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Finding a Language Arts Curriculum (Writing, Grammar, etc.)

Welcome back to the our series on how to start homeschooling. During the past week, I have provided information about some of the homeschool curriculums available out there in the different subject areas. Today I wanted to share some of the writing and grammar programs available to homeschoolers. This is not an exhaustive list. You may want to order the (free)  Rainbow Resource Catalog, which is packed with homeschool reviews.  But these are some of the programs that I’ve heard good things about through the years:

Writing Curriculums

NaNoWriMo – Write a novel in a month. A free writing curriculum for elementary, middle school and high school. “ The activities inside will help you create characters, build settings, and hatch plots, plus keep you motivated throughout the month.”

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

One Year Adventure Novel

Cover Story – My friend’s 6th grader used this last year and loved it.

Brave Writer

Writing Strands

Word smith

Essentials in Writing

Writing with Ease

Writing with Skill

Writing Power

Write Shop

Create your own writing workshop: A series I did about how and why we started using a writing workshop format. Click here to see some of the Writing Workshop Lessons we did.

How Do I Help the Kids Start Writing? 5 Lesson Ideas:

    1. What makes a good book or story?
    2. Make your story come alive with details and description.
    3. Creating Interesting Characters
    4. Story Openings: Set the mood or feeling of your story
    5. Gathering story ideas from your own life: Exploring Memories

This worked so well for us last year, that we’re going to continue with this same format this year.  My son, who was always reluctant to write much of anything, now says that writing is his favorite part of the day and my daughter has filled notebook after notebook. Even my youngest who was in kindergarten last year loved writing… and progressed from writing two simple sentences to writing a full page or two each day.  I’m sure I’ll share more about the rhythm of our writing workshop and some of the mini-lessons we tackle this year.

Grammar/Language Arts Curriculums

Write Source Skillsbooks

Editor in Chief

Grammar Island (and other materials by Michael Clay Thompson)

Growing with Grammar

First Language Lessons (Book 1, 2)

Shurley English

Easy Grammar

Simply Grammar

Grammar Workshop (W. Rothstein)

Free Grammar Sheets - I’ve made a lot of grammar worksheets for the kids for practice with their/there/they’re or its/it’s; apostrophes; comma rules; quotation marks and much more.  They are all free here on the blog.

Five in a Row (Literature and projects)



Literature: The only language arts curriculums I mentioned that focus on literature are Five in a Row and Sonlight. I have a friend who has her kids use Novel-Ties.  But other than that haven’t done much research into available programs.  Our family reads a lot. Our shelves are bulging with Caldecott and Newbery Award winning books. I look through suggested reading lists.  I ask friends what their kids like. But we haven’t ever dabbled with specific literature programs. I let the kids choose what they want to read and offer suggestions. We read books aloud together. We listen to audiobooks. This seems to be working well for us as their vocabulary and reading comprehension are years “above” grade level (whatever that means).

If you have a writing program or grammar materials that work well for you be sure to add your comments over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!

Meanwhile, you may be interested in some of these related posts in the series:

You Might Be Interested in These Related Posts:

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Thank You to My Wonderful Readers!

This week I’m going to hit a major milestone since joining the team… two million hits on my blog…. one million in just the past nine months. I feel incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team and love having the blog to share our family’s homeschool journey.  Ours is certainly not the best/ideal/only way to homeschool, but I enjoy sharing how we meander through each year!  My kids and I love homeschooling and we all enjoy having the blog as well. Believe me, I wouldn’t be blogging if this weren’t a family endeavor. :)  The kids have always been okay with all the pictures I take of our activities… Not once have they complained or asked why I’ve always got the camera at hand when we’re ready for another science experiment or are just about to play a math game.    It also takes their support for all the time I spend/spent writing. It’s a family effort to get “everything else” done. (I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about — the dishes, laundry, sorting, picking things up, weeding, yard work and on and on!)  They get a kick out of sharing our activities with the wider world.  Sometimes I’ll share something I’ve whipped out for the kids… let’s say a grammar sheet about using apostrophes and quotation marks… and to my astonishment it’ll get thousands of hits (83,000)! Or I’ll go out with the kids to take pictures of the ice storm and that post will continue to get hits well into the summer (93,000 and counting!).

I started blogging more than a decade ago – first on a family blog and then branching off and creating the Homeschool Den in 2009. One of the best things has been getting to know some other homeschoolers through the blog… I’ve “met” homeschoolers and educators from China, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America and all through out the U.S.  Each year we’ve exchanged country boxes with other families from around the world just from connections I’ve made through the blogging world.  (In fact, we have a box that arrived a couple weeks ago from a family in Great Britain that I’ve been saving for the kids.)  When you’ve emailed or written on Facebook, I always feel happy that you took the time to write! I try (though don’t always succeed!) to write back… but always appreciate hearing from you.

The blog has also been a joy for other reasons.  I’ve chronicled my crazy ear/health problems — which wound up with six surgeries and my having to go deaf in one ear.  It’s not a very common medical condition/issue, but I’ve found that writing about it is cathartic and have gotten several emails from other people enduring similar challenges.  As it turns out, there are still some on-going nerve/noise issues (I’ll be going back for my post-op appointment at Johns Hopkins on Monday morning). Last October I went in for a reasonably “simple” procedure… and wound up ten months later looking like a Borg-wanna be. Here’s a picture I took a couple of days ago of the plastic button that is sitting over the titanium implant.  I think they’ll take the gauze out on Monday and will remove the stitches.  The plastic part will come off in a couple of months after the bone has grown back around the implant. I’ve always been a happy hearing-aid user… so now I’ll just look all the more sophisticated with this new device. And hey, it’ll be blue-tooth compatible. Nothing like being able to tune into technology straight into my head!

Anyway, I guess I felt compelled to write all this today because I haven’t been on the computer practically at all this past week. I’ve been flat on my back coping with the ear ache pain, loud noises in my ear, nerve spasms, etc.  Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’m feeling grateful for that… and for everything else in my life.  I guess when the dark clouds settle in for a little while, you’re all the more appreciative of life when the sun peaks back out. You know what I mean?!!

So once again, I just want to say thank you for all of you who have tuned in to read about our adventures here at the Homeschool Den.   Thank you!

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Science Activities for Ages 4-6 or So

In writing my series for new homeschoolers about choosing a science curriculum, I came upon this post from last year.  Since many people are planning or just starting the new year, I thought it was the perfect time to share this again.

We have always done a lot of hands-on science. In the early years, I just want the kids to think science is cool!!  We’ve done a lot of science experiments and I shared some of our favorite science experiments in this free packet. These are some of the experiments we’ve done when the kids were 4-6 or so…

Here’s another post with a few more experiments appropriate for the kindergarten age (roughly 4-6).

Three Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Other years, we’ve done various science units and really delved into one topic or another.  I’ll link to some of the ones we’ve done at the bottom of the post.

This year, we may repeat some of these experiments, but I’m going to rely on some other resources to continue introducing ED to some basic science topics. What I decided for this year was to use a wide selection of science books and use those to jump off for a day or so.  I typed up a list of our 50+ science books… most of these are probably at your local library.

I’m using many of these read aloud books as jumping off points. For example, this week ED and I read a couple of books about the solar system (below).  I brought out our pretend solar system and someoriental trading planet sticker scenes I bought a while back. We talked about the planets, their sizes and distance from the sun, how hot and cold they are, etc. as she and DD put the stickers on the page.  (No surprise, LD, my oldest, wasn’t interested in this. He did, however, quickly read through the books and said, “Whoa DD, did you know it takes Pluto 248 years to orbit around the sun!)

There are lots of resources out there to go into much (much) more depth. We could have done a whole unit on the planets, the moon and all that , but since we have a lot on our plate and since we’ve covered this before, I just wanted to touch on this with ED.  For example, we did a lot hands on activities about the moon, etc. some time back.  I’ll put some links in down at the end of this post…

The other three main resources I’ll be using for ideas for ED’s kindergarten science are from

  1. Cut and Paste Science,
  2. Science Starter (I liked the questions and topics in this book. It’s probably available used at Amazon) and
  3. The Pre-Level 1 Biology from Real Science for Kids.

For ED my goal is to touch on a lot of subjects that we might not get to otherwise.  She’ll also participate in the units my older two are doing (coming up soon — Simple Machines).

We also have some “fun” science activities squirreled away.  This week ED has been working on a dinosaur dig (yes, she’s in her pjs!! She wasn’t in a big rush to get dressed yesterday!)

So that’s what we’re doing with ED. She’ll be covering a lot of basic science through those books, fitting in short activities. Meanwhile, she’ll participate in the science units I have planned with the older kids.

You might also be interested in some of our previous astronomy activities:

Inner and Outer Planets — Activity – ED still has this in her science notebook. We took it out and looked at the inner rocky planets and our gas giants… and the asteroid belt.

Astronomy Unit (Moon Activities) Day 1

Moon Activities Day 2

Phases of the Moon Activity (plus homemade Oreo recipe! Yummy!!!)

Other Units We’ve Done in the 4-6 Age Range:

Animal Habitats and Biomes

Earth Science Unit

Human Body Unit

Natural Disasters Unit

Ocean Unit

Penguin Unit

Rain Forests

Rocks and Minerals

Simple Machines

Vertebrates and Invertebrates

Whale Unit


Oh–I just remembered that last year we started out with some activities on mealworms that were a real hit too!

You might also enjoy these related posts:

This post is part of this Homeschool Series:

Homeschool School Supply List




See you next time or at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!

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Homeschool Science Curriculum Options

We tend to create our own units and I’ll highlight some of our most popular posts below, but first I wanted to share some of the science curriculums available to homeschoolers. Once again this is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a place to start.

Real Science 4 Kids

NOEO Science

R.E.A.L Science Odyssey

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (by B. Nebel) – K-2 Science Curriculum

Elementary Science Education: Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, Vol. II, grades 3-5

Science Detective

Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People – Book I (Adventures With Science)

A Reason for Science

Janice Van Cleave’s Science Experiment books

 Free Middle School Chemistry Curriculum

Free High School Chemistry Resources about Energy

Steve Spangler Science–A fantastic resource for your young scientist who loves to do hands-on science.
Super Charged Science

What has our family used?  We have used the Real Science 4 Kids student textbooks. I like the way they are written. They are clear and easy for the kids to follow.  In my opinion, they aren’t long enough to cover an entire year, but they are the perfect length for our family because our units tend to last 2-5 weeks. I always heard great things about NOEO science, so we tried out the chemistry unit. The kids were a bit on the young side, but I loved the books the suggested. We’ll return to NOEO for their resource suggestions when we get back to chemistry.  We use Janice Van Cleave’s books all the time in our homeschool. She has books on most every topic of science and has wonderful, hands-on activities to help bring science alive!

I’ve heard people rave about Real Science Odyssey as well. Since our family is now in the groove with our science units and materials that I pull together, I haven’t checked it out.

Creating Your Own Science Curriculum:

I don’t have the space here to cover all the units and topics that you might consider. I’ll paste in the links instead. What works best for us at this point is to choose a unit or topic, pull out 15-20 books from the library, find hands-on activities and science experiments and delve in!  If you browse around our blog (select the categories button in the right side bar and look at our Human Body posts, Astronomy Unit posts, Rocks and Minerals Unit, Ocean Unit, Earth Science posts and so forth. (Just remember that this is a blog so the posts are not in chronological order!)


Click here to see an expanded list of some of the topics and units you may want to cover with your kids:

Creating a Homeschool Science Curriculum — Ages 4 to 6

Creating a Homeschool Science Curriculum — Elementary

 There are some of my most popular science posts… They”ll give you a flavor of the kinds of materials I make for my kids (after reading through all those books from the library and stuff!) These posts all include free download. The links will take you right to that post. We did a lot of hands-on science activities with each of these units.

Number 6

Free Weather Packet

Free Water and Water Cycle Resources – This is a post I put together with lots of colorful posters and printables.

Number 5

The Three Types of Rocks– Our Activities and a Free Worksheet Packet about igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks

Number 4

Free Rocks and Mineral Packet

Number 3

Simple Machines Unit

Number 2

Digestive System Free Worksheets:

Number 1

Human Body Systems: Free Worksheets


Just as with history, there are lots of resources available if you plan to create your own science units. For example, I’ve bought a number of lapbook and notebook units by Homeschool Bits. There are pre-made science experiment kits such as those by Thames and Kosmos.

If you have a particular science curriculum you use and love, come tell us over at our Homeschool Facebook Page and I’ll add your suggestions to the list!

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