Hi Sathish and others,
I have been homescholing in the US for the past 4 years. And I know a huge group of people who are veteran homeschoolers here. I belong to about 40 secular homeschool lists around the country and also 15 gifted homeschool lists. Though originally homeschooling here in the US started off as religious based choice of learning years and years ago, now, there are more and more people joining the movement purely based on unhappy school situations and are not for religious reasons. Homeschooling in the US is perfectly legal in *all* states. Each state has different homeschool laws or requirements that are different. We lived in 4 different states prior to CA and have been here for the past almost 16yrs. CA is one of the states were in the requirements are minimal or even nil. There are different ways one can homeschool here. Something called R4 method, which is by saying that I am a private school of my own standing with 2 students, namely my 2 children, with my own freedom with curriculum or types of things I want my children to learn. I do not have to show anyone or prove to anyone, what I am teaching or which subjects I choose to teach my children. Another way is to do it along with a public or private 'unbrella' school, which is called an ISP(Independant Study Program) method of homeschooling. In that method, the school counselor oversees what one teaches the children. This benefits families who are totally new to homeschooling and who need a lot of support due to lack of confidence. Another method is virtual schooling, which is through online schools, but will have to have a counselor who would again oversee and guide the parents. And each method does not expect one to homd onto it forever. If one is not happy with it, it is easy to transition around to other methods.
Ofcourse the 'styles' of homeschooling vary as well. There is 'unschooling', meaning, no 'formal' learning of anything that happens. No parental intervention to any learning, but just facilitating learning for children and they learn based on their interests alone; there is 'eclectic', which is a loose mix of curriculum/unschooling and other styles; there is 'unit study' where in, the lessons are taught or learnt together based on topics- each topic, say for eg Ancient Egypt, will encompass, math, history, geo, literature, arts, science, language arts all under one broad topic of ancient Egypt. People try out different styles are combine all based on their choice. The best part is that homeschooling is more of part of life with changes in life. It is not a seperate entity. In our family we do R4. We only *facilitate* and give them the resources based on their thirst and quest for knowledge and stay back after that. There are about 2million children of ages k-12 who are homeschooled in the usa. Many homeschoolers do not even be counted because many choose not to record with the state as homeschoolers. So, they estimate it could be even 3million.
People here have a *lot* of support and resources readily available to enable them to homeeducate their children, with the choices they make. People understand and respect the choices others make here generally. Ofcourse like any other place, there are also people who frown upon homeschooling, but that is becoming lesser and lesser. Many school teachers here choose to homeschool their children. The problems like being arrested for homeschooling and such are *extremely rare* and that too would be to do with the laws of particular state not being followed. Also, the ex of woman or a man can file a charge against homeschooling for spiteful reasons of wars of divorce. That is a common cause. Here in the US, unlike Germany, laws are predominantly meant to protect the vulnerable children more than taking action against homeschooling. There are actually NO laws against homeschooling in any part of the USA. Life for homeschoolers are really becoming easier even with respect to college admissions and such. All around the country there is more awareness about homeschooling and more acceptance in the academic community including the ivy league colleges these days. Pls check the following links for more info.
Germany ofcourse is a whole different story. We, here as part of homeschooling groups have sent many mails and letters to authorities in Germany stating facts in support of homeschooling and all the positive benefits to the families because of such available choices, requesting the release of many families who were punished for homeschooling back there. But I *do not* see US becoming like Germany with respect to homeschool laws ever. Just wanted to clarify from this part of the world. :-)