Most Texan parents who home-school their children are reportedly doing so for moral and religious reasons.
Some 70 percent of parents who homeschool their children choose such an educational option for religious reasons, according to a report released by the Texas Home Educators (THE) to the McKinney Courier-Gazette. Sixty percent of the parents cited academics as a reason to homeschool their young, while 30 percent pointed towards the overall well-being of their children.
Homeschooling has increasingly become an option widely accepted as a good alternative to public education. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray, founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute, the number of homeschooled children was approximately 1.7 to 2.1 million nationwide and 120,000 to 155,000 in Texas alone. That number has been increasing at a rate of seven to 10 percent per year. Some estimate the Texas number to be at 300,000.
According to Julie Marshall, the co-president of McKinney Area Christian Homeschoolers (MArCH) in McKinney, Texas, this growth in homeschooling can be explained by the nature of why parents choose this route.
"We feel it is God's will for our family, and we are committed to educating our children at home, for now, because of our conviction for the spiritual training, character development as well as the social and academic welfare of our children," said Marshall, "Most people who do homeschool, feel they have been called by God to do so."
According to Marshall, who home-schools her four children, there are many advantages to tutorial-style education, such as its ability to present academic subjects from a biblical perspective and to include spiritual and character training are some of its advantages.
"We feel our children will develop confidence and independent thinking away from the secular peer pressure to conform and in the security of their home," Marshall added.
Marshall also said homeschooling allows her children to experience more "unity, closeness and mutual enjoyment of one another," according to the gazette.
Meanwhile, in regards to the long-running question of whether home-schooled children could learn to appreciate different people and cultures as well as publicly schooled youth, Marshall said there are plenty of opportunities to build diverse relationships even at home.
"Children can build lasting friendships with people of all ages as they interact with church and family friends," Marshall said. "In real life, we are surrounded by people of all ages and rarely only interact with people the same age as we are."
Marshall also explained that homeschool can eliminate the negative effects of peer-pressure.
"Many believe that extensive peer contact during childhood can cause undesirable peer dependency," said Marshall. "Children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be an influence on them."
"Children who are educated outside the home are prone to accept their peers' and teachers' values over those of their parents," explained Marshall, who added that "Godly principles of interaction" can be taught and reinforced thorugh home-schooling.
As for challenges, Marshall acknoweldged that establishing a homes-schooling environment may be overwhelming to some. However, she said the dedication is well worth it.
Said Marshall: "The responsibility is vast, but well worth the glorious rewards as you see your children's 'light-bulbs' go off for yourself and the strong character and virtues coming into development and see their full potential of what God has in store for their purpose in life."