Parent Perspectives: Curriculum and Homeschooling Approaches

Jesse Thomas

Sharp Academy, Lubbock, Texas

 

Abstract

There is usually not much difficulty finding out the learning materials that are used in the public schools.  Today, many states share similar standards and curricular sources.  However, the task of uncovering educational material used by homeschooling families is not as easy.  A family may use a variety of educational materials derived from a number of different sources.  This study provides information on the curriculum choices of homeschooling families from across the United States.  Through surveys and interviews, homeschool curriculum decisions were explored.  With over 1000 survey participants, and nine parents selected for interviews, the compiled data were analyzed through open coding techniques.  Results indicated that most homeschooling parents did not use just one curriculum package as the sole source of instructional material and that homeschoolers were generally similar in their selection of the eclectic approach to homeschooling.  Participants also expressed common responses concerning the role technology played in their homeschools.  The narratives of homeschooling parents and other findings from this study will help provide a clearer representation of how homeschoolers implement curricular decisions.  These insights may have value for veteran parents and for families who are just beginning their homeschooling journey.

Keywords: homeschooling, home schooling, curriculum, resources, family and children.

 

One of the great freedoms of homeschooling, at least in many states, is the freedom to choose the curriculum sources that will be utilized.  A family new to homeschooling may discuss whether or not to purchase a curriculum package that will get them started on the right track.  Some families may talk over how educational sources will need to fill a certain need, such as moral or academic.  There will be families that will need to negotiate educational material so that it meets state requirements.  Families that have a number of years of experience may have conversations about creating their own educational programs based on what has worked well in the past.  There are a number of discussions involving curriculum and instruction that families will need to have as they pursue a home education.

Homeschooling families now have a variety of options when making instructional decisions.  There are a number of curriculum programs and packages that are available for homeschooling families and, with a host of free online options, parents have a seemingly endless array of potential educational arrangements.  In addition, some families also have other educational possibilities: community resources such as local libraries and museums, community cooperatives, extended families, other homeschooling friends, and part-time collaboration with private or public schools.

What choices do homeschooling families make concerning curriculum?  With what instructional approaches do families identify?  What motivates parents to choose a particular educational resource?  What role does technology play in their academic routines?  These are the questions this study will address.

 

Purpose

 

This study sought to understand the approach homeschooling families take when arranging an educational program.  For this study, curriculum is defined as the resources, materials, lesson plans, and methods related to learning.  Part of the data collected in this study was the various sources of curriculum that homeschoolers utilize—whether it was from an online source, a type of curriculum package, or an eclectic gathering of resources.  Understanding what resources are being used will help facilitate an awareness of how these resources are implemented within the family’s educational routines.  Furthermore, this knowledge can be a source of valuable information for those new to homeschooling, making initial instructional decisions, or for veterans searching for methods to improve their instruction.

In this study homeschoolers were defined as students who spend at least a portion of their educational time in the home or an alternate place (someone else’s home), other than a traditional public or private school, under the supervision of the parents.  This definition was created based on the definitions from Lines (1999) and Lips and Feinberg (2008).  For this study, a homeschooled student does not exclude a child who is also enrolled in a part-time public or private school part-time, as there are now a number of students who spend a portion of their time in other school settings.

 

Background

 

Researchers agree that the knowledge of home instruction in the U.S. is sparse and varied (Collom, 2005; Duvall, Delquadri, & Ward, 2004).  Isenberg (2007) reported that the lack of information on homeschooling has limited our knowledge of even basic research questions such as how families combine homeschooling with conventional methods.  Analysts such as Taylor-Hough (2010) have said that much of homeschool research has focused on issues such as the history of homeschooling or the motivations of homeschooling parents, and not on the educational decisions or methods employed by homeschoolers.  As Murphy (2012) summarized,

While attention has been lavished on the motivations for homeschooling and the demographics of these families, considerably less work has been directed to “seeing” inside the homeschool.  This is especially the case on the pedagogical side of the instructional program ledger, the methods used in homeschooling.  (p. 106)

Even though the number of homeschoolers has increased (Smith, 2013), and despite their impressive academic performance (Ray, 2015), little research has been done to understand how homeschooling families function in terms of educational decisions.

Although the research is limited, there are some generalizations typically associated with homeschooling education.  For example, there is the general understanding that homeschooling parents implement technology in their instruction (Kunzman, 2012; Wilhelm & Firman, 2009).  There are a number of blended learning options that homeschoolers have the potential to utilize, all of which involve at least part of the educational program being completed in an online environment (Staker & Horn, 2012).  Hanna (2012) noted that distance learning has become a significant piece of the homeschoolers’ curriculum.  Lips and Feinberg (2008) suggested that the “proliferation of distance learning options could allow more students to participate in some form of home education” (Public Education Partnerships section, para. 4).  According to Ray (2010), 98.3% of homeschool students had a computer in the home.  Hanna (2012) observed, “With the addition of computers and the Internet to many programs, parents may access close to 1 million different links with resources, printed materials, or curricular support” (p. 613).

There is also a common theme of families sharing resources with other families.  Hanna (2012) conducted a 10-year longitudinal study of 250 homeschooling families and found that one of the “greatest areas of impact over the 10-year period” was the interest in networking with other families (p. 627).  Hanna reported that families were able to pool resources and share expertise as they “upgraded and diversified their choices of pedagogy and their modalities for delivering instruction” (p. 627).  These various homeschool support groups, associations, and networks are said to meet a number of needs including academic.  Lips and Feinberg (2008) gave examples of how homeschool networks have helped facilitate collaborative instruction and have provided opportunities for socialization.  A number of websites provide a type of central meeting place that connect homeschool families with each other, and connect them to products and services.  For example, homeschool.com, which claims to be the “number one homeschooling community,” provided links to online curriculum resources, educational products, state and local support groups, and testing information, along with a number of other resources (Kochenderfer, 2015).

Ray (2005) indicated that, although some families have approached homeschooling with only a small degree of preplanned structure, other families have chosen to purchase complete curriculum packages (p. 2).  McKeon (2007) organized various homeschooling systems in the following manner:

Traditional – This style is also known as the “boxed curriculum” and is the most common type of approach to homeschooling. This style is the traditional, pre-packaged curriculum shipped ready for use.

Unschooling – This style can be defined as one that focuses upon the choices made by the individual learner. Those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type of each student.

Eclectic – This style is more relaxed or laid back type of homeschool. Parents use a mixed combination of boxed curriculum, homemade curriculum, and/or individualized curriculum. They can operate as borderline unschooling or borderline school-at-home, or anywhere in between and be considered eclectic. Relaxed homeschoolers have many options available to them for homeschooling.

Classical – The core of Classical Education is the trivium, a teaching model that seeks to tailor the subject matter to a child’s cognitive development. The trivium emphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school; analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school.

 

Regarding methods, Hanna (2012) suggested, “homeschoolers today are choosing very specific methods and carefully selected materials for their children’s instruction” (p. 628).  Hannah (2012) observed changes in her 10-year longitudinal study, and noted increases in

(a) use of prepared curricula (religious and nonreligious), (b) the acquisition of more textbooks from the local school district, (c) use of the public library, (d) technology applications (computers, Internet materials, and online programs), (e) consultation with instructional specialists and teachers, and (f) greater networking with other homeschooling families.  (p. 627)

Homeschoolers have been seeking curriculum and instruction guidance and ideas from a number of sources.  Hill (2000) commented on the quality of resources that are available to homeschoolers: “They come from universities, research institutes, mutual assistance networks, school districts, and state education departments” (p. 22).

Methodology

 

A survey questionnaire and individual interviews were used to collect data from homeschooling parents.  The main source of recruitment was done through contacting directors of multiple homeschool community groups listed on the website homeschool.com.  Directors were sent a recruitment email that encouraged them to provide their members with a link to this study’s survey.  The survey, which was accessed online, was composed of 22 questions (Appendix A).  The survey responses from the participants were sent directly to the Qualtrics Research Suite (Qualtrics, 2015).  The parents who volunteered to answer the surveys represented each state within the United States, with the exception of Maine.  Of the 1,282 surveys which were started and partially completed, there were 1,055 participants who totally completed the survey, providing an 82.3% completion rate.

In addition to the survey, parents had the opportunity to request to be interviewed at the completion of the survey (Appendix B).  Of the more than 500 parents who requested to be interviewed, nine participants were chosen, representing each region of the United States—Northeast, South, Midwest, and West (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).  The first two participants from each region who requested to be interviewed were chosen.  An additional participant was chosen to be interviewed due to a lack of response from a previously chosen participant.  Interviews were completed through email.  The main goal of the interview was to more deeply explore the survey questions.  The interviews provided an even greater amount of information to be collected from the participants, allowing for a more complete picture of homeschool functioning.  Surveys and interviews were completed during the summer of 2015.

Survey participants have been represented by the letter “P” and the order in which their responses were recorded into the spreadsheet.  For instance, the third recorded survey response will be represented by (P3).  Interview participants have been represented by their region and the order in which they completed the survey.  For example, the first participant from the Northeast region of the United States will be represented by Northeast 1, and the second person who completed the survey from the West region will be West 2.  In-text citations have been represented by the row in which the information was documented.  Thus, a quote from the interview with South 1 documented on row 7 will be referenced as (South 1, 7).  Emails sent to the researcher have been represented by the date of the email.

The survey and interview questions focused on three subject areas: (1) homeschoolers’ curriculum and instruction choices, (2) the reason behind their curriculum and instruction choices, and (3) their perspectives of mixed educational opportunities.  This paper will only focus on the second question.  The collected data were organized into themes, similar to the organizational process ascribed by Bloomberg and Volpe (2008).

 

Results

 

The research question of this study focused on the curriculum choices that are made by homeschooling families.  In this section, findings that concern the homeschool approach, curriculum package choice, and technology usage of families are presented.

 

Homeschooling approach 

One of the survey questions asked parents which homeschooling style best described their instruction.  These results are presented in Table 1.

 

Table 1.

Homeschooling Approach

(Options taken from McKeon’s 2007 Study)

Homeschooling Approach

   
Responses Percent
Traditional – this style is also known as the “boxed curriculum” and is the most common type of approach to homeschooling.  It is a pre-packaged system ready for use.

   
  60   5%
Unschooling – focus on the choices made by the individual learner.  Those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type of each student.

 
153 13%
Eclectic – a mixed combination of traditional boxed curriculum, homemade curriculum, and/or individualized curriculum. 798 68%
Classical – uses the trivium, a teaching model that emphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school; analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school.

 

 

   
160 14%
Total 1,171 100%

 

 

From the 1,171 participants who answered this question, the majority of homeschooling parents (68%) described their homeschooling approach as eclectic.  This study used McKeon’s (2007) description of the traditional approach which she described as “the most common type of homeschooling approach” (p. 15).  She created this description based on the work of Medlin (1994).  In contrast to Medlin’s findings, McKeon found the eclectic approach to be the most common.  Thus, McKeon’s findings were consistent with this study.  Conversely, the traditional approach was the least common type of approach chosen by the homeschooling parents.

Overall, parents seemed to be satisfied with the four given homeschooling approaches.  However, some parents reported that the options were too limiting.  For example, one parent stated, “Your categories of types of homeschooler were a bit too restrictive for us. We’re a combination unschoolers and eclectic homeschoolers (P467).  Another parent said, “You need to add more choices other than boxed, classical, eclectic and unschooling…. I would describe our education as child led, eclectic, relaxed, literature based and high tech” (P487).

A couple of parents were at odds with the description of the boxed curriculum.  One parent responded:

One particular question was blatantly biased, and I believe inaccurate.  It asked about the type of homeschool and stated that a traditional approach with a boxed curriculum is the most common type.  I would hope that part of the data gleaned from this survey will be a measure of what type is most common… Furthermore, I have been homeschooling for 7 years, founded a homeschool cooperative, and know dozens of homeschoolers.  I know no one who strictly follows a boxed curriculum. The huge majority of homeschoolers in my experience would describe themselves as eclectic (another choice on your survey).  (Email, 6/11/15)

From the interview participants, six chose the eclectic approach, two chose the unschooling approach, and one chose the classical approach.  These numbers well represented the sample results.

 

Curriculum package

Another question on the survey (Question 9) asked parents if they used a curriculum package.  If they did use a curriculum package, a space was provided for them to share which one they used.

This question provided further evidence that many homeschooling parents do not use a boxed curriculum.  Of the 1,175 participants who answered this question, only 249 (21%) of them reported using a curriculum package.  The other 926 (79%) participants reported they did not use a curriculum package.  The following are some of the most common packages that were listed by the homeschooling parents who used a curriculum package: Sonlight Curriculum, A Beka Book, My Father’s World, Heart of Dakota, and Classical Conversations.  A number of participants explained that they used parts of various curriculum guides, thus creating more of an eclectic compilation of materials.

This concept of using not just one curriculum package, but rather a number of resources, was also true for the interview participants.  Most reported using a variety of different resources with four participants stating they used Bauer and Wise’s (2009) The Well-Trained Mind to some extent.  Northeast 1 noted that Bauer’s material was used “as a starting point when choosing curriculum” (46).  South 2 explained the transition from the curriculum package to the eclectic approach:

In the beginning I used Sonlight Curriculum because it did the planning for me.  As I became more comfortable and had more information about different curriculum choices I chose books based on how they taught the subject and how well my children would do with their approach.  Annual homeschool conventions have many curriculum vendors along with the workshops that are presented.  I research books online and get recommendations from other homeschoolers then go to the convention to look at the books I am considering using.  (32-33)

This pattern of starting with a curriculum package and then developing a curriculum with a variety of sources seemed to be common for many homeschooling parents.  Northeast 1 described the process of compiling curriculum materials from a number of different sources:

We did not have a computer in those early years.  I went to Barnes & Noble, as well as the Brainwaves store for workbooks, science experiments, maps, and anything else that I thought would be helpful.  The problem with the workbooks was that they were written by PhDs, but poorly edited and had multiple mistakes.  I had to edit them myself before I could use them.  I ended up creating my own worksheets and tests from scratch.  I checked the NH Department of Education website every year to make sure that I covered the basic subject requirements, then I added higher level subjects of my own.  (37)

Evaluating the curriculum based on state standards was mentioned a number of times by the respondents.  For example, Midwest 2 reported using a book, What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, that was stated to follow the participant’s state requirements (41).

One of the reasons given as to why curriculum packages were not used was the cost.  South 2 said, “Curriculum packages are generally more expensive than buying piecemeal, especially because I don’t use all the subjects in the package” (33).  Also, homeschooling parents noted that overtime, they collected more resources and materials, thus expanding their educational options.  Northeast 2 suggested other potential places to secure resources: “Regional homeschool conventions, used curriculum sales, and local homeschool support groups are great places to look over resources.  Statewide and local homeschool support groups and email lists are great sources of learning opportunities and networking” (46).

 

Technology usage

Participants were asked about the extent to which technology played a role in their child’s instruction (Question 10).  This question was designed to merely get a general idea about how technology is used within homeschools.  Table 2 presents this information.

 

Table 2.

Technology Usage for Instruction

Frequency

   
Responses Percent
Not used

   
  22   2%
Infrequently used

   
358 30%
A key resource

   
749 64%
The main source of instruction

   
  48   4%
Total    1,177       100%

 

Of the 1,177 participants who answered this question, the majority of parents (64%) from the survey reported using technology as a key resource.  Very few parents, only 48 (4%), viewed technology as the main source of instruction.  Even fewer, 22 (2%), reported they did not use technology for instructional purposes.

The interview participants’ responses resembled the general survey findings with four of them checking that technology is “a key resource” and 5 choosing the “infrequently used” option.  South 1 indicated that technology would be used more, but the “broadband infrastructure” is not in place to support it (182).  This same participant went on to say,

If our broadband were to improve I would probably use more Khan Academy, Vy Hart math, minute physics, videos, EPGY and Davidson Scholar courses. GHF courses, moocs and Great Courses and Page Hudson or Supercharged Science, The Happy Scientist, etc.” (184)

This list of internet resources given by South 1 was just a small sample of the host of web based resources that were listed by the participants in this study.

 

Discussion

 

Acquiring a better understanding of the goals, preferences, and values of homeschooling families provides information for those who do not know a lot about the choice, furnishes insight for those considering the option, and allows for reflection from those who have been homeschooling for some time.  Curriculum and its implementation is integral in any educational setting.  As homeschooling students continue to increase, and as a greater number of people critique the option, more questions will be asked about where homeschooling families are acquiring their content, and how the content is being administered.  One of the best ways to garner this knowledge is by listening to the voices of the homeschooling parents themselves.  This study has sought to provide this understanding.

 

Homeschooling approach

The current study, like McKeon’s (2007) found that the majority of homeschooling parents (68%) chose the eclectic option for their approach to homeschooling.  Curriculum packages, online resources, software programs, and independent books were listed in this study as content resources.  The abundance of resources available may prove attractive for parents considering the homeschooling option.  In addition, having more choices may help abate the stigma of homeschooling that was prevalent in past decades.  Traditional education programs are now competing with a number of well established, independent curriculum publishers, as indicated by the participants in this study.

Very few participants in this study (5%) used one curriculum package as their sole source of information.  This suggests families like to use a variety of learning materials from a number of different sources.  Based on participant responses, there are many curriculum publishers.  The competition among publishers may amount to a healthy consumer environment.  This can be seen as a positive sign for families who are considering the homeschool option

Although McKeon’s (2007) division of homeschooling approaches (Traditional, Unschooling, Eclectic, Classical) provides a place to start organizing curriculum options, there may be better models that allow researchers to understand homeschooling instructional decisions.  For example, multiple families noted their use of a Classical curriculum called Well Trained Mind.  This Classical curriculum, and others like it, could be considered a boxed curriculum.  This can be confusing based on McKeon’s separation of the Traditional approach and the Classical approach.  Also, there may be a better way to separate the Unschooling approach with the Eclectic approach.  Many parents who consider themselves Unschoolers, are likely to use an eclectic approach to homeschooling.

There were 60 families (5%) in this study who stated they used the traditional approach of a boxed curriculum.  However, over 250 families also stated they used a curriculum package.  This shows that even among those who take the Eclectic approach to homeschooling, many of them still use a curriculum package as part of their instruction.  The usage of curriculum packages may be useful to follow given the likely trend of free educational material found online.

Another potential method for breaking down curriculum choices may be in the philosophy of such curriculum programs.  As noted earlier, there are programs with a Classical philosophy.  Other packages are formed with a spiritual or religious basis.  There appear to be homeschooling programs, based on curriculum package titles, that resemble the educational choices found in the realm of private education.  Over 40 different types of curriculum packages were said to be used by participants in this study.

 

Technology

For 64% of the participants, technology was viewed as “a key resource.”  Understanding the exact nature of how homeschooling families utilize technology will need further research.  However, it can be inferred that technology, for many families, is an important feature of their educational program.  Numerous websites and software programs were mentioned by the participants in this study.  Learning modules, educational games, math and science activities, and reading programs—families are taking advantage of education materials on the computer.

Due to the fact that participation in this study could only be accessed by homeschooling parents who received emails, this study could not obtain information from homeschooling families who did not have access to the internet.  There may be many homeschooling families who would have, if given the opportunity, voiced their desire to obtain internet connection or implement routines involving the latest educational software.  Meeting the needs of families who do not have access to computer programs may be one of the benefits of community cooperatives and local associations; the ability of homeschoolers to band together, and share resources.

However, there may be a number of families who would have spoken to the fact that they are satisfied with a homeschooling routine that does not utilize technology.  Interestingly, even within this study which was conducted online, 22 participants stated they did not use technology for instruction.  There could be some benefit to understanding the values of homeschooling parents who choose not to use new technology even though they have the capability of using it.

 

Conclusion

 

This study has considered the curriculum landscape of homeschooling families.  Homeschooling, as an educational program, continues to take shape as a viable option for many American families.  Some analysts expect an increase in the number of families who choose to homeschool (Lips & Feinberg, 2008).  This will cause not only a growing number of families to evaluate the option, but likely too, a growing number of critics who will assess the alternative school choice.

What it means to be a homeschool family is intricately connected to the curricular decisions that the family makes.  The identity of the homeschool family can often be found in how they express their instructional strategy.  One participant described his or her program as a “child led, eclectic, relaxed, literature based and high tech” homeschooling education (487).  This type of identification is unique.  The freedom to create such identities, along with an environment that allows for such a diverse and varied form of education, may be the catalyst for more families to choose to homeschool.

Homeschooling is changing, and what it is today may be very different from what it will be 20 years from now.  It is likely that new methodologies will emerge, contemporary models will be promoted, advanced technology will be suggested, greater networking will be at our fingertips, and more access to quality materials will be available.  How homeschoolers identify themselves, express their vision, and pursue their goals now, may ultimately influence the next generation of homeschoolers, thus assisting in the realization of homeschooling communities in the future.

 

References

 

Bauer, Susan W., & Wise, Jessie (2009). The well-trained mind: A guide to classical education at home. New York: Norton.

Bloomberg, Linda D. & Volpe, Marie F. (2008). Completing your qualitative dissertation: A roadmap from beginning to end. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Collom, Ed (2005). The ins and outs of homeschooling: The determinants of parental motivations and student achievement. Education and Urban Society, 37(3), 307-335. doi: 10.1177/0013124504274190

Duvall, Steven F., Delquadri, Joseph C., & Ward, Lawrence D. (2004). A preliminary investigation of the effectiveness of homeschool instruction for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review, 33, 140-158.

Hanna, Linda G. (2012). Homeschooling education: Longitudinal study of methods, materials, and curricula. Education and Urban Society, 44(5), 609-631. doi:10.1177/0013124511404886

Hill, Paul T. (2000). Home schooling and the future of public education. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1-2), 20-31. doi: 10.1080/0161956X.2000.9681933

Hirsch Jr, E. D. (2015). What your third grader needs to know: Fundamentals of a good third-grade education. New York: Bantam.

 

Isenberg, Eric J. (2007). What have we learned about homeschooling? Peabody Journal of Education, 82(2-3), 387-409. doi: 10.1080/01619560701312996

Kochenderfer, Rebecca (2015). Welcome to homeschool.com. Retrieved from http://www.homeschool.com/welcome/#

Kunzman, Robert (2012). Life as education and the irony of school reform. The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 1(1), 121-129.

Lines, Patricia (1999). Homeschoolers: Estimating numbers and growth. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment.

Lips, Dan, & Feinberg, Evan (2008). Homeschooling: A growing option in American education. No. 2122. Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/education/report/homeschooling-growing-option-american-education

McKeon, Carolyn C. (2007). A mixed methods nested analysis of homeschooling styles, instructional practices, and reading methodologies (Doctoral dissertation). Online Submission. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504128.pdf

Medlin, Richard G. (1994). Predictors of academic achievement in home educated children aptitude, self-concept, and pedagogical practices. Home School Researcher, 10(3), 1-7.

Murphy, Joseph (2012). Homeschooling in America: Capturing and assessing the movement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Qualtrics. (2015). Qualtrics Research Suite (Version 61752) [Software]. Provo, UT. Retrieved from http://www.qualtrics.com

Ray, Brian D. (2005). A homeschool research story. In B.S. Cooper (Ed.), Homeschooling in full view (pp. 1-19). Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

Ray, Brian D. (2010). Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study. Academic Leadership Live, 8(1), 17-42.

Ray, Brian D. (2015). Research facts on homeschooling: General facts and trends. National Home Education Research Institute. Retrieved from http://www.nheri.org/ research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html

Smith, J. Michael (2013, September 3). U.S. department of education: Homeschooling continues to grow! Home School Legal Defense Association. Retrieved from http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2013/201309030.asp

Staker, Heather & Horn, Michael B. (2012). Classifying K-12 blended learning. Innosight Institute. Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Classifying-K-12-blended-learning.pdf

Taylor-Hough, Deborah (2010). Are all homeschooling methods created equal? Retrieved from http://www.inreachinc.org/ are_all_homeschooling_methods_created_equal.pdf

US Census Bureau. (2000). Census regions and divisions of the United States. Retrieved from http://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs/maps-data/maps/ reference/us_regdiv.pdf

Wilhelm, Gretchen M., & Firmin, Michael W. (2009). Historical and contemporary developments in home school education. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 18 (3), 303-315. doi:10.1080/10656210903333442

 

 

Appendix A

Homeschool Survey

 

Hello! We are pleased you are thinking about completing this survey.  Your responses will play a significant role in this research study.  Please read the following before you begin:  We would like to find out more about how homeschooling parents make instructional decisions. For the purposes of this study, these decisions include curriculum, methods, routines, and the motivations for these given decisions.  Part of this study also includes what parents think about part-time public school programs (mixed education).

There are no personal risks to you if you should decide to participate. Your participation is voluntary.  You can quit the survey whenever you desire.  Your name will not be linked to any document.  Any use of this material in reports will be represented by an ID code. No one other than the researchers will have access to the raw data.  All related documents will be stored on a password protected computer or in a secured file cabinet.

Your input will help inform a wide audience: public educators, home school researchers, and home school families along with any person interested in home education.  Your voice will help accurately describe how home schools function.

At the end of the survey you will be asked if you would like to participate in an interview with the researcher.  If you participate in the interview, you will share more of your thoughts about how learning takes place in your home school.

If you have questions about this study, you can call Dr. Shirley Matteson (806) 834-3841 or contact her via email at shirleymatteson@ttu.edu. TTU also has a Board that protects the rights of people who participate in research. They have approved this study. You can ask questions by calling 806-742-2064. You can also mail your questions to the Human Research Protection Program, Office of the Vice President for Research, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409 or email them to hrpp@ttu.edu.

Thank you for helping us with this research!  By beginning the survey, you acknowledge that you have read this information and agree to participate in this research, with the knowledge that you are free to withdraw your participation at any time without penalty.

 

Q1 From which state are you located? [50 states and Washington DC listed as choices] …..

 

Q2 What gender is the main instructor for your homeschool?

             Male

             Female

 

Q3 What is the educational level of the main instructor for your homeschool?

             Less than high school

             High school

             Some college

             Bachelor’s degree

             Graduate or postgraduate degree

 

Q4 What is your marital status?

             Single

             Married

             Divorced

             Widowed

 

Q5 How many children do you homeschool?

             1

             2

             3

             4

             5 or more

 

Q6 What is/are the age(s) of your homeschooler(s)? (Select all that apply)

             5

             6

             7

             8

             9

             10

             11

             12

             13

             14

             15

             16

             17

             18

             19

 

Q7 How many years have you homeschooled?

             Less than 1

             1

             2

             3

             4

             5 or more

 

Q8 Do you use a homeschooling curriculum package?  If yes, which one?

             Yes ____________________

             No

 

Q9 To what extent does technology play a role in your child’s instruction? (Select which best describes your homeschool)

             Not used

             Infrequently used

             A key resource

             The main source of instruction

 

Q10 Which homeschooling style best describes your instruction? (Options taken from McKeon, 2007)

             Traditional – this style is also known as the “boxed curriculum” and is the most common type of approach to homeschooling.  It is a pre-packaged system ready for use.

             Unschooling – focus on the choices made by the individual learner.  Those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type of each student.

             Eclectic – a mixed combination of traditional boxed curriculum, homemade curriculum, and/or individualized curriculum.

             Classical – uses the trivium, a teaching model that emphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school; analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school.

 

Q11 Which reason best describes your motivation to homeschool?

             Academic reasons – being able to provide a better learning environment, instruction, etc.

             Moral/Religious reasons – being able to provide moral or religious teaching within instruction.

             Safety reasons – being able to provide a safer environment (free of violence, gang activity, drug use, etc.)

             Another reason ____________________

 

Q12 Briefly describe a homeschooling day.  What does your routine look like (instruction, breaks, free-time, etc.)?

 

Q13 Describe your weekly schedule (i.e., do activities change from day to day, do you collaborate with other homeschoolers or community members, go to special events, etc.)

 

Q14 Which is the best reason for your chosen routines and schedules?

             Suggested from a curriculum package

             A personal preference

             Based on your child’s or children’s unique learning style

             Other ____________________

 

Q15 How much time (in hours) does your child spend in academic instruction on a typical day?

             1

             2

             3

             4

             5

             6 or more

 

Q16 How much time (in hours) do you spend planning for instruction in a typical week?

             Less than 1

             1

             2

             3

             4

             5

             6 or more

 

Q17 Would you consider enrolling your child into a mixed educational program where he or she would be in a public school part time?

             Yes

             No

 

Q18 Since you answered yes to the last question, what would need to change in your local public school for you to be comfortable with a part-time option for your child?

             Nothing, there is just not a part-time program option at the moment.

             I would need… ____________________

 

Q19 Since you answered no to the last question, what is the main reason you would not enroll your child into a part-time public school program?

 

Q20 If an ideal part-time public school option existed, which of the following benefits would be most appealing to your family?

             Extracurricular classes/activities (music, art, athletics, etc.)

             Socialization (variety of people, clubs, collaborative groups, etc.)

             Advanced subjects, equipment, or expert teachers

             Other ____________________

 

Q21 If you were to enroll your child into a part-time program, what goals, desires, or preferences of yours would be most important for the public education system to understand?

 

Q22 What do you believe is the greatest aspect of your homeschooling experience?

 

Appendix B

Interview Information

 

You are done with the survey! Thank you so much. Your input is greatly appreciated! For those who are interested, I would like to explore some of your responses through an interview to better understand your educational choices, and the motivations behind them. If you would like to participate in an interview of approximately 15-20 minutes in length, please click on the YES below. If you are not interested you can simply exit this screen.  Thanks again for your help in this research!

Thank you for considering the opportunity to be interviewed. Like the survey, you will simply answers questions related to your homeschool experience. The interview should take about 15-20 minutes of your time. The results will be used for a research study. We will not identify you individually. Rather, we will assign an ID code to represent your interview responses. If you would prefer not to answer a question, let the interviewer know. Your participation is voluntary and you can stop at any time. If you have any questions about this study, please call Dr. Matteson at (806)834-3841.Thank you for helping us with this research!

 

From which state are you located?

 

Which is your preferred medium for the interview?

Skype (1)

Email (2)

No Preference (3)

 

What email address should the researcher use to contact you?