HOUSTON (AP) — The number of students being home-schooled in Texas is on the rise, with some 300,000 children staying home as the school term started Monday.
While roughly 4.5 million children were returning to public school in Texas this week, the approaching start of term was less important to parents who educate their offspring at home.
"Guess how much I care about Aug. 23?" Tina Robertson asked parents gathered for a meeting Friday at a bookstore in The Woodlands.
"Home schooling is a lifestyle," said Robertson, who teaches her three children year-round and runs New Beginnings, a support group for parents new to home schooling. "The line between learning and living gets blurred and it should."
According to the Texas Home School Coalition, the number of Texans opting to home school has grown about 20 percent to an estimated 120,000 families and 300,000 children in the past five years, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"The economy does have an impact on folks," said Tim Lambert, coalition president. "We saw families last year who had their kids in a private school, times were tough and they couldn't afford to do that anymore, but they didn't want to put them in a public school."
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that families primarily opted to home school because they wanted to provide religious or moral lessons to their children. Parental concerns about safety, peer pressure and the academic instruction at traditional schools were other reasons cited.
In Texas, parents who wish to home school are not required to register with any agency or to get their curriculum approved. Legal rulings have upheld that parents simply are supposed to have a curriculum that teaches reading, spelling, grammar, math and good citizenship.
Melissa Blane will be home schooling her son Cory, 11, and her 8-year-old daughter Madison.
"It's a desire we have to be the ones who are teaching them and motivating them," said Blane. "We'll be starting bright and early."