Hybrid Home-Schooling

Source: Education Week, Jan 2014

Baywood Learning Center in Oakland, Calif., a private school for gifted students, has offered hybrid home-schooling programs for the past three years. The school has a la carte classes on individual subjects once a week, as well as a multiage class that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays to cover core academics. Director Grace Neufeld said demand for the latter has grown 50 percent in the last year, to about 40 students ages 4 to 17.

The hybrid approach has become “very, very typical, particularly at the middle and high school level,” said Yvonne Bunn, the director of home-school support for the Richmond-based Home Educators Association of Virginia. “It used to be it was very difficult to get materials; now we have people all over the place who want to sell to home-schoolers because they are such a good market.”

About half of state legislatures now require school districts to allow home-schooled students to enroll part time if they want to, and both Mr. Ray and Mr. Murphy noted that the current budget crunch may have given districts more reason to offer programs to home-schooling parents, which can generate additional revenue.

“Public schools have figured out that home-schooling people aren’t the devil, and vice versa,” Mr. Murphy said. Ms. Elkin agreed, noting that Kayla’s 1st grade teacher was the first to recommend that her mother consider removing her from school, because of the district’s limited support for highly gifted students. “A lot of home-schoolers have a really negative feeling toward the public school system, but I don’t feel that way. I feel like I got nothing but positive support and feedback from the local school system,” she said.

On average, Mr. Murphy found students taught at home are engaged in coursework only three to five hours each day, but have more individual instruction than students in school. Time-on-task studies in traditional schools have found students engaged with their studies only about a third of each day, he noted. “If you’ve really got engaged time for 130 minutes, you’ve probably added 30 minutes to what kids get in school.”

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