Homeschooling: Then & Now

As a former homeschool student now entering my mid-30s, it’s been fascinating to watch how homeschooling has changed and grown in popularity. Back in the 1980s, homeschooling was much more uncommon – especially in the United Kingdom – so my parents were trailblazers in many ways. Not only is homeschooling more widely practiced and understood now, but the advent of current technology has made the experience of today’s homeschooled youth very different from my own!

At my desk where I did all my homeschooling work

Commonality

Homeschooling has grown in popularity so much in the last few decades. When I was very young, it was unusual enough that many people we would encounter didn’t even know what it was. While there are still lots of misconceptions about homeschooling, the general public is much more aware of it, and it’s become a much more common option for families.

Community

Back in the pre-Internet days, you would connect with other homeschooling families by finding meet-ups through newspaper ads and newsletters. My parents subscribed to Growing Without Schooling magazine in the 1990s – which still exists online! – and that was our main resource for information, personal stories, and connecting with other homeschoolers. I made many snail mail pen pals through GWS in my tween/teen years, some of which I met up with locally.

Now, of course, all you have to do is put “Homeschooling” into Google to find a plethora of educational resources, personal homeschooling blogs, and social media groups connecting homeschool families on local, national, and international levels. The Internet has made it so much easier to find and connect with like-minded people!

Curriculum

One of the tedious parts of homeschooling for my parents was putting together all the materials: Textbooks, worksheets, flash cards – endless amounts of paper. Homeschooling was intimidating for families back then because of everything that was involved for parents. But nowadays, it’s all online! In 2018, children can use online portals where they complete and submit much of their work virtually, without needing so many reams of paper! And since there are such a variety of homeschool programs available with online teachers, home education has opened up to families who didn’t have the time or ability to do it before.

A homeschooling mother teaching kids private lessons in geography

Computers

Technology has been a game-changer for everything, including homeschooling! When I was a young child, most average people didn’t use computers whatsoever. We were early adopters: I went online for the first time in 1996 when I was 12, and began learning how to use the Internet by visiting the local library. I got my first computer two years later, and spent countless hours on our dial-up Internet connection doing research on various topics and teaching myself how to build websites.

In today’s world, we depend on our high-speed Internet connections and smartphones for everything! Children often have their own personal iPads and laptops, which are an indispensable tool for learning. These advances have altered the way we do everything; and while there are downsides to every new development, we can’t deny the fact that current technology has removed barriers to accessing and understanding home education – and that’s a truly remarkable thing.

Are you interesting in homeschooling your children? You might enjoy this article from The Sane Mum ‘Homeschooling Tips! Homeschooling doesn’t have to be stressful!

Beeb Ashcroft
Beeb Ashcroft

Beeb Ashcroft is a freelance journalist and social media professional. A homeschool graduate, Beeb was educated in two countries, starting in her birthplace of England and finishing in the United States, where she immigrated in 1989. She currently lives on the Oregon coast with her husband, Jai, and their pet rabbit.

2 Comments
  1. I have so much respect for your parents homeschooling you in a day and age when the internet didn’t have all the answers and people were much less familiar with homeschooling! It’s hard enough nowadays! It is sooo rewarding though, the freedom we have in our lives and the time we get to spend together is worth every difficulty that we come across on this journey! ❤️

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