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Are There Homeschoolers in Your Library?

Does your library support homeschoolers with programming and/or resources?     How would you know if there are homeschooling families in your service area?   Homeschooling in Colorado seems to be exploding but finding good statistics is not an easy task!  The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has stats on homeschoolers divided by county and school district, http://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/cdereval/download/pdf/2012pm/home-basedrevised%282007-12%29.pdf, but I’ve discovered that they aren’t as accurate as you might expect.    I am part of the Pikes Peak Library District’s Homeschool Committee and three of us presented at CAL last month.   As part of our presentation I attempted to locate some good statistics on homeschooling in our state, however I discovered that the CDE’s method of counting leaves much to be desired.  Homeschoolers in Colorado must file a yearly “Letter of Intent to Homeschool” for their children starting at age 7, which is where the CDE’s stats come from initially.    In our area there are quite a few enrichment opportunities for homeschoolers offered by school districts and charter schools.   When a homeschooled child attends one of these programs (just one day a week), that child is now counted as part of that school district’s population, not as a homeschooler.     One of the school districts in our area that offers such a program has over 200 homeschooled students enrolled in it.   That’s a lot of kids not counted as homeschoolers!    Another example is that PPLD had 2300 homeschooled children and teens sign up for our Summer Reading Program for 2013 (and obviously not all homeschooled students signed up for our program).   The CDE shows that El Paso County only has about 1600 homeschooled students in that same age range.    So, what do you do if you want to find how many homeschoolers are in your service area?    The CDE’s statistics page is a good place to start, but take it with a grain of salt and realize the numbers are undoubtedly low.    Your best bet is to observe families in your library during normal school hours and get to know them.   Find out what needs they have that you might be able to provide for them.   Try a program and ask those families to spread the word.   Start gathering e-mail addresses so you can advertise more effectively and gradually the word will get out that your library is a great place for homeschooling families to go.   Homeschooling is very expensive.   These families pay taxes to their school districts just like the rest of us, but they get no financial help from those districts for homeschooling their children.   I did an informal survey of our homeschool community and was shocked to learn that some families spend up to $1,000 per child for a school year!   Anything that we, as the public library, can offer these families for free will be greatly appreciated.

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One response to “Are There Homeschoolers in Your Library?

  1. Really interseting information, thanks for sharing!

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