Editor’s note: This commentary from Colleen Hroncich, a policy analyst with Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, appeared Sunday on the center’s website.
My oldest child is graduating from college tomorrow, so it has me thinking about our educational journey—which could best be described as eclectic. At various times, we used private school, district school, and cyber charter school. But we ultimately landed on homeschooling.
That doesn’t mean they were literally learning at home every day. My kids participated in co‐ops, hybrid classes, dual enrollment, athletics, and more. This gave them access to experts and plenty of social time.
It can be scary taking charge of your children’s education—I remember feeling very relieved when my oldest received her first college acceptance. But today there are more resources than you can imagine to help you create the best education plan for your children’s individual needs and interests. And with the growth of education entrepreneurship, the situation is getting even better.
For starters, you don’t have to go it alone. The growth of microschools and hybrid schools means there are flexible learning options in many areas that previously had none. One goal of the Friday Feature is to help parents see the diversity of educational options that exist. To see what’s available in your area, you can search online, check with friends and neighbors, or connect with a local homeschool group.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, the good news is that there’s also more support for people looking to start new learning entities.
The National Microschooling Center is a great starting place if you’re considering creating your own microschool. The National Hybrid Schools Project at Kennesaw State University is also a tremendous resource. There are businesses—like Microschool Builders and Teacher, Let Your Light Shine—whose focus is helping people navigate the path to education entrepreneurship. And grant opportunities, like VELA and Yass Prize, can help with funding.
We were fortunate to be in an area with a strong homeschool community and therefore had plenty of activities to choose from. But I’m still a bit jealous when I speak to parents and teachers each week and hear about the amazing educational environments they’ve created.
There’s also an abundance of online resources available, from full online schools to à la carte classes in every subject imaginable. If you like online classes but want an in‐person component, KaiPod Learning might be just the ticket. These are flexible learning centers where kids can bring whatever curriculum they’re using and work with support from a KaiPod learning coach. There are daily enrichment activities, like art, music, and coding, as well as social time.
One of the best parts of taking charge of your children’s education is that it puts you in the driver’s seat. If your children are advanced in particular subjects, they can push forward at their own pace. In areas where they struggle, they can take their time and be sure they understand before moving ahead. (One potential downside is that this takes extra discipline and can be challenging. But it’s tremendously beneficial overall.)
These nonconventional learning paths can be great for kids who don’t want to go to college, too. Flexible schedules free up time to pursue a trade, music, performing arts, sports, agriculture, and more. As kids get older, they can increasingly take charge of their own education. This lends itself to developing an entrepreneurial outlook, which is vitally important in a world where technology and public policy are constantly changing the workforce and economic landscapes.
“One size doesn’t fit all” is a common saying among school choice supporters. But this is more than just a slogan. It’s an acknowledgement that children are unique and should have access to learning environments that work for them. Public policy is catching up to this understanding—six states have passed some version of a universal education savings account that will let parents fund multiple education options.
If you’ve considered taking the reins when it comes to your children’s education, it’s a great time to act on it. Whether you choose a full‐time, in‐person option, a hybrid schedule, or full homeschooling, you’ll be able to customize a learning plan that works best for your kids and your family.
And you may even become an education entrepreneur yourself and end up with a fulfilling career that you never expected.