The Challenges of Homeschooling in North Carolina

The need for homeschooling is determined by several factors – the lifestyle of the parents and the child’s characteristics. For a family in a megalopolis, where both parents work in offices, it is almost impossible to transfer the child to an externship – it is challenging to hire a teacher for all subjects. This kind of schooling requires an adult who can set aside at least a few hours a day for activities with the child, contact with the educational institution, and supervise the self-study. Homeschooling is a good option for families who travel a lot or live abroad in small towns away from decent schools. Individual lessons or part-time school attendance are necessary for severely disabled children, with specific developmental disabilities, and adopted children with severe pedagogical neglect. Although more and more parents are considering homeschooling, due to a lack of government monitoring of the process, it can do more harm than good for the student.

While homeschooling is a great option for many families, offering versatility and sustainability in these turbulent times, it can potentially leave some children with no proper education at all. North Carolina’s homeschooling laws are too flexible and uncertain. Provided parents say they are homeschooling their child by registering homeschooling with the state authorities, they can teach their child whatever they want – or anything at all. No public agency has the right to adjudicate on the quality or even the presence of education. If a neighbor or relative notices that a homeschooled child’s education precedes him, there is nowhere for them to turn. Neither the local board of education, the community social services department nor the state non-public education department that records homeschools have the competence to handle such a complaint.

At the moment, many students in North Carolina are homeschooled. Even before interest in homeschooling increased due to the pandemic crisis, the North Carolinians for Home Education estimated that there were almost nine thousand homeschools registered in North Carolina, as seen in Figure 1.

Number of homeschools in North Carolina by county
Figure 1. Number of homeschools in North Carolina by county (North Carolinians for Home Education, 2020)

The assessment is accurate for schools but not for the number of children, as the legislation does not require parents to authenticate homeschooled children. Parents are only required to register a home school (Wettach 2020). Parents of such children must have a high school diploma or General Educational Development, but they have no further education or training. Such parents have sole control over everything the child learns, and this is a big problem. Some may argue that parents are required by law to give each child an annual nationally standardized test, so there is state control over the education of homeschoolers. This view is valid, but it misses the point that test scores are not considered by the state or educational institutions. Thus, even if a child lacks academic knowledge and fails a test, it will not be considered at all since the state does not control the scores.

Some studies show that most homeschooled students perform well academically. However, as in many studies, the averages do not consider the margins of the sample (Carlson, 2020). I mean that whilst there are homeschooled children who thrive academically, there are others whose scores show low or no academic skills. The fact that no one controls the education of the second group of children and does not set strict rules for parents can have a terrible effect on the educational attainment of the population (Gubnitskaia & Smallwood, 2020). Apart from the problem with academic skills resulting from homeschooling, there is also the problem with parenting. Since no one supervises parents who homeschool their children, student discipline can be seriously affected. This happens because sometimes, the child is given excessive freedom. Many would argue that freedom is the main advantage of homeschooling. The student can study at a pace and at a time that suits him. Obviously, these advantages are indeed desirable and allow the student to relax and learn comfortably. However, an excessive lack of discipline leads to the child eventually ceasing to pay attention to behavioral boundaries.

Another problem is that parents do not know precisely how and what they want to teach their children. Of course, some parents know exactly what kind of education they want for their children. They develop creative methods, personal ways of teaching different sciences, and communicate with similarly enthusiastic people, essentially inventing their educational methodology. By the way, some of the author’s schools originated that way – in the process of educating the authors’ children. Parents of the other type are ready to simply duplicate the traditional school system at home, not particularly changing anything in it (Watson 2018). Unfortunately, there are also parents of the third type – they do not understand the school curriculum, and at the same time, they cannot think of alternative ways of learning. Children of such parents have ended up in family education because their parents themselves have not been able to adapt to the demands of the school or the teacher.

Usually, parents’ ideas of what is suitable for their children and how they should be taught are at odds with what a mainstream school can offer. Such parents try to teach the teacher to communicate with their child, then conflict, devalue, and finally come to family education. Some parents periodically try to take their children to school. Then there are two possibilities: one of them succeeds, they find a suitable teacher or change their ideas about the educational route of their child. These parents struggle with the rhythmic learning process itself and become exhausted. Others get sucked into the role of teacher for their children and try to return to school to socialize with their children once primary school is over. They still expect more from schools and teachers than they can give, and criticize the educational process in the presence of children. All this leads to difficulties in adaptation and the inability to fit in and build relationships with classmates and teachers.

To summarize, all of these problems stem from one main one – a lack of control over family education by the state authorities. Many children are lucky enough to stay with their educated parents who give them the knowledge they need. On the other hand, others have to study with parents who do not understand the education system and cannot give their children an academic foundation. The number of such children is enormous. To avoid the degradation of the population, the state authorities need to impose strict controls on home schools, as the measures that exist today are insufficient.


Carlson, J. F. (2020). Context and regulation of homeschooling: Issues, evidence, and assessment practices. School Psychology, 35(1), 10-19.

Gubnitskaia, V., & Smallwood, C. (2020). Homeschooling and libraries: New solutions and opportunities. McFarland & Company.

North Carolinians for Home Education. (2020). Homeschool statistics.

Watson, A. R. (2018). Is homeschool cool? Current trends in American homeschooling. Journal of School Choice, 12(3), 401-425. 10.1080/15582159.2018.1490378

Wettach, J. (2020). Protecting homeschoolers – a proposal to protect homeschooled children in North Carolina from educational neglect. Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series, 2021(11), 1-18. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "The Challenges of Homeschooling in North Carolina." April 11, 2023.