Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Homeschooling and Scouting

[Homeschool laws vary by state. Many comments about homeschooling below are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific situation.]

Homeschoolers account for 3% of all school-aged children in the United States right now.

Begun primarily by religious conservatives almost 30 years ago, today you can find homeschoolers of every religious and secular stripe.

Some homeschoolers fall under the Lone Scout or Lone Cub Scout programs.

Many units have homeschooled Scouts, and occasionally you will find a homeschooled unit. Overall, my experience has been that few councils have actively pursued this group of kids and have almost no understanding of homeschool families and homeschooling.

Big mistake. These kids are involved and often exhibit the qualities we would like to see demonstrated in our units--polite, interested, parental involvement. They often use the Scout awards as supplements to their homeschooling efforts.

So what is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is not "school at home". Of course education happens, but very few families try to repeat the school model at home: desks, fixed hours, busy work, grades and grade levels. Sure, many do at first, but they quickly realize that there is more to homeschooling than that.

If you "get" fractions, you move on and don't dwell on the endless repetition. Need help with algebra? Take as long as you need until you finally grasp the subject matter.

Homeschooling is life experience. These kids are active in sports, their churches, youth groups, hobbies, field trips and community service.

At our church for instance, 80% of the altar servers are homeschooled.

Many homeschooled kids follow their own interests outside of the basic academics for part of their days.

What does Scouting offer to homeschoolers?

People homeschool for a variety of reasons: special needs kids, learning disabilities, academic opportunities, religious values, aversion to school "social" programs and peer pressure, support of the family structure, travel and more.

Scouting offers the chance for homeschooled kids to be a part of the larger community and to explore more opportunities. It can offer a variety of leadership opportunities and value formation.

So, Scouting offers homeschoolers the same things it offers everyone else!


Tony said...

I definately agree with you about how important it should be to reach out to HS families. In fact, I emailed my District exec earlier this year, but I don't think anything will come of it, unless our pack goes out and engages them on our own.

FamilyMan said...

Thanks for the comment! I am interested in what others' experiences have been with recruiting this community.

My pack and troop is primarily homeschooled (or alternatively schooled), yet we still have problems reaching other homeschoolers outside of our church.

2boyz4me said...

I am a home school parent. And a Scouter. My boys both went through Cub Scouts and are now Star and Tenderfoot Boy Scouts.

There is a gold mine of Scouts in the home school community!

1) Google your location and "home school groups", contact the group leaders and invite them to your Fall Rally Night

2) Sign up (district, Council level) for a booth at a local home school bookfair/convention. Set up something fun for the kids to do, and pass out info for the parents.

But more importantly, show the parents how Scouting will benefit their family. Show them that their boy will have fun learning along side other boys, and that all the parents are involved too. Show them that Cub Scouts are kind, generous, wear their uniforms properly, give goodwill. Show the parents that the Scout requirements can supplement what they are teaching their children at home. And make sure your program is VERY hands-on, organized, and outdoors.

My 2 cents. Thanks for asking!

Bill said...

We have an all-homeschool pack, and as far as District goes, we're pretty much on our own when it comes to recruiting. However, our Chartering Org is a local homeschool association, so we've never had a problem, we tend to pull at least 15 new scouts each year.

I think the biggest helps are that we have a booth at their annual homeschool fair, and a link to our pack off their website.

Garry K. said...

Our Council has a very succesful homeschooled Pack, Troop and Crew.
Their web site is
I think part of reaching the home schooler with scouting is having a good support group behind it. San Antonio, Texas has a bunch of support groups for the family that decides to home school. http://www.homeedsa.com/Support%20Groups.asp
Finding and contacting your local home school support group is probablly the first step to involving more home schooled students in your scouting organization.

Anonymous said...

We moved from a church pack to Lone Cub Scout mostly due to traveling and making meetings. As Lone Cub doing popcorn sales and volunteering with distributing, we were challenged to start a Homeschool Pack. Five families originally started, but after two years disbanded from no additional boys and some scouts finding troops closer to their traveling routes. My son is now a First Class Lone Scout preparing for his Star Board of Review. There are lots of families using the merit badge books are reference materials and doing the unit studies without being within a troop/pack setting.