How homeschooling can help immigrant families like mine

My husband and I decided to
our children before they were born. We made the decision more than 20 years ago based on what educational system we believed would help our children reach their full potential. Homeschooling felt like the only educational choice to help us reach that goal as we started building a legacy in a new country.

As first-generation immigrants, we believed that investing in our children’s
was the answer to a better future. We discovered homeschooling had all the elements we needed to help our children learn and develop the character and skills to succeed in life.

But as a Hispanic mother who was still learning English, navigating the homeschooling process and figuring out how the U.S. education system worked was overwhelming. Spanish was my first language; the bureaucratic education system was a language of its own. Many times, I felt lonely being the only
in the room.

Before the pandemic, it was rare to find other Latino families homeschooling. For many Latinos, homeschooling feels like a strange idea. In Latin American countries, education happens in schools, and teachers are seen as the only ones who can instruct and prepare children for a successful future.

But when schools closed and districts turned to remote learning during the pandemic, homeschooling began to boom.
watched as their children struggled to learn, and many felt trapped in a system that was not working.

Homeschool researcher and psychologist Steven Duvall
pointed out
this rapid change in homeschool demographics brought on by the pandemic. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, the percentage of school-age Hispanic children being homeschooled was 3.5%; in 2021, it jumped to 10.3%, and in 2022, it was 8.9%.

The shift toward homeschooling has also changed the way first-generation Hispanic parents like myself think of education. Some of these parents are still adapting to American culture, learning English, and working hard to build their American dream. But they’re realizing that they cannot afford to ignore their children’s educational needs, because if they don’t advocate for their children, who will?

Hispanic families are also recognizing the cultural value of homeschooling. With their children learning at home, they can provide them with a bilingual, customized education. They’re better able to preserve their Hispanic heritage, and they can teach their children to embrace and value the richness of the Hispanic culture, learn its history, and study its language.

Many have asked us how we were able to balance the responsibilities of homeschooling with our other obligations. They want to know how a Spanish teacher and construction foreman managed to homeschool their children.

To be sure, our family had to navigate many challenges to make homeschool work. Latinos are family-oriented, so our support system sometimes involved grandparents, other relatives, and church friends. The English educational resources we were able to access were also vital.

More than a decade later, and our second child is graduating high school this year and plans to pursue a finance degree. Our firstborn is finishing her second year at college studying engineering. And our third is a rising middle schooler.

The Hispanic community needs to understand that what was possible with our family is also possible with theirs. Yet this message can be difficult to spread among families with language limitations.

That’s why providing information about homeschooling in the Spanish language is essential. Several organizations, including TransitionEd and The Latinos Homeschooling Group, are leading this effort.

But other homeschool organizations, including those at the state level, need to rally around these families and communities and offer support. A great example of what this support might look like is the HSLDA’s first-ever Spanish
homeschool conference, held earlier this year.

Homeschooling may not be for everyone, but parents should at least get the opportunity to learn about the different educational possibilities out there. I am glad my husband and I homeschooled our children, and that through our experience we were able to silence others’ opinions and even our own fears. We learned that, at its core, homeschooling is not about the parents’ skills, but about helping children reach their fullest potential.


Karim Morato is the head of Hispanic outreach for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

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