Experiences of first-year homeschooling mothers in the United States : a phenomenological study.

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In 2007, an article by Eric Isenberg discussed homeschool demographic data and revealed a startling statistic regarding first-year homeschool parents. According to Isenberg, “there is a large quit rate in homeschooling after the first year; only 63 percent of homeschooled students continue to the 2nd year” (p. 398). Isenberg’s discussion revealed that 37 percent of first-year homeschool families quit. High attrition rates, as shown in Isenberg’s 2007 study, pose significant problems to the homeschool community and indicate that families face considerable hurdles during their first year. As research shows, the homeschool community is experiencing an unprecedented surge in growth (Lawrence, 2012; Ray, 2018). If many families experience similar issues in the early stages of their homeschool experience, there is an opportunity for the homeschool community and homeschool-related businesses to aid and assist homeschool parents. This Problem of Practice utilized a phenomenological research methodology that focused on participants who shared the same lived experiences that revealed a deeper understanding of the overall first-year homeschooling phenomena. This Problem of Practice explored 12 American mothers’ first-year homeschool experiences through both internal and external factors that impacted the mothers’ experiences. Lois’s (2006) Four-Phased Psychological Shift in Homeschooling Mothers and McClusky’s (1971) Theory of Margin guided the development of data collection tools and data analysis. Two extensive questionnaires allowed participants to fully describe their first-year experiences. Upon analysis, first-year homeschool mothers experienced expectation-conflict-action patterns in five areas of their lives: internally, child-related, pedagogically, familial, and schedule-related. Combined, both theoretical frameworks offered significant insight into first-year homeschool mothers’ holistic experiences. The formulation of the Homeschool Power-Load-Margin Theory explained first-year homeschool attrition through internal and external factors impact on the mother. Understanding first-year homeschool mothers’ experiences has powerful implications for the homeschool community. First-year insights offer the community a strategic advantage in helping its newest members successfully complete their first year of homeschooling and beyond. Not only will targeted resources offer meaningful support to new homeschool community members, but targeted resources will decrease first-year attrition.

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Homeschooling. Mothers. Attrition. Stress. First-year. Perseverance.

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