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The Power of Compound Interest – in Homeschooling

January 26, 2010

If you have ever been to a retirement planning class or seminar, you have heard about the power of compound interest. It’s what will make you a millionaire if you max out your 401K or your IRA and keep your money in a balanced spread of stock based mutual funds. It’s why your credit cards are driving you to desperation and when you are done paying your mortgage, you will have put in twice the value of your house when you bought it.

It’s also why the prospects of homeschooling are looking so bright!

The HSLDA recently released a study about homeschooled academic success.  Essentially, they confirmed the results of numerous previous studies, which show that homeschoolers tend to score slightly above the 80th percentile with respect to the national statistics.  That sometimes comes as a shock to the average parent, but is not news to anyone who has run in homeschooled circles for any length of time.

The INTERESTING part of the study came at the end – almost as a footnote.

From  HSLDA online:

There are an estimated 2 million homeschooled children in the U.S. today, which is about 4% of the school-aged population, and homeschooling is growing at around 7% per year.

Now, 4% of the population growing around 7% per year may not sound like a lot of kids or growth, but that’s where the Power of Compound Interest comes in!  This is what the numbers do assuming they stay steady:

Year portion of children homeschooled Number of homeschooled children
0 4.00% 2,000,000
1 4.28% 2,140,000
2 4.58% 2,289,800
3 4.90% 2,450,086
4 5.24% 2,621,592
5 5.61% 2,805,103
6 6.00% 3,001,461
7 6.42% 3,211,563
8 6.87% 3,436,372
9 7.35% 3,676,918
10 7.87% 3,934,303
11 8.42% 4,209,704
12 9.01% 4,504,383
13 9.64% 4,819,690
14 10.31% 5,157,068
15 11.04% 5,518,063
16 11.81% 5,904,327
17 12.64% 6,317,630
18 13.52% 6,759,865
19 14.47% 7,233,055
20 15.48% 7,739,369
21 16.56% 8,281,125
22 17.72% 8,860,803
23 18.96% 9,481,060
24 20.29% 10,144,734
25 21.71% 10,854,865

That’s doubling roughly once every ten years!*

Of course, there is no reason to presume that those numbers will stay steady. They COULD go down.  However, considering the growing dissatisfaction with the overreaching of the government, trends putting school children in virtual lockdown in various no tolerance zones, growing resentment toward the overreaching political correctness that seems to be more important in some schools than literacy or math skills, fear of increasing school violence and decreasing peer morality just to name a few issues, I see no reason not to believe the rate of increase of homeschooled children will INCREASE in the near future.

In other words, that 20% number of children being homeschooled could very well include some being homeschooled today!

*This is assuming the United states can maintain its current steady state and not follow Europe’s declining birthrate numbers. If we can only maintain our population through immigration, all bets are off.


It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.

Robert Green Ingersoll

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4 Comments
  1. Sometimes I wonder what kind of influence homeschoolers will have. The phrase “Knowledge is power” is true because wisdom and understanding gives an individual greater ability to affect change. They aren’t just trying random things.

    Over time I believe that because homeschoolers are much better education, they will have a greater impact on society.

    It should be an interesting ride.

    • Hi Henry, thanks for stopping by and commenting – I really appreciate it.

      I also appreciate the subject you brought up. As I responded, I realized there is a lot to say here!

      I am certain that homeschoolers will have HUGE influence, but not because homeschoolers are better educated.

      Although I do agree that homeschooling provides extremely high quality education – in many cases better than even the most elite private schools can match – I have known too many educated people who fail to make even a significant ripple in their local ponds. Homeschoolers will have influence because their power is focused.

      Homeschoolers are more likely to have concrete goals and follow through on them. I base this on my own observations of homeschooled families and our political success when homeschooling becomes an issue on a ballot, but also on the studies of homeschoolers traits like this one:

      Success in the “Real World” of Adulthood

      The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:

      • participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
      • vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
      • go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
      • Internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate.

      I see homeschooling putting children in a position where they can excel, be challenged by the real world, learn to be themselves instead of succumbing to a group identity and figure out what actually matters to them. I see homeschoolers – every day – learning to pursue their interests, overcome setbacks and triumph in ways classrooms simply don’t allow.

      Homeschoolers learn values. They learn to prioritize what’s right over what’s popular. They learn to follow through on a project until it is finished and not just until the bell rings. They see how their work brings fruit, learn that they can actually choose what fruit comes forth by choosing what to plant, discover that they can influence how much comes forth by their efforts and how much sweeter it is when it comes from your efforts.

      These are lessons that, as adults, will translate into worthwhile endeavors and results making an impact that changes the very landscape around them.

      It should very well be an “interesting ride”.

  2. The prospects for homeschoolers becomes brighter all of the time. Our son is a college freshman and the private university he attends on scholarship actively recruits homeschool students because they now have a proven track record of success on campus.

    • That’s GREAT news! I know a fair number of Ivy league campuses accommodate homeschoolers, but I always enjoy hearing someone who is personally succeeding through homeschooling.

      PS. I visited your website – you have a beautiful family!

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