HOUSTON – The number of students being homeschooled in Texas is on the rise, with some 300,000 children staying home when the school term started Monday.

According to the Texas Home School Coalition, the number of Texans opting to homeschool has grown about 20 percent to an estimated 120,000 families and 300,000 children in the past five years.

Roughly 4.5 million Texas children returned to public school this week.

“The economy does have an impact on folks,” said Tim Lambert, coalition president. “We saw families last year who had their kids in a private school, times were tough and they couldn’t afford to do that anymore, but they didn’t want to put them in a public school.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that families primarily opted to home school because they wanted to provide religious or moral lessons to their children. Parental concerns about safety, peer pressure and the academic instruction at traditional schools were other reasons cited.

In Texas, parents who wish to homeschool are not required to register with any agency or to get their curriculum approved.