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Home Schooling

Origins And Development

Origins of home schooling in the United States can be traced back to the seventeenth century—prior to public education and compulsory attendance laws. Although some town schools existed, home schooling was often the only option available to colonial children and the early pioneers. Because of nationwide compulsory attendance laws and the beginning of public education in the early twentieth century, however, the need for home schooling significantly decreased. This decrease did not last long, though, as expression of religious beliefs and dissatisfaction with public education increased throughout the twentieth century. By 1980 it was estimated that 15,000 students were being home schooled, a much smaller number in comparison to the early twenty-first century, but also much larger when compared to the previous eighty years.

It is estimated that between 700,000 and 1.3 million children in the United States are home schooled. In 2001 this represented approximately 3 to 5 percent of all students from kindergarten through grade twelve. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of home-schooled students come from a two-parent, middle-class household. Though more single mothers without college education are beginning to home school their children, most parents have some college education and a higher income than the national norm. Other typical characteristics of home school families include the following: (1) Equal numbers of boys and girls are home schooled with children ranging in age from three to seventeen; (2) though the mother is usually the primary teacher, both parents play an active role in the process; (3) there are generally three or more children in the family; (4) more than 70 percent regularly attend religious services, representing a variety of backgrounds; (5) children are usually home schooled a minimum of three years; and (6) though students usually study all traditional school subjects, home school parents generally place an emphasis on reading, mathematics, and science.

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 4Home Schooling - Origins And Development, Reasons For Home Schooling, How, When, And How Much, Academic And Social Outcomes