A Brief History of Homeschooling

Why Parents Began Homeschooling Their Children

Although homeschooling was once controversial and difficult to accomplish legally, it is now a trend that families are catching on to for various reasons.

In recent years, homeschooling has become a growing area of research due to its rising popularity. In a 2000 article that appeared in Public Interest entitled “Homeschooling Comes of Age,” Patricia M. Lines estimates that the number of homeschoolers in America is growing at fifteen to twenty percent per year, with no states reporting a decline. But throughout the years, regardless of the reasoning behind their decision to homeschool, many families have faced obstacles.

Reasons Why Parents Homeschool Their Children

There are many reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children. According to a 2001 Clearing House article by Michael Romanowski entitled “Common Arguments about the Strengths and Limitations of Homeschooling,” homeschooling families can be broken down into two basic categories.

First there are the ideologues, who educate their children at home because they rebel against conventional schools and want to strengthen their relationships with their children. Romanowski theorizes that, typically, the ideologues choose this form of schooling on the grounds of religion. They feel that they can provide a better spiritual environment for their children than any other school system, placing more emphasis on moral, ethical, and spiritual development.

Pedagogues, the second type of homeschoolers, are more concerned with the value of their children’s education, believing that they can provide a better education for their children than any other type of schooling. They have little faith in the abilities of public school teachers, so they take matters into their own hands. Lines cites a 1995-96 survey, saying that forty-two percent of families who participated in the study listed “dissatisfaction with the public school instructional program” as their primary reason for homeschooling.

Legal Complications With Homeschooling

In the seventies and early eighties, during the beginning of the movement, it was difficult to obtain legal permission to homeschool. According to Mitchell L. Stevens in “The Normalization of Homeschooling in the USA,” a 2003 article in Evaluation & Research, some dedicated parents even had to find ways around the law by not enrolling their children in local schools or by falsely claiming to enroll them in nonexistent private schools. However, judges have since reinterpreted the first and fourteenth amendments to give parents the right to educate their own children. Now, all fifty states acknowledge homeschooling as a legitimate means of alternative education.

But actually, home-based education is not the newfangled idea that many consider it to be; in fact, it dates back to centuries ago when it was typical for parents to teach their children at home. However, in the early 1900s, compulsory attendance laws were put into effect, and as a result home education nearly became extinct. Later in the century, the practice of homeschooling was revived as a liberal movement, not as the conservative choice that many people assume it to be