Home-schooling dates back to colonial America, but lost ground when institutionalised schooling became compulsory in the mid-1800s.
At the height of the hippy culture in the 1960s, home-schooling enjoyed a renaissance as left-wingers seeking to buck the establishment taught their children themselves.
Christian conservatives were the next to embrace home-schooling, and “by 1990, 85 to 90 per cent of all home- schoolers came from the ranks of the religious right,” Paul Petersen, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote in Education Next, which he edits.
The number of home-schooled children soared by 29 per cent between 1999 and 2003, from 850,000 to roughly 1.1 million, data from the National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) show.
In Maryland, which keeps its own statistics on home-schooling, there were 2,296 home-schooled children in 1990, and more than 10 times that number – 24,227 – in 2006.
A survey conducted in 2003 by the NCES showed that the reason given most often by parents for home-schooling their children was the environment in traditional schools. Just over 30 per cent of parents polled said they home-schooled their kids because of worries for their safety, about drugs or peer pressure. Slightly less than 30 per cent said they chose to home-school their children for moral or religious reasons and 16.5 per cent who said they were unhappy with the academics in traditional schools.
However, the biggest criticism levelled at home-schooling is that it deprives children of social contact.
Read the full report here.
Many students who are schooled at home benefit from cooperative arrangements where they gather at different homes for activities and studies. Parents and privately hired instuctors share the teaching load.
There are now home schooling associations in most cities. To locate an association near you, go here. For resources in the UK, go here.
The curriculum used by some who home school is based on "classical education", what the scholasticism of the Middle Ages believed to be "the object and the right order of the educative process", divided into two parts: the Trivium and Quadrivium. To read more on this go here and here.