Home schooling is also known as home education, and is a method of teaching children in the family home, rather than at an institution, such as a public school. Originally, all schooling was done in the family home, or informally within small communities. Very few children ever went to school, or had private tutelage. Children who did have this type of education were considered to be privileged, and were mainly from wealthy families.
Informal education, mainly conducted in the home, was the only way for children to gain an education. In the US, there were books dedicated to home education, such as “Helps To Education in the Homes of Our Country” authored by Warren Burton. Parents were the main teachers of their children, although, where possible, local teachers would assist parents, and take classes. It is said that before schooling was institutionalized, the US was at its height of literacy skills.
The 19th century saw many significant changes to the way education, and schooling was conducted with the introduction of compulsory school attendance laws. It is now considered a human right that children are given an education provided by the government.
Over the years, there has been much controversy over the effectiveness of institutionalized schooling, and some people have even gone as far as saying that the compulsory schooling system is damaging to younger children, especially boys who are slower to mature.
In the early 1970s, Ray and Dorothy Moore, who later become well known home schooling advocates, researched the bearing that early childhood education had on the mental, and, physical development of children between the ages of 8 to 12 years of age. Through these studies, the Moores produced evidence that formal schooling was damaging to children, and a cause for some behavioral problems commonly found in school aged children.
According to these tests, illiterate tribal mothers in Africa had children that were more socially, and emotionally advanced than children in the western world. The Moores believed that this was largely due to the bond between parents, and their children being broken when children were institutionalized in schooling systems.
In some English speaking countries, it is still an option for parents to home school their children rather than to send them to an institutionalized school. There are a wide variety of home schooling methods available to families who choose to home school their children, rather than send them to schools, including methods such as classical education, Waldorf education, and the Montessori method.
Home schooling can also refer to schooling done in a home environment, with supervision by teachers through correspondence schools. While children are schooled at home, they must still complete compulsory educational subjects, and take tests.
One of the main reasons that parents choose to home school their children is that they feel the schools are unable to offer their children the same quality of education, or social environment that can be taught at home.