Overview of the History of Homeschooling

Society views homeschooling as a new concept, and a radical one. It is expected that children will attend public or private schools without much consideration to alternative ideas. Even parents whose children are constantly being failed by the school system assume they just have to tolerate it. When homeschooling is mentioned, they gasp in horror, insisting they could never teach their child. However, homeschooling has been going on for thousands of years.

For many countries, homeschooling was the only option available. Schools were for those with money and were usually too far away for children to attend. Homeschooling usually amounted to teaching the basics along with skills necessary for particular jobs when the child was grown. Others went above and beyond the basics, preparing their children for whatever life would hold. It is believed that Alexander the Great was the first historical figure noted as being home schooled. He was taught by Aristotle.

Historical students who home schooled

Many of the people our children learn about in school books were taught at home. George Washington was home schooled, and at the age of 16, copied 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior as an assignment in penmanship. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was home schooled until the age of 14 by governesses and tutors. Alexander Graham Bell was taught at home by his father, a professor, until he was in high school. Other famous figures who were home educated include Abraham Lincoln, Ansel Adams and Claude Monet, Charlie Chaplin, Amadeus Mozart and Irving Berlin, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, George Washington Carver and Albert Einstein.

When most countries made schooling compulsory during the 1900s, many parents felt their children would miss out on a proper education. Schools had one way of teaching and expected all children to learn the same way. These parents didn’t approve of what the government was teaching children, seeing public education as a way of brainwashing their children as opposed to teaching them skills they needed. They wanted their children to pursue their own interests as well as receiving an education.

John Holt

By 1960, many began to take the responsibility of teaching children back to the home. John Holt was a pioneer during the modern homeschooling movement. He was a teacher who realized that the format used in schools failed more children than it helped. According to the John Holt website, Mr. Hold said, “I have come to believe that a person’s schooling is as much a part of his private business as his politics or religion, and that no one should be required to answer questions about it. May I say instead that most of what I know I did not learn in school, and indeed was not even ‘taught.'” He wrote many books about how children learn and homeschooling. He first coined the phrase “unschooling.”

Raymond Moore

Raymond Moore was a missionary who believed that education was more than just learning facts in a classroom. He felt that public schools left out the teaching of character and values that was invaluable to raising young men and women and believed that parents needed to take back the responsibility of teaching their own children. He taught that play was the best method to use for teaching a child and that formal teaching should be based on the child’s maturity level. This was a radical idea for those who had been raised to send a child to school at an early age.

Today, it is estimated that over one million children are home schooled in the United States alone. The idea of teaching a child at home is growing by leaps and bounds with countless reasons stated for going against the social norm. More families every year are going back to the original methods of teaching their children in a home environment, just as it had always been prior to the 1900s.