History of Homeschooling

The history of homeschooling in America dates back to our nation's founding.

To quote Grace Llewellyn, "One third of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States had no more than a few months of schooling up their sleeves."

In those days, children were mainly educated at home. They acquired necessary skills by working in the family business, farming and maintaining a household. Religious organizations and apprenticeships also provided valuable learning experiences. Formal lessons were usually conducted by parents, older siblings or paid tutors.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Many of us cannot imagine our society without public schools. However, the system as we know it began less than 200 years ago when the state of Massachusetts enacted our country's first compulsory attendance law.

As time progressed, some parents resented the increasing demands placed on children and families. Others questioned the idea that schools were the best learning environment for children.

Among them was former educator John Holt. In the 1970's, he championed the movement known as unschooling, after his frustrating attempts to reform the school system. Meanwhile, researchers Raymond and Dorothy Moore attracted attention with their findings on the harmful effects of early formal education.

From the seeds planted by these pioneers and the courageous parents who challenged the system, homeschooling has blossomed into what it is today.

Check out this video of former teacher John Taylor Gatto speaking about the history of compulsory schooling:

Resources for Further Study

Raymond and Dorothy Moore make a great case for delayed academics in their book, Better Late than Early. Holt's books, How Children Learn and How Children Fail are among my favorite homeschooling resources. They examine the reasons children struggle to learn by the methods used in public schools.

For an in depth look at the history of our current school system, read The Underground History of American Education and Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Both books were written by John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year.

Next, I'll answer the question Are homeschool laws necessary?

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