Overview

As an alternative means of primary and secondary education, homeschooling has proven increasingly popular in the United States. Despite its popularity, or perhaps because of it, some people have concerns about the recent renaissance of this traditional method of educating children. The general historic foundations of homeschooling originate with the informal education systems that existed in the United States before the rise of public schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, famous figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Abraham Lincoln, Geronimo and Louisa May Alcott might be considered to have been homeschooled as they were self-educated or had mentors or tutors growing up, but received little formal schooling.

In the United States, the "curriculum in a box" (or All-in-one curriculum) form of homeschooling dates back to 1906, when the Calvert Day School of Baltimore, Maryland made such materials available through a downtown Baltimore bookstore and a National Geographic advertisement. Within five years, nearly 300 children were making use of materials from Calvert's Home Instruction Department. In less than a century the materials had become the basis for lessons for more than 350,000 children annually in more than 90 countries.

Although estimates vary, roughly one to two million children are homeschooled in the United States, about 90,000 in the UK and and about 26,000 in Australia/New Zealand[2]. Individual motivations to homeschool, homeschooling methods, and results of homeschooling (both social and academic) are varied, and are the source of vibrant debate.

As educational choices become abundant through a vast array of educational products and services available, computers, and the internet, the idea of homeschooling is expanding in popularity and acceptance. Some state governments (e.g. Alaska, California, Pennsylvania, Utah and Kansas) sponsor home education "virtual" charter schools and/or reimburse parents who purchase curricula approved by the state.

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