Home schooling is a form of education in which most of a child’s instruction is conducted in the home. More than 1 million children in the United States are educated at home. Parents are usually the main teachers. Families who educate their children at home typically give lessons in subjects similar to those in public and private schools.
There are many reasons parents choose home schooling for their children. Most parents do so because they want to teach a specific set of values, usually Christian, to their children. Parents may also decide on home schooling because they cannot afford to send their children to a private school. Others may want less structured learning for their children than a typical public or private school provides, or want greater control over the selection of material their children are being taught.
Some families organize home schools like a conventional school, with structured daily activities. Others view all of life as an opportunity for learning and use a very flexible schedule. Most families provide educational experiences outside as well as inside the home. Their children may visit museums, work in a garden, or serve apprenticeships. Some home-school families use textbooks and prepackaged courses of study. Other home schoolers create their own materials.
Critics of home education say that home-schooled children may not have enough contact with other children, especially those from different backgrounds. Critics also say that the average parent is not as qualified as a schoolteacher to educate a child. Studies show, however, that most home-schooled children achieve scores equal to or better than public-school students in college entrance examinations, achievement tests, and social development tests.
Since the late 1970’s, increasing numbers of parents in the United States have begun to teach their children at home. Each state has different laws to govern the operation of home schools.