History of Homeschooling in America
How did homeschooling start? When did it become legal? Who were the key players in making homeschooling the social movement it is today? The story of the history of homeschooling in the United States is a compelling tale of dedication, innovative ideas, and personal conviction and sacrifice. We have put together a history of this educational and social phenomenon, hoping it will inspire you to learn from the early and more recent pioneers of home education in America.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling means different things to different people. It is a movement rich in diversity and schools of thought. Explore what homeschooling is from different perspectives.
The Legal Journey
Learn about the legal, social, political, and philosophical journey towards legal homeschooling in the United States.
Important People
Who are the pioneers in the homeschooling movement? These are the movers and shakers of the early homeschooling movement and also a look at those who have continued work through the years.
Famous Homeschoolers
Know of anyone who was homeschooled? We'll bet you do. Browse through these listings of famous people in history that were educated at home. You might be surprised!
The Business of HSing
Explore the business side of homeschooling. As the number of homeschoolers continues to grow, the art of marketing to homeschoolers increases in significance. We take a look at the demographics of the homeschool market and homeschooling businesses. Also of interest is the relationship between the homeschooling market and corporate entities.
What's Popular
Targeting a Message: Homeschoolers and Social Media
Homeschoolers are actually not the easiest marketing targets in general. You might think that we are such a specific subset of the population that we basically have a marketing bullseye on our foreheads, but the truth is that people homeschool their children for such a wide variety of reasons that figuring out where we are coming from can be a full-time job in itself. The one thing homeschoolers DO have in common is their belief that by homeschooling, they are providing a customized education f...
HSLDA: Our History
Although HSLDA has changed over the past 30 years—in terms of the size of our membership and staff and our physical location—our original vision and purpose remain unchanged. HSLDA exists expressly for the purpose of advocating family and freedom.
Homeschoolers: Who Are They And How Do You Market to Them?
Maureen McCaffrey Williamson examines the homeschool market and shares several resources for contacting with the homeschool market, including mailing lists of homeschoolers, periodical available for advertising, and more.
The Skirmish Is Lost
NCHE appealed to its members to contact their legislators in visits to Raleigh and via telephone with three messages: 1) North Carolina homeschoolers are committed, conscientious, law abiding, intelligent and friendly people. 2) Home schools are an effective means of education. 3) Our desire is for our existing protection under the 1979 “Church School” law to be left untouched.
Notable Homeschoolers
An interesting list of homeschoolers from history, along with a short description of homeschooling experience.
NCHE, The Beginning
Concerns about the arrests and court rulings against homeschoolers prompted the Goldens and the Manahans to form North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) with the intention of encouraging and organizing homeschoolers across the state. They began with organizational meetings in public libraries in early 1984.
The Modern Homeschool Movement Nexus
It is important that homeschoolers know the early history of NCHE and homeschooling in NC. Homeschooling is now widely accepted in North Carolina as a good alternative method of education. It was a much different climate for home education in the early 1980s.
The Calm Before the Storm
While the NCHE leadership was praising God for the Delconte decision, they knew they would soon be in a fight to keep the right to educate their children at home. In the March/April Greenhouse Report (mailed on May 24, 1985) they warned, “…we must be more watchful than ever to protect our freedoms. Already the media, public educationists, and some legislators are saying, ‘now that it’s legal, we need to regulate it.’” In the same issue, NCHE encouraged homeschoolers to work to keep the then curr...
Victory!
he headline on the December 1987 Greenhouse Report read, “Will This Be the Last Year for Home Education?” This was not a sign of surrender, but a call to action.
Famous Homeschoolers
This is a great list of famous people who did their learning at home. Includes presidents, athletes, performers, scientists, artists, inventors, educators, writers, and entrepreneurs. 
Home Schools in North Carolina
North Carolina, like other states, has come full circle in the education of its youth -- from home instruction in years past to teaching children in groups (called schools) and then since the 1980's a growing trend back to home instruction. This article details the history of homeschooling in North Carolina. Discusses the Delconte case, the Department of Public Instruction legislative efforts, and the status of home schools today.
A History of Homeschooling in North Carolina
In the late '80s a small group of concerned parents helped pass a law making NC one the most homeschooling-friendly states in the nation. 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of North Carolina’s homeschool law. It is now also the year the law was amended. It is good to reflect on our history while we also imagine and work for the future of homeschooling in NC.
On the Edge of the 21st Century
The right to home school is based on two fundamental principles of liberty: religious freedom and parental rights. Whenever one of these two freedoms is threatened, our right to home school is in jeopardy. Here are the battles we think home educators will be facing as we enter the next century:
Homeschooling: Back to the Future?
Explore some of the history of the homeschooling movement, why some parents choose to homeschool, the basics of homeschooling, and more. The article includes some homeschooling statistics and demographic information. Also included is a discussion of the influences of Dr. Raymond Moore and John Holt on the emerging homeschool movement.
Homeschooling Alone: Why Corporate Reformers are Ignoring the Real Revolution in Education
Would-be reformers of the current educational system, including corporate altruists nor philanthropic foundations, have shown much interest so far in homeschooling's increasing popularity. Instead, they've focused on the promotion of charter schools and school vouchers. In this article, Greg Beato details some of the efforts of big business to reform public schooling, taking a look at corporate sponsorships, grants, and scholarship programs. It examines the dichotomy between those who criticize ...
Resources
So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It
Confused and intimidated by the complexities of homeschooling, many sincere parents never get past the "thinking about it" stage. Now Lisa Whelchel - herself a homeschooling mother of three - introduces fifteen real families and shows how they overcome the challenges of their unique homeschooling situations. This nuts-and-bolts approach deals with common questions of time management, teaching weaknesses, and outside responsibilities, as well as children's age variations, social and sports involvement, learning disabilities, and boredom. Seeing a wide variety of successfully homeschooling families in action will give parents the confidence to make their own dream of home-based education a reality.
Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families
From a bedroom community in Nebraska to a farm in Vermont, from families who rely on workbooks to those who have sworn them off, this in-depth examination of the lives of homeschoolers covers a wide range of people and methods. When author Nancy Lande started homeschooling more than 10 years ago, this is the book she wanted that didn't exist. What better way to create your homeschool than reading about others and picking and choosing the styles that appeal to you? Lande has corralled a variety of homeschoolers and, with some deft editing, allowed them to speak for themselves. Every chapter features a different household on any given day. Many of the writers are mothers, but a stay-at-home dad and several children tell their tales as well. Their detailed descriptions start in the waking hours of morning and get down to the nitty-gritty information of everyday life in a homeschool: how moms fit in showers, how chores are divvied up, how reading and research are gently initiated, how parents set aside time for themselves.

These writers invite the reader into their homes and advise, "Don't mind the mess." Their passages are often funny and unflinchingly honest. They aren't embarrassed to tell you they whipped out SpaghettiOs for a hurried lunch or stole a peek at CNN while ignoring the chaos in the playroom. Some of the families have created highly structured school environments within their homes, with desks and sharpened pencils. Others promote freestyle learning, with their children sprawled across the house working on projects or reading in between walking the dog, playing games, and riding bikes. The majority of families here live in Pennsylvania, the author's home state, but one writes from as far away as Scotland, another lives on a mountain in Alaska, and yet another checks in from a college town in Texas. Their learning logs, reading lists, and journal entries, along with family photos, help illustrate the book. The quilt they piece together is a great service to those wondering how to approach homeschooling. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home

The book that shows homeschooling in action!

What does it really mean when parents say they homeschool their child or children? For Rhonda Barfield -- a homeschooler for the past 10 years -- the definition is as diverse as the 21 families she studies in this eye-opening book.

Real-Life Homeschooling

From the city to the country, apartments to split-levels, you'll enter each household and see education in action. Discover the challenges and rewards of tailoring instruction to each child's needs while catering to his or her inquisitiveness and curiosity. See why the number of children being taught by their parents is growing nationwide -- at home, there are no overcrowded classrooms, no unknown dangers lurking in the halls, and no doubts as to the quality of the education.

Whether you are just contemplating homeschooling or are a veteran seeking fresh ideas and help in overcoming obstacles -- look no further: Real-life Homeschooling shows just how practical and rewarding it is to educate children and provide them with what they need most -- you!

Homeschoolers' Success Stories : 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives
Despite their growing numbers, many homeschoolers still find their experience somewhat isolating. This collection of short biographies aims to alleviate some of that loneliness. While the stories profile modern-day homeschool grads and students, famous homeschooled personalities from the past are offered up early in the book for historical inspiration. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, photographer Ansel Adams, poet Robert Frost, and songwriter Irving Berlin join the long list dug up by author Linda Dobson. And just in case there were any doubts that fame has eluded today's homeschooled, Dobson throws in actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Hanson singer siblings, and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. The people whose stories are told here are successful entrepreneurs, Ivy League students, and athletes, such as Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and U.S. ski team member Todd Lodwick. But to Dobson's credit, she unearths a healthy array of "regular folk" as well. Their stories are no less interesting and, most importantly, they dispel the notion that homeschooled children are over-the-top achievers and freaks of nature. Among the subjects here are an Arkansas state trooper, a private chef, an art gallery owner, and a Cost Guard Reserve seaman.

Each chapter begins with a photo and yearbook-style sketch of the personality, complete with favorite areas of study and a memorable quote. The biographies are short and insightful, with the author often injecting her own thoughts. Dobson, the mother of three homeschooled children, has written numerous books on the topic (The Homeschooling Book of Answers and Homeschooling: The Early Years, among them) and is a news editor and columnist for Home Education Magazine. In her casual, succinct writing style, she brings to life personalities that have little in common beyond their method of education. Some were taught at home completely; others for only a few years. They offer advice, warnings, and fond memories. And their overriding message is that homeschooled people are just as diverse and interesting as the students found in traditional schools. "We are not alone," is the cry heard from these pages. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

Homeschool Open House
Personal insights from 55 families worldwide about a real day of homeschooling. Includes homeschool illusions, family culture, learning and family style, parenting strategies, chores and organization, family management, personal empowerment, decision making, change flexibility, resources, and questions to consider before deciding to homeschool. A private tour of homeschooling homes and reflective thoughts from families. Also includes five year follow-ups from families in HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS.
Articles
Marking the Milestones: Historical Times
This timeline highlights the important milestones in the fight for homeschool freedom in the United States.
A Homeschooler's History of Homeschooling - Part 6: 1995-1997
This is the final installment of Cheryl Seelhoff's series on the history of homeschooling in America.
Home Schools in North Carolina
North Carolina, like other states, has come full circle in the education of its youth -- from home instruction in years past to teaching children in groups (called schools) and then since the 1980's a growing trend back to home instruction. This article details the history of homeschooling in North Carolina. Discusses the Delconte case, the Department of Public Instruction legislative efforts, and the status of home schools today.
NCHE, The Beginning
Concerns about the arrests and court rulings against homeschoolers prompted the Goldens and the Manahans to form North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) with the intention of encouraging and organizing homeschoolers across the state. They began with organizational meetings in public libraries in early 1984.
Who Stole Homeschooling
A look at the change in the homeschooling movement from an inclusive philosophy to a more structured, compartmentalized, and politicized structure.
On the Edge of the 21st Century
The right to home school is based on two fundamental principles of liberty: religious freedom and parental rights. Whenever one of these two freedoms is threatened, our right to home school is in jeopardy. Here are the battles we think home educators will be facing as we enter the next century:
The Politics of Survival: Home Schoolers and the Law
Twenty years ago, home education was treated as a crime in almost every state. Today, it is legal all across America, despite strong and continued opposition from many within the educational establishment. How did this happen? This paper traces the legal and sociological history of the modern home school movement, and then suggests factors that led to this movement's remarkable success.
A History of Homeschooling in North Carolina
In the late '80s a small group of concerned parents helped pass a law making NC one the most homeschooling-friendly states in the nation. 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of North Carolina’s homeschool law. It is now also the year the law was amended. It is good to reflect on our history while we also imagine and work for the future of homeschooling in NC.
HSLDA: Our History
Although HSLDA has changed over the past 30 years—in terms of the size of our membership and staff and our physical location—our original vision and purpose remain unchanged. HSLDA exists expressly for the purpose of advocating family and freedom.
A Fifteen Year Perspective
When Michael Farris and Michael Smith founded Home School Legal Defense Association in March of 1983, home schooling was just a tiny blip on the education radar screen. The concept of parents teaching their children at home was relatively obscure, and the families who chose to follow this non-traditional education route were fairly certain to face opposition from the educational bureaucracy and following legal entanglements, as well as from their own friends and family.
A Homeschooler's History of Homeschooling - Part 3: 1990-1992
The years 1990-1992 marked an important turning point in the homeschooling movement. Cheryl Seelhoff looks at this important time. She explores educational philosophies as a source of division, the home-centered living movement, the issue of remarried homeschoolers, the expertization of homeschooling, and more.
The Good, The Bad, The Inspiring
A look back at the history of the Home School Lega Defense Association with Michael P. Farris, J. Michael Smith, Christopher J. Klicka, and David E. Gordon. Hear about the early years of HSLDA, the way home schooling has changed, and some of their most memorable cases.
The Calm Before the Storm
While the NCHE leadership was praising God for the Delconte decision, they knew they would soon be in a fight to keep the right to educate their children at home. In the March/April Greenhouse Report (mailed on May 24, 1985) they warned, “…we must be more watchful than ever to protect our freedoms. Already the media, public educationists, and some legislators are saying, ‘now that it’s legal, we need to regulate it.’” In the same issue, NCHE encouraged homeschoolers to work to keep the then current law unchanged, to comply with the law and to keep the quality of instructional programs high. They also advised, “Be ready to drop everything and go to Raleigh at a moment’s notice. The battle is only beginning.”
The Modern Homeschool Movement Nexus
It is important that homeschoolers know the early history of NCHE and homeschooling in NC. Homeschooling is now widely accepted in North Carolina as a good alternative method of education. It was a much different climate for home education in the early 1980s.
The History of Homeschooling
This infographic from OnlineCollege.org features a graphical representation of the history of homeschooling, methodologies, statistics, and other interesting facts.
The Skirmish Is Lost
NCHE appealed to its members to contact their legislators in visits to Raleigh and via telephone with three messages: 1) North Carolina homeschoolers are committed, conscientious, law abiding, intelligent and friendly people. 2) Home schools are an effective means of education. 3) Our desire is for our existing protection under the 1979 “Church School” law to be left untouched.
Victory!
he headline on the December 1987 Greenhouse Report read, “Will This Be the Last Year for Home Education?” This was not a sign of surrender, but a call to action.
Looking for Another State?
Featured Resources

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this site.

Reading Made Easy
Reading Made Easy is a phonics-based program, featuring 108 easy lessons, designed to be taught in less than 30 minutes per day. It is fully scripted and has original Christian content and stories. Includes hands-on writing and drawing activities. Re...
And What About College?: How Homeschooling Can Lead to Admissions to the Best Colleges & Universities
Get all your questions about helping your homeschooled student apply and get accepted to college answered with this resource. It discusses transcripts, diplomas, education choices, online colleges, and more. If you are worried about whether your home...
The Outdoor Life of Children: The Importance of Nature Study and Outside Activities (Charlotte Mason Topics - Volume 2
The methods of Charlotte Mason are popular among homeschoolers. She includes nature study as a crucial element. This work explores the idea of the outdoors as a classroom for children, and gives tips on ways of teaching the sciences, history, literat...
Writing Strands & Reading Strands
This program is based on research which shows that there is no useable relationship between the study of grammar as an abstracted skill and the ability to communicate. Writing Strands provides quality reading, writing and speech materials for homesch...
For the Good of the Earth and Sun: Teaching Poetry
For the Good of the Earth and Sun is for teachers at all levels, especially for those teachers who feel anxious about introducing poetry to students. Georgia Heard offers a method of teaching poetry that respects the intelligence of students and teac...