Before the introduction of compulsory school attendance laws, most childhood education was done by families and local communities. In many developed countries, homeschooling is a legal alternative to public and private schools. In other nations, homeschooling remains illegal or restricted to specific conditions, as recorded by homeschooling international status and statistics.
According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, about three percent of all children in the US were homeschooled in 2011-2012 school year. The study found that 83 percent were White, 5 percent were Black, 7 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander. As of 2016, there are about 2.3 million homeschooled students in the United States.
On average, homeschoolers score at or above the national average on standardized tests. Critics of homeschooling claim that students lack necessary social skills. Homeschool students have been accepted into many Ivy League universities.
For most of history and in different cultures, the education of children at home by family members was a common practice. Enlisting professional tutors was an option available only to the wealthy. Homeschooling declined in the 19th and 20th centuries with the enactment of compulsory attendance laws. But, it continued to be practiced in isolated communities. Homeschooling began a resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s with educational reformists dissatisfied with industrialized education.
The earliest public schools in modern Western culture were established during the reformation with the encouragement of Martin Luther in the German states of Gotha and Thuringia in 1524 and 1527. From the 1500s to 1800s the literacy rate increased until a majority of adults were literate; but, development of the literacy rate occurred before the implementation of compulsory attendance and universal education.