Home schooling is the provision of education for children outside school. However, this definition is very loose, and it is clear that what is meant by home schooling does vary considerably. For example, some home schoolers are registered with a school but have leave of absence for periods of time (see flexible schooling), others are 'taught' by their parents or paid tutors. Some home schoolers follow a formal curriculum whilst others learn through engaging in 'real life'.
According to Deane (2003) home schooling is legal in most countries, though there are exceptions. Notably Germany, - A Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1389) has announced that on 11 September, the European Court of Human Rights ruled to uphold the Nazi ban on homeschooling. You can find the item on the court's website at http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/portal.asp?sessionId=9337251&skin=hudoc-en&action=request "Konrad & others v Germany".
In countries where home schooling is permitted there are varying degrees of control and inspection, with most having some form of requirement for parents to demonstrate that the educational provision they are making is adequate.
The numbers of children who are home schooled is often unclear as parents may not be required to register that they are home schooling their children – as is the case within the UK (so long as the child has never attended school). Thus accurate official figures often do not exist, and estimates vary wildly; though most would agree that home schooling accounts for a small proportion of children in most countries - eg almost 0% in the Netherlands, around 1% in many other countries in Europe, and 1.75% to 3% in the USA (Blok 2004). However, it seems clear that the numbers of parents who are choosing to home school their children is increasing (eg France 2005 re the UK; Blok 2004 re Belgium, Denmark, France, England, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal and the USA).
Most of the reported evidence on the effects of home schooling suggests that it is at least as good as formal schooling both in terms of the academic achievements of learners and in relation to their social and emotional development (Blok 2004; Gabb 2004). However, it is possible that only positive evidence is reported and that this may distort the available evidence (Gabb 2004) and the research base is very limited both in size and methodological rigour (Blok 2004).
Blok, Henk (2004) Performance in Home Schooling: an argument against compulsory schooling in the Netherlands, International Review of Education, Vol 50, No 1, pp.39-52. http://www.alternative-learning.org/sal/performance-in-homeschooling.pdf (visited 27-May-05)
Deane, Alex (2003) Home Schooling: Should parents be allowed to educate their children at home?, Debatabase. http://www.debatabase.org/details.asp?topicID=214 (visited 27-May-05)
France, Louise (2005) A class of their own, The Observer, April 17. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1459735,00.html (visited 27-May-05)
Gabb, Sean (2004) Home Schooling: A British Perspective, http://www.seangabb.co.uk/academic/homeschooling.htm (visited 27-May-05)
Personal accounts by home educators
Check out Alexrider's userpage, where he is starting to talk about his experiences of being home educated.
Australian Homeschool Legal Advisory Service (http://www.homeschoollawaustralia.com/)
The Australian Homeschool Legal Advisory Service was set up to provide legal advice and information for Australian homeschooling families. We campaign for the rights of homeschooling parents and children.
Education Otherwise (http://www.education-otherwise.org)
Major UK based organisation providing support and information for people who are educating their children outside school. Has lots of useful info - including details of how to contact local Education Otherwise (EO) groups and a a public mail list where you can ask questions. (Visited 12-Sept-04)
Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS) (http://www.heas.org.uk/)
HEAS is a charity based in the UK which provides advice and support to families who wish to educate their children at home. Most of the information available from the site is in the form of paper based publications which you can order online (for a fee) - though the site does provide free info in the form of links to useful websites, FAQs and info re Edexcel's IGCSEs. (Visited 12-Sept-04)
Home-education in the UK (http://www.freedom-in-education.co.uk/home%20ed/homeschooling_uk.htm)
This page, which is part of the freedom-in-education website, provides a description of home-education and some useful links to other websites that provide info about home-education. (Visited 14-Sept-04)
Home education for your child (http://www.bullyonline.org/schoolbully/hometuit.htm)
This page, which is part of the bullyonline website, provides a useful list of links to sources of information about home education - including publications and organisations. (Visited 14-Sept-04)
Educate Online (http://www.educate.co.uk/homscweb.htm)
This page provides a list of links to other websites that are of relevance to 'home educators' - some of them are sites providing advice re home educating and others are links to useful 'learning resources'. (Visited 14-Sept-04)
Home Education Foundation (New Zealand) (http://www.hef.org.nz)
The Home Education Foundation is a charitable trust established to encourage parents to take up the option of educating their children at home and to support them in their task.