Has homeschooling become more popular over the past 50 years?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022
By Brian A. Gross

The decision to educate one's children at home has become much more popular since the 1970s.

The National Home Education Research Institute, which publishes the peer-reviewed journal Home School Researcher, stated that "before 1970 there were almost no homeschoolers." In 1973, NHERI estimated that 13,000 children were homeschooled. That number grew to 93,000 in 1983 and 275,000 in 1990. By 2003, 1.4 million children were homeschooled, and by 2016, 2.3 million were. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic adding additional momentum to the existing upward trend, the homeschooling population increased to more than 3.7 million in the 2020-2021 school year, according to NHERI. 

In a survey conducted by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, more than a third of parents (33.8%) cited "concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure" as the most important reason for homeschooling. Dissatisfaction with acedemics (17%) and a desire to provide religious instruction (15.9%) followed.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
National Home Education Research Institute Explaining the Change in Homeschooling, 1970-2010
National Home Education Research Institute Number of Homeschoolers in U.S. 2017-2018 Home School Growing
National Center for Education Statistics School Choice in the United States: 2019
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