Homeschooling history goes back a very long time. It is sometimes not easy for people who have grown up in a world where public schools are seen as the norm to realize that this has only been the case for a very short part of mankind's existence. Until the industrial revolution completely changed the way in which people live, there was very little education anywhere which was not performed at home. Certainly, there were no organized educational authorities demanding compulsory attendance. Even many of the children of rich families who were taught by an outsider were taught in their own homes.
The trend towards public education has been a relatively recent one, and the trend has now started, albeit in a small way, to reverse. There are many people who seriously doubt the value of public education, even though it has been an integral part of social planning throughout the last century. Obviously, there is a great deal of variation within the public education system, in terms of results, because however much you try to standardize the curriculum, there is still going to be a large element of individual input.
Homeschooling history really needs to be divided into two distinct sections. The section of time before the industrial revolution saw homeschooling as very much the standard practice across the whole of the Western world. The practice certainly proved adequate in allowing children to develop the skills they needed to qualify for a trade, earn a living, and keep their own family in turn. This trend only reversed with the sweeping changes brought by industrialization. All of a sudden, men were working together in a place separate from their home, and education began to follow the same pattern.
It can be hard to accept that the model of education to which we have all become accustomed is actually an extremist viewpoint, but that is what it is in reality. By passing compulsory school attendance laws, legislators were effectively doubting the ability of parents to provide for their own children. Yes, there will always be some children for whom homeschooling would never work. There are children with parents who would simply not be capable of providing homeschooling, there are children with abusive parents, and there are children with no parents at all. Clearly, these children need to be provided for, but to actively force all children into education outside the home is unwarranted.
The second part of homeschooling history is the part we are living through now, where we are seeing the inevitable reaction to the over swing of the trend towards public education. Parents who believe that they can do a better job of educating their children than the state system are beginning to assert their rights. The availability of the Internet and support groups has made the dissemination of information much easier, and that is a great help to homeschooling parents. We are potentially entering the most exciting period of time in homeschooling history.