Home schooling

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Home schooling (including domestic education , home schooling , home education or homeschooling ) is a form of education, in which children at home or other places outside of school are taught by parents or private tutors. The actual practice of home schooling can look very different. The spectrum ranges from highly structured forms based on traditional school lessons to open forms such as unschooling .

In countries with compulsory schooling by law , home tuition is generally not allowed.

Home schooling should not be confused with distance learning , distance learning , or online schooling . With a semantically incorrect use of the synonym homeschooling, the responsibility for school lessons in the case of compulsory schooling (Germany) is concealed.


Home schooling used to be widespread in many countries, particularly in the higher classes; In most of the royal houses in Europe, it was not until the second half of the 20th century that it became customary to send children to school. It was only with the introduction of compulsory schooling in some countries that there were legal bans on educating children primarily outside of school.

Among other things, they received home schooling in their youth:

Until well into the 19th century, being a tutor ( Hofmeister ) was the only way for many unemployed academics to escape unemployment. Among other things, Friedrich Hölderlin worked as court master .

The Kultusministerkonferenz estimates that despite the fact that home schooling was banned in Germany with the Reich Compulsory Schooling Act in 1938 , there are around 500 to 1000 families nationwide who practice home schooling.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany , face-to-face teaching in school buildings was discontinued in all federal states. Since schooling is compulsory in Germany, there was a switch to distance teaching or online schooling. There is still the obligation to participate in the alternative forms of teaching. No school was closed due to compulsory schooling. The state is obliged to ensure alternative forms of teaching.


There are many reasons for wanting home tuition, some of which overlap with the motives for unschooling . Reasons often mentioned in surveys and studies include:

  • Parents refuse to force their child to go to school against his or her will.
  • Attending school contradicts the educational ideas or educational goals of the parents (e.g. rejection of sex education , religious education or teaching content such as the theory of evolution ).
  • School attendance or participation in school lessons cannot be guaranteed regularly over a longer period of time (health (e.g. fear of school ), financial and geographical problems (e.g. difficulties on the way to school ), etc.)
  • Parents see better educational opportunities for their child in home schooling, for example because they know them better as a teacher and are therefore more able to cater to their individual needs and address their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Students prefer to study at home and / or more efficiently than they could in school.
  • Parents reject the state school system.
  • Parents are of the opinion that certain temperaments are encouraged in school, while others are inhibited.
  • Parents assume that the school system is pursuing a secret curriculum that runs counter to official educational goals.
  • Parents reject the school environment as a form of socialization. Religious reasons can often play a role here.
  • Parents want to protect their child from physical and emotional violence , bullying , drugs , stress, sexualization, excessive performance thoughts, socialization groups or role models with a negative impact on their children and degrading treatment at school.

In addition, the legalization of home schooling would remove the school's monopoly on education and thus compete with it and thus indirectly ensure that schools are forced in the long term to continuously improve their quality in order to remain attractive as a form of education.

Country comparisons

red = forbidden
blue = allowed
purple = allowed with restrictions
gray = unknown

In most European countries there is compulsory education , i.e. the transfer of knowledge is not tied to school attendance for the child.

In Europe, home schooling is still less widespread and sometimes limited. The number of practicing families varies greatly from country to country and is often difficult to determine because of the freedom of registration. They were between a few hundred families in the individual Scandinavian countries (as of 2004), around 20,000 children (excluding the distance learning students) in France ( Focus ), around. 160,000 children in the United Kingdom ( BBC ) and about 1.5 million free education children and youth in the United States. In some countries such as Ireland, Italy and Spain, freedom of education and home schooling even have constitutional status. Spain is a special case as there is an obligation under national school law to attend a public school.


In Austria there is no compulsory schooling in principle, but only compulsory instruction , introduced by Maria Theresa in 1774, although at that time teaching at home was still a privilege of the aristocracy. The general guidelines on education must be made available to children. In which form this happens is up to the legal guardians .

Since the provisional law on private tuition of June 27, 1850, teachers do not need a special certificate of proficiency for home tuition, in particular parents (or legal guardians) are allowed to teach themselves. In accordance with Section 11 Compulsory Education Act 1985, the parent or guardian must notify the Education Directorate of participation in home lessons before the start of the school year. The latter can forbid participation within one month if it can be assumed with a high degree of probability that the equivalence of the lessons is not given. On the other hand, an appeal can be made to the state school board or, from 2019, to the district directorate.

At the end of each school year, the child has to take an examination ( external examination ) at a public school, in which it is determined whether the teaching objective of the respective school level (according to the curriculum) has been fulfilled. If this is not the case, the child will have to attend a public school or a private school with public rights in the future - students from private schools without public rights are examined according to the same principle.

To prepare for the external exam, textbooks can also be obtained from the exam location.

As evidence of the sufficient success of attending a home lesson, the overall assessment is legally regulated in the certificate issued by the examination board with at least "passed". (SchUG)

It is not clear from the law whether the external exam can only be taken once or whether it is allowed to be repeated. However, the decision of the Federal Administrative Court of August 1, 2018 on Gz. W224 2201481-1 that this possibility is given: "The possibility of repeating the external examination". It is clear according to Art. 14 Para. 7a Z. 1.3 last Paragraph B-VG that “If such evidence is not provided, the district school board must order that the child has to fulfill compulsory schooling within the meaning of § 5.” The failure rate in home lessons resembles that in regular school.

The presence of parents or other accompanying persons is only permitted in individual cases during an external exam. Otherwise the rule applies: an external exam is not a public exam. The test is based on the Austrian curriculum. The selection of the type of preparation for the external exam is left to the external practitioner. The school books provide a good orientation about the examination material. As proof of the successful completion of an external examination, a copy of the examination certificate must be submitted to the department for external affairs in person, by fax, email or post.

In addition, parents are obliged to present their child to the management of the elementary school that is located in the school district and that is responsible for fulfilling the requirements before the first year of primary school during the enrollment period (usually in the first week of January following the Christmas holidays) Teaching is compulsory from September 1st. The legal justification for this obligation is unclear. The affiliation of every place (village, hamlet, municipality, city) to a school district is regulated by a state law. The enrollment dates are to be announced “according to local practice”, which means that the dates are usually announced in the school's display case.

The education directorates in the respective federal states are responsible for home teaching, precisely the departments for external matters.

In Vienna, the Vienna Education Directorate set up several examination schools in the field of compulsory school ( elementary school , secondary school , general special school and special school for severely disabled children). A list of schools with an examination committee can be obtained from the Department for External Affairs, from which the school can be freely selected. Exam dates are agreed individually with the school management when registering for external examinations.

There are no fees for deregistering external workers. However, the annual certificate fee of EUR 14.30 has to be paid once per examination.

External examinations leading to higher education entrance qualifications

It is also possible to obtain the university entrance qualification on the basis of external examinations. Such an external qualification examination consists of the admission examinations and a main examination. The entrance exams must be taken before the actual school-leaving exam. For each item, each candidate for the entire upper level is tested in a so-called "modular system". The order of the subjects of the admission tests and when they are taken can be freely selected.

The type of preparation has no effect on the exam. In order to be admitted to the external exam, on the basis of which a university entrance qualification is obtained, one must have successfully completed the 8th grade according to § 28 SchUG .

The examination committee sets registration deadlines for registering for the exams. As soon as the candidate is registered for the external exam, he will receive a letter from the responsible examination committee with confirmation of registration. With this the candidate can register for the exam. The registration deadlines for the exams must be observed.

The following documents must be submitted for registration:

  • Original of the proof of the positive completion of the 8th grade
  • Copy of the birth certificate
  • Copy of a certificate about a name change by z. B. Marriage, should this have happened
  • If exams were taken at the higher schools, the original certificates so that the positive exams can be credited
  • Proof of the end of school attendance from the last school attended.

There is a fee for registration.

The more complete the required documents are submitted, the faster the registration will be processed.

Allocation to a specific exam school is based on the type of external exam and the letter of the candidate's family name.

Home Education Opinions

The City of Vienna states on its website that the external examinations are a form of a second educational path. The purpose of this is that the external specialists aim for a higher qualification than they would have achieved in a regular school system and thus increase their chances on the job market.

The motives for attending home lessons include discomfort at the public school, anti-reaction against the public school or against all types of schools, and religious motives as marginal topics.

Contrary to the opinion presented on the website of the City of Vienna, university professor Stefan Hopmann told news.at on January 3, 2019 that, in his opinion, home teaching is not a sufficient basis for a further educational career. "… Children don't usually fail exams, but you don't lay the foundations for a rocket career either." He also states that children who gain knowledge in home lessons are socially disadvantaged and lack the cultivation side. In his opinion, the children get the first social school in society, which is of great importance for democracy and society. Neither a football club nor a visit to the choir can guarantee this social experience.

At standard.at, the opinion is presented that children who are educated at home cannot establish cross connections. This is only possible through professional mediation.

Home tuition is used by around 0.5% of the legal guardians per school year. In the 2012/13 school year, the number of home-schooled children in Austria was 1,820. In the 2017/18 school year, the number rose to 2,320. The highest participation was in Lower Austria with 548, Vienna with 442 and Styria with 370 candidates.


Whether and under what conditions homeschooling is possible in Switzerland depends on cantonal law. In 2019, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that no right to homeschooling can be derived from federal law, namely the ECHR and the Federal Constitution. In 2019 around 2,500 children (0.2% of those required to attend primary school) were taught at home.

In the cantons of Lucerne , Zug , Schwyz and Zurich , teachers must have a teaching diploma , while in Bern and Aargau they can also teach without one. In canton Obwalden Homeschooling is generally allowed, but must be approved by the canton.


In Denmark, children are required to attend school for nine years. This obligation can also be fulfilled with home lessons or in private schools, as long as the content of the lessons corresponds to that of the state schools ("Folkeskolen").


Since in Germany there is not compulsory education , but compulsory schooling and this in contrast to z. B. is tied to school attendance (compulsory school attendance, compulsory school attendance) in accordance with Austrian compulsory education, only in special cases may attendance at school be dispensed with and home tuition given. The prevailing case law allows home schooling only for pupils whose parents work abroad, or for pupils who are unable to travel due to disability or illness (“sickness lessons”). Here, too, the state curriculum and certified teachers are the basis of the teaching. In individual cases there has already been coercive detention for legal guardians who did not send their children to a state-approved school.

According to an estimate by the Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen , between 40 and 80 children in Germany are not sent to school for religious reasons. Overall, the number of home-schooled children is currently estimated at 500 to 3,000.

In the USA, the Philadelphia School is seen by Helmut Stücher as the home-schooling representative in Germany. The argument about the existence of the school was at times very tough in politics.

In 2002 there were trials and operations against the religious community of Twelve Tribes . In the winter of 2003, a lawsuit followed against a family from Hesse who claimed to be Christian faithful to the Bible and had their five school-age children de-registered from school. The parents of the Twelve Tribes were deprived of their children because their religion prescribed corporal punishment and this is internationally outlawed. Fines and penalties of over 130,000 euros were imposed on the religious community, but never paid. In November 2004, members of the religious community tried to resolve the conflict with the authorities through a compromise, for example by making an offer to the responsible ministry of education to get an impression of the children's performance level by visiting a school psychologist. In 2018, the ECHR justified the authorities' deprivation of the children and a teacher was held accountable for the punishment of the children.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz , expressed concern in his report published in Berlin on March 6, 2007 that the restrictive German compulsory education criminalizes the use of the right to education through alternative forms of learning such as home schooling.

In January 2010 a US court granted the German family Romeike asylum because they had been persecuted in Germany because of their Christian faith. The judge was of the opinion that the German government was trying to stamp out home schooling, which was a violation of a basic human right. In May 2013, the Board of Immigration Appeals in Ohio overturned this ruling on the grounds that US immigration laws did not guarantee automatic right to stay for people who experience restrictions in another state that would not exist under the American constitution. The Supreme Court in Washington upheld this decision in February 2014. The US home school association HSLDA is now trying to change the law. Regardless of the case law, according to which there is no persecution of Christians in Germany, in individual cases parents are repeatedly deprived of custody in whole or in part because of this issue , or the parents are imprisoned for it . In this context, a decision by the Darmstadt District Court took on a new dimension, according to which a family was forbidden to travel to France in December 2013 due to endangering the child's well-being and thus their freedom to leave (but not their freedom of movement) was restricted.

In April 2010, a total of more than 5,400 signatories submitted a petition to the German Bundestag, with the aim of exempting parents who teach their children at home. The petition process was concluded negatively in November 2011. In accordance with the case law of the BVerfG, in the opinion of the Petitions Committee, compulsory education in Germany complies with the educational mandate of the state, without restricting the parents' right to raise too much. Despite the fact that within the EU, apart from Germany, there is only a strict home schooling ban in Bulgaria and Malta, the home schooling ban is in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The home schooling ban was confirmed in 2019 by a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Wunderlich family's complaint was rejected and the state's measures were classified as compatible with the ECHR .

United States

Since about the 1980s underwent home schooling in the United States ( homeschooling a certain revival). The reasons for this are pedagogical considerations (see  John Holt et al.) And ideological reasons (often a religious rejection of the content of state curricula, which for constitutional reasons must be ideologically neutral).

Home schooling has been the subject of bitter debates in many US states, including between school and legal representatives and interested parents. It is freely possible today in all states. In 2009, approximately 1.5 million children were home schooled in the United States. This was a doubling compared to 1999. 83% of families teach their children themselves for religious or moral reasons. From 1999 the proportion of home schooling rose from 1.7% to 3% in 2012. a. The possibilities of the internet are blamed, in so-called homeschool cooperatives you can learn online.

There are different regulations for home schooling in the individual states of the USA . In almost all states the student has to be registered, only 11 states have no regulation. In 13 states, parents are required to have a minimum education (college or high school diploma). Two states are reviewing parents' criminal records. In many states, children are regularly screened and required to take a test. The parents are given the material that has to be taught in home lessons . 22 states do not monitor student performance, 20 states have stricter requirements for the tests, the rest conduct tests but can not influence home schooling . In 21 states this is also a compulsory vaccination.

This is made possible homeschooling in the US, not least through the textbook market, which provides a large scale materials, the complete curricula included and can be used by untrained teachers efficiently. These materials contain both the subject matter of a school year and worksheets with exercises that enable students to acquire this material. In the school system of the United States stands on the site of didactics the instructional design ; there the use of such fully developed teaching media is the rule.


Similar criticisms are given for homeschooling as for unschooling.

Critics of religiously motivated home schooling emphasize that children of parents with strict religious ideas should also have the right to inform themselves about sexuality, natural sciences and views that deviate from their worldview, the rejection of which by their parents are often given reasons against home schooling. The cause for further criticism in Germany is the fear of the possible emergence of a parallel society or of the fact that home schooling prevents children from interacting with peers of different origins.

In this context, proponents and proponents of home schooling often point out that such scenarios are the exception in countries where home schooling is permitted and that children would meet with their peers at least as often, despite the fact that they would no longer be forced to do so , as they would have more free time due to more individualized and therefore most likely more efficient teaching and that most parents who cannot provide their children with a comprehensive education at home could or would continue to send their children to school. Proponents of home schooling are also of the opinion that there are advantages as well as disadvantages and that this form of education, like school, is not ideal for everyone.


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Web links

Individual evidence

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