According to Dr. Alberta Yeboah in Education among Native Americans in the periods before and after contact with Europeans: An overview (2005), Native Americans established a system for teaching their children the skills and values they would need as adults. This system is often referred to as aboriginal or informal in nature, as it wasn't the formal system of education that Europeans used. Instead, this system imparted skills, formation of physical abilities, and respect for nature to children. Storytelling was often used as a method of instruction. Both boys and girls received instruction.
In the colonial period, education varied by colony. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a law passed in 1647 required towns to establish primary schools. Most Puritan towns had schools that instructed boys and girls in writing, reading, ciphering, and religion. In the mid-Atlantic region, schools were generally private or religious rather than public as schools in New England were. In the south, there were fewer schools until after the Revolution, and wealthy people tended to study with private tutors. The poor and slaves were not generally formally educated, and literacy rates were lower in the south. Many of the fist colleges, such as Harvard (1636) were established in New England, as the Puritans deemed it important to educate men to become clergymen. The College of William and Mary in Virginia was founded in 1693.
During the Revolution and after the United States became a country, there was an increased effort to open schools to educate children and an increased effort to educate women, who were deemed important as future mothers of leaders of the new republic. This concept, referred to as Republican Motherhood, led to the founding of new women's schools such as the Litchfield Female Academy in Connecticut, founded in 1792.