The conventional wisdom about the homeschooling community is that it's all crazy right‑wing Christian fundamentalists. The truth is that lots of homeschool parents are just like you. They're smart, curious, concerned about their kids, but also concerned that they don't want their life to go to hell while they're focusing on their kids.
Here are five trends among homeschooling parents that tell me I'm in the right place.
1. Homeschool parents are doctors and lawyers.
Here's an incredible post by Kathleen Berchelmann, a full‑time doctor, explaining why doctors and lawyers homeschool. There are 18 reasons, and the reasons apply to almost anyone who has a big job that they care about a lot. But the bottom line for why this particular doctor is homeschooling is because homeschooling enables a family to accommodate so many other things besides the kids' education.
School requires everything in the house to revolve around school, which makes it very difficult to be a parent with a big career and a parent who is taking care of school needs. Once you're homeschooling, the family can accommodate lots of different interests. For example, the parents need to be engaged and the children need to be engaged.
2. Homeschool parents are the top one percent.
Let's be honest: the One Percenters are not sending their kids to public school, so they're not struggling over how to teach algebra.
The One Percenters do know that antiquated tropes for well‑rounded knowledge are not serving their kids well in their futures as One Percenters. (I think it's true that "trope" is an antiquated word, so that if you say "antiquated tropes" it's almost redundant.)
So they homeschool in one of two ways. They're either hiring a company like My Learning Springboard to manage their child's customized education, or they're sending their kid to a school like The Avenues, which is basically a homeschool co‑op that costs $60,000 a year.
3. Homeschool parents are self-confident.
We know that most homeschool families have a parent at home, and it's usually the mom. And women who choose to stay home with kids are more educated and emotionally stable. This makes sense to me, because you don't get any gold stars for staying home with kids. So if you have a great job, and you're willing to give it up for kids, then you have a lot of internal validation that dampens your need for the external validation people get from work.
Schools systematically tell parents they are incapable of raising their own kids. So it takes a confident parent to see our whole society organized around school and decide to trust themselves instead.
Also, unschoolers fundamentally trust that their kids are smart and their kids will succeed, so they don't need to give their kids any academic boost or test their kids to prove the kids are smart.
4. Homeschool parents are the highly creative types.
The people who are the most creative are not people who think outside the box. They're the people who don't know where the box is. They're so far outside of where everyone else is that they are constantly unable to fit in and sometimes don't even know why they're not fitting in.
Research on personality type shows that this is reliably the population of ENFP's who can make a living.
The highly creative parents who have made their way in the world have little understanding of the value of school. It was not valuable to them, and they're unlikely to put their kids through the same thing. So it makes sense that a large percentage of parents who take their kids out of school are also extremely creative.
You can splice and dice the homeschooling population a bazillion different ways to show how smart, educated and innovative the parents are, but a simple way to see this is that doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors, and entrepreneurs make up less than five percent of the population, but 25 percent of the homeschooling population.
So next time you think that you don't fit in with the homeschooling community, understand how that's just a way for you to tell yourself that you don't have to consider something that seems difficult on the face of it.
In the meantime, statistics like this make me feel like I finally found a place where I belong.