Five homeschool parent types

I am watching how other people homeschool. I am noticing that while moms mostly say they try to pay attention to who their kids are and what their individual needs are, I think each family has their own homeschool style. And I think homeschooler parents can be divided into five groups according to their core focus:

1. Religious
The parents are fervently religious and homeschool centers around imbuing the kids with this feeling. These families usually spend a lot of time in their church community. They want their kids to grow up and “do the right thing” and there are clear ideas of what that is.

2. Academic
The parents are fanatical about their kids getting into a good college and being respected for their academic achievements. These parents are usually convinced their kids are smarter than average. These families homeschool because there’s not a “good enough” school where they live, and their focus is on curriculum.

3. Dilettante
This is usually a mom who never focused on one thing. She likes doing lots of different things all the time. She assumes her kids will like this too. They try everything. They don’t really have a schedule. The mom is primarily relieved that she does not have to adhere to the rigidity of a school schedule

4. Activist
The parents have made the focal point of their adult lives being running counterculture to almost everything. It feels natural to do this with raising their kids as well. This family has structure or does not have structure — either way the important thing is to them is that they are not adhering to other peoples’ rules.

5. Blue-ribbon winner
These parents focus on expertise. Usually the mom is an expert in something—a remarkably high achiever in something and cannot imagine her kids not wanting the same thing for themselves. There is a persistent search for what each kid both love and have talent for, and then an intense focus on developing expertise in this arena.

I am the last one. I wonder, which one are you? And, did I miss any categories?

95 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    I started out as an Academic and have become more of a Diitant (do you not mean Dilettante?) over the past couple of years as I’ve learned to stop worrying that I am ruining my kid’s chance for a decent future. I would add Protector; can overlap with Religious and would include people who don’t want their kids exposed to mainstream culture and/or people who homeschool kids with a high chance of having to deal with social rejection at school.

  2. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    I’m a combination of 3,4, and 5: Dilettante, Activist, and blue-ribbon winner.

    My daughter is the dilettante, and my son is the blue-ribbon winner.

    I’m not sure about the word activist, because it connotates politics. I’m not sure what word would be better for “thinks things through and makes decisions based on logic and family needs rather than doing what society says to do.”

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      I wanted to post my comment because I am not one of these. I am maybe 2 of these combined and some not listed. I wanted to contribute my opinion and experience and maybe someone else out there can benefit or respond. I am not a religious person and never homeschooled for the religious aspect. I am actually looking into curriculum that is not focused on religion. That it HARD!!! I feel that is not fair. Not everyone homeschool for religious reasons. So the curriculum companies need to think of that. It’s harder on us parents that want better academics for our kids and can’t get around that. Also, I am in the position that I need to homeschool because my child is special needs and the public school system/state can not help me no more. So my only option is too homeschool. The curriculum that I am getting from the school is not up to par. I am not financially able to spend the $400 for curriculum. So i have to rely on public school curriculum and supplement with what I find on the web. It’s fustrating!!!! I am always looking for new ideas and fresh resources, this is how I found you. I am thinking of starting a blog for various reasons and found you. Keep doing what you do!!!

      • Emily
        Emily says:

        We also homeschool for primarily academic reasons, but with some cultural/social reasons as well. We don’t use a curriculum because it doesn’t make sense to spend all that money and then still more time and money supplementing. We are both teachers, but that’s not necessary in order skip boxed curriculum. We simply use a second hand copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, then hit the library and have fun with a family book club.For math, we use Kumon Word Problem books, Hard Math for Elementary, Art of Problem Solving, IXL, homemade flash cards, a small white board, a few fantastic science websites for kids, notebooks, and that’s it! Our kids are flourishing!

    • Anastasia
      Anastasia says:

      I also feel that way 3 & 4 with some of I could have been 5 thrown in if my parents hadn’t just considered it “A Nice Hobby” & shredded my dreams to exchange with theirs.

      Also a little of 6 thrown in, Disabled child. I cannot comprehend how an “Honors Math Student” was going into High School with straight “A’s” but could not remember to carry the 1 on a simple addition problem. I am no law or pre-med student, I was a music major, lol.

      So if my Son wants to design with Legos all day, we take classes at Legoland with their masters. It’s easier & FASTER to teach this way then the rote drilling of the system.

  3. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I am none of these. I don’t even sort of fit into any of them and neither do my kids.

    I can’t categorize us. Maybe Laissez faire?

    My husband is the closest and could be a dilettante.

    I’m not a protector either. My husband and I decided to homeschool because we both disliked school, but for different reasons. He, because he was bored and too smart for public schooling. Me, because I was an outcast and hated feeling alone and friendless. To outsiders we might seem more on the activist side, but we don’t purposely try to be different. Many of our choices are becoming more mainstream anyway.

    I would never put my son (11) into school at this point because he has a single focus on music and would not be able to pursue that in school. He’s not blue ribbon though because he just does what he loves. There is no talk of expertise or being pushed to improve.

    My girls are really too young for me to even try to figure out yet.

    • Will King
      Will King says:

      I’m in agreement with the Laissez-faire type – I didn’t start homeschooling till an opportunity came up for my daughter (16) to spend time in Greece – she was responsible, and it was an opportunity to travel and see something new from the inside.
      I switched to an online school – she’s good in most subjects, except math (which i’m good at). The schooling takes a fraction of the time, and the focus is not on homework (the bane of my existence – if I understood the subject, why the hell did I have to waste time on homework?)
      With this school – you practice to mastery and then you move on!
      My daughter has huge amounts of time left over, she’s no longer stressed about school and she accomplishes more!
      I’ve set the rule that weekdays are still for education and ‘growth’ activities, which includes everything from music lessons, volunteer work, hiking, biking and exploring.
      Weekends are reserved for her friends.
      This has proven so successful for me that I will be putting my son into the same program next year (he’s 13).
      My children both are free-range children, and I still require them to put forth their goals and help them develop plans to accomplish their goals – but they generally drive the bus on it.
      This has also reduced my own time burdens, as my kid(s) schedules are more flexible and schooling can be accomplished anywhere.
      For me, it’s a win-win situation!

      • Racheal
        Racheal says:

        I love your response. I love the idea that delegating certain actiities on weekdays although allowing room for exploration; I might implement this tech nique. We are former homeschoolers but got back into public school, musch to my dismay. We are starting back up again and I’m a bit on the lazy yet ambitioous side so hoping that I can help myself and children (14,13,12) develop more of their own personal learning techniques. Excellent posting.

      • Rhonda Erb
        Rhonda Erb says:

        May I ask what online school you use? We are currently using Abeka. I am down to the last 2 of five kids but it isn’t getting any easier. Only one of my children breezed through Abeka because she’s super-focused, driven, and is self-motivated. However, my other children aren’t like her. While I stand by Abeka as an outstanding curriculum, It’s kind of making life a big fat dread these days. I have fears of “ruining” my kids, so even though I’ve explored less traditional avenues of education, fear has prevented me from using them. Abeka offers an accredited diploma, and I’m scared to switch to anything that doesn’t. But something’s got to give. Home schooling was supposed to make life better, not a daily dread. I’m tired of being a constant nag to my kids. LOL

  4. The Running On Veggies Mom
    The Running On Veggies Mom says:

    I think I’m all of these. Well, not all at once. I’ve been homeschooling for about seven years and well yeah, I’ve been all of those at one time or another. I think right now I’m more of an activist and an academic. My poor kids! lol They seem to go with the flow and excel in whatever they’re doing so I guess I’m not too worried. They also seem interested in what I’m doing so maybe I’m teaching them passion for what they/I believe in. Yeah, that’s it! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…..:)Good thing kids are resilient!

  5. Alison Gresik
    Alison Gresik says:

    I love the way you see these patterns and classify them.

    My parents were Religious home schoolers, but also Protectors — I was bored out of my skull in Grade 5 and getting harassed by my classmates, so I was happy to escape.

    I wonder if Counterculture or Nonconformist would be a good replacement for Activist? I agree it sounds too political.

    I know many families that are homeschooling so they can travel full-time. That would be the reason we would do it. Our kids are 4 and 5 right now and we have them in a local Malaysian school so they can learn Bahasa and Mandarin — they are being challenged much more than they would be in a Canadian public school. They’re also in school so that my husband and I can work, and so they don’t drive us crazy. I cannot be a full-time parent for kids this age, and they love being around other kids and adults anyway.

  6. Lori
    Lori says:

    mm, i am none of these. if i were to mint a new category to put myself into, i would say entrepreneurial. used to doing things ourselves, our own way, comfortable with being responsible for our own outcomes, used to freedom of schedule but also using most of our self-controlled time to work/do things. similar to “activist” but definitely without the implied vigorous campaigning. also without the caring about what other people do.

  7. Lisa U.
    Lisa U. says:

    The only “type” I could probably manage to be squeezed into of your options is Box #4, but it would be an uncomfortable fit. It’s not really about political activism so much as releasing my son from the increasingly uncomfortable and inappropriate boxes that have been forced upon us (though I too am naturally inclined toward sorting and classifying, my son is not). Our decision to homeschool was a direct result of watching school (public and private, in two states, up to Middle School) transform our deeply introverted, intuitive, extraordinarily bright, imaginative, empathetic, innovative and vibrant son’s personality into a frustrated, guarded, lethargic, often-ill and ultimately apathetic one. His test scores have always been off the charts. His daily experiences were soul-destroying. So much for the topic of “socialization”. My goals as an unschooling parent are to facilitate an environment where his natural (considerable) confidence, intelligence and curiosity can reassert themselves in whatever way is natural to him, in the hopes that his adult life will be one of a landscape of unlimited personal choice, rather than established, limited, conformist highways. So my own agenda is not really the point. And I am uncertain as to the label we would apply… Liberator, perhaps?

  8. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I”m struck by how much people don’t like to be categorized. I love being categorized, and I love making categories for other people.

    I think there are useful things about categorizing people: Everyone is different, and no one fits into categories perfectly, but people become more predictable if you know where they generally fit.

    On the other hand, a lot of people resist being put into a category because they feel it limits them.

    I find this happening when I write about generation y also. Some people like seeing themselves reflected back to themself as a way to see themself in a different light. Some people don’t like being boxed in.

    Now that I think about it, I think we all categorize other people – subconsciously or consciously – as a way to cope with the number of people we know.


    • karelys
      karelys says:

      the people who refuse to accept they fit into a category normally fall under the category of not wanting to be labelled. and most of these people share tons of similar traits.

      the people that sort of like to be categorized are the ones that begin popping up with traits that are completely random and out there.

      this is an interesting topic for me because i find it funny. sort of commical. but with purpose.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      I’m working with categorizing these days to understand people. Embracing that I am an introvert helps me understand about myself socially. Except that I get energized when I’m around others and I don’t need down time to re-energize.

      So I still don’t understand it, but I keep retaking versions of Meyers-Briggs with liberal and conservative answers and keep ending up with INTJ.

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      I don’t mind being categorized, but I think your list is at best incomplete. What I see from many of these comments is that we don’t agree on your choices, not that we don’t want to fit in somewhere.

      When I read your choices I know that I am not religious, I don’t care if my kids go to college, I very much dislike being unfocused and trying new things, I hate standing out so I try to fit in as much as possible, and I am not an expert or driven at anything.

      I sound like a total loser. I really do wish there was another category so I could feel a bit better right about now. ;)

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      “I think there are useful things about categorizing people: Everyone is different, and no one fits into categories perfectly, but people become more predictable if you know where they generally fit.”

      What strikes me about this post is the comment about the predictability of people.
      I think the hardest aspect of being an Aspie for my husband is that very thing. He has no clue how people are going to respond to what he says and does. (See your post about trying to figure out where to position yourself in a crowded office for and example.) He has trouble figuring out what kind of reaction he will get from a joke. He knows that things that are appropriate in one situation may not be in another, but accurately applying that knowledge is a very different beast.
      Somehow this reminds me of you and left and right. “To the left of the desk” is the opposite of “the desk’s left.” A comment that he makes at a dinner party of close friends might be hilarious, while the exact same joke with just one new acquaintance added might be mortifying.
      Fortunately, like all challenges, there is a plus side. He is beyond unpredictable to opponents when playing hockey, so . . .

      I, on the other hand, am an INFP through and through. I spend so much energy gathering information about other people and processing it and assimilating it and going through every fricken’ scenario for every fricken’ possibility that I’m really good at predicting what people will say and do. I constantly finish people’s sentences in my head. I LOVE it when they use a different word than I anticipated. I fondly remember certain professors for whom English was a second language. They kept me on my toes. (I haven’t found the upside to this trait since I have no desire to manipulate people, dangit!)
      I suspect Lisa U.’s son is also an INFP. Only about 1% of males are of this type, so of course the school will be unable to categorize him. He may well be dying to find “his people” but may never have encountered one irl.
      Schools have been designed by majority extraverts for majority extraverts. Seriously, forced group interaction with people not of your choosing for 8 hours, in a row. Downtime requires finding people to cluster with or risk being targeted for bullying. Thus, those who are really, really good introverts get labeled as failed extraverts.
      Ummm, that’s all for now. Wanders back in from left field.

    • Mary Kathryn
      Mary Kathryn says:

      I don’t mind being assessed and labeled, as long as the labeling is specific and varied enough. Thus, I’d probably fall in 2 or 3 of the groupings above. But I don’t like being “forced” into a single group, and I believe lots of homeschoolers feel this way. They like being outside the norm, the mold. Are we religious? Yes. Academic? Yes. A little activist? Yes. And constantly changing. All such questions should include “all of the above” “none of the above” and “some of the above”, underneath. Rather reduces the need for groups though.

  9. Lisa U.
    Lisa U. says:

    Penelope, I don’t disagree. I’m naturally inclined to classifying and categorizing people myself. I’d love for everyone I know and will ever know to take the MBTI test and wear a lapel pin so I know what to expect from them. The difference is, we’re adults. If we categorize people in our minds to assist in our own coping mechanisms, then it’s a useful tool. But if we feel that our children are being categorized – by schools or by attempting to classify their upbringing/homeschooling based on a limited number of homeschooling parent “types” – I think that resistance to categorization has a different impact. I have been uncomfortable with schools that have attempted to label my child for years as “Smart but lazy” or “Too sensitive” but by the same token, I resist the implication that I am raising an “Activist”, because while I fall within the broad spectrum of that category myself, it doesn’t reflect the style of our unschooling environment.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      There is a simply reason that people do not like to be classified: humans are much more complex, and have the capacity for change. MB type is not who I am, it just highlights some aspects of personality. If classification supersedes personal impression and constant revision of impression then it becomes simply a straightjacket.

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        i think that’s a very american thing. i am originally from mexico and i experienced the culture across many different stratas throughout my life there.

        i came here and was taken aback by how similar everyone that wanted to be unique was. i get that we are complex. but just because many of those categories overlap doesn’t mean there are not some that is more prominent at different circumstances.

        i like to figure out what categories i reflect because it’s helpful to figure out how i’m going to act in certain situations.

  10. Lisa U.
    Lisa U. says:

    Perhaps the category “Unschooler: No fixed agenda or style” might be a useful bin for some of us?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      If you lined up all the unschooling families I’ve come across (maybe 40 or so) it’s clear to me that each has a style. A mom — unschooling or not — cannot run a household that does not reflect her own style. I think it’s impossible. So we may as well understand our style to understand our schooling decisions.


      • liz
        liz says:

        We probably do unschool, but I simply can’t bear that word or some of the dogma that’s gotten attached to it. I do like Nonconformist better than Activist. I like vocabulary and sorting it through; that is why I am reading this post and all the comments.

  11. Citizen Reader
    Citizen Reader says:

    I think you missed a big one, and can’t think of a better label right now than “special needs.” Parents whose children have some learning issues that are not being addressed within the school system, and who try to develop a more personal curriculum and teaching style that matches their children’s needs. Getting into college is not so much the aim there as covering the basics well, so I don’t know that “academic” covers that.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I used to think that would be one — special needs. Because I have a special needs son.

      But I realized that the choices I make for him are still influenced by who I am. And I have seen it in other moms. Some moms make the day really structured and some make it really unstructured. You could justify either way as an approach to dealing with special needs. I think the mom chooses what she is most comfortable with. And, in the end, that is probably what will work best for the family because the mom can only do what she’s capable of doing.


      • karelys
        karelys says:

        i am under the understanding that your Asp. son is the older one (black hair). But I read his blog. he’s funny and eloquent and seems just so….normal. I mean, well adjusted. too smart for his age almost.

      • Adrienne Sweat
        Adrienne Sweat says:

        I think I’d have to disagree with you here. Special Needs is definitely a distinct homeschooler type. I do agree that sometimes a parent will be influenced by other things that fit nicer into the neat boxes. I “would be” a combination between academic and entrepreneurial/unlabeled; however, those tactics are in direct conflict with what works best for my children.
        I would much rather have a semi-structured day with ample free time for kids to explore on their own. Most kids do that. Mine don’t, because they have Autism, and many kids with Autism lack that natural curiosity to begin with. They don’t seek out knowledge just because, it has to have a purpose. So I have to homeschool with specific purposes for each activity and each learning experience.

        I learn stuff because I like to learn. I wish I could encourage that in my children. But I have to use my natural instincts to learn how to teach them instead. And I have to provide as much structure as possible, over-scheduling them. This is how they function best.

        I would rather ease into the day with several cups of coffee and some Yoga. My kids are 0 to 60 in 10 minutes. No sleeping in, no lazy Sundays, and usually spilled coffee trying to guzzle it. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

  12. Lisa U.
    Lisa U. says:

    Penelope, with respect and humor (I truly do enjoy your blog), why did you ask, at the end of your article ” I wonder, which one are you? And, did I miss any categories?” if you were convinced there weren’t any other categories? Also, to state “A mom cannot run a household that does not reflect her own style. I thin it’s impossible.” is perhaps more attributable to the newness of your homeschooling experience and your adaptation to it, rather than what is actually possible. We started homeschooling according to my “style”: pre-planned, organized, structured within a time frame and with “subjects”. It became apparent to me just a few months in that this was in no way my son’s learning style (which is self-directed, with an intense but shifting focus directed by his curiosity). So I adapted to his learning style as well as his nature, rather than continuing to impose my own style on his learning experience or his lifestyle. For example, he’s naturally nocturnal, and I am strongly diurnal. Our time together, in-depth conversations and exchanges of information, therefore have evolved into a rather unconventional (for me) evening-night “together” time which I have chosen to adapt to because he’s so clearly flourishing mentally. So maybe it isn’t actually “impossible” so much as perhaps “previously unconsidered”?

  13. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I don’t have kids and so obviously don’t homeschool, but as I read through the comments I was struck by how many commenters said, “I don’t fit any of these categories” and then through the rest of their comment I could tell they totally fit into a category.

    Then I got to Penelope’s remarks about categories….just brought it up because it was so striking to me as I read.

    I love this homeschooling blog however, despite the lack of young ‘uns needing education.

  14. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    Let’s not confuse style with motivation.
    2. I homeschooled because I didn’t think there was a school out there good enough for my child. It wasn’t primarily the academics that was the problem.
    I think my style is 3. I do like to focus on one thing- until I go to the next. Right now- moving out of business phase into music phase. I didn’t prefer to drive my child all over as much as we did but was willing because it was important to her.
    4. It’s not important for me to be counterculture, but it turns out several of my choices have been so.

  15. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    There is also the stability seeking style usually used by military families or families who travel a lot. They normally stick to a curriculum of some kind (although the ones I know have created their own unique/interesting/tailored curriculum) but they are not necessarily an academic style homeschooler. Their primary purpose for homeschooling is to have a consistent education, something that can’t be gained when you move very frequently, so generally won’t buy into the unschooling style.

    Of course any one stability seeking homeschooler might fit into your categories, but I think generally they are more about schedule and creating a “home classroom:” than they necessarily are about academic achievement or talent seeking.

  16. kevin
    kevin says:

    We are planning on homeschooling because school is:

    1) Inefficient – wasted time teaching in group setting, when one on one tutoring would be more effective.

    2) Fixed – No flexibility in hours, policies, rules etc. If you want to take your kids to do something for a day, or a week, you need to ask permission, explain yourself, and make arrangements to jump through the hoops your kid missed. no thanks.

    3) Curriculum is worthless – As an entrepreneur, the vast majority of the subjects taught in high school and college were worthless to the practical reality of earning a living in this economy. Networking, sales, marketing (non-mass media), negotiation, and flexible thinking are non-existent in school as practical realities.

    4) Boxing kids in age-segregated prison for 16 years is insane. I want the opportunity to expose my kids to work and life experiences that are available, and summer vacation (in competition with every other kid) and weekends isn’t enough time to sample all that the world has to offer. We will be in it!

    5) What is taught is to bow down to the system and authority structures. No thanks. I want my kids to make their own games, not play according to your rules.

    I would consider our style mostly ‘entrepreneur’ with a smattering of activist.

    I was public schooled and private 4 year colleged (Thanks for the bill!)

  17. Whitney
    Whitney says:

    I’m not quite sure where we fit in yet. My oldest (step)son is almost 12 and in public school. He hates it but his mom refuses to let me homeschool. We tried it for half a year and it just didn’t work, but I think it was the program we went with — DH wanted to do it last minute so we went with a transitional public school online so that I could have that time to prepare to fully homeschool him the next year – it just didn’t work. He had been in public school for too long and coming home to be with me he just thought he could take advantage.

    My twins are in preschool right now. They are doing great. But I’ve known since I got pregnant with them that I would homeschool. I sent them to preschool this year because I didn’t know anymore if I could do it, but the more I spend the days away from them, the more I know that I need to homeschool. It’s just this feeling I have inside.

    I’m a Christian, yes, but I don’t believe my decision to homeschool has anything to do with my faith. I’m sure I will incorporate some Bible-based information into their curriculum, but it won’t be the main focus. My biggest thing would probably be academics because I feel like the public school system fails so many children in so many areas because they simply don’t have the manpower to educate all the children one on one and give them a sound education. They don’t teach the things that I think would be more important, and they do teach things that I feel aren’t important (or I don’t want them to be taught). And I’m a writer, so one of my main focuses will be on grammar and my children will have a ton of experience with writing stories (and maybe one or two of them will become writers themselves!).

    It’s not that I don’t ‘want’ to be categorized, I just honestly don’t know yet where we would fit in since we haven’t started yet. But I’ve begun my research for everything I want to start with next year as my boys start Kindergarten and my oldest daughter starts preschool.

  18. MBL
    MBL says:

    2. Advocate/Facilitator
    The parents are fanatical about their kids getting their needs met and being respected for their authentic selves. These parents are usually convinced their kids are unique. These families homeschool because there’s not a “good enough”** school where they live, and their focus is on their priorities.

    ** “good enough” may include academics, location, cost, diversity, flexibility, art, sports, music, technology, theater, values, emotional support, special ed availability, language, faculty, personal safety, or pretty much anything else

    Of special note, advocate/facilitators are the type most likely to home school on an as needed basis , compelled to frequently re-evaluate and unabashedly change position should a “good enough” school present itself. They do not view homeschooling as an all or nothing choice, thus, they may home school one or all of their children at any given time.

  19. Memorial Urn
    Memorial Urn says:

    I love the homeschool group we know. It is filled with a mix of all of those and more. They desire high education levels for all of their children, want them to have Biblical training, to challenge the children to help them excel, to teach them character traits that they will not get in school and more.

    The group can be intimidating because of the level of expectation, yet all the children are also great to be around.

  20. Meg
    Meg says:

    Penelope, under what category would you place those unschool families who either sell or rent out the house, and either buy an RV or convert an old school bus, and travel the US or the world, following job opportunities (or working online) as they come? The nomadic people whose unschooling may be a result of their nomadic lifestyle, or vice versa? I am not one, though I know some personally. Which category would you think of them as belonging in, or are they a category unto themselves?

    FWIW, I feel I am part dilettante, part academic, and part counterculture (though I bridle at having my well-considered opinions described as just a knee-jerk reaction AGAINST whatever is mainstream). I also love a job done to elegant perfection, and love it when I used to have the occasional opportunity to be in that zone of total concentration and the moment…but that is one thing I gave up for a good while, having kids, because that requires large amounts of uninterrupted time, and mine are still little.

    You could even develop a Tarot- or Astrology-like system for your categories, so that people could be “Academic, Moon in Dilettante, Blue-Ribbon-Winner (or ‘Expert’) Rising.”

    You could work in some Myers-Briggs, too, to flesh it out.

    I’m an INT-J.

    Can’t wait for you to develop an online multiple-choice test along these lines. It would be fun. People may hate being categorized by someone else, but they love the very same thing, when it is self-applied, even if through someone else’s algorithm.

    I can just see a chart, similar to the old Dungeons and Dragons chart describing a character’s alignment, with lawful-to-chaotic being one pole, and religious-to-atheist as the other, and then place all your categories on the map.

    If you don’t do it, someone else might, and theirs will suck~

  21. Karen Loe
    Karen Loe says:

    #3 here!
    I don’t know how accurate your other categories are, but you got #3 on the money!

    Luckily, my kids respond pretty well to this way of approaching homeschool; I think they would prefer I was more on the academics though…and sometimes, I am.

  22. sue
    sue says:

    I mainly home-school because we have a child with a life threatening illness, there are a lot of us out there ( at parent support groups, there are usually 12 pairs of parents and about 3 of us will home-school, that is a large percentage) , the hs schedule works well with doctor visits and special camps, i do all the kids ( 4 of them – 2 highschool, 1 middle, 1 elem) , because its easier, we get the benefits without being bogged down by a school schedule, we have 2 – 3 dr. appts a week. but looking at your list, if we didnt have my dd, i would classify myself as an activist.

  23. K
    K says:

    My nieces have cystic fibrosis and home schooling is being seriously considered just because of the risk of shortening their lives even further by exposing them to all the strep/bacteria in school.

    We are probably a combination of dilettante and religious, too. Our family has lots of motivations!

  24. Keith
    Keith says:

    Homeschooling is something that many people feel others do because that person wants to keep their child away from the harms of society. While that is partial true, many if not all homeschool parents have one thing in common that leads them to homeschool their child… they believe the public school system sucks. And who is to blame them, if I had a kid I would want them to learn everything they could, however how is one to learn a lot when the same old lesson is being taught year after year. Though I believe that homeschooling is a great idea and wonderful for parents to do, I feel that parents personal agenda’s and politics sometimes hinders their child’s views to the point of it consumes the child’s education. For example in Germany it is illegal to homeschool one’s child because the government feels education from a parent can alter the educational process of the child in question, hence why some families move from Germany if they want to homeschool their child. I believe the academic and Blue-ribbon winner parents are the best because they know enough about certain subjects to help improve the overall knowledge of their kids, rather then learning the material first then “trying” to teach it to their kids.

  25. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Is there a reason the list of “Types” has such a negative undertone?
    I have a 6 year old girl and her 3 year old brother. I am researching the home schooling realm, and am disappointed by the derogatory connotations.
    The reasons I would have her here with me at home are many, from the quality of education to the simple reason that to subject my little children to masses of nasty, mean, snotty faced kids on a daily basis, without me there to protect them; seems unnaturally cruel.
    Obviously there is something romantically luxurious about the prospect of reading a book in bed before breakfast, drenched in sunshine washing in the room, as apposed to the mad chaotic dash for the 8.05am bus…
    Its almost a no-brainer!!!

    • liz
      liz says:

      Wow, I totally agree! Perhaps that is the problem with categorization, the judgement inherent in it can be nasty. I do really enjoy this blog — the headline College is A Vapid Goal is enough to make me a permanent fan — but there is an undertone of corporateness that is not my very favorite thing — call me a revolutionary but there it is — and that relates to this categorization post. You want to categorize so you can sell advertising perhaps — or perhaps that is why Americans, so saturated in that kind of junk, resist being categorized.

  26. SnoopyGirl
    SnoopyGirl says:

    Like Sarah, I am wondering why each homeschool type has a negative undertone. Can anyone simply be homeschooling because they love their kids, want the freedom to instill good values in them or for the opportunity to provide a learning environment free from bullying? I want my kids to love learning and to be free from the atmosphere that creates followers instead of thinkers?
    I am no activist. And while I am a Christian and consider it a perk that I can teach my kids about things a bit differently than the indoctrination received in public school, it isn’t even my main reason for homeschooling. I homeschool so my kids can be free to become their true selves and to find their giftings. I homeschool because I love being with my kids and seeing the spark that comes when they “get it.” I homeschool because I hate bullies and the system that tries to squeeze everyone in its one size-fits-all mold. I homeschool because I love planning lessons and making learning fun. There are many challenging days especially with two kids that have very different learning styles, but I homeschool my kids because I love them and want what is best for them.

    • liz
      liz says:

      Love this — I am not Christian, not religious particularly at all, but we too certainly do homeschool because we love being together. That is probably the main reason. I like to be able to connect with a stranger here — across categories. ;)

    • RF42
      RF42 says:

      “Like Sarah, I am wondering why each homeschool type has a negative undertone.”

      Could it perhaps be because Sarah refers to children who do go to traditional schools as “masses of nasty, mean, snotty faced kids”?

      While I agree that there are many, MANY, good reasons to homeschool, I think a mistake some homeschooling parents make is to presume that their children are in some way far superior to non-homeschooled children. While every parent believes that their progeny are super-special snowflakes, the real world has a far different viewpoint. And to convey the negative message that those who for whatever reason do not homeschool are raising “masses of nasty, mean, snotty faced kids” is not going to help change the negative image of homeschoolers any time fast.

  27. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I also think people are not wanting to use your lables because they sound negative… I am all of them…1. I have a world view which affects how I teach and how we live. 2. Academics are important and we use curriculum, the kids want to do further studies eventually. 3. I really have to work to stick to a schedule and often we do a bit of natural learning for a day or so. 4. Come on, a family who cares about other people’s rules does not homeschool!!!! (Though suprisingly I have found some unschoolers have very ridgid rules about what unschoolers can and can’t do) 5. My children are very science minded and I am trying to make more and more of both our structured and unstrutured learning science centred.

  28. John
    John says:

    I’m an Evolver, I guess. I look at homeschooling as an active way in which to improve the way my children are educated as well as improving the way they learn. I was labeled as math learning disabled, which discouraged me from studying math and science when I was younger. My son thinks the same way I do, and he is in no way learning disabled. I now have a chance to help him adapt his way of thinking to whatever discipline he has trouble with. It’s been enlightening about myself as much as it has him.

  29. Heather
    Heather says:

    I am mostly dillitante, with an activist (overlapping with religious), and a splash of academic thrown in. :) Although, I am putting us on a strict schedule!

  30. Crimson Wife
    Crimson Wife says:

    You need a category for “intellectual but against all the Tiger Mother insane competition B.S.” It’s not exactly your “blue-ribbon winner” because that still sounds to my ears focused on external measures of achievement (“developing expertise”) I’m focused (or at least try to be) on fostering a love of learning and developing my kids’ brains. I’d rather them challenge themselves and grow intellectually than get into a “name brand” college.

  31. Leah
    Leah says:

    You forgot the special needs category (Tough I guess a better title would be nice). There are parents who homeschool because their children are special needs.


  32. Sharon Rose
    Sharon Rose says:

    I might add a “Therapeutic” type to the list.

    It’s not a personal description. Your list suits me fine, as I’m an active dilettante, or a fickle activist, in whichever ways numbers 3 and 4 can be combined.

    But I have observed other homeschooling parents who base their education philosophy on various schools of psychotherapeutic thought. Their priority is to prevent or undo the pain and suffering caused by the school system and its minions.

    Bullies, pedants, petty dictators, bores and complicit parents were their tormentors, and they seek to provide a safe and welcoming educational community for their children, either to prevent or to outrun the same neuroses that plagues their own lives.

    Some are outrunning their own severe and legitimate trauma, others picture a Freudian perfection just beyond the next rainbow.

    Personally, I don’t think it pays to be overly sanguine or idealistic. My children will likely find much to thank me for, and much for complaint. But we love each other and we enjoy our time together, most days. Otherwise, we build community as a source of fun, interest and variety, and to explore the wider world.

  33. navleen
    navleen says:

    Homeschooling is great specially with increasing politics and uncertain policies in the K-12 system. One very interesting way would be to collaborate with other home-schooling families so that the kids can share information and parents too can share teaching methods and content. The web based application WizIQ can also help homeschooling as says a white paper

  34. Julie
    Julie says:

    I was a #5, but imagine my SHOCK and HORROR when neither of my two boys has much interest at all in what I’m an expert in. I am now closest to the #3, I think, but I have and have always had a strong countercultural urge, as well (maybe I listened to too much Devo?). We don’t exactly unschool, but I have decided that applying basic physics to the building of basic weaponry and/or the LEGO Mutual Assured Destruction game they play counts as school. My 7-year-old understands the basic physics of simple machines better now than I did when I graduated from college (I’ve learned a lot since then because I’m his teacher, so I try to learn what he wants to learn so I can help) because he builds a lot of catapults and things of that nature. More power to him.

  35. mh
    mh says:

    Reason#6: Personal Oddities

    I homeschool for the same reason I picked my college major, which is also the same reason I shaved my head in high school: to bug my mother. I might possibly have also picked a husband for the same reason. It has all worked out PERFECTLY, so I must be onto something.

    Homeschooling just so happens to be a perfect fit for my family, because my husband travels 40 weeks per year on business, and when he is home, I want the kids to be able to do a lot of sleeping in, and meeting dad for lunch, and taking long weekend trips with dad.

    Lastly, I’m sort of Asperger’s myself, and the horror of trying to fit in with the school moms and teachers is too overwhelming for me. Most homeschool moms are odd/intense/off-beat in their own ways, so I’m not such an oddball.

  36. Lynne Santamaria
    Lynne Santamaria says:

    I do think you missed at least one type. That would be called ” Traditionalist Hybrid Mom” or perhaps a “Lost Tools Mom.” This is how I would describe myself. I have a passion for learning and for western culture. I care deeply not only for the education and formation of my children but also for the children of others. Particularly for all the kids warehoused in “learning camps” across the nation. I work toward refocusing my family and sphere of influence on rediscovering our traditions as a people and why we are the way we are, and I openly worry about this increasingly distracted and disconnected generation from its heritage. I believe that the purpose of education is the pursuit objective truth that is knowable by reason and not feelings. I believe as Aristotle taught in his Nicomachean Ethic, that, this the first pursuit and highest. The next is how to get at the truth and how it informs judgment and the final and least of the purpose of education is to know how to do something. I also believe in autonomy, self governance and self determination. All things I believe currently neglected in most mass education programs.

  37. Anastasi
    Anastasi says:

    Another type: parents of children who can’t thrive in school. Let’s call them preservationists. I’ve seen a lot of these. Kids with behavioral problems who flunk or get bullied, or in my case bullying and learning disabilities..

  38. Thelma Marie Smith
    Thelma Marie Smith says:

    The other category is Homeschooling Parents Who Love Beating Their Kids And Want To Evade Detection.

    • Anastasi
      Anastasi says:

      I have seen some homeschoolers that regularly beat their children. They’re all type 1: Religious. The beatings are another form of discipline. The main point of homeschooling is certainly not to beat their children, because I also know some families that beat their children and send them to school. Homeschooling is an awful lot of trouble to go to, just to beat your kids.
      It’s about raising pure and disciplined children.

  39. lginco
    lginco says:

    I think when you use words like “fervently religious,” “counterculture,” and “fanatical,” the category signifies extremeness, which is why I (and I’m guessing many others) don’t fit into any of these specifically. I have reasons I homeschool (15 years and counting) that could be included in each of your categories, and others you didn’t mention. Honestly, I felt your article focus was a bit negative and extreme! How about we focus on the positives of homeschooling and the huge sacrifices parents make to homeschool. Most, if not all, homeschoolers turn out beautifully, both socially and academically, no matter which category we are “stuck in” or “assigned to!”

  40. Rachel B.
    Rachel B. says:

    I’m late to the party here, no one will probably see this… but why do all of these ‘types’ have a pejorative skew?

    We don’t fit into any of these categories. We just want a good educational experience for our child. She might be extremely intelligent, she might not be. She is for sure an intelligent child and I don’t think public or private schools in my area are going to be a good experience for her, either socially or academically.

    I want a school where my child can blossom, where someone cares enough about her (and let’s face it, only I ever will care to that degree) to really focus on what makes her tick, what her passions are and how to develop those while giving her an education that’s worthy of her intelligence. And socializing with other like-minded people (whom I hope we will meet on our homeschooling journey) who share similar values for their families to create a childhood that is… different. I don’t want my child to grow up prepared to be a cog in any wheel. I don’t want her to be marginalized either. All I know is between my husband and myself, we can absolutely give her a much better education than anything almost anyone else could provide.

    You’re missing a category here. Not sure what you’d call it, but none of yours feel like the right shoe.

  41. Jeanette
    Jeanette says:

    You forgot parents who actually consider that their children are different from them and help them become the best they can be with their own talents and interests and not necessarily those of the parents. That is the parent I am trying to be–although I am not super great at it yet.

  42. Rosalee
    Rosalee says:

    Well I am certainly a mix of all the above and then some:

    Religious: Well I am not particularly religious but I do partially want to homeschool my children in an attempt to teach them my morals and instill an appreciation for objectivity as well as preventing them from being “ruined” by negative influences in American culture until they are old enough to think critically on their own about how they feel about things (which we encourage strongly)
    Academic: This one is semi-true for me. I come from a highly intellectual family, and while we couldn’t give a damn about “getting into a good college” or being “respected for achievement” we do value intelligence and feel that public school does nothing to foster talents or challenge intelligent children.
    Dilettante: Well this applies the least to us, except that we do have a broad scope of interests and I want my children to have the access and freedom to study whatever they wish.
    Activist: Well again this one does not completely apply as I have never described myself as “counter-culture” nor do I strive to be different (or teach my kids to strive for this) BUT I am rather against many aspects of AMERICAN culture and I want to be sure my kids absorb as little as possible of its influence. I grew up abroad in an international family and certainly find that influences my decisions.
    Blue Ribbon winner: This certainly describes me the very best. My entire extended family are high achievers in their given occupation/talent and I want my children to find what they are inherently good at or passionate about and foster it.
    So all that to say…good summation of the types although I would call them “factors” rather than “types” since they aren’t really mutually exclusive…But this is interesting. I do agree with others though that you should add “protective” because there are many who choose to homeschool simply for social reasons (for instance their child might have been repeatedly the victim of bullying and they have run out of options to prevent it) or because of a lack of resources for a child with special needs. They need a category as well.

  43. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    I kinda knew there would be a lot of “I’m neither” responses. People don’t homeschool simply because it’s an option. Homeschooling is a big decision, that most likely involves financial and personal sacrifice, it’s not just another option.

    I may be the only one on this blog, but I homeschool mainly because of the #1 option. The Bible illustrates a clear regard for parents to be responsible for the instruction of their children.

    Though, I think, if anything, many can be a combination of all, at times. Social influences can really mix with personal conviction and it’s hard to not feel like an overachiever but, hey that’s life.

  44. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Jeanette, you can’t really separate the two. Children are created as sponges. You’ve seen the famous monkey experiment with the artificial surrogate mom. Children will be influenced by some worldview, most likely their parent’s. So even if you are raising them to be separate from you and to focus on their own interests and talents, that will be the worldview you are shaping and influencing them with.

    This is the problem with schools. Children, by nature, need some influence to latch onto and when they go to school and are surrounded by negative influences, they latch on to it.

    Besides, I don’t truly believe that you will let them entirely navigate their own upbringing. You will most likely teach them to be law abiding citizens, which is apart of your worldview.

  45. Angie
    Angie says:

    None of the above. Simply parents trying to do the best for their child. Didn’t like the school system, the direction it was going and what was being allowed to happen in middle school and high school. (had two graduate from same school system so know first hand what was going on) By that I don’t even mean education wise. I mean socially. The drugs, alcohol, sex, etc being allowed to be in the schools. We are christian but that wasn’t our focus on why we homeschool. We do believe he is learning more at home than at school, because he is. But we are not religious fanatics, we are not activist (we don’t have an agenda) we aren’t fighting the system. We are not bouncing around from one thing to another. It is simply what is best for our child. We work, we homeschool, we socialize our children to work hard, and be respectful, stand on their own two feet instead of waiting on or expecting someone else to do it for them, to accept the consequences for their actions. I don’t know where that falls into the categories. I know it is how Americans used to be brought up in generations past and what made our country great. I also know that isn’t how alot of our teenagers are being taught now. Maybe our style is just “old School”.

  46. Kerrie McLoughlin
    Kerrie McLoughlin says:

    Some of these comments are killing me! I’m a #3 with a touch of #4. Of COURSE these are all simple statements so everybody is going to be like “I’m none of them” but I’m calling bullshit! I might have ADHD, not sure. I do have a 10 yo with mild Asperger’s who would suck at school so there’s mostly why we do it. Also b/c Mr. Kerrie would want them to go to Catholic school and I don’t want to pay the money ; -)

  47. Kerrie McLoughlin
    Kerrie McLoughlin says:

    P.S. I just am a kid at heart and like to be with my kids. I survived public school just fine and finally learned to think for myself in my 30s. There’s my type! “Kid at Heart”

  48. Kathy Donchak
    Kathy Donchak says:

    I am the last one as well. As someone who regularly reviews curriculums for public school, I can say that many of the homeschool curriculums are not much different. If the point of homeschooling is to give your children time to develop (which I think it is) – a rigid day to day curriculum is not the answer. I prefer a secular curriculum as I would rather teach our children our beliefs. For the poster who commented on needing curriculum for her special needs child, she might consider highering a special education teacher as a consultant to pull together resources for her, or even to talk to a local college professor in special ed. Ask about the newest research and develop her own tools. Most special education teachers do that on their own – few if any teachers follow one curriculum. They pull from many sources.

  49. Marna
    Marna says:

    Yes, one category was forgotten…Disabled child. My child has a disability and the school system will not serve her. I want her to succeed to her very best ability with as much loving care and practice and patience as we both can muster.

  50. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I felt really bummed out during my forced homeschool. I was doing well in the classes and had straight A’s. I was so upset I cried many nights…. I have not been learning much at all and my mother and father both work>..< Can anybody help??

    -A desperate girl in need of guidance in this difficult time

  51. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    A lot of my comment was deleted>.< Oh, well. But my point is, She's only homeschooling because of our church and she wont listen to anything I say or cry. I really miss my old mom's self…

  52. alissa
    alissa says:

    You forgot the middle of the road parent. I don’t like the values or lack of with many families today but we are not all about religion. We don’t want a super over achieving education but feel like schools today are overcrowded and aren’t doing well enough. I will support my kids if they want to do something but we don’t focus on it. We homeschool because we feel the public is failing with new generations but if it got better they would go back.

  53. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    I would add unintentional: the mom who never intended to homeschool but due to issues at school(ie bullying, lack of resources to help a special need, problems with a school or teacher), social pressures, career, lack of income for private schooling, or any number of reasons became a home-schooler either after sending kids to school or during the process of starting school. Probably the fastest growing group of homeschoolers… the dissatisfied public school parent…

  54. annie
    annie says:

    I have read your blog several times…It is very different from the way I think and I like the challenge…..I feel that you have left out the MOST important catagory. “It makes the most sense” For a number of reasons, parents looked at all their options and decided that homeschooling made the most sense for their family at the time. We move all the time, sometimes,every 6 months….it is crazy to keep putting kids in and pulling kids out of school. I also have a special needs kid, that I understand, I am a teacher, but we can afford for me not to work…….How would sending them to any other school make sense?

    To the poor child being homeschooled alone…you can make it! Check out the “hole in the wall schools” you got internet and you got drive…figure out what you want to know, figure out where you want to go…you will make it and you will probably be your own boss one day!

  55. Amarie
    Amarie says:

    I am all of them and none of them at the same time. While we do study the Bible, we do not “Bible Thump”- we explore ideas and feelings of those who overcame. We have a basic schedule, but we leave much room for negotiations. Seriously, getting my children do do something they are not interested in is not worth the war. I am educated as a teacher, but I feel like today’s schools leave a lot to be desired. I do not feel like my children are exceptionally brilliant, nor do I think they need to fight the rat race to win. I do think they need to be better than they were yesterday, though. I guess there is a missed category, one to include parents who feel like children learn better when they are taught in a way that speaks to them. My children control their education, I merely facilitate it. They choose their paths, I just stay up late breaking their desires into tangible lessons that will interest them and teach them practical uses for that knowledge. What category is that?

  56. jv
    jv says:

    I don’t fit into any of your boxes. Which sounds like I would fit into #4, but nope. I worked with kids for a long time before I had my own. After teaching and helping raise so many other people’s kids, I decided I wanted to spend that much time invested in my own children. I would send them to school if it was a good place for them to be. But, the way mass education is set up now, it’s just not.

  57. jessica
    jessica says:

    I left the school system because the teachers were confused at my son and couldn’t see anything positive in him. He spent some days in kindergarten going from class to class in a perpetual time-out and then having to sit out from recess. I had a friend who was unschooling and her boys seemed intelligent and well-adjusted and I thought, “My boy is smart, creative and has value. I’d like him to know that.” Personally I act like #3 but that is not why I’m homeschooling. I’m homeschooling because I’d like their to be joy in the learning process and value for individual thought patterns.

  58. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    Maybe the BIGGEST one. The unsatisfied parent. The parent who didn’t set out originally to homeschool and may not fit into any of the categories listed above. But choose after being DISSATISFIED with the school system for some reason to homeschool instead. I would homeschool for that reason. I am simply NOT satisfied with the mass education system as it is currently. Private school is an option too many families can’t afford like myself.

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