In Hollywood, homeschooling is the norm

I remember when I  realized the pre-nup had gone mainstream. I was sitting in Madison, WI, picking the color for my pedicure.

The woman doing the pedicure said, “Oh, that one is No Prenup! Isn’t that a great name?”

I was stunned that she knew what a prenup was. But then I discovered that I didn’t realize that the prenup is no longer just Hollywood. Tons of couples in mainstream America get prenups. And Hollywood types make a statement by forgoing the prenup as the ultimate romantic gesture.

Do you know what the next formerly-exclusive idea that’s going mainstream is? Homeschooling. Half of Hollywood is homeschooling. (Sidenote: did you know that women with Aspergers obsess about the lives of movie stars like men with Aspergers obsess about schedules for planes and trains? Yes. It’s true. And I’m Exhibit A.)

Will Smith and Jada Smith promote their parenting style: They do not believe in discipline. They ask the kids to explain themselves, and if they are not hurting anyone, they can do it. The kids come and go as they please. They are rock starsthen movie stars, then rebellious tweens with poorly chosen dates. But whatever they do, their parents support their self-directed lives.

Jennifer Garner puts her kids in school, but when she does a movie, she simply takes them out of school and brings them with her to the movie set, wherever that is. This makes sense. Of course the kids are better off with their mom than without her. And why would Jennifer run her movie career around the whims of school? People who control their lives do not let schools control them.

Brad and Angelina have six kids and six nannies and six tutors. Each kid learns what is right for that kid. This is customized learning. This is homeschooling. And this is putting family first; instead of sending eight kids to three different schools, there is the family schedule. Maybe it’s in France and maybe it’s in New Orleans, but it’s family first. If Brad and Angelina started talking about how stupid school is, they would be branded snobs. But the implication, then, is that homeschooling is for the rich, privileged kids.

Which is what I think is happening in this country. I think homeschooling is shifting from something that’s fringe to something that is for the lucky few. Homeschooling is an aspirational lifestyle. Fortunately, it’s much more accessible than people realize.


22 replies
  1. Lizarino
    Lizarino says:

    Lots of kids homeschool in Hollywood for their acting and modeling careers not just the parents careers, and usually for child actors there are tutors on set that give customized learning. It’s pretty common in Hollywood to homeschool. But it’s also common to send your kid to a 50k/yr private school. (Lived in Redondo Beach and miss it.. and even my kids had an agent when we lived there… I think all kids in L.A. have agents)

  2. Anastasia @ eco-babyz
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz says:

    Homeschooling is perfect for unconventional families that don’t really have that every day, 9-5 type schedule. The awesome thing is that it is so customize-able, anyone can homeschool if it’s really in their heart to do so. You can do it on $25,000 a year income, you can do it on $250,000, and everywhere in between. You can do it with a degree and without one. You can do it any time of day, year round, or with summer vacation.
    I think most homeschooling families are just your average middle class families, mostly with parents who have some sort of higher education, but not always.

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    This post makes me think if or when there will be a watershed moment for homeschooling or will the number of people that are converted to a customized and self-directed learning style for their children take place in a more gradual manner. I can see the trend to homeschooling and the reasons for doing it. I just have a hard time trying to envision how people in our society will recognize and act on the homeschooling choice. The number of homeschool converts might eventually look like a hockey stick. Many times it seems to me as though there’s a bunch of people looking at each other and saying “you first”. You try that “experiment” on your child. It isn’t mainstream and it doesn’t have the government seal of approval. I guess only time will tell.

  4. Darcie
    Darcie says:

    While not exactly a homeschooling “pioneer”, I still remember the strange looks and comments I received virtually every time I told someone I homeschooled my oldest daughter – going on 10 years ago. I do find the attitude is somewhat different today with my younger two, but the idea of homeschooling still isn’t readily acceptable in mainstream society (outside of church circles).

    And while I typically run the opposite direction of anything related to “Hollywood”, I have to say that I will appreciate the exposure these stars will give to homeschooling.

    Hopefully in a positive light…but I’m bit more dubious about that.

  5. Kate
    Kate says:

    Back in the old, old, old days, very rich families had a governess who lived with them. As much as homeschoolers argue otherwise, homeschooling is still mostely for familes that are well-off.

    • Crimson Wife
      Crimson Wife says:

      Rich people send their kids to private school. It’s the middle-class families who homeschool because they cannot afford $25+k per child per year for elementary and $35+k per child per year for high school. If we had been rich, we never would’ve started homeschooling our kids back in ’06. Now at this point, we’re converts to the homeschooling lifestyle and would continue up through 8th even if we were to win the lottery. But homeschooling is definitely a middle-class phenomenon rather than an affluent one.

      • Kate
        Kate says:

        Robyn, I probably won’t be reading Breitbart. Ever. I’m not opposed to evidence supporting your argument, but I don’t think Breitbart provides unbiased info on anything.

    • Michelle
      Michelle says:

      I don’t know ANY families that are ‘well off’ that are homeschooling. Most of the homeschool families I know are struggling to pay their mortgages on one income, have had the same car more than ten years and and scour the internet for free or used curriculum because they cannot afford it buy it new.

      • Dawn
        Dawn says:

        Your home sounds like ours. We’ve been home educating for 15 years with one more to go. This next years books cost me less than ten dollars. A blessing. We are using five year old college texts for government, economics, psychology and study skills. I chose to make her Trig course from last year a two year book to make sure she understands it. Her math tutor is the biggest expense for us. Fifty dollars every chapter she masters. College students work cheap.

        • Michelle
          Michelle says:

          Exactly. All of my daughter’s curriculum for next year is used. The only thing I bought new is a lab kit to go with her biology program. It still all together cost me nearly $300, but compared to the ‘new’ cost, I am saving more than $700 for the curriculum I will use (some of which she can use for the remainder of high school, so a multi-level buy). We are making a sacrifice to ensure our kids get the best education possible and have the best understanding of our values. It’s worth the lost income.

  6. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Having a tutor and a nanny ‘homeschool’ your child isn’t really homeschooling, is it? It’s not legal where I live. Homeschooling is done by the parent and only the parent (except in the case of a class or co-op). These Hollywood parents are doing it for the convenience and possibly the status, not the best interests of their child. Spending the most time possible, teaching your child YOUR views, opinions, values and faith is in their best interest. Loving your child on a personal level is in their best interest, not throwing money at a nanny in order to prove that love.

    • mh
      mh says:

      Yes, government restrictions on homeschool are too burdensome.

      There are states where it is illegal to homeschool a foster child. Because why in the world would you want to give them a better education?

      The less attention your state legislature pays to homeschooling, the happier.

  7. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    Personally, as a 16 year veteran of homeschooling, I’d rather Hollyweird stay out of homeschooling!

    We really don’t need them telling us what’s good for kids or what ‘s “family friendly”. In fact – I’m certain that their touting of it will lead to others condemning us, even more than they already do.

    Not impressed.

    • Margaret
      Margaret says:

      I agree. Homeschooling as the latest Hollywood fad? Ugh.

      6 kids/6 nannies is not a typical homeschool setup, of course, but the average person who doesn’t know anything about homeschooling won’t know that. Someone already trotted out the myth that homeschooling is for the rich. This article only reinforces that misconception.

      I’m thankful for any positive press for homeschooling, but I am not sure this is it.

  8. Stephen Bailey
    Stephen Bailey says:

    Greetings from the UK – where I get the impression that home schooling is getting just as big.
    One point though – earlier posts/replies make the point that homeschooling by parents is less costly than paying for private school fees. But is that taking into account the opportunity cost of a lost income? Over here, it’s the norm now for both parents in a middle-class household to be working, if they can be.

    • Crimson Wife
      Crimson Wife says:

      I’ve got 3 kids. I was making good money in my last paid position, but I wasn’t netting $75k/yr after taxes and other job-related expenses. That’s what it would cost to enroll 3 kids in the private schools in my area.

  9. KerrynD
    KerrynD says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, and for the most part I love your posts. I know this is off-topic but, after reading the same thing in a few different places, I have to say it really grates on my nerves when I read sentences like “They do not believe in discipline” (in reference to Will Smith). Will Smith didn’t say he/they didn’t do rules, boundaries and discipline. He said they don’t do punishment. There is a difference. Just because they don’t “punish” their kids, doesn’t mean they don’t let them face the negative consequences of poor choices they make. In fact, I watched an interview a couple of years ago where he actually said their kids need to take responsibility for the choices they make, and that him and Jada are not going to get in the way of them facing the consequences of bad choices. Just had to get that off my chest :)

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