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10 Lies People Believe About Homeschooling Families

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You’ve heard them – they’re those lies people believe about homeschooling families. Okay, so they’re probably not lies so much as misconceptions. Or propaganda.

Yeah, propaganda. You know, those “facts” that a few homeschooling families try to convince people are universal for all homeschooling families.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s the fact that some of the following statements will sometimes be true for some homeschooling families, but nothing is ever true of all homeschooling families.

lies people believe about homeschooling

1. All homeschool moms wear denim jumpers.

Um, no. Some homeschooling moms wear denim jumpers, but I don’t recall ever seeing any of my homeschool mom friends in one. Well, maybe one friend once upon a time way back in the day.

Denim? Yes. Jumpers? Not so much.

Yoga pants and a tank top make up my wardrobe in the winter. In the summer, it’s Capri pants (yes, they’re denim) and a t-shirt. There are no jumpers of any fabric in my closet.

Three words: chunky thighs and friction.

I’ll take pants, thank you very much.

2. All homeschool moms wear Birkenstocks with their denim jumpers.

Okay, are you ready for complete transparency? In my early years of homeschooling, I bought a pair of Birkenstocks, based purely on that image.

Yes, seriously.

I totally gave in to imagined peer pressure and the quintessential image of a homeschooling mom. (And I needed a new pair of sandals.)

Those are the most uncomfortable shoes ever. I still have them. They sat beside my door and served the role of slip-on shoes for going outside to get the mail or take the dogs out for many years. Then a funny thing happened. They came back in style!

You know who claimed them? Megan! Those shoes are suddenly fashionable again. I try not to cringe every time she refers to them as vintage. {ahem} Thankfully, she finally bought her own new, fancy, not-vintage pair, so I got my going-outside shoes back!

3. All homeschool moms rise before the sun to go milk the cows and gather the eggs in their Birkenstocks and denim jumpers.

I know homeschooling moms who have cows, chickens, goats, and various and sundry other livestock.

I know homeschooling moms who get up while it’s still {gasp} dark outside.

Most of the homeschooling moms I know, however, do not own livestock. They may be like me and look a bit enviously on that self-sustaining lifestyle. Not too enviously, though, because I see how much work it is. I’m happy to support my local farming homeschooling families by buying their fresh eggs, free-range pork, and grass-fed beef.

And, as far as that getting up before the sun part, y’all know that’s not true of all of us. Some of us are blissfully unaware that 6:00 happens more than once a day.

4. All homeschool moms have a herd of children who follow them out to milk the cows and gather the eggs, all dressed in their Birkenstocks and denim jumpers.

I’m pretty sure that most homeschooling families with more than the national average of 1.83 children really prefer to just call them “children,” rather than  “herd.”

They are all aware of “what’s causing that” and are probably tired of rude, insensitive comments about their family size.

There are also lots of homeschooling families with only one, two or three children. Really. I have honestly had people say to me, “But I thought all homeschooling families have lots of kids.”


5. All homeschool moms, followed by their herd of children, come inside from milking the cows and gathering the eggs to bake loaves of fresh bread while wearing their Birkenstocks and denim jumpers.

I used to bake bread sometimes. In my bread machine. I got lazy, though, and now my bread machine is gathering dust.

If you’re a homeschooling mom who gets up late in the morning and pops some store-bought bread into the toaster for your one or two kids to eat with their bowl of processed cereal, all while dressed in your yoga pants and tank top, you are not alone my friend.

lies people believe about homeschooling

6. That herd of kids all considers each of their siblings their BFF.

There it is! That’s the homeschool propaganda I bought into.

My kids do love each other, but they are not BFFs. When they were younger and all home together, they were perfectly capable of picking on each other mercilessly.

Thankfully, they would also circle the wagons and stand up for one another if someone outside the family tried to pick on one of them.

Some homeschooled kids are very close with their siblings. A lot of them probably do consider their siblings to be their best friends.

But the fact is, homeschooled kids bicker with their siblings as much as public-schooled kids. Homeschooling does offer the opportunity to foster closer relationships, but it’s not a guarantee of sibling harmony.

7. That herd of kids gathers happily around the kitchen table, big happy smiles on their bright, shiny faces, eager to learn because they’ve all had a love of learning instilled in their hearts.

There’s the other one. Homeschooling does allow us to tailor our curriculum to what best suits each of the kids.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that most days they could come up with a laundry list of things they’d rather do than school. (I can, too!)

8. All homeschooling families are conservative Christians.

Yes, mine is one of those conservative Christian families. I must be doing it right because I’m too conservative for some and not conservative enough for others.

I live in the Bible belt, so the vast majority of homeschooling families I know are conservative Christians, too.

However, as far as homeschoolers in general go, families of other faiths and secular families are represented just as much as they are in the general population.

9. All homeschooled kids are shy, socially awkward geniuses.

Once, when I took the kids to the doctor, the physician’s assistant, after finding out that we homeschooled, commented something to the effect of, “Oh, you homeschool. Your kids must be so smart!”

I did appreciate that much more than some negative comments I’ve heard, but it’s still a misconception that all homeschooled kids are child prodigies.

Homeschooled kids reflect the same spectrum of skills, talents, strengths, and weaknesses that traditionally-educated kids do.

Not all homeschooled kids are strong academically.

I don’t have any National Spelling Bee champs over here, but my kids are talented in the areas in which God has gifted them.

And they are so not shy.

10. Homeschooled kids aren’t prepared for the real world.

Because, you know, we’re all living in the fake world.

I don’t know about you, but my kids leave the house. They go to church. They go to work. They hang out with friends (yes, they have those) at the mall. My kids have {gasp} social media accounts.

It’s not just our family of five, hanging out at home, diagramming sentences and playing checkers by candlelight.

I have graduated one student (with another graduating in May {snifff}). My friends have graduated kids. People I know online have graduated their kids. I have loved watching all these homeschool grads move on to successful lives after homeschool.

Some have gone on to do well in college. Others have moved into the workforce and are supporting themselves. All were just as prepared for life after graduation as the traditionally-educated kids I know.

We’re not a bunch of stereotypes, y’all. We’re people. And we’re really not any weirder than the rest of this crazy world.

What homeschooling lies (or misconceptions) have you heard over the years?

updated from an article originally published January 22, 2013

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I know this was the viewpoint in the 80’s when denim jumpers were popular 😉 but do people still honestly hold these opinions? Too funny.

    #10? My daughter is an RN and a mommy to two whom she plans to homeschool (after years of saying she would NEVER homeschool her kids – that falls under #7, I believe).
    My son is in his senior year of a computer engineering degree. (The one who said he would never go on to four more years of school is now contemplating graduate school. Go figure.) My youngest, almost 11, hates school most days….here we go again.

    You made me laugh before school. Good job!

  2. I love this! 😀 I am one of the homeschooling families of ONE! 🙂
    I had nothing against the schools which is what people here automatically assume of me… I just felt compelled strongly by the Lord to homeschool him and enjoy my time as a mommy and raising him in the eyes of the Lord instead of the eyes of whatever is public and evident in public schools!
    WONDERFUL post… and I so could never imagine me getting out of bed to milk the cows LMAO but I DO have so much respect for those that do! 😀

  3. I sometimes get the wide-eyed surprised look when people find out I homeschool. No one really comments as such, but I’m pretty sure they are thinking something along the lines of, “but they’re so social! and normal! and get along in groups so well!” Maybe they expect more awkwardness?

  4. I LOVE this list!!! I was homeschooled for 11 of my 12 years and this list fits EXACTLY what people thought of homeschooling. Often times when I told people I was homeschooled, you could see this puzzled look cross their face as they went down this list and none of it was true! Even at my first job, when some of my co-workers were randomly talking about homeschooling and they basically said that homeschoolers don’t get enough socialization and turn out “weird” (they didn’t use that term), I said “I was homeschooled” and then the blank stare that I got was followed by a reply of “well you’re an exception”! Now I have a 3 year old son and we’re looking into homeschooling…so I’m sure we’ll hear it all again!

  5. I think you nailed the big ones. The only one that didn’t come up was the one your blog name’s based on – that all homeschoolers are weird, don’t know how to interact, etc. We’ve had people edge away from us when we said we homeschooled – even though prior to that our kids had been playing happily with theirs.

  6. Oh, the dreaded denim jumper … I do own one that is actually more modern and kind of trendy-looking (no drop waist, no oversized neckline to better display my turtleneck — Ohio here). I bought it long before I started homeschooling, but it’s been safely tucked away since then to better avoid perpetrating any stereotypes. But after a recent abdominal surgery, I needed something casual to wear to a jewelry party … something that wouldn’t rub against my belly. I was forced to pull out the jumper! I’m sure you can imagine how (mentally) painful it was to go out with a bunch of non-homeschooling women while wearing that thing!

    Also, you couldn’t pay me to wear Birkenstocks …. you’re right, too heavy! I have a feeling people wonder if I own anything other than my Skechers Go Walks … those feel like slippers to me!

    Thanks for writing a fun post! I enjoyed this.

  7. Bwahaha! Kris, I can hear your voice when I read this! So true. People around here are shocked to find I don’t wear a jumper and we homeschool. lol. These misconceptions are right on and what we face with people everyday. It used to bother me, now it just amuses me. Great post.

  8. Love it! My friend’s sister almost didn’t homeschool because she really did think #1. My friend told her she needed to meet me and all the other homeschooling moms she knows. No denim jumpers allowed!

  9. I’m reading this post at the computer eating a bowl of cereal; the only livestock I have to care for is LacyDog! But I would seriously love to have a few chickens and a goat, and although I was a one-child homeschooler for years, I’m working on getting that big family one way or another. 😉

    20+ years ago, I’d only met one homeschooling family EVER, and they were my boyfriend’s “weird aunt and uncle.” They fit all those stereotypes (except maybe the birkenstocks). I had to overcome that mental image when I decided to homeschool. I can only imagine, though, from their perspective, how hard it must’ve been back then. Homeschool is so mainstream now; even those who aren’t pro-homeschooling at least know something about it, and often do have a few positive things to say. Before that family, I didn’t even know homeschooling existed!

  10. The first time my brother met my homeschooled niece and nephews, he thought they were pretty weird. Because, at the ages of 7 and 9, they could carry on a normal conversation with an adult.

  11. This was good! I homeschool my two kids who sometimes get along well. The 4th grader doesn’t like school, and the pre-schooler wants to do school most of the time. We’ll see what happens when she actually HAS to do it! And how about sweats and sneakers? And we do have chickens, who only see me early in the morning in the winter when it’s so cold their water might freeze, like today – oh, add a sweater to the sweats for today (yes, over the sweatshirt. Quite fashionable, huh?)

    I particularly like the comment that I must be so patient to be able to homeschool, because (person speaking) could never do it. Ha! They’ve never seen our house around math time 😉

    1. Ooooh, the patience comment! Nope. I’m a sinner like everybody else, praying daily (often) for patience and to control my tongue. No angel wings or halo here! 🙂 Just trying to follow what I feel God has asked us to do right now, love my kids, and help them each to grow in knowledge and faith. Thanks for the good laugh!

    2. That was my contribution to the list, too…. “You must have so much patience.” Nope. Actually, the little bits of patience I may have ever had were used up quickly at the beginning of this homeschooling journey. 🙂

    3. Ooh, yes, the patience comment! I get that all the time too! It bugs me, because, no, I am not naturally patient. I don’t homeschool because I’m super mom and it’s easy and comes naturally to me. I struggle with the patience thing, and it’s hard, but instead of saying I could never do it, I keep working on it and we do our best.

  12. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I actually had someone come to my personal page of facebook and tell me that homeschooling my little girl was just hurting her. Ugggh, yeah, okay. They are no longer on my facebook page. Being a new homeschooler, I don’t need that negativity to fill my page up.

  13. Love this! Like Sandra I was homeschooled and my husbands family always would make comments like, “he’s so weird. He’s like a homeschool kid”. To which I would always ask, “what do you mean by that?” I would get the regular their unsocialzed, some would go as far as to say it was selfish and cruel to children. I would then drop the bomb that I was homeschooled… They’ve changed their attitudes ;). I really loved the big family one! We have a two and half, one and a half, and six month old! We always get comments about us not knowing how it happens and so on. When I was pregnant with our third I got some down right mean ones. I chalk it up to ignorance and think well it’s not like I asked you for help or your opinion so you’re welcome to keep it all to yourself!

  14. Well…I seriously don’t do denim jumpers and Birks, although I do find sandals quite comfortable in the summer months. LOL But I DO go collect eggs in the morning and I do make fresh bread (in a machine). For some reason the kids don’t follow me outside first thing in the morning to do the chicken and duck chores (especially when it’s -2 degrees like this morning).

  15. So I was homeschool…by a mom who primarily wore jumpers…that were (wait for it) handmade. She also dressed me in a lot of handmade jumpers. Can I just say that it was HARD for me to make the decision to homeschool my own children because it had taken me so long to outgrow that stereotype?? Lol

    As far as the lots of kids thing, I met a lady in walmart one night who made a comment about how crazy we were to both me shopping so late. I remarked that it was so much easier to get it done quickly without my kids in tow, adding that I’d just had my fourth, and she replied “Oh my! You’re going to have to HOMESCHOOL!!” I honestly still don’t even know what on earth she meant by it, but it gave me a good laugh. 🙂

  16. Love this. My niece said she wanted to be homeschooled after a conversation with my son. My sister told her “Homeschool kids don’t get recess”. lol…even in the family they think we lock ourselves up in the house and totally isolate ourselves!

  17. Oh #8 – how wrong you are, yet how insanely persistent! For one – I may be conservative in my doctrine but I am so far from conservative in a lot of other things. I scare a lot of conservative homeschoolers.

    I think that image is starting to fade though – especially in our military community. We have a high percentage of military families that homeschool and they come from all backgrounds, religions, and cultures. It is pretty cool.

  18. The funny thing is that I HAD a denim jumper, years before we started homeschooling. I liked it — I liked the way it looked & it was comfortable. When I started homeschooling, and I realized that some people made certain judgments about others based solely on the wearing or non-wearing of a denim jumper, I gave the thing to Goodwill.

  19. Love your post. Thank you. I’ve been homeschooling for…well my oldest is almost 20, so about that long. I do have 5 children from 20-4 yrs, wear jeans & t-shirts, jammies @ breakfast, don’t get up w/ the sun, (stay up to say goodnight to hubby who works swing shift) I am a conservitive Christian(we do own 3 tvs, let the kids play video games & watch popular movies), my children love each other but have many moments of rivlery, kids are not shy have many friends of all ages & as for being prepared for life, that is what I’m teaching them.

  20. Ok, I took my kids to our homeschool group’s Halloween Party last fall. I came dressed as a “homeschool mom” in a denim shirt with the ABC and rulers all embroidered on it. You know that kind? Well, another mom in our group showed up (not dressed up) in her denim jumper. EEEK! I felt somewhat bad. Thanks for the laugh, Kris.

  21. This is a great – and very humorous – list! 🙂

    I cringe when I think about the misconceptions I had before and shortly after we decided to home educate our kids. Forget the denim jumpers, I thought all homeschoolers dressed like Little House on the Prairie and I was sure most of the families had multiple wives too! I don’t have any idea where I got those ideas.

    I do get up before the sun, but that’s because I write novels and those are the only hours where I can write with no distractions!

  22. I work part-time at a teacher supply/educational store and I often have customers who come in saying, “My grandchild is soooo smart for her age. What can I buy for her to encourage her budding intellect?” (Mild sarcasm here.) I always want to respond with, “How nice. My child, whom I homeschool, is an average child. They should get together.” My co-workers think it’s hilarious.

    When it comes to the “your kids must be so smart” comment, I usually inform the well-intended person that my kids are average students, just like most kids. They test average, they read at average grade level, they learn all of their subjects at average grade level.

    I’m quite proud of my “average” kids.

    1. I love it! You should totally say that one of these times. I bet the reaction would make a great blog post. 😉

      1. I do have to say that I have also worked very hard to break the “homeschooler” stereotype among my co-workers. It wasn’t easy, especially with some who have been public school teachers.

  23. Thanks for this, gave me a giggle. Being in Australia, I don’t think people expect the denim jumper/birkenstocks here but they do often expect the kids to be “strange”.

    I have the big family (4 kids) but only home school one of them. I home school him because he is autistic (so there’s the weird bit, lol) and finds “normal” school a trial. We’d love to have chickens and I could definitely use a cow, as he drinks so much milk. I am DEFINITELY not conservative or Christian.

    I do love home schooling though, as it allows me to work with my sons strengths and help him with his weaknesses, which were mostly ignored at “normal” school.

  24. Love this post!!!
    There is not, never has been, and never will be a denim jumper in my wardrobe!!
    But denim jeans and t-shirts, yep that’s me!!!

    Are you sure 6:00 comes more than once a day? If so I am not aware of it. 😉

    Great post!!!

  25. Loved this post! 🙂

    We definitely go against many of these stereotypes, says the chick with pretty average scoring children, who likes to sleep in and listen to Green Day. 😉

    Now, I did used to own Birkenstocks though, and I would like another pair. I had a hard time getting used to them when I first got them, but after I broke them in, they were the best. I had them for about 10 years before they finally fell apart.

  26. Funny! My husband had this stereotype of homeschoolers in his head. Believing all home educators wore gunny sacks and no makeup, he was genuinely afraid of what it would do to me. . He went along with it only because he saw “good fruit” in other homeschooled children. I dragged him to our first HS Conference back in the 90’s.
    After coming in contact with many of those stereotypes, he informed me I was not going to wear “granola” clothes. Luckily, the speakers, workshops and the Lord convinced him homeschooling was a good thing.

    I think I have every type of child in my home. Outspoken, shy, aggressive, smart, challenged, inward-thinkers, and extroverts! None of their personalities came from homeschooling.

    After 14 years of homeschooling (with 18 more to go) I can speak confidently of our choice. And yes, I do know where babies come from, and homeschooling can be very hard – but worth ever minute of it.
    ps. – my kids like to perpetuate the rumor that they have very little school work to all their public school friends!

  27. Huh, interesting.. I live in New Zealand, and over here it’s denim skirts. And no, I’ve never seen a homeschooling mother in a denim skirt, though they are rumoured to exist. All of the others are still applicable misconceptions over here, even the Birkenstocks, which are quite hard to come by lol!

    1. That’s funny that the stereotypes would be the same. I mean, even denim jumpers and denim skirts are basically the same thing. Hilarious.

      1. Except here “jumpers” are what I think you call sweaters, so the practicality of a denim sweater did have me wondering, until I googled it!

  28. I got a good laugh out of these. I was a little confused by number 9, though, in that it seemed as if you were saying that the idea that homeschool kids are generally smarter is a myth. And where as I do believe that God gave everyone “smartness”, whether public or home schooled, I also believe that in general homeschoolers are smarter. IN THAT they are taught more truth, and taught in a way that they have more opportunity to learn. So they aren’t more gifted or have more talent than public-schoolers, but because they are taught truth instead of falsehoods, you could truthfully say they are “smarter.”
    There are definitely those homeschoolers who don’t really want to or exceed at learning, though, as well as there are public schoolers who excel academically.

  29. This is so funny! Confession: I was a certified teacher before I homeschooled and I DID wear denim jumpers….you know…the ones with apples and pencils and schoolbuses, and even one with Winnie the Pooh on it…I cant seem to part with that one! But I dont wear it anymore. 🙂 I bought the misconception that homeschooling would be a much shorter day than public school. True that I dont have all the paperwork and attendance and lunch tickets and such, but we still put in long days. Im a homeschool mom of five, the oldest is thriving (soaring, really!) in college in another state! Weve been homeschooling for 16 years and still going strong, ALL GLORY TO GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. That’s funny. You should save the Winnie the Pooh jumper. You know, for posterity. 😉 Congratulations on such a long and happy legacy of homeschooling!

  30. I will buy your barely used Birks and your dusty bread machine! I am sure people like me perpetuate a few of those myths. I am quite partial to jumpers in warm weather (modest, cool and you can move around comfortably!). I love ANY kind of open toe shoe, but Birks are my fave. We don’t have our animals yet, but we just bought a house with a few acres so we can have some goats and chickens! I know that these myths are not true of every home school mom, but I would be proud if they were all true about me!

  31. I think it was mentioned above, but people assuming the kids only want educational toys/gifts on every holiday. The kids want video games, etc… *I* want them to want educational toys/gifts.

    Also assuming my kids are geniuses because they are homeschooled. Actually, it is because they are wicked smart that we decided to homeschool them, not the other way round. But they also both have learning disabilities. Neither the brains nor the disabilities were being addressed in public school.

    I have a wool jumper. I love Birks. I have worn Birks since I was listening to Dave Matthews in the woods behind public school doing inappropriate things with my friends. We want to eventually own enough land to raise food but that’s because we are waiting for the world economy to break down, not because we homeschool lol

  32. Oh my goodness… I can totally picture the denim jumpers and Birkenstocks! This was too funny and also very true… this definitely describes what a lot of people picture when they hear homeschooling!

  33. Hilarious! One of the funniest homeschooling posts ever! I went thrifting with my mom and she kept pulling denim jumpers and floral ’80’s dresses out for me- no joke. And she said, ” I thought this is what you homeschool gals wear.”LOL.

  34. This is a good list. Thanks for the chuckle. I’ve heard several of these, but some are new. I have to say, seeing #7 really makes me feel better. We have had to make several adjustments to how we do things, as well as increasing work load slowly but steadily for a number of reasons. Some days my ONLY child is ok with how we’re doing things. Other days it’s like pulling teeth without anesthesia!

    We are a conservative Christian family. I would love to have a mini-farm and we have had chickens. I do not own a denim jumper and the only way there I will wear one is on my cold and dead body. LOL

    Now the Birkenstocks, I have had several pair. The pair I have now are pretty beat up, but I love them. I would actually like to know what size yours are and if you want to get rid of them if they’re a 40 wide. LOL

    Great article!

    1. LOL I’ve thought about getting rid of them several times, but they’ve become the shoes that sit by the door to be easily slipped on for going outside since I don’t typically wear shoes in the house.

  35. Hmm. Where I come from (in Canada), I’ve honestly never come across the denim jumper and Birkenstock stereotype. Maybe I’ve just totally missed it. All I’ve ever really seen is that people might think homeschoolers are a bit weird.

    As for me, I have two pairs — no, three — of Birkenstocks, and they are my favorite shoes. Some of them are pretty cute, I think, and not at all like the original model, which is probably the stereotype.

    I am a Christian, though not all that conservative. As someone above said, I might scare a few of the conservative folk.

    Bright? Yeah, my daughter, an only child, is a gifted kid. That is actually the primary reason I pulled her out of school. The public school was just not meeting her needs. But she’s not smart because she’s homeschooled. She was just as smart when she was in public school.

    Livestock? As much as a simple, down to earth, self-sustaining life totally appeals to me, I don’t have any livestock. Neither do I foresee getting any in the near future. Honestly, I think I’d struggle with them because I feel like I would always smell. I’d have to figure out how to get over that.

    I am a bit of a “granola” mom, but I was that long before I homeschooled.

    Thanks for the list. It’s great.

  36. My kids live the lie!!!! They are all each other’s bests friends, no matter even age gaps (oldest 30 and youngest 12). And mine get upset if we DON’T gather around to do homeschool lessons. (One exception was the kid it got to hate school, but I was a newbie homeschool parent back then.)

    As for the denim jumpers: I don’t know how that was attributed to homeschoolers. In the 80s and 90s, when homeschooling was gaining momentum, EVERYONE wore denim jumpers. Not just homeschoolers. For the record, I did not. I was much cooler than that. ;-P

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