Do Homeschoolers Wear Bonnets?


When I first learned about homeschooling I was a kid in Seattle Washington. One of the boys I knew from elementary school stopped attending classes because his mom started homeschooling him and his siblings. Their family stood out, the girls wore long skirts instead of grunge inspired flannel shirts and baby-doll dresses like everyone else. Sometimes they covered their hair with little bonnets. The boys wore khakis and polo shirts.

Until recently, my only memories of homeschooling families came from my classmate, and TV shows like TLC's 19 Kids and Counting. I have no issue with those examples, but my family doesn't look like theirs. We are African American. My husband doesn't wear polo shirts or dad jeans. We both work. We are not super rich. We are Christian but not nearly as conservative as the Duggars. Most importantly we don’t wear bonnets (except for when we visit Historic Williamsburg - see the picture above).

The truth is that homeschooling is growing in popularity among all sorts of families, regardless of race, income and religion. Families chose homeschooling for many different reasons. In my conversations with other homeschoolers and online research, I discovered four common themes that motivate families to choose homeschooling. 

Why do Families Homeschool?

  1. Flexibility - Some families need the flexibility to teach their children in a non traditional school environment due to schedule constraints. Child actors, athletes, and families who travel frequently often rely on homeschooling to provide consistency despite their packed schedules.

  2. Educational Freedom and Rigor - For Parents with strong philosophic or religious beliefs, neither public nor private school are a good fit. Parents who want to manage and shape their child's education often find that traditional schools fail to meet their expectations.

  3. Exceptional Learners - Children with special needs (i.e. learning disabilities or giftedness) require more support and attention than other children. Many schools are unable to accommodate those needs, leading parents to chose homeschooling as an alternative.

  4. Money - What do you do if you really want your child to get a top-notch education, but you can't afford private school? For many families the solution is homeschooling. Homeschooling allows them to save money on private school tuition and still give their children an excellent education, tailored to their child’s interests and abilities.

My family chose to homeschool for several reasons. It was a combination of reasons 1, 2, 3 and 4! Read more about our choice here. The bottom line, is that homeschooling families are extremely diverse demographically, but also in their approach. There are so many different ways to approach homeschooling, there is truly no one size fits all approach which is what makes it so incredible.