Homeschooling: the numbers are in our favor

Today's post is totally unplanned. While I was writing my weekend newsletter, my usual Friday morning writing task, I got an e-mail contact with a promotion request.

I get "could you share this with your reader" requests often. Many times I even don't respond, never mind share, because the content is such a laughable un-fit for FIMBY readers it's obvious the writer/marketer/e-mail sender has never read my blog.

But the infographic sent to me this morning was worth sharing. Worth interrupting my scheduled writing and delaying my morning walk.

I want to share it with you now, not in a couple weeks when I can schedule it in. Sometimes you just gotta' strike when the iron's hot.

 How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

All of this was fascinating to me but there's a couple things I wanted to point out specifically.

Firstly, if you're an interest-led homeschooler or taking some other non-traditional approach to modern education, or homeschool because you want freedom in your home to do your own thing (travel, etc.) there's a reason why you might feel in the minority. We are!

Percentage wise, families who's main reason for homeschooling is because we want to offer a non-traditional approach are 7% of the homeschool population. Even if you identify with a few other factors also - like dissatisfaction with the instruction offered at school, religious values, etc. your desire to offer your children a freedom education puts you in the minority. No wonder so few people, homeschoolers even, "get us".

Another thing of note is the When They Grow Up stats. In my free homeschool chat (fabulous fun, so sorry more people couldn't join in) we had an interesting discussion about grown-up homeschoolers being dissatisfied with their education, specifically feeling they weren't prepared for adult life.

Of course naysayers will latch onto these stories and tout them as proof positive that homeschooling isn't good for people. It doesn't adequately prepare them "for real life". A term so vague I don't even know how to respond.

Well friends, the numbers are on our side. Overwhelmingly, homeschoolers grow up feeling very positive about their experiences.

Homeschooling did not limit their career choices, or educational opportunities. It gave them advantages, they're glad they did it, and they want to homeschool their own kids.

This is true considering even that a lot of kids (as the numbers show) are homeschooled for religious reasons, parented by religious nuts who aren't even teaching evolution and God knows what else.

I hope you caught my sarcasm. I am a religious nut of the Jesus-freedom variety and we teach both, creation and evolution.

You'd think in a religious homeschooling environment with its huge omissions of "what is known to be scientifically true", and all the sheltering from the "real world", the student's future academic and life success must be jeopardized. Obviously. Unfortunately, for those who like to criticize conservative religious folks, the numbers don't show this to be the case.

We don't homeschool primarily for religious reasons, though we are Christians of the hard-core, Bible believing, Jesus rose from the grave variety. But choosing homeschooling for religious reasons does not seem to hinder a child's academic success. The opposite might in fact be true.

I'm not saying homeschooling is better, though I am unapologetically biased in that direction.

What I am saying is we all need to chill a bit about the outcomes.

The proof is in the pudding and has been for sometime. Homeschoolers turn out as ok as the rest of the population. Can we just let it rest now?

Of course most of us who homeschool don't want our kids to just turn out ok. We want them to rock it out of the park. Which they do. The academic achievement scores for homeschoolers clearly show that.

What's fascinating is that these scores are the same, statistically speaking, regardless of family income or amount spent on the kid's education (those of us with tight budgets can breathe a sigh of relief at that one), and are not dependent on parental post-secondary education.

Why is this? The simple reason is that most homeschooling families are deeply invested in their kids. Yes, they might be screwing them up by not teaching evolution or by failing to teach calculus (or even care about calculus - raising my hand) but they care, deeply, about their kids.

I'm not saying non-homeschoolers don't care about their kids just as deeply. What I am saying is that the effort homeschoolers expend on building a really strong family life and foundation swings the stats significantly in our favor, as compared to the population as a whole.

I actually think it's unfair to compare homeschooling to public schooling. Homeschoolers, on average, are heavily invested in their child's education. It doesn't matter what kind of philosophy you follow. But public schools have to deal with a certain percentage of parents who aren't invested in their kids. Parents who view school simply as free daycare. And that I believe is what skews the numbers so much, resulting in all those 85% and above percentiles on achievement tests, happy childhood percentages, etc. for the homeschooled population.

It's not homeschooling that gives kids an advantage, it's having parents who care. Parents who teach (all parents homeschool to some extent). Parents who discipline. Parents who love. Parents who go to bat for their kids. Parents who protect.

And that is something we all can do, regardless of our schooling choices. I would just rather do all that in the context of freedom-based home and family life. And that is why I'm a homeschooler.

By the way, in tomorrow's newsletter I am sharing a "what does interest-led learning look like" story. Hint: our (never schooled, never tested) kids love quizzes.

I like to give newsletter subscribers a weekly glimpse into our lives. A story, perspective, or idea that I haven't shared on the blog.

If you haven't yet, you may want to subscribe to catch this week's newsletter. You can always unsubscribe later.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« Ready for a new school year? Yeah, me neither.
Wild raspberries »
  • Jen

    Jen on Aug. 16, 2013, 4:07 p.m.

    It's been awhile since I clicked over to your blog and I am SO GLAD that I did today.  I needed to hear this.  I have been sturggling with some decisions we need to make about co-op participation for the coming school year, and listening too heavily to voices that are telling me I will mess up my kids if my homeschool doesn't look more like a school, if you know what I mean.  Thank you for affirming that perhaps I'm not crazy to think that we don't need those things.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 16, 2013, 4:42 p.m.

      Oh, I know exactly what you mean Jen. For the record (and I am not the standard) our family has never been part of a homeschool co-op over or oversight group. We joined a Friday morning homeschool group for 5 months one year so the kids could hang out with other kids and do drama, but that's been it for us.


  • Marianne

    Marianne on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:05 p.m.

    I have been checking in with your blog, daily,  for well over a year.  Maybe two.   I would say our daily lives are probably very different but our minds are very similar.    Our son attends a small Lutheran school (we are Catholic and have a Catholic school available) which we truly love.   I have a number of friends who homeschool - all for different reasons.  My sister was a pioneering homeschooler.  Her boys are now 19 and 21.   I am not at all surprised by these findings despite not homeschooling our son.   I applaud homeschoolers even though I am not one of them (and in the back of my mind I hope to homeschool when our son is a bit older - I have my reasons ) One thing I might disagree with is that you think other homeschoolers don't get you.   I find that hard to believe - maybe because I don't believe (or don't want to believe) that people could be so closed minded.  Surely  the majority of homeschoolers (who are clearly doing something "on the fringe" themselves) would not so blankly condemn because of your reason for homeschooling.  That makes no sense to me.         Anyway - truly love to read your blog and I plan to subscribe to your newsletter now.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:14 p.m.

      Marianne, they don't condemn, they just don't always understand. And not in a mean way, but in a "does that really work?" kind of way. Homeschoolers, regardless of stripe, are my tribe and I feel very connected to the community as a whole, even though I have to explain our methods (both internally and externally) more than the school-at-home types (people inherently understand that because it's familiar)


  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:20 p.m.

    I shared the graphic with my husband, but I'm sharing this post on facebook. I love the sentence that you wrote, "I'm not saying homeschooling is better, though I am unapologetically biased in that direction" because it sums up how I feel, exactly. Also, this, "It's not homeschooling that gives kids an advantage, it's having parents who care", because it's also how I feel, exactly. Here, here!

    Sarah M


  • Tonya

    Tonya on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:31 p.m.

    Sometimes Mike and I actually worry a bit that neither of our older boys are money-driven, only to the extent that they will be able to "live" as some money is necessary in our society... but I wonder where they got that from???

    Thanks for sharing.  Your children seem just amazing and it is so much because they are supported by two amazing parents.



    • renee

      renee on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:41 p.m.

      Tonya, our son especially is not particularly money driven also, which is totally inline with his personality type. Some people are just wired to care more about financial success and renumeration. He is simply not motivated by money. It doesn't mean he's not motivated it's just that it's not the gold stars or finances that light his fire. 


      • Kika

        Kika on Aug. 17, 2013, 2:01 p.m.

        My 17 yr old son seems this way too. He just wants to work at things He enjoys and let 'the money chips fall where they may". I mostly admire and encourage this- but sometimes it stresses me out. 


        • renee

          renee on Aug. 17, 2013, 2:37 p.m.

          Kika, I enjoy reading Penelope Trunk's thoughts on personality types. From what I can tell Laurent is an ENFP. And these smart creative types don't do well in traditional school settings which are targeted for their exact opposite, the ISTJ. These soft-hearted, do-gooder, creative and free-spirited souls also aren't particularly focused on material gains or rewards (like the way my youngest daughter is), it's just the way they're wired. But hopefully since creativity is becoming increasingly important in our society (to solve the problems of our day) Laurent will be able to do work he loves and be compensated for it, but he might need someone to help him manage the financial part (smile). But that's what marriage is for, 2 are better than one. 


          • Kelly

            Kelly on Aug. 19, 2013, 12:49 p.m.

            I am an ENFP and you totally nailed that description. My parents still worry about me, I think, and by looking at our finances they probably should ;)  I choose not to worry.  However, I did do really well academically in school because it always came easy...I just spent a lot of time in classes a grade ahead of my class, and never did my homework at home because I could easily pickup my second period science lesson while finishing my social studies homework for third period at the same time, etc.  Gave me more time to do what I felt like outside of school!  I had horrible study habits in college, too, because nothing ever seemed challenging enough to have to work ahead rather than wait till the last minute.


  • Morgan

    Morgan on Aug. 16, 2013, 5:47 p.m.

    Great graphic - so glad you shared! My daughter turns three next month and where we live I am met with gasps when asked if she's entering preschool this year and my response is no. We actually toured a really lovely co-op preschool and my daughter clearly looked at the both of us and said, "um, no." We still have time to mull over our choices for her future and for now I'm happy having her at home with my husband and me. 


  • Mystie Winckler

    Mystie Winckler on Aug. 16, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

    I would be curious to know what ages of homeschool grads they surveyed for that. It's interesting to me because I was homeschooled until entering community college at 16, and my husband was homeschooled until high school, but also started community college at 16. Before we had kids, at about 20, (we married at 19), we were asked to take a similar sort of survey, and although we are very thankful for our parents' decision to homeschool back when it was really weird, we said we "might" homeschool, but thought we'd prefer a classical school. Now that we actually have kids and are homeschooling, there's no way I'd do anything else! At the college age, I think it's easy for homeschooled kids to blame their homeschooling and their parents for the angst and social difficulty that is simply typical of the transition-to-adulthood years. My answers about homeschooling now that I have more perspective are much more enthusiastic than they were when I was fresh out and testing the waters of complete independence. :)


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 16, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

      This is something I have been thinking about a lot. How grown homeschoolers feel about being homeschooled. You were on that chat and are probably referring also to that discussion. I think most young adults feel unprepared for adulthood, period. And there is lots of becoming-an-adult angst, regardless of how you were schooled. Your perspective as a homeschooled adult now homeschooling her own kids is very unique and appreciated. Curious - are you classical in your approach now?


    • Kika

      Kika on Aug. 17, 2013, 2:06 p.m.

      Good question. A couple of my homeschooled brothers plan to homeschool now that they have their own toddlers; their answers were definitely not so certain pre-kids. Another two HSl'd bros probably never will HS their own...although stranger things have happened:)


  • Mystie Winckler

    Mystie Winckler on Aug. 17, 2013, 12:03 a.m.

    I do consider myself classical, but not in a hardcore way. I do think the liberal arts are the best path toward formation. But the classical method I pursue is about contemplation, formation, "much not many," and holistic. It is classical that is a traditional (as in, millenia of tradition, not the last 100 years) pursuit of  the Great Conversation, and the True, Good, and Beautiful, and virtue. It's not fact-drill or eat-gravel classical. :) I do think that real learning only occurs when there is interest and engagement and ownership on the student's part, but we have that while following the long-trod path of Latin and good books and long-form memory work (like poems and entire Psalms). 

    So, I find inspiration and help along the path keeping an ear in the delight-directed and unschoolish camps, too, because I agree that student engagement is vital and that "school" is often most effective when it doesn't look like contemporary school. 


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 17, 2013, 11:06 a.m.

      Gotcha. Reminds me of Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles. There is a lot I appreciate and esteem about classical education and parts of it I try to cultivate in our own homeschool.


  • Clelie

    Clelie on Aug. 17, 2013, 4:34 a.m.

    Hi Renee,

    Thanks for another great post. I've been following for a while- started when I first checked out your great posts about how the heck to manage spending time outside as a family and stay sane and financially viable.

    My eldest is 7.5 now and we are heading into our third official year of homeschooling (grade 2ish) and the first year that we won't have our him enrolled in any kind of weekly activity- It feels to me like we are really committing to homeschooling this year- and I am feeling more prepared and while still not completely out the woods yet- I feel way more prepared and clear about what homeschooling looks like and what exactly we are trying to achieve etc... I've been noticing myself really taking note of your homeschooling based posts lately. I am looking forward to re-reading some the post you wrote a couple of years ago about how your family organises it's homeschooling.

    Thank you for all that you share with the world and your thoughful reflection and expression. You help me grow!


  • Kika

    Kika on Aug. 17, 2013, 2:12 p.m.

    The part in your newsletter about the kids wanting to be quizzed made me chuckle. First, this has also happened in our home (13 ys old has been an important age here for lids wanting to test their knowledge/ understanding in more depth). But often I feel like I'm being the one quizzed by my youngest:) She pounces on me, rattling off new information learned (usually about some creature in nature), asking a million questions for which I never have an answer...she's a little sponge when it's a topic she cares about:)


  • angi

    angi on Aug. 17, 2013, 5:58 p.m.

    This is a really great post and I totally agree that the big difference between most homeschooled students and traditonal schooled students is the percentage of engaged parents.  I had a new mom recently ask me what homeschool method we followed.  I hate getting that question because we don't follow any method, we pick and chose what works best for our family and each child and change it up when we need to.  We become a little more traditional for high school but still not what most people would consider traditional.  My oldest is in college and has no regrets of being homeschooled.  My second oldest is preparing for a career in the entertainment industry.  He's one who isn't driven my money either but when an opportunity with a acting training program became available he was highly motivated to work at a local drugstore to earn the money to participate in the program.  As soon as he had enough money he no longer worked.  It was interesting to watch him work so hard at a job that was really just "a means to an end".


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 17, 2013, 6:13 p.m.

      I think we all work those kind of jobs from time to time. I'm working one right now - managing our house which we own still in Maine. I don't love the work but it's something I have to do to meet our family goals of one day selling our house and breaking even. Even people who want to do work they are passionate about and interested in will choose to do certain work as a means to an end. That's part of being a grown up. I'm interested to see how this plays out for our children also. 


  • Wanda

    Wanda on Aug. 18, 2013, 12:10 a.m.

    Thanks Rene for this post.  "It's not homeschooling that gives kids an advantage, it's having parents who care. Parents who teach (all parents homeschool to some extent). Parents who discipline. Parents who love. Parents who go to bat for their kids. Parents who protect.

    This was my favorite line.  I have a friend who was homeschooled and swore to never do so to her kids and I have homeschooling friends who swore to never put their kids in public school.  

    And I'm sorry if either choice feels they have to defend their situation.  We should all just be 'parents who go to bat for our kids.'  

    It's a pleasure reading about your family life and I get so encouraged to implement your homeschool techniques in our life.  Schooling life.  

    Thanks for the stats.  Something to think on.



  • Cindy

    Cindy on Aug. 18, 2013, 12:33 p.m.

    Fascinating!  If I could do it all over again, I'd certainly keep my kids home.  But they are all doing well and are in the homeschool movement! 


  • Adrienne Bashista

    Adrienne Bashista on Aug. 19, 2013, 11:30 a.m.

    I don't think it's just that homeschoolers have parents who care, because the vast majority of parents care about their kids and want the best, it's that they also have parents who - whether forced to by the circumstance of having a child who has special needs (like mine) or who has a certain freedom of mind or who is surrounded by others who are making similar choices - can think outside the box of traditional schooling. This is a very big leap for many people, especially people who aren't part of a religious community that embraces homeschooling.  My other comment about the graphic is the part about financials. I really wish that the $500 figure wasn't thrown around, because for many people there's a significant loss of income by the primary homeschooling parent when deciding to homeschool. Yes, it's possible to work full time and homeschool, and yes, many primary homeschool parents may not have been working for money anyway, but for lots of folks this is a significant economic choice. So the cost of classes or activities or co-op fees or books is not really a fair comparison to the significant childcare role that school plays in many people's lives.   


  • Amylynn

    Amylynn on Aug. 19, 2013, 1:48 p.m.


     I love that you use your windows for quotes, inspiration and teaching boards, what crayons or makers do you use? PS I am so glad you posted this homeschool statistics, I can't wait to show my husband.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 19, 2013, 3:35 p.m.

      Amylynn, I learned that window/mirror writing trick from my friend Emily's blog.I use Crayola Window Crayons on her recommendation. I love the idea. I use it for teaching, inspirational quotes, bible verses, reminders and beauty (smile).


  • Jason Elsworth

    Jason Elsworth on Aug. 20, 2013, 3:53 a.m.

    It's not homeschooling that gives kids an advantage, it's having parents who care. Parents who teach (all parents homeschool to some extent). Parents who discipline. Parents who love. Parents who go to bat for their kids. Parents who protect.

    Amen to that. Neither of my kids (one special needs one not) have been homeschooled, but I have certainly done a lot of home schooling and therapy work.  I am very open to the idea of home schooling and would never think to criticise or question any one who has made that choice.


  • Marfa

    Marfa on Aug. 20, 2013, 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing's encouraging to see the history and also the results (tests and from the homeschooled)!  ♥  And we have told our children about the idea of evolution, but even as Darwin presented it, it was only a theory, not claimed as fact.  We teach our children that the world was created by God and He also made Adam and Eve!!!  I think our Christian faith is very important and am thankful our country still allows people freedom to believe what they wish...


  • Carrie

    Carrie on Aug. 20, 2013, 7:43 p.m.

    Thanks Renne, I have met with so much resistance this year I needed to see this. I love homeschooling! My family continues to think that my kids miss out on something by being at home. I continue to think they gain so much more than they miss out on.


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Aug. 25, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

    "It's not homeschooling that gives kids an advantage, it's having parents who care."

    You hit it on the nose! That's the greatest advantage I've been given in my life, certainly. 

    I laughed at your teasing about religion. Ha! (I still would worry that if I homeschooled kids myself I wouldn't be exposing them to a variety of ways of thought. But I am impressed by those of you who do!)


  • Nicholas Stickle

    Nicholas Stickle on Aug. 26, 2013, 3:31 a.m.

    I think your graphic is terrific.  While I was traditionally schooled I have had many friends over the years who left traditionasl school for home school and ended up with a four year if not an advanced degree.  While I think there are some merits to public school, (mostly social in nature) I feel that if a parent is able and willing to provide education at home that the child will in most cases turn out more willing to learn and keep with lifelong learning rather than become discouraged as a lot of kids I went to school with were.  I don't focus on homeschooling on my <a href=""&gt; personal development blog</a> I try to include a wide variety of personal development topics and resources which I try to emulate and learn from.  I was raised in the public school system but I have a true passion for and realization that lifelong learning is very necessary in all aspects of adult life.


  • Nicholas Stickle

    Nicholas Stickle on Aug. 26, 2013, 3:37 a.m.

    I noticed at the bottom of your page there ia a window that says to contact you for possible help with our own blog or e business strategy but I can not see a contact form anywhere.  Is this a possible way to contact you and ask for some suggestions? I am in the middle of beginning to monetize my main web site and am being torn in about fifteen different directions with different strategies and am sort of procrastinating because of it, this has gone on for a while now. I'm not sure what I need but I know I need something.


  • Carol F

    Carol F on Aug. 26, 2013, 5:22 a.m.

    We are a homeschooling family as well.  As to the argument that homeschooling might not prepare kids for their future or a career...ha!  One of my husband's best and brightest employees is a man who was homeschooled!  He is quickly moving up in the ranks and is just as incredibly intelligent as all the other computer science PhD's he works with, however he is a great deal more social and outgoing than most of the others.  He is often the first contact with clients and has had nothing but rave reviews.  (Wait a minute, aren't homeschooled kids supposed to be strange and socially awkward?!)  ;-)


  • Takara

    Takara on Sept. 7, 2013, 6:39 p.m.

    This is my 9th year homeschooling and what an interesting process and journey it has been. I watch so many parents and children go through the stages. First they are somewhat nervous or afraid that they won't "do it right." They read endlessly about various homeschool education programs and they try to pick the one that will give their child the best education. The new ones also seem to be the most passionate about starting programs, getting homeschooler's ralied together for field trips, classes, and other special events. When its new, its a bit more exciting and motivating. I discovered pretty early on that you have to know what motivates the child, what learning methods and preferences work for the child and the family, before a program or a variety of programs can be used effectively for that child to be optimally educated. Optimal education to me means its fast, its effective, and it happens with the least amount of stress to the child and the parent. Eventually everyone develops more confidence and "trust" in the whole homeschooling process. This is espcially true for unschoolers and those who for awhile have to believe the child will eventually become self-motivated even if there is no evidence of that showing at the moment. Somewhere along the way a magic switch turns on and the child finds their passion for learning in a particular area. My son was very difficult to motivate early on. At around age 12, that magic switch flipped and he is now completely self directed. I sometimes help him find online resources, pay for a particular course or program, but for the most part, he finds resources on his own. He is very definitely in charge of his education and it is a beautiful thing to watch unfold. It took courage and trust, but it did happen. I find it to be a courage path because you have to believe in your child, in yourself, and the "process" of homeschooling. I LOVE it and am very glad it is the choice we made. 


    Homeschool Resources Online -



You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.