Is your kid shy? Overly chatty? Somehow doesn't do well in a group? It's obviously because they're homeschooled, right? No. It's not that at all.

It’s Because They’re Homeschooled: No, Actually It’s Not

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While the decision to homeschool might affect your child in many ways, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of people who still believe that kids are shy (or loud. or talkative. or introverted. or…) simply because they’re homeschooled.

You’ve probably dealt with this, too. Let me give you an example from our experiences.

Recently, one of my sons was involved in a group “thing” with a bunch of kids around his age. Apparently his level of participation wasn’t on par, and I was pulled aside for a chat.

“Just keep encouraging him to participate…I want to see him make friends,” I was told.

And then came the zinger: “I know the adjustment to group things is hard as a homeschooler.”

Ten or so possible responses floated through my brain, but I went for the smile-nod-ignore tactic.

It’s what happened next that doesn’t line up.

Twenty minutes later, a girl in the group was asked for a response to a question—nothing terribly difficult. Her eyes got huge, she stared at the floor, and I seriously thought she was going to cry.

The crazy thing was the difference in how the adults and other kids responded to her actions.

There were no cries of where she went to school or who was teaching her to do algebra or recite the preamble of the Constitution.

Instead, I heard:

  • “she’s just overwhelmed”
  • “back off, you guys”
  • “stop hounding her”
  • “she doesn’t want to answer right now”
  • “leave her alone.”

As I was told later, her inability to participate in the group discussion had nothing to do with where she went to school and everything to do with her personality.


There are very few things that make me want to flip tables, but this is one of them: when two kids do the exact same thing and you blame homeschooling for one kid’s actions and personality for the other.

It’s because they’re homeschooled: nah, probably not.

Apparently I’d already written about this same issue a long time ago. In the early days of The Hmmmschooling Mom blog, I posted this (with these pictures):

Why is it that when my son is shy, it’s because he’s homeschooled and doesn’t know how to act around people…

That thing where people blame your child's personality on homeschooling. That thing that makes all homeschooling parents crazy. - It's Because They're Homeschooled: Actually, It's Not

…but when a publicly schooled boy is shy, it’s his personality?

Conversely, why is it that when my son is loud, wild, rambunctious, or crazy in public, it’s because he’s homeschooled and hasn’t been taught any social skills...

That thing where people blame your child's personality on homeschooling. That thing that makes all homeschooling parents crazy. - It's Because They're Homeschooled: Actually, It's Not

…but when a publicly schooled boy is loud, wild, rambunctious, or crazy, it’s because he’s just being a boy?

It really bums me out that almost 6 years after originally posting that, I can still ask the same. exact. questions.

It’s because they’re homeschooled: because there is no one like that in public school (Or..wait. Um…)

I once saw a girl labeled as attention seeking. An adult (who didn’t know that we homeschooled) turned to me and said, “You can tell she’s homeschooled. She always has to be the center of attention. Which makes total sense because she’s always the center of attention at home.”

Yeah. I never knew anyone like that in public school.

A friend told me once about her child being told he was acting “totally homeschooled” because he was in a group and continued to talk and talk and didn’t know when to stop.

Never knew anyone like that in public school either.

I once saw a boy request to sit out of a group activity. Another parent (who didn’t know we homeschooled) turned to me and said, “You can tell he’s homeschooled. Never wants to get involved in the group. I mean, do they not even like people, or what?”

Nope. Never ever dealt with anyone like that in public school.

Society tends to latch on to homeschooled as a reason when kids don’t function in a group (because they are either too quiet or don’t know when to be quiet) but if a publicly schooled kid acts the same way, it’s their personality or due to some alphabet soup, XYZ diagnosis.

I’ll give you some letters to attach to that. How about B and S?

Dear world: it’s not because they’re homeschooled.

It’s because they’re homeschooled doesn’t work, you guys. And neither does it’s because they attend public school.

There are introverts in public school and homeschool. There are extroverts in public school and homeschool.

There are kids who like to talk and kids who won’t be quiet and kids who only talk when they really have something to say in both public school and homeschool.

There are kids who are the first to jump in and lead the way and figure out how to get things done and there are kids who sit back and wait for someone else to tell them what to do in both public school and homeschool.

There are kids who cringe at group activities or love group activities or lead group activities or excuse themselves to the bathroom during group activities in both public school and homeschool.

Perhaps we could accept the fact that some kids are quiet and some kids aren’t. Shoving a quiet kid in a group isn’t going to suddenly turn them into a chatty kathy—no matter how many times you do it. Making a talkative kid spend time by themselves isn’t going to kill their urge to communicate.

We have to stop using the excuse of where someone goes to school to explain everything about who they are and how they act, regardless of whether that is to describe fabulous behavior or not so fabulous behavior.  This goes for everyone—kids who are homeschooled and kids who attend public school. 

Or maybe, just maybe, we could stop constantly assessing the way a kid responds in a group and acting like it’s something that needs to be fixed or awarded with a gold star.

But if we didn’t have to assess and control and evaluate and judge and compare and fix kids…what in the world would adults have to talk about?

Is your kid shy? Overly chatty? Somehow doesn't do well in a group? It's obviously because they're homeschooled, right? No. It's not that at all.

Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.


61 thoughts on “It’s Because They’re Homeschooled: No, Actually It’s Not”

  1. I never thought of that but you are so right! My littlest is shy. She was shy in public school and while she is much more outgoing she can still be shy now that she is homeschooled. It is who she is and it is a direct correlation between her level of comfort. So really the problem is not with her…..but with who she does and does not feel comfortable with. Which is pretty smart when you think about it…….

    1. Yes! It also drives me up the wall when checkout operators feel the overwhelming urge to test my boys times tables knowledge while scanning my groceries!
      Grumpy and fed up, I said rather curtly one day “Do you give every child you see a maths test or just homeschooled kids?” She looked rather startled and then sulkily scanned some more.
      The judgement just oozes out of so many people and it does get to me sometimes…
      Until I remember the dignity of my original decision, the courage I needed to follow my knowledge and my heart and the overwhelming daily evidence that I chose the right path for my boys to fly.

      1. My favorite was the comment about how my then 6 year old couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels or roller skate because she didn’t go to public school! I guess PE has REALLY changed since I went to public school.

        1. All three of my kids were at least 7 before they learned to ride their bikes. I have overly cautious kids. Two went through the PS system. My littlest is HS, but started out in PS (K & 1st.)

          Also, when my littlest was in preschool, the teacher there gave me grief because he is reserved, and a bit shy. She told me I needed to throw him into every single activity I could find over the summer before school started, or he would never survive. Thing is, he had a great year in kindy. He had a great teacher. It went to pot at school the next year. Then we pulled him. But, he is still shy and reserved. He is very much like the first commenter’s child. It’s all about where he feels comfortable. But then, I am the same way. I hate the “homeschool” stigma.

  2. It's so silly… people's thoughts are tainted that way.
    They see a homeschooled kid asking questions and feeling he's just as important as the adult with whom he's speaking, and they think "impertinent".
    But it isn't weird at all if I say "Hey" to and smile and am friendly to a school kid, and they don't know how to respond.
    🙂 sheesh.

  3. I love the one that goes, "All homeschooled children will *love* learning new things….."

    Um, will someone please sew a sampler for Boo with that on it? 'Cause she sure as heck doesn't think so. New things are a burden for my darling. Sigh.

    Mytnik is right, they'd all be medicated within an inch of their lives….

  4. Well, mine are home because their neuroprocessors can't handle dozens of kids piled up together like puppies in a box. And no, public school wouldn't have "cured" them of it.

  5. Made me smile through and through, I’ve had similar experiences, guess that is why it’s funny it’s so true:)

  6. Amen sista….

    I have two introverted children and one extrovert…I had nothing to do with it.
    Keep fighting the good fight and God Bless!

  7. LOVE THIS POST!!! My HS twins are 15 and the only thing they have in common is how deeply they are loved. My son is his mom’s twin – judgmental, inflexible, and the typical introvert. We don’t people live. My daughter is uber-popular, tolerant, social and well-known in all 3 local schools. She has a large circle of friends and NEEEEEEEDS people – *eyes rolling*. She’s more likely to display unsocialized behaviour, yet people look at her brother as the weird one. I’ve learned to roll with the punches because I obviously have evidence that homeschooling doesn’t make kids weird. In fact, I celebrate their weirdness every day. <3

    1. Intelligent ppl should be able to look at your kids and think, “Well, they’ve BOTH been n-schooled & have grown up in the same environment, but their personalities are completely different…so obviously it’s not the h-schooling/environment that made their personalities what they are.”

  8. Elizabeth Reveal

    Thank you so much for being bluntly honest! Why do people have to label kids…oh yea the adults have nothing else to talk about! Why can’t we talk about the positive of each child. Thank you!

  9. Oh my goodness! You just described my chatty little boy. He is bright, active, loves computer games (aka Minecraft), loves to be outside, etc.. But boy-oh-boy, he can talk circles around a squirrel. It gets him into ‘trouble’ in karate, church, and other situations when he needs to be, well…less chatty. Always, there will be that one person that blames ‘who he is and his behavior’ on the fact that we homeschool and he just isn’t ‘socialized properly’. I think he is an amazing boy who just wants to share his views and ideas like everyone else. Even if sometimes they are spouted at the wrong time. Yeah, I guess you are right, “That never happens with public/private schooled kids.” LOL…SMH…I loved this post and will be sharing it.

  10. All my kids are different from one another, but they all have learned to look people in the eye and shake hands with people. They learned to include others and not be exclusive in play- because those things are respectful and kind. Beyond that, they get to be themselves. And yes, I have very much seen the same thing. 17 years of homeschooling- and still the same comments. Though I absolutely love to answer the comments about others with, “Huh, you think so? Because we homeschool, too.” All homeschoolers are notoriously different from each other because we can be. We do what works. Even among homeschoolers, we have to have grace for each other.

  11. I’ve also often wondered at this double standard some people have. My six children–all homeschooled–are all very different socially, in temperament, personality, gifts, strengths and weaknesses. It is unrealistic to paint homeschoolers with one broad brush as it would be to say all public school kids are the same. We are all different and that makes the world an interesting place.

  12. “But if we didn’t have to assess and control and evaluate and judge and compare and fix kids…” there would be no need for public school!
    Great article. Lots of stuff that needed to be said!

  13. B and S!! Yes! And YES! Having to reiterate in certain situations that he’s not LIKE THIS because he’s homeschooled, we homeschool BECAUSE HE’S LIKE THIS. Nothing gets my chain yanked more than people blaming homeschooling for the ills of children when children in public schools are full of the same issues and many, MANY MORE.

  14. We on-line schooled for a year. The following year my daughter’s teacher said she was really ahead and thought the on-line school must have been great. My son’s teache blamed the on-line school for him being behind. In reality my daughter is just better at math! It was so irritating.

  15. YES!!! We went through a time that we knew something had happened to our daughter, but we didn’t know what it was. She suddenly went from happy and friendly to withdrawn, sad, and angry. She would cry and beg me not to leave her. So many people said it was because she was homeschooled including a doctor. We needed to just leave her more often so she would see we always come back. Well, long story short her teacher at church had molested her. It made me so mad that they used homeschool as the reason for her behavior! Let’s make a difficult situation harder, shall we? (eye roll insert)

    1. I’m so sorry that happened to your child and to you. Good that you didn’t accept their explanations.

  16. Great post. But it starts off with an editing error. I want to share this, but I don’t want anyone to grab on that to criticize homeschoolers. Because only homeschoolers make mistakes, right? 😉 The first sentence, “Recently, one my sons..”, is missing “of my”. 🙂

    1. Thanks for catching that! It’s been changed. And yes, people would have picked that out as “that homeschooling mom can’t even edit her stuff.” Because, duh. Only homeschooling moms do that. 😉

  17. My daughter was homeschooled until 9th grade, and then she went to a public STEM school. After about half a year, she started having issues, anxiety attacks. “Must be because she was homeschooled.” Um, no, she did 4-H showmanship and some pretty large presentations. (Which had her father an I scratching our heads.) Then the depression. Homeschooling again. No. This year, we discovered that she has narcolepsy, which she has had since age 9. Her sleep deficit was getting bigger and bigger and she was microsleeping in class and not aware of what was going on….THAT is what was causing the anxiety and depression. Not homeschooling. Made me so mad! The “simple” answer for people who don’t want to look any further. (And yeah, I knew those weird kids in school who ate crayons, were nerds or shy too.)

    1. And…it is much easier to “blame the parent” in our society than to actually care and try to figure out what really is going on. Homeschooling is a great one to blame for a child’s issues. So is a working mother. “If only she could devote some time to reading with her child he would do just fine!” Yeah…right. Can’t win as a parent in our society.

  18. I feel we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t-my daughter has been homeschooled her entire life and no matter what EVERYTHING is because we homeschool. She has aced her ACT and SAT’s-well above her schooled peers -and guess what? “It’s because she was homeschooled” if she had bombed (like many of our 4.0 public school friends, it would have also been “because she was homeschooled”. How about she works hard and is brilliant?!? I get quite frustrated at how scrutinized homeschoolers are-my kids have been confronted with “pop quizzes” in the grocery store, and strangers constantly inquire about socialization yet my kids are SO social we simply don’t have enough time in life to attend to all their functions! I think people just don’t know what to say-and I don’t know why they feel they have to say anything at all! Most activities my girls participate in are with schooled kids-kids get it-they treat my girls like rock stars and are inherently interested in HOW they homeschool-and the schooled kids always assume my girls are ahead of them academically but NEVER quiz them or try to make them prove anything. I wish the adults were as accepting. I do think some of their angst comes from them feeling inadequate-as if I even care they send their kids to school-I really do not-keeps the museums more open for just us! Lol

  19. I totally agree with your comments. I have relatives, some close friends and several church members who home school & I’ve lived in different states and it’s always the same; I can’t tell you how many times a sentence, about my kids, started out with “If you home schooled your kids they wouldn’t/should blah blah blah” it sadly goes both ways. I have always supported home schooling and had been homeschooling my oldest but my youngest son had a learning disability and would not learn anything school related from me. Putting both boys in the same class was the first step to getting him to learn. My twin girls had ‘twins jargon’ and also learned better in a classroom setting. At first it was disappointing to me but now I have the oldest son in college, the younger son in a Chef Prep program his Jr year in High School and the twins are in 7th grade, all doing well. That is, of course, the goal of every parent that their kids become independent and ready to take on the world in their own unique way.

  20. Reading through this, I nodded and laughed! It’s very true. However, can I just point that it’s not PERSONALITY but instead it is TEMPERAMENT. There is a big difference age learning the difference can help us understand and help ourselves and our children flourish more than we ever imagined! I recommend The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett, it’s an excellent book.

  21. The double standard is utterly irksome, and you’ve written about it with passion and humor.

    My kiddo does also happen to be one of those with an alphabet of diagnoses. So sometimes, it is also his (our) neurology as well.

    As someone else said above, he isn’t like this because we homeschool; we homeschool because he is like this.

  22. April Bundridge

    I think it relates to the stigma still attached to homeschooling. If I hadn’t seen this article on my FB page (liked by a homeschooling mom), I would have likely never read it. Most of your responses on here are from other homeschoolers. Parents who use public school aren’t generally exposed to homeschoolers. A lot of people don’t know about homeschooling groups for socialization or consider that they have the same opportunities for community activities as public school kids.

    Where I grew up, there were not a lot of opportunities for activities outside of the public school…so I don’t know of any homeschooled kids from that time (about 20 years ago).

    I didn’t even realize people homeschooled in our area until a few years ago when some kids came to the school to participate in one of those hunger drives.

    Unfortunately, you only hear about homeschool extreme fails or the stats that homeschooled kids are ‘so much smarter than public school kids’.

    People need educated on what it means to be a homeschooling family…articles in the paper or anything that lets the public know that ‘hey, we’re here and this is what we’re doing’.

  23. I so agree! My first born daughter is painfully shy and introverted, never talking unless someone asks her something, and even then its like pulling teeth to get her to speak. We couldnt get her accepted into the private Christian grade school for kindergarten because she refused to talk to the “readiness” tester. We decided to homeschool as we knew she was ready academically. Of course, later people blamed our homeschooling for her extreme shyness, not aware she was like that really from birth and homeschooling HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Her 2 year younger brother tho, EXACT same environment and also homeschooled (because we found out homeschooling was awesome!) was very socially skilled and popular. Fast forward, daughter is Sr in high school, doing great, and is still very quiet and shy in social situations. Son still very comfortable with social situations and a natural leader.

    I always pointed out this difference in behavior (personality) of my kids to people that would link my daughters behavior with our schooling choice.

  24. I have thought these same things except not quite as detailed as you. I love the sarcasm laced with truth. Thank you for writing this ?

  25. Loved this! I’ve been thinking lately though – that school does give kids more practice and more intense practice at seeing how others react to them which is a kind of mirror and could give useful information for self moderation. This can be very negative but may be positive too. Is there a nugget of truth in the horrible “socialization” question?

    1. You can have such mirrors in a family setting, too! :). Except a mother would react so as to teach her child correct behavior, but children can react cruelly or carelessly.

  26. Absolutely! Both my kids go to school (more due to financially I need to work, rather than want) however, one is quite shy and the other, you can’t shut her up! I find anything ‘alternative’ is used as a blaming tool. My daughter was quite clingy until around age 18 months…..obviously it was because we co-slept and she was carried in a sling everywhere! Nothing to do with the fact she just needed a bit more reassurance. And as it happens, she’s now the most outgoing independent 4 year old I know!

  27. Sad thing is this goes on in the homeschooling community too.
    On-line schools, unschoolers, curriculum based, eclectic, and so on – someone comments – “They’re ‘that’ way because they unschool/ are eclectic/ on-line and don’t xyz”.
    Until peace, love, understanding & acceptance of everyone is spread like wildfire there will be snide remarks, intolerance, and chaos.

    1. the homeschool group that we were a part of (she’s graduated and in college now) was one of the very few in our area that allowed everyone in it. Online, unschoolers, packaged, part timers (our public system had “classes for homeschoolers” offered) etc… everyone is welcome as long as they all accept everyone else. Still some of my best friends.

  28. hummm I had someone at church once ask if my child was “so shy” because she’s homeschooled. I didn’t bother with the “no, she isn’t shy at all, she’s introverted.” part. Instead I said, no she’s homeschooled because she’s “shy.” and has been since birth. I went on to say that she is just like her dad. She actually interacts with people far better than my husband who was in both private and public schools… While working for Spamalot we were in the greenroom chatting with the cast members and mentioned that she’s homeschooled. One of the cast members who is also a teacher complemented us both at how well she’s socialized. *eyeroll* no, keeping her locked in the basement didn’t stunt her socially at all. :p

  29. My oldest son is 15. He has been bullied every year since 3rd grade. He doesn’t make friends well and is not out going. We decided to homeschool him this year. He is doing better in school and of course has no bullies. He has a few friends from church. We were planning his birthday party the other day and I asked him which friends he wanted to invite. He said “I don’t really have any friends.” Then someone said, “It’s because he’s homeschooled.” No, it’s not. He didn’t have many friends in public school either. The one good friend that he had in public school moved away recently, therefore, he feels as though he has no friends.

  30. I was the quiet extremely shy homeschooled girl. I still am pretty quiet sometimes. It’s my personality not my education background. On the other hand I’m soon to be mom of six children who I homeschool. Out of the five of them there’s only one I would consider shy and that barely! They are all social butterflies and they did NOT get it from me or their educational background! They amaze me sometimes.

  31. I’m always told that my kids’ shy behaviour is because they are homeschooled. Never once been told that my outgoing/fit into any group/happy to take charge kid’s behaviour is because he’s homeschooled. People see what they want to see based on their preconceptions. One of my adult kids is often told she can’t have been homeschooled because she is “so normal” 🙁

  32. Hawaii Homeschooler

    My brother in law loves to express his concern about my preschool age daughters social development because of my decision to homeschool.
    He went to public school his whole life and yet now as an adult is actually quite anti-social himself.
    The constant argument with everyones opinions is exhausting and I’m just beginning this journey!

  33. Proud mom of a well-rounded, outspoken homeschooled 10 year old in the 6th grade who started his own Christian skater club and manages it. We also don’t have to deal with the sick twisted issues of some of these public school systems. We have a HUGE group we meet with on a weekly basis not to mention sports, church and Trail Life. Sorry, try again anti-homeschooling people!!

  34. Until recently, I had no idea that homeschooling existed. Fantastic idea!

    Maybe my borderline gifted teen wouldn’t be “bored” & “not learning anything” if I could teach him.

    Now I’m considering quitting my min. wage, long-commute 2 jobs to homeschool my intermittently ill 13 year old.

    But according to a social agency, I’m ineligible as I make too much, i.e over $900/month.

    Anyone from Ontario, Canada run into this bump on the road?

  35. I’d like to add something from the perspective of a homeschooled child… My siblings and I were all homeschooled until we were at least 10 (I was older), and then sent to a small private school. We all realized fairly quickly that we didn’t quite fit in. We lived in the country, and didn’t have neighbor children our age, We had very few friends at all that we saw more than once or twice a month. Because of this, we hadn’t learned many basic social skills, and it was extremely noticeable to others. Sometimes it is personality, and sometimes it’s being raised in an exclusive environment. That is not saying, of course, that homeschooling must be that way; in fact, I see many socially active homeschoolers now. It depends on the reason for homeschooling: our parents wanted to keep us from worldly influences. They succeeded, but also affected how we would interact with others. I have a few siblings that are introverted to the core, and that is definitely just their personality. But, I am a social butterfly, as are some of my sisters, and to this day I struggle to interact socially. Because of this I can also usually recognize other homeschoolers, because I see that same struggle to interact and catch social clues. I’m usually right. I think that’s where the stigma comes in, where socially awkward = homeschooled. It’s a stereotype, but for a reason. I can see homeschooling is changing more and more now, though, and I believe people will begin to see the difference. Someday it won’t come as a surprise to someone when your kid says “Oh, I was homeschooled.” Just my two cents:)

  36. Great post. I homeschooled my oldest grandson. during Middle School. Managed to get him through that time period successfully. The way most public schools are , homeschooling , I believe is the best route to go..

  37. Great post! Thank you for keeping it real. We’ve been homeschooling now for 5 years. I must confess, I find myself growing weary from all the false assumptions outside of the homeschool community. My children have always been on the shy end of the social spectrum even whilst in school. What people don’t realize is that my children are LESS shy now that they are homeschooled . I could not believe the shift in the way people treated or dare I say, “inspected “ my children once they realized the children were homeschooled. My children can often pick up on the scrutiny from the sly way some adults converse with them which can make them feel unsafe in social settings. This aspect leaves them feeling they must always be on their guard. As unpleasant as this can be , I guess at the end of the day I hope that these experiences strengthen my children. In the future, I want my kids to stand up for what they value and not bend to pressure of any sort. One great thing I’ve noticed take shape in my children is that they are more intentional whenever they do join a group or make a friend or say yes to something. They think it through and make the decision based on their gut. If their gut tells them it’s not a safe environment they don’t just go along because it’s what everyone expects them to do. They are learning to say no to some things in order to yes to the best things. They are developing healthy boundaries. Which is awesome! ???

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