Home Is Where the School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering

Home Is Where the School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering

Home Is Where the School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering

Home Is Where the School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering

Synopsis

Mothers who homeschool their children constantly face judgmental questions about their choices, and yet the homeschooling movement continues to grow with an estimated 1.5 million American children now schooled at home. These children are largely taught by stay-at-home mothers who find that they must tightly manage their daily schedules to avoid burnout and maximize their relationships with their children, and that they must sustain a desire to sacrifice their independent selves for many years in order to savor the experience of motherhood. Home Is Where the School Is is the first comprehensive look into the lives of homeschooling mothers. Drawing on rich data collected through eight years of fieldwork and dozens of in-depth interviews, Jennifer Lois examines the intense effects of the emotional and temporal demands that homeschooling places on mothers' lives, raising profound questions about the expectations of modern motherhood and the limits of parenting.

Excerpt

“Won’t your children be social misfits?”

“Do you really think you can teach them as well as a professional
teacher?”

“What about the prom?”

More than 1.5 million children in the United States are homeschooled. This number, a conservative estimate, represents 2.9 percent of the schoolage population and is up significantly from the mid-1980s, when the U.S. Department of Education estimated that fewer than 300,000 American children were homeschooled. Since 1993, every state has provided a legal option for parents to educate their children at home, and although homeschoolers have gained legal legitimacy and visibility with their growing numbers, they have yet to secure mainstream acceptance. Homeschooling is widely misunderstood by the non-homeschooling public, and homeschooling parents themselves feel the stigma sharply each time they are asked whether they are worried about destroying their children socially and academically.

Misconceptions are fueled by national media stories that sensationalize the role of homeschooling in unusual events—either triumphs, such as a homeschooled child who wins the National Spelling Bee, or tragedies, such as a homeschooling mother who, under the influence of postpartum . . .

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