Are homeschooled kids weird?

Are homeschooled kids weird
Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

Admit it. Somewhere deep in your heart, you’ve wondered, especially if you’ve ever heard someone say, “I know a homeschooling family at my church. Those kids are weird!”

Haven’t we all asked ourselves: are my kids weird?

Weird. Normal. We all have our own definitions. You might say, “I don’t want my kids to be ‘normal’ by today’s standards!” And you might also say, “But I don’t want my kid to be labeled as a weirdo!” So here’s the thing:

All kids are weird.

That’s normal. I mean, when I was a kid—in the privacy of my own home—I stuck black olives on all my fingers and ate them off, one by one. That’s weird, right?  Of course I didn’t eat black olives at public school, but if I had, I would not have eaten them off my fingers one by one. I would have known that was weird because some kid would have announced to the entire cafeteria: “THAT GIRL IS EATING OLIVES OFF HER FINGERS LIKE A WEIRDO!” Even those kids that had a secret desire to emulate me would have shriveled and mocked me. I would have been forever known as Olive Girl.

Here’s what’s different about homeschoolers. At my homeschooling co-op, if one kid were eating black olives off his fingers, I can guarantee that the rest of them would be doing it within seconds. Because weird is good. Weird is normal. (And who doesn’t have a secret desire to eat black olives off his fingers?)

I eat black olives like a “normal” person now, although my husband would argue that no “normal” person even eats olives. But you know what? Without any coaching from me, I swear, my youngest son does this.

Because 99.9% of kids (totally made-up statistic) are innately weird, creative, silly, funny, uninhibited, and terribly clever—if they are allowed to be.

I remember distinctly a day when my firstborn son was in kindergarten in public school. He wanted to wear his kilt and sheepskin vest to school. “Sweetie, you can’t wear a kilt to school,” I told him. I hated to tell him why, but I had to. “You can only wear your kilt at home. Kids don’t wear kilts to school.” I squashed his weirdness. I had to, for his sake.

Fast forward several years, when this same kid was 13 and had been homeschooled since we pulled him out of public school after first grade. One day we found, stuffed in the back of a closet, a llama-hair poncho that my husband once brought back from South America.

My son was ecstatic! For months he wore that poncho everywhere, including our homeschooling co-op. He also wore John Lennon-type sunglasses and t-shirts with ties. And yep, I’m sure the kids thought he was weird. But they didn’t care because they were weird, too.

My son is a junior in college now. I asked him recently what some of the best aspects about homeschooling were. One of the things he said was this:

I had the chance to be a quirky, weird, and creative kid without intense ridicule. I was then able to develop that all into socially acceptable quirkiness as a college student.

“Socially acceptable quirkiness” usually translates to “outside-the-box” thinking. What is one of the top qualities that employers in most fields look for in employees? Innovation and creativity—outside-the-box thinkers. Childhood weirdos.

Homeschooling allows kids to be weird when it’s OK to be weird.

As your kids get older, chances are they will learn to corral their quirks and develop into creative young adults who refuse to accept mediocrity and challenge the status quo.

I think we need more weirdos in our world.

So ‘fess up: Do you harbor a secret fear that people think your kids are weird?

This post originally published on October 3, 2012.

About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.


  1. My kids, they are absolutely immune the the understanding of WHY kids think they are weird. They recognize they are weird (and man, are they weird. really. They get it naturally from both sides, these weird kids 😉 ) but unlike their mom, who eventually figured out WHY people thought she was weird, they are completely befuddled by why people think they are weird, and therefore resigned to their weirdness (which I’m cool with. I like their unique little selves,) and completely resigned to the bullying attached to it in p.s. (which i’m not cool with, and finally pulled oldest out of middle school this year. She’s thriving… except at church, where most of her friends are also homeschooled -well, public charter school homeschooled, whereas we’re not using charter online stuff– and yet think she is a freak. It’s hard to be left out and ostracized at school. At CHURCH… it’s…. awful.

    • So sorry to hear that you daughter is treated badly by other kids at church. hugs.

    • So sorry to hear about your church experience. We have had some hard conversations with the pastor and the Sunday school staff about how/whether our church practices “Jesus’ radical message of inclusion for all.” And we weren’t alone. A few other adults in the congregation agreed that the REAL curriculum of Sunday school should be how to value everyone who is there and to find something they all can do together–even if it’s not what the teacher planned for. This year is SO much better, as a result, though there remains a lot of work to do. Good luck. It’s important to find a church home that works for your whole family!

  2. My 9 yo LOVES that she’s weird! I loved being weird as a kid and young adult, too.

  3. I absolutely adore this post! I’m planning to homeschool my daughter and have already been doing preschool learning with her. She’s three. I’m so proud of her and so thankful I have the time to spend teaching her. She is already doing simple math addition and subtraction and wants to begin learning to read soon. We are waiting til the fall so we don’t detract from summer fun outdoors. I have worried about her being weird compared to children attending public school but you really put that into perspective for me and I’m even more excited to allow her the freedom to explore being weird. Thank you!

  4. Hi!
    Just wanted to say I LOVE this post. I’m somewhat an outside the box thinker and encourage my kids in that direction as well. We’ve raised 2 boys to adulthood in a Christian school and the public system. It’s one of my greatest regrets in life. We have added 2 beautiful and precious daughters to our family through adoption from Haiti. Home educating our 7 and 5 year old daughters was not even a question. The journey isn’t always easy but the rewards are so great. With the lack of values and morals in the public system, I’d rather my kids be labeled weird than be exposed to all the negatives. I believe that living a life with godly morals and good values according to the Word of God is the “normal” way to live, how God originally designed it, but with the decline in morality and values, society wants you to believe this is the “normal” and those that choose to live differently are the weird ones. I hope this made sense!!Lol

  5. Dee Johnson says:

    I love that my kids are different and not the ‘normal’ public school type of kids. They actually talk to adults! Most kids shy away from talking to adults. Sad really.
    My husband always used to say “Why be normal?” :)

  6. I’ve always said normal is boring!! Yay for being weird!!

  7. Nope, no one showed me the olives on the finger trick either, it just seemed like the right way to eat them as a kid! Love it, nice article.

  8. I love this post so much. My kid is weird. We are a very nerdy family. Think Doctor Who printables. She is able to as quirky as she wants. She can have a lightsaber battle, defeat weeping angels, play princess, cover herself in dirt digging a giant hole or cuddle up with a book and all of this is normal in her homeschool group of friends. I love that she can explore her world without childish ridicule. :)
    Meagan’s latest post: Geeky Educational Link Up

  9. I find myself wanting to apologize for what I perceive as “weird” behavior. My kids are totally comfortable with it and don’t seem to care what others feel about it so I try to back off and go with the flow.

  10. I was homeschooled and you definitely miss out on a lot of socialization. Plenty of parents home school because, well, they’re kind of crazy. Having a child in a large social environment creates a lot of social learning that gets missed by home schooling. There’s nothing wrong with being nerdy or quirky, but after school is over, those kids have to function in the real world and that’s where there are problems. I missed a lot of socialization.

    In looking at the Moncton shooting, the guy who did it definitely would not have done that if he had been better socialized. He came from an odd, extremely religious family and needed the time to be with other kids.

    • Christine says:

      Hope you don’t mind that I used you as an example. Hope you have a good day.

    • Hi, I would like to politely disagree. I am a currently homeschooled child, have my own blog and love talking. I don’t miss out at all on socialization. I understand your homeschooling experience might have been different, but that’s your experience, not everyone else’s. What I am trying to say is that we all have a different viewpoint from our perspective and we don’t all live in the same place. Socialization is a matter completely aside homeschool or public school. It’s the place and the way you were raised that makes a difference in your social life. Thanks for listening, and please visit my blog sometimes @
      Morgan’s latest post: Spain’s Crusade in the New World

    • Thankfully there are not loads of people like this Moncton fellow in the world. Parents do their best and what they believe will work, based on so many factors.

  11. Christine says:

    I graduated from homeschooling, yes, all twelve grades were spent in a “unsocialized” atmosphere. Oh my gosh! My “crazy” parents, however, knew the importance of getting me with other kids. I spent practically everyday in a classroom with thirty other kids. Then I would go home and complete as many lessons as I desired with my mom and sometimes even my father’s help. Surprising to many people, I had field trips almost every weekend, I went to proms and I even had a graduating class where I got to walk down the aisle and receive my diploma. Holy cow! It is amazing the resources available to homeschoolers when they actually open their eyes! I WAS weird in the fact that I loved to talk! Can you tell? 😉 So my mom sent me into a program called NCFCA, an organization FULL of other homeschool weirdos who also like to talk. When I say full, I mean thousands of kids from all over the states! Talk about unsocialized! I went to regionals for speech and debate because my quirkiness in love of speech won over so many judges! I had the privilege of even competing in some instances against those so called “normal” kids from public school. I can assure you, my out-of-the-box thinking won over many judges time after time! I was allowed to mature in the best way possible for me. Although, I do believe that homeschooling is dependent on the guardians and their attempts on “being involved”. So for guardians who don’t have much interest in staying at home, taking their kids to many outings with other “weirdos” and even to expand their own knowledge through teaching their own kids; I highly suggest them to put their kids in public school. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart! Raising these out-of-world thinkers is a ton of work that requires a ton of commitment. So when guardians aren’t that committed, that is how I believe people like Beth come about. The “unsocialized” weirdos of our world who feel neglected in their education. It is unfortunate but sadly it is becoming more and more common. Because for some strange reason guardians think they can take their kids out of school to “protect” them or for whatever reason and then not commit time to their education. So to those committed parents who are brave enough to homeschool their kids the right way, I salute you. And to those poor deprived children who try to give homeschooling such a bad image, I am sorry that you personally had a bad experience. I assure everyone else though, it doesn’t happen to us all. LOVE this article though. Cheers to all my fellow weirdos, let’s continue to dominate the world with our out-of-the-box thinking!

  12. My friend and I have discussed this often. Each of our oldest kids are weird. More weird than the others in some way, though as you say, they all truly are. We know for these two, however, they’d still be weird in public school but would be ridiculed. The others would, sadly, conform and fit in. These two would maintain weirdness and be social outcasts. Some kids are incapable of conformity. But these kids are amazing.

  13. As an ex- homeschooling mother of two grown, married kids, who are both teachers, I have to agree with you 100%. Weird is one of those things they are and aren’t. I do, however, believe it’s important to protect them–as you mentioned with the kilt illustration–from being too weird, creative, or whatever we want to label it, in public. I think it’s great to be off-the-wall and creative, but you also want kids to have friends. Our home is a safe environment, but they also need to look somewhat non-strange out in the world. Some homeschooling families shelter the kids too much and aren’t really in touch. So, the kids all look like they grew up in Little House on the Prairie with their ill-fitting clothing and extreme timidness. It’s not just weird when an 18-year-old still clings to his mother’s skirts; it’s abnormal. BUT, the vast majority of homeschooled kids we’ve met are terrific. They mix well with any age group. They are socialized, fun, and yes, weird (in the good definition of weird). LOVE them!

  14. I have 4 boys ages 2-14. The older 2 decided they wanted to try public just a couple years ago. BUT, I am so glad they got to be the quirky “weird” kids they wanted to be. They are still crazy and creative. Their teachers, all of them, always admire their confident creativity. They say they don’t see kids like mine everyday. They don’t of course because we embrace the uniqueness of them and ourselves. We encourage it-something that’s fully discouraged and suppresed starting in kindergarten.

  15. My kids all love olives!! They certainly have their own style too.

  16. I’m thinking of doing home school partially because of this. I grew up the weird, bullied, social outcast. To be honest, I think I would be MORE confident socially now if I hadn’t gone to public school. My treatment there made me want to avoid social situations and people in general. I finally decided after freshman year of high school that I’d had enough. I left and attended an online high school, graduating a year early, and I was much, much happier for it. I look at my two-year-old daughter, and she is so much like me. I’m thinking of home schooling her so the same thing doesn’t happen to her. In my own opinion, it’s more important for a child to be comfortable with being who they are, quirks and all, then being socialized. Socialization can come through many different avenues after all.

  17. Yvette Edwards says:

    I don’t harbor a secret worry that my kids are weird. All kids are! I am happy in our homeschooling which allows them to be who they are. I have always let them wear what they wanted, matching or not, furry haired vests and all (even when they went to PS) because I felt squashed as a kid. The only real and present fear or struggle I have is with my family. They are the ones worried about quirks. I love living close to them so we have opportunities to serve them and teach my kids the value of family but also wish we lived far away again so my girls would not be subjected to the family ideas of “normal” which are fairly ludicrous and often very narrow ways of thinking/living. Loved this article. Thanks for your heart and soul in it and for sharing it with us. I find encouragement here. Knowing that I am not the only weirdo schooling the next generation of “weirdos”. Kudos to all who are stepping out of the box. You all are amazing and wonderful and lovely!!!

  18. I don’t wonder whether my 5 year old is weird. With his parents and grandparents, he’s really got no choice but to be weird. :-) We have the only grandchild on both sides of the family (i know, how spoiled is HE?) and so far, luckily, the whole family has just kinda shrugged off anything he does as weird. My sister and sisters in law are just, “well what can we expect with you two weirdos as his parents?” and my parents LOVE his uniqueness. He is in a public pre-k right now, and we are all counting down the days til he is out and we can return to our version of normal. 3 night owls on a day schedule for school is a nightmare of epic proportions.
    I hope he maintains his “weirdness”. I don’t want my son to ever fall into the pit that is normal. I want him to be comfortable with his weirdness!

  19. I adore this post. I was just talking to a friend about this very thing. In public school, to be different is to be weird…. And yet… once you survive high school, that difference is embraced. So at that point it’s cool to be weird. Am I right?

    I kinda want to eat olives off my fingers now :)
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: On Motherhood

  20. No, it’s no secret. We proudly let the freak flag fly in our home. :) We’ve home-schooled our twins (now 13) since they were 5 1/2 and they are exceptionally proud of their quirks. Their “normal” friends just shake their heads and love them the way they are. It is possible they got their weird eating habits from me (eating the bread and salad first, and then the burger meat, or eating the pastry layer by layer, from the bottom up and then making a little bowl with the top of the pie and the filling)… My son also has some Aspie tendencies, which brings a LOT of humor into our home. Celebrate the socially acceptable quirkiness, I say!
    Lizette’s latest post: A Happy Remote Worker Is a Productive Remote Worker

  21. selena mainarick says:

    I was homeschooled all throughout high school. I would never ever recommend it . my own children have been in private Christian schools from k-4 and now high school. High school is were kids identify who they want to be and become. I felt left out of many functions in high school. I want my kids to have an option of choosing to go to social events as long as grades are maintained at 3.0 or higher and are challenging themselves in any athletic way or for my daughters sake educational ap way. I’m a weird person that only was it in college did I finally experience social awkwardness that could of been dealt with at a younger age. I felt like I missed out on all the things that I would of loved to have been part of if in regular or even private school I.e. newspapers club, drama club, prom, Sadie Hawkins, tutor club. So much I could of explored and been able to say. I remember those friends and all the great things we did. Memories. I believe if you are a good parent with good guidance you can let your child experience so much for fruitfulness in their lives if let them experience public or private school.

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