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.

Comments

  1. Tiffany says:

    Hey, I eat olives all types and other pickled things. My homeschool boys are wired but I find it endearing.

  2. Alia Joy says:

    I love this. My oldest son, now 12, is a normal funny quirky kid at home but he is often awkward and socially unaware of some things when we are out and about. Homeschooling has allowed him to have friends, to be interested in reading, and to have a childhood. I am constantly amazed at how some of the kids at our co-ops relate to each other. More civilized and accepting than a lot of other social situations where kids and peer pressure are involved. Because really, how cool can you be with your mom sitting a few feet away?
    Alia Joy’s latest post: What You See is What You Get

  3. se7en says:

    Oh what a fun post…. I am sure there is a blog out there writing a: “The extremely weird and funny things my homeschooled kids do that they would never do if they were in public school”… I love the creative freedom my kids have because they homeschool, they can be their own weird selves and we can applaud them. Honestly, my kids will never be able to say that “I embarrass them” when they are teens, because they have so put me through quite a bit already… Weeks hanging in a tree at the gate like a bat, years of strange clothes, but really it is the things they say: The weird little factoids that homeschool kids spout out to engage folk, where other kids are talking about what was in their lunch bag!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en’s October… And a Free Printable Calendar…

  4. Absolutely excellent post!
    I can’t resist; here’s a post from my blog of a similar ilk:
    http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/homeschoolers-are-weird.html
    My daughter wrote the blog post and it is entitled “Homeschoolers are Weird”.
    Thanks SO much for this post…I love it!

    In the absence of a better vocabulary, homeschoolers will always be called “weird” when what is really meant is unique, quirky, and fun!

    • michelle says:

      Emma,
      Just curious, why are you on a homeschool website if you have such disdain?

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Emma, did you give them all assessment test when you met them?! Did they want to talk to you while you interrogated them?

      Most of the homeschooled kids I’ve met & know, are completely *independent*, it’s their public schooled peers that co-depend upon peers of the same age when out in public.

      My son is *weird* and *quiry* and incredibly bright. His intelligence is one of the main reasons we choos homeschool over conventional schooling.

  5. Doesn’t everyone eat black olives off their fingers? :)
    All Things Beautiful’s latest post: The Civil War and President Lincoln {1861-1865}

  6. Allira says:

    I love this! We will be sharing it on our weird homeschool facebook page, lol
    Allira’s latest post: (Day 303) Almost 10 months!

  7. Dawn Suzette says:

    Wonderful post! Thanks.
    Dawn Suzette’s latest post: Sewing :: Fionna’s Knife Pouch

  8. Mary Beth says:

    I totally have that fear- but at the same time, I find myself thankful for their weirdness- that they aren’t consumed with trying to fit in. I hope they’ll be weird forever!
    Mary Beth’s latest post: from white noise to white space

  9. Natalie says:

    It’s not a secret fear in my house, I know my kids are weird. With a statistician for a father and a biologist for a mother, they were doomed to be weird from day one. That’s one of the reasons why we’re homeschooling – we don’t need to worry that the weird will lead to bullying. Instead, we can celebrate the weirdness, and continue to spout of random facts about the periodic table of the elements at an age when most kids have never even heard of it.

  10. My kids are weird – heck, our whole family is weird – and we are perfectly ok with it. All the things that made me a social outcast as a public school student are what make my own kids cool to their friends. Go figure.
    Eddie – The Usual Mayhem’s latest post: Review: Music Together: 9.75 out of 10!!!!!

  11. Ashley says:

    Agreed! I have told my husband many times when the socialization issue arises that no matter what our kids are weird, and they will always be weird because we are weird! BTW…they eat olives off their fingers too. :)

  12. It’s fabulous the way you connected childhood weirdness with adult creative thinking. Very encouraging!

    No, I don’t worry that my kids are weird, but I know that our family is weird, culturally speaking. Our natural lifestyle is decidedly foreign in these parts.
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: talk to me about….

  13. Kara says:

    Excellent post! I agree with many of the comments; our kids are weird and we know it. I was considered weird when I was in school, but I was okay with it. It did not damage me it made me feel special. Going against the cultural flow has always come naturally to me, and I think it’s been easier to pass that on to my kids. Now, my poor hubby was a popular kid in school so this has taken a bit more adjustment for him. :)
    Kara’s latest post: Day Late, Dollar Short

  14. Well, I was homeschooled K-12 and I don’t think people think I am weird now, so… :-) I do admit that I have thought about this for my own children though.
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: When You Are In Information Overload

  15. Janet says:

    I love this article! My friends – homeschooling and not talk about how weird kids, in general, are. I do think homeschooled kids get way more room to try out different quirks and experiment with who they are and what they like – I totally love it!

  16. Sarah says:

    Um… sometimes I still put black olives on the ends of my fingers and do the whole “scary finger waving” before eating the olives right off the tips of my fingers. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.

  17. Thank you for this! I am just starting home school with my 5 and 3 year olds. You have put my fears to rest about weirdness and you have also reinforced why I decided to home school in the first place! Couldn’t have said it better!
    Danielle Drown’s latest post: Goodbyes

  18. Hillary says:

    When we first started talking about homeschooling our friends said this to us out of true concern. As if having “weird” kids were the worst thing in the world. And that’s the thing — coming from traditional schooling being labeled weird was a pretty horrible experience. Happy to have my kids have the freedom to be authentic without the judgement of the herd. Interestingly enough, my eight year old is very involved in the homeschool community and attends a variety of activities and classes and while kids will be kids it’s amazing to see how open minded and tolerant the group is.
    Hillary’s latest post: Why I Chose Midwives (Video)

  19. Angela says:

    I actually like that my son is different. Quirky, if you will :) It’s one of the best parts about homeschooling – giving him the chance to be HIMSELF without fear of reprisal.
    Angela’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday.

  20. Anne says:

    As I tell my 7 year old when she says that her brother is weird, “Everyone is weird in their own special way. That’s what makes us all different. If we were all the same, the world would be a very very boring place.”

    So, all in all – normal is boring. I’d rather me and my kids be “weird” – it makes life for interesting! LOL

  21. Tracey says:

    Thank you for saying it out loud, “All kids are weird!” We need more weirdos, kids and adults.
    Tracey’s latest post: Nicholas Adam Sprovtsoff, Semper Fi

  22. Darcy says:

    I tell my kids to not be normal! LOL I tell them we are soo different from others around and it is okay. The only one they need to worry about impressing is God and the only one who they need to worry about what is thought of them. They know there are boundaries and they know most of the social ‘norms’ but we choose to not follow them and it is cool. I have one child who I think would be most influenced and she is the one I stress to be her own person and think about who it is she is trying to impress and do they really matter in the end.

  23. Jennifer says:

    Hold the phone. You aren’t SUPPOSED to eat olives that way? lol

  24. Aislynn says:

    As I read this article, my quirky six year old was wrapping his two year old brother in our retractable table tennis net… yeah… we love homeschooling! ;)

  25. Katrina says:

    I was enjoying the article and then got to the picture of the two girls in the yellow pants together and BURST out laughing. My sister and I (products of homeschooling our entire lives) TOTALLY did that when we were about 14 and 16 with my dad’s sweat pants…. and yep… took a picture too :)

    And now we’re both encouraging weirdness in our children as we are both homeschooling our children. I could totally see my kids eating olives off their finger tips and I’m ecstatic that they will get to embrace their unique design by God :)
    Katrina’s latest post: Whom do you serve?

  26. Love it. The other day my six-year-old daughter was in the front yard collecting acorns. In an evening gown.
    A great side benefit of homeschooling: dress-up whenever they want, all day if they want.
    CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com‘s latest post: Ridiculously Simple Autumn Leaf Art

  27. Heather says:

    We are weird and proud! http://wp.me/p22Jbf-2W

  28. Leah says:

    I LOVE this. I have thought this for a while but didn’t know how to put it into words. It’s something you can just see when you go into a group of homeschooled kids. I see kids at co-op being weird all the time. They’s be afraid to do that in a school, but in our homeschool group, we’re all that way. So different is good!

  29. Amanda says:

    Well, good for you. Then don’t homeschool your kids.

    There is a huge difference between being yourself (which any public school will eventually beat out of a kid), and not being able to function in society (which is not what is being promoted here). Wouldn’t you consider name-calling, cliquish behaviors, and threatening people you don’t like with physical harm anti-social behaviors? Somehow, those behaviors thrive at public school, where kids are supposedly taught to be more “appropriate.” There is also a difference between being undisciplined (“teaching your kids that they can do what they want”) and being who you are. The most undisciplined kids I have met go to public school.

    Also, starting a comment with internet slang and them complaining about other people’s grammar is somewhat ironic.

    • Jo says:

      Oh, honey.
      I’m curious as to why you even read a site like this, since it’s clear the thoughts and opinions here make you angry. I’m sorry you’re so offended by homeschoolers and homeschooled children. Aren’t you glad we can each make the educational choices that are best for our families? I’m thankful that I don’t have to educate my children the way my neighbor, or sister, or state official thinks is best. Criticizing and attacking each other’s choices is uncharitable, at best, and in no way beneficial to the children.

      • Emma Beyar says:

        Thank you Jo. You make a good point. I actually found this site by accident, and my intention wasn’t to be ugly, but it did come out that way. I am happy that we can all make our own choices. And, I know some people have very legitimate reasons to homeschool. My concern lies in some people homeschooling that are not equipped to do so. It’s been my experience that many homeschooled kids do not get the exposure that they should, but I know I have not met every one of them, nor have I any stastical data or anything else. And, surely they do get benefits that publicaly schooled kids do not get. I am sorry for being ugly about it.

        • Jamie says:

          Emma,

          It’s fine for you to hold your opinions, but the way you’ve expressed them in many of your comments on this post has been rude and insulting. I’ve deleted your other comments, and ask that you go elsewhere if this blog doesn’t interest you.

          If you want to express how you feel in a more charitable way, like you have done in your reply to Jo, then you’re more than welcome to stay and chat.

  30. Carolyn Henry says:

    Back before my daughter was school-age, I told my cousin I was considering homeschooling. She tried to discourage me from doing so because she knew a family at church who did and their kids were “weird”. She said they didn’t act like kids. (And this is a bad thing?) Fast forward 10 years and I am now homeschooling both my kids – 4th and 2nd grade. I saw her at a recent family gathering and she said homeschooling wasn’t something she could have done, but good for me. Then she said they had friends at church who had homeschooled and it worked out well for them. I was polite and didn’t ask her if this was the same family that had “weird” kids ten years before. I am assuming it was, however, and that she saw the fruit of the educational choice. Or she really thinks those kids are now weird adults and was just being polite to me.

  31. Penny says:

    My kids and I have been talking about this very thing recently. You put it into words so much better than I did. I have been trying to tell them that we are all weird and that is what makes life fun. Because being weird is being unique, quirky and fun and just being yourself without worrying about what others think! I love that homeschooling allows them to grow into their true selves without being shaped by peer pressure of what should be normal.

  32. S.Smith says:

    I am a wedding photographer and just a few weeks ago as I hung out with the fellas prior to the ceremony this topic came up. One of the groomsmen was homeschooled and they were all calling him weird and making jokes. They even went on to say they can point out a homeschool kid a mile away because they are so weird. I kept my mouth zipped. As the day went on and the longer I hung out with these fellas the more they helped me realize that what I am doing is right, for us. The homeschooled groomsman was the most polite, kept things moving, and had such an amazing kindness and calm to him. The others guys were using horrible language, making very inappropriate comments, and were chugging beers and show casing their rudeness. The homeschooled groomsmen was constantly apologizing to me, a lady in the room, for their behavior. At the end of the night when I was packed up and heading out I made a bee line to the homeschooled groomsman and his adorable wife and said it was great meeting such a “weird” homeschooled adult, it gives me great hope that I am doing the right thing with my three boys by homeschooling them. Slipped him my card, shook their hands, and walked out feeling great! :) The normal I saw that day and most days of my job is a constant reminder that weird is the new cool!

  33. Tiffany says:

    When a friend’s son put on plaid and stripes together, he asked her if it matched. She said no and told him to change. He was “devastated” (her words). She posted this on FB and insisted he needed to learn this now and could not be walking around in unmatched clothes. When I read this, I wondered – Why not? If he likes it, why shouldn’t he be allowed to “think outside the box”? I posted that perhaps he would be the next big fashion designer :)

  34. I know that are a variety of children all over, no matter how they are educated! Last week, my sons were in a hunter’s education class and the last night, the teacher learned that they were home schooled. He was genuinely shocked looking and looked and me and said “Seriously? He is home schooled?”
    My oldest son was the kid in the class everyone wanted to sit next to, goof off with and the teacher knew his name the first hour of the first night because he is outgoing in a way that makes him popular. He is not your typical picture of a home schooled kid, which is about the norm anymore. Yes, there are still the kids that everyone thinks is “weird”, but there are those in public school too.

    I am thankful that my kids don’t choose their clothing, their hair styles and eating habits based on what the kids at school will make fun of or not. I am thankful that I learned to make decisions on my own, and not based on what others would do to me if I didn’t.
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: You don’t know me by Susan May Warren

  35. Sharon says:

    I cringed a bit this morning when my 10 year old daughter was going out the door to public school wearing a detective badge that she and her friend made yesterday afternoon out of cardboard and a safety pin. But, really, I’m proud of her for being her real self.
    Sharon’s latest post: Then & Now

  36. Kelly says:

    Weird is good! Great article, thanks!

  37. Debra says:

    I hope they are weird…. my fear is that the ridicule might make them want to change who they are, to conform. I tell them to celebrate their weirdness and try to be a good example of celebrating my own.
    Debra’s latest post: International Dot Day 2012

  38. April says:

    We are beginning our 12th year of homeschooling, and I have to agree that I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to fully experience the “weirdness” of my three kids who are still at home. However, my two older children (now adults) graduated from public school, and I honestly cannot see any real difference in the weirdness level ;)

    We are blessed to have many friends who have chosen public or private school for their children, yet they remain supportive of our choice to homeschool. Funny thing is, they all have “weird” kids too, so I have to wonder if perhaps the freedom to explore weirdness is more a product of family life and parental involvement than that of an educational choice.

    • Ellen says:

      Yes! I totally agree.

      From my observation, kids are just weird. Many of our public schooling friends allow their kids to be weird and they do ok in school because they are also taught great social skills – how to make friends, be confident, and be interested in people.

      I think there’s a lot more importance in social skills and awareness of how you interact with others then than in what you wear or what your hobbies are. Weird that is a problem is weird that doesn’t know how to talk to people.

  39. I was defending my kids the other day…saying they were completely like typical 13 and 12 year olds. But then I caught them debating the best Shakespearean villian…so I guess they are a bit weird! :)
    priest’s wife’s latest post: 31 Days of Faith & Works & Herb Butter- day 3

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I just wanted to say that I loved this post (especially as an adult who was a super-”weird” kid). And, priest’s wife, your comment absolutely made my morning!

  40. jen says:

    Lol…I was homeschooled and personally I still think I can be pretty weird. You know what…I don’t care. Yep, my kids are weird too and they are awesome and hilarious too. Nice article.

  41. Jo-anna says:

    I consider both my children weird, and I love it. I also love the freedom my children have to be unique individuals through homeschooling.

    Where else can my 6 year daughter decide that everyday is a holiday, like sharing day, Barbie day, or pajama day, and must be celebrated with a tea party complete with homemade books and decorations. Where else can she decide that today she is a fairy, and dress up as such, making a costume from clothes, toilet paper rolls and face paint.

    Where can my 4 year old learn about his overpowering emotions in a safe atmosphere. Where can he play hero factory, and Lego all day and create crazy worlds to be conquered. Where can he enjoy what would be considered girly in a non judgmental space, and be pretty if he wants.

    So yes, my children are weird, and they are given the chance to be so because we homeschool. If I ever bothered to buy olives I am positive they would become Olive Monsters with them on their fingertips. We already do it with raspberries (I mean, come on, it’s like they were made for it).

    I love being weird, and I encourage it in my children. I remember that I used to lick off the flavor on chips then eat them. Because they just tasted better that way.

  42. This article is AWESOME. Thank you! I agree with it all 100%. This is one of the main reasons we have chosen to homeschool our kiddos. We want them to be themselves and be able to explore their personalities (in addition to their learning and educational interests) without the pressure of peers to conform to a certain standard of “normalcy”. Thank you for putting into such perfect words the way I feel :-)

  43. Great post and you’re so right! I’m frankly fed up with what’s ‘normal’ these days. Kids need to be kids and we all need to be ‘weird’!
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s latest post: Rock Candy Life Eco-friendly Shower Curtain Review and Giveaway

  44. Emmalina says:

    I love this : ) One of the reasons I want to educate my children at home is so they can explore their own perfect strangeness, in a safe environment where the harsh criticism and normalising influence of peers is absent. That way they won’t be in a therapist’s office at 40 trying to ‘find themselves’, they will already know and accept themselves, at least that is my hope. The quest for the mythical normal is destructive and limiting, I think we homeschoolers are shaping a new generation of much more confident, creative and secure individuals : )
    Emmalina’s latest post: Moving Along

  45. I love this, just love. Especially your son’s response. And yes, my daughter and I eat our black olives the very same way.

  46. I suppose my children are weird. They are weird because they love learning. They are weird because they know more about Canadian politics and world issues them most adults I know. My daughter is weird because she doesn’t want to dress like a hoochie in grade 4! My son is weird because he thinks it’s important to be a gentlemen … yah my family’s weird we put our global community first before material wants. But hey – I am OK with that :)
    Kay That Canadian Mom’s latest post: Summer Pool Fun

  47. Carrie says:

    So very true! My sister once told me that she was going to teach her homeschooled kids to play guitar or drums because that way their “weirdness” would turn out to be uber hip and creative when he got older. :)
    Carrie’s latest post: Kesed is 5! Look out world

  48. Camiden says:

    My kids are weird, unique, hilarious, awesome, and choose their own styles. And they go to public school…but that doesn’t mean I don’t teach them at home as well.

    All is well.

  49. This is so true. Several of my kids were in school before they were homeschooled. I wouldn’t say they were any less weird, or creative, or eager to explore their interests (at home) while they were enrolled in school BUT the structure of school and the very powerful impact of peer culture was an effective suppressant. As homeschoolers they know full well when it’s necessary to conform, behave, live up to social norms. In fact, I’d venture to say that it’s easier because they have so much time to be themselves. They don’t have to “act up” in public, shocking adults in order to define themselves. Maybe some commenters don’t appreciate the word “weird.” It’s just a way of saying “unique.” Which is what we all know each of us are.

    Sharing!
    Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: Educating Too Early

  50. Susan says:

    I really enjoyed this article. One the reasons we have made the decision to homeschool is so that my kids can be “weird” and not suffer ridicule from 20 other kids in a classroom setting. Weird translates to creativity – thank you for that. And I am a firm believer that the hole in black olives was MEANT for fingers! :)

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