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Jennifer Cabrera
Caricature of Jennifer Cabrera holding a coffee mug
How to Spot a Homeschooler
Breaking Free from Stereotypes
Do you ever meet a kid, parent, or family and instinctively know they homeschool without having to ask? What gives it away?
Like a dalmatian or leopard, homeschoolers have identifying marks too. Our “spots” are the unique elements of our beliefs, behaviors, and wardrobe that distinguish us in a crowd.
All kids deserve to be weird and unsocialized; they need a chance to grow into who they are meant to be, influenced by their interests, experiences, and family, not fear or peer pressure.
Endearing Homeschool Spots of Old:
young girl smiling and wearing pink sunglasses
  • The obviously homemade dress stitched from a tablecloth, pockets full of flowers and fossils.
  • The seven siblings in matching tablecloths wandering in the same vicinity.
  • Journaling at tourist spots in the off-season during school hours.
  • Arrives at the trampoline park with books and homemade, organic, gluten-free snacks.
  • Reenacts Shakespeare on the playground with perfect prose and accents.
  • The mom in a denim jumper leading her kids in prayer at the Chick-Fil-A.
  • Spelling tests and history quizzes in the dentist office waiting room.
  • Humming classical tunes while picking out theology references at the used bookstore at age nine.
  • The slightly obnoxious fountain of facts and lack of restraint when talking to strangers.
  • The inability to name current pop culture icons or open a combination lock.
  • Has read all the Narnia books. Twice. But never the he-who-must-not-be-named series!
  • Enjoys crafts and conversations with the elderly more than peer group mayhem.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all charming qualities still found in the homeschool community today, but our spots are changing as our numbers grow. It’s getting harder and harder for the untrained eye to spot a homeschooler.
three kids tossing popcorn in the air and trying to catch it in their mouths
However, certain derogatory stereotypes have unfairly haunted and clung to homeschoolers for decades. Blessedly, you may not have encountered condescension personally, as things are improving. So, I’ll enlighten you on some of the stereotypes of old.
Harsh & Hackneyed Homeschool Stereotypes:
  • Homely, nerdy, awkward Jesus freaks.
  • Their only friends are their siblings and goats.
  • They are hostages in their homes with no way to meet friends or call for help.
  • Most are deficient in math and only learn to count chickens and books of the Bible.
  • Sheltered from the real world and clueless about current fashion, lingo, and how to fit in.
  • Have very narrow, bigoted, and outdated worldviews.
Basically, these unfair homeschool stereotypes can be summed up in one widely misused and weaponized word…


Unsocialized: a term coined by homeschool opponents and repeated by those hesitant to homeschool or who fear the power of the family unit over the institutions of indoctrination.

Laughably, most people can’t spot a homeschooler so easily today. We are everywhere and spreading like fire ants, stinging critics with our individualism and plotting to take over the world!

Recently, I was at dinner with my husband and his new coworkers. I sat at the end of the table so they could “talk shop” without feeling pressure to include me. But as often happens in polite conversation, someone asked what I do, since I no longer practice medicine, and all eyes turned to me. I asked my husband beforehand if he’d like me to deflect when the topic of my life endeavors was breached, or if I should let my homeschool hair down and opinions fly. He told me to be myself in true homeschool fashion.

When the topic was breached, he jumped in and gave a rundown of our family’s homeschool choice and my advocacy as a speaker and writer. He had my name in lights on a marquee by the time he was done. God love him.

His coworkers were stunned and silent. I was stunned that they were stunned! A homeschool mom, right there, hiding in plain sight, out of her basement and sans her denim jumper! The bewildered pause only lasted a few seconds. Next, I was fielding sincere questions, verbally swatting stereotypes, and correcting common and outrageous misunderstandings. I felt like an amoeba smeared across a slide for inspection.

“Some of y’all have never met a real homeschooler and it shows!”
I was shocked by this group of highly educated professionals struggling to mask their preconceived notions and insecurities over what I was happily describing with logic, reason, and experience. Eventually, I forced a change in conversation because I knew where this line of talk could lead and that my husband had to continue working with these people. And dessert had arrived.

FYI, it’s difficult to defend and advocate for homeschooling without putting up a mirror in front of others and watching it crack before their eyes. (sigh) But that’s an article for another issue. A week later a couple of those at dinner told my husband they really enjoyed talking with me. One said I really made her think, and if she ever gets married and has kids, she really wants to homeschool. I’m adding her to my list of tentative converts.

Can you spot a homeschooler? Try this on:
His feet sloshed in his worn-out leather moccasins, clearly homemade slippers he pretended were everyday shoes anywhere bare feet weren’t allowed. He always needed a haircut. Not in that way old people complain about long hair on guys, more like a cow-licked bedhead awaiting the crude cut he gets when the weather is nice enough for mom to use the clippers on the back porch. Random facts and nonsense burst from his unfiltered thoughts at odd times. He laughed at his own jokes. He didn’t always understand the jokes made by others, or ever realize that he was the butt of a few of them. His favorite snack to sneak… glue. He never smelled particularly bad, but usually looked like he’d just rolled in the dirt with a farm animal…

…Must be homeschooled, right?

Nope. I sat beside him for two years in elementary school in the ‘80s. Despite all his quirks, he was an interesting specimen to observe, entertaining and friendly. It was almost comforting to disappear into his field of distraction. His bold, unapologetic weirdness blinded the bullies to the rest of us softer targets.

I didn’t know it or appreciate it at the time, but he was a diamond in the rough, vast sea of conformity. I have no idea where he is today, who he became, if he was able to maintain his sense of self.

If I could flash back to the second grade for a rectifying moment, I’d nickname him Aladdin and apologize for calling him a glue-eater behind his back. Then I’d offer him some of the sailor’s hardtack we made in our recent unit study to keep in his desk. Maybe even give him and his feet something to look forward to by prophesying the invention of Crocs.

close up of someone pouring glue into their hand
All kids deserve to be weird and unsocialized; they need a chance to grow into who they are meant to be, influenced by their interests, experiences, and family, not fear or peer pressure. The question is… What is weird? Weird changes with the flow of the latest fads and group think. Everywhere you look there are young people desperate to stand out while ironically copying the latest fads and joining the in-crowds in protests for causes they can’t define. And yet, they still feel boxed in and driven to rebel with aimless energy and anger.

Homeschooling allows kids the opportunity to stand out for all the right reasons. We are the new rebels of society, especially if we are willing to follow where God leads us personally.

Homeschooling has grown so much it’s hard to toss a planner and not hit a mom who knows how to wield it to shape the future! It’s refreshing to see families step up and reclaim their right to raise and educate their own children as God planned.

Because of homeschooling’s exponential growth, the homeschool stereotype of old is fading. Of course, we still recognize each other out in the world where we live and learn on our own terms.

How to spot a homeschooler today:
  • Can do at least one of the following: knit, clean a fish, explain the three branches of US government, make dinner, build a bookshelf, write in cursive (without AI assistance), grow veggies, change a diaper, drive a tractor, sew their own costume, play a musical instrument (or three), make friends of all ages, debate politely, and so much more…
  • Enjoys the company and conversation of their parents and other adults.
  • Cautions others about tasting Turkish delight.
  • Appreciates receiving books as holiday and birthday gifts.
  • Can tie several sailor knots and has milked cows daily since birth or once on Pioneer Day.
  • Has more than three friends fluent in American Sign Language.
  • Downloads more audiobooks than video games.
  • Can be found outside the home throughout the week engaging in hands-on, real-world learning.
  • Can spew a fountain of facts on a variety of topics including biology and our failing economy.
  • Saturday lessons are a privilege, not a punishment, cause Mondays out are more fun.
  • Knows the books of the Bible in order and can sing them to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
  • When asked what grade they are in, places fingertips together and sighs. “Well, actually…”
  • Has planted, pruned, harvested, and epicurious-ly prepared their own vegetable dish.
  • Raises chickens to eat and chickens to cuddle and feed from the tip of their nose.
  • Understands the nutritional and distractive value of second breakfast.
  • Dresses in popular fashions, superhero costumes, pajamas, and homemade apparel, for work or for the job they hope to have someday.

It’s difficult for skeptics to spot a homeschooler these days. They think they have our type pegged and are often left speechless when they meet a real homeschooler today. Stereotypes are obliterated each time a sharp-dressed, well-spoken homeschool grad arrives for an interview with an experience-filled resume.

We should be pleased when certain people can’t tell we homeschool right away and honored that more discerning appreciative eyes know us by our spots.
Jennifer Cabrera headshot

ennifer Cabrera is a physician assistant/MPH who left medicine to homeschool her three sons, two of which are graduated and studying electrical engineering and professional aviation at university. Jennifer is the writer, speaker, author and homeschool advocate behind HifalutinHomeschooler.com and strives to offer truth, encouragement, and humor to new and seasoned homeschool parents. Jennifer co-hosts The Homeschool Solutions Show podcast, is a speaker with Great Homeschool Conventions, and has written for the Epoch Times. Her publications include the humorous language arts series: Gross-Out Grammar & Revolting Writing and Socialize Like a Homeschooler; A Humorous Homeschool Handbook.