Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

George H. Akers

Second Advisor

Ruth Murdoch

Third Advisor

Kenneth Strand


Problem: The home school movement in America presents a rapidly-emerging alternative to conventional educational systems. The purpose of this study was to identify selected characteristics of home schools and the parents who operate them.

Method: The population used in this descriptive research was drawn from the files of the Hewitt Research Foundation, Berrien Springs, Michigan. Potential respondents were parents indicating recent experience or interest in home school operations. The study was designed to develop a profile of home schools and home school operators by identifying central tendencies in the respondent data. A mailed questionnaire asked the parents questions in five areas:

1. Reasons for operating home school

2. General nature of home schools

3. Essential elements for home school success

4. Psychographic characteristics of home school operators

5. Demographic characteristics of home school operators.

Findings. Data analysis produced the following findings:

1. Major reasons expressed by parents for operating home schools (in order of importance) were: concern about the moral health and character development of their children; detrimental effect of rivalry and ridicule in conventional schools; parent-perceived poor quality of public school education; and the desire to extend parent-child contact.

2. General nature of home schools revealed by responses indicate these typical home school characteristics: a small, family enterprise, averaging two children and sponsored by both parents; informal, child-centered, relatively flexible program.

3. Parent-perceived success factors (in order of importance): love of children, strong parental determination, family unity in enterprise, support from friends and others, economic ability to afford the additional expenses.

4. The psychographic profile indicated that parents were, for the most part, politically conservative and attend church regularly. Home school operators expressed concern over violence in public schools, and excess government control. They reported themselves as occasional travelers and moderately active in community affairs.

5. The demographic profile indicated the following characteristics: home school operators, for the most part, live in small or rural areas; come from diverse, non-traditional religious backgrounds; and tend to have small families. Generally, operators were homemaking mothers whose spouses were professionals or skilled workers, with a household income ranging between $15,000 and $20,000 per year. Parents typically have attended between one and three years of college.

Conclusions and Recommendations: These parent profiles identify a segment of the U.S. population likely to initiate and operate home schools. They tend to be individualistic, law-abiding, concerned about their parent role, dissatisfied with available options in contemporary education, and actively engaged in implementing their own solution. They desire to reestablish the home as the basic unit in a free enterprise society and are willing to confront social opposition in order to meet their personal goals.

State boards of education should restudy the home school as a valid method of education. It is recommended the provisions be made for home schools to be given experimental school status, with home school students being made part of the local school pupil count. This would encourage local schools to play a more encouraging role toward home schools.

Subject Area



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