Where Do Homeschoolers Come From?



How did this happen? I never knew anything about homeschooling until I threw myself into it. I often wonder if homeschoolers have a similar genetic make-up, or share some common experience that predisposed them to homeschooling. I only know that I never planned to homeschool – it simply made it’s way into my life.

Both of my parents were first-generation college graduates. My Mom, having grown up in Brooklyn, New York, got her teaching degree and my Dad, an Aroostook County boy, became an accountant. Education was emphasized as we grew up. I was saving for college by age 11, by cleaning offices where my Dad worked and babysitting. My sisters, my brother and I all attended Catholic School. During my seven years there, we didn’t have a lot of science and arts. But we had Latin and French and advanced math. And my parents, who apparently recognized the importance of the arts, also enrolled us in music lessons, Little Theater, etc. Though I did well in school, there was always something about it that felt not quite right for me.

When I got to public high school, because of the Catholic School background, I was ahead of the game and ready for some fun, probably not the best combination for a teenager! My favorite time spent in high school by far was during the art classes I took with Mr. Sands at Bangor High. We created and learned, we laughed, we had a community. To me it was a perfect learning environment.

I went to UMaine for three years studying Art History and the Classics but was not focused on my studies and ended up leaving to travel across the country. Later I would go on to to study Herbalism and Holistic Nutrition in hands-on programs that fit my needs – at my own pace, filled with ideas that made sense to me and interested me. This type of learning stuck and to this day I use those skills.

When my first child at age three attended a Montessori preschool, I was very impressed with the whole “a child’s play is her work” philosophy. My son went for 2 years and then we waited another year before enrolling him in public school kindergarten. He had always be an ‘out of the box’ sort of kid, as anyone who knows him will tell you. We didn’t know at the time that he was dyslexic but it was clear that a regular public school day was nothing less than torture for him. It was at that point, having grown up in a household full of books and expecting quality education, having witnessed an alternative program at the Montessori school, and remembering my personal experience with education, that homeschooling grew into a ‘something’. It became a way to make things better for our family, a way that made more sense than public education.

I would love to hear from other homeschoolers – where did YOU come from?


Mary Thibodeau-Gagnon

About Mary Thibodeau-Gagnon

Mary homeschools her two sons in a rural area of Maine, while her daughter goes to school. She strives to meet the needs of all her kids while maintaining her sanity.