Purdue University Graduate School
Reynolds final dissertation draft (REVISED 09-29-2023)[32251].pdf (785.61 kB)

"It's hard. I love it, and it's hard!": Homeschool Moms' Navigation of Academic and Non-Academic Life

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posted on 2023-09-29, 19:05 authored by Gina Sue ReynoldsGina Sue Reynolds

The concept of homeschooling in the United States, though more mainstream today, remains an alternative way of educating our children. Researchers seeking to examine this method of education often focus on the outcomes for the children who receive their education through this mode of education. Seldom does the attention fall to the educator, the homeschool parent. The mother typically takes the active role in educating the children and she receives little attention as a person (Lois, 2016). This study examines the ways in which these mother/teachers navigate the academic and non-academic parts of their lives and what impact that has on their own and their family’s well-being. Because the number of families who choose this mode of education continues to rise, examining factors that affect their well-being is crucial (Ray, 2022). Nine online discussions with 26 homeschooling mothers set up as focus groups revealed strong connections to self-efficacy and agency. Group sizes ranged from two to four participants making some of the groups dyadic interviews rather than focus groups (Morgan, 1996). Agency and self-efficacy contributed to the sense of well-being for the mother and by extension to her family (Bandura 1977, 2006). The findings from this study suggest other homeschool mothers and past experiences played a role in their self-efficacy that contributed to their well-being leading to their self-efficacy expectation. Though previous literature suggests that homeschooling mothers connect strongly to the concept of good mother, the mothers in this study rejected many of the principles Hays (1996) suggests a good mother exhibits. The use of metaphors as a qualitative tool aided in the discovery of ways these mothers navigate their lives and how their management impacted their families. As an engaged qualitative inductive study, suggestions to existing homeschool groups and organizations that hope to support homeschooling families gave a connection back to communities outside of academia.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Ralph Webb

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Emily Buehler

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Sarah Eason

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Jeremy Osborn

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