The first time someone said this to me was in 1997. I was fairly new to homeschooling and this statement made me a bit nervous. I knew no homeschoolers face-to-face; all were internet acquaintances. We certainly didn't look like the cover of "The Teaching Home," which was probably what they meant, but I was fairly certain that not all homeschool families consisted of long-haired moms of many, many children in matching clothes. (Link to TTH is in no way an endorsement!)
That was over ten years ago. I could probably have paid for today's manicure if I had a dollar for every time I've been told that I don't look like a homeschooler. I used to laugh uncomfortably. Then for a few years I said thank you. Now I usually tell people that I really do look like lots of them.
But the stereotype remains.
It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.
Are there homeschool families who look like this? Sure. Some of them are my friends. But you also have girls in shorts and Aeropostale t-shirts, and my boys in Mambo, Land's End, and BR. Sometimes my boys have very neat short hair, and sometimes it looks like this:
Most of the homeschool moms I know don't own a denim jumper and are more likely to be in jeans or capris than anything else.
Some of them have opted out of materialistic society and some of us are still way too cozy with it. Some homschooled because they were looking for a Christian worldview; some were trying to avoid it. Some, like us, just wanted to have our kid not hate learning. Some are poor, some are rich, far more of us fall somewhere in the middle. Some homeschool moms even work outside the home. (Some of us are supposed to be working from home and are blogging instead.)
Some of our kids are super-smart and lazy as all get-out. Some are smart and disciplined. Some are average. Some are dumber then dirt. Seriously. Some of our children are well-behaved and some are flat-out rotten and have caused many gray hairs and sleepless nights.
So if you see that woman described in the article, chances are she's a homeschool mom, but I'll be over at Target in my capris and BR blouse with my mani and my Brighton sandals and NO kids tagging along, 'cause they're at home playing Halo, and I'm a homeschool mom, too. (Although my Brighton sandals are OLD, and if I wasn't a homeschool mom they'd be NEW.)
Addendum: Yes, I dress up and put on make up to go to Target. It's my entertainment.