Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Dr. Mary Jane Moran

Committee Members

Dr. Samara Akpovo, Dr. Devandra Potnis, Dr. Robyn Brookshire


Home education or “homeschooling” began to re-emerge in the late 1960’s in the US, parallel to civil rights initiatives and shifting educational policies (Murphy, 2014). Nevertheless, few studies have been dedicated to examining the lives and practices of homeschool parents (Goldberg, 2021; Lois, 2006; Ray, 2021). Rather, topics have centered on homeschool demographics, academic outcomes, and challenges (Hauseman, 2011; Isenberg, 2007; Lines, 2000; Shepherd, 2010).

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the lived experiences of six homeschool mothers’ everyday lives and the meanings assigned to their pedagogical decisions and related feelings in their journeys of becoming Mom Pedagogues. The study took place in a metropolitan area in the southeastern region of the US. Six mothers, who were members of a single home school group, were recruited through snowball sampling and were all female, white and middle class.

The study took place across nine months, including 39 weekly home visits and final, in-depth interviews. Data sources included field notes, audio recordings, and photographs taken by participants. At each visit, seminal moments of the week were represented and mediated through mothers’ photographs, representing current experiences, and recalling and memories of their childhoods in traditional school settings.

Key tenets of Bioecological and Sociocultural Theories were drawn upon to illuminate how the mothers viewed their roles and enacted their evolving identities. Selected frameworks included Women’s Ways of Knowing, Ethic of Care, and Foucault’s analysis of power and discipline. These contributed to understanding how the mothers developed their personal epistemological beliefs and processes of coming to know, linked to their present-day concerns and life histories.

Three findings emerged that include (a) the identification of turning points in participants’ lives that led to homeschooling, (b) the role of desire, ethic of care, and need to ensure emancipatory learning experiences for their children, and (c) the identification of convictions to ensure learning experiences drew upon their children’s needs, everyday lives, interests and a tolerance for an uncertainty they were making the right decisions for their children. Findings illustrate the ways in which the mothers aimed to fill their lives with direction and meaning in accordance with their lifelong values and beliefs, taking advantage of everyday experiences imbued with their children’s decisions and desires to enact and pursue meaningful learning. Implications for future research includes the need to value participants’ reflections from their childhoods to motherhoods, as they navigated their mothering and pedagogical roles in their efforts to disrupt the status quo of formal educational for their children.

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