PDN Photo of the Day

Homeschooled (10 Photos)

Homeschooled (10 Photos)


© Rachel Papo / Courtesy of ClampArt. Roan With Kilda and April, 2011

Rachel Papo‘s project about a group of families in the Catskills who are homeschooling their children was recently selected as one of Photolucida’s 2012 Critical Mass Top 50. Papo writes about the work: “As the criticism of the U.S. education system grows among parents, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Together with today’s increasingly fast-paced, connected culture, this choice seems an almost natural one for many families. Though still a controversial and heated topic, the number of homeschooled children in America is growing rapidly. For the past year and a half I have been photographing a small number of families living in the Catskills who practice homeschooling. Having recently moved to the area with my husband and baby daughter, I decided to explore this topic in depth and challenge my own pre-judgements on the issue. Rather than documenting the parents and their unique methods, I choose to focus on the children, their objects and environment, in an attempt to capture their spirit and the meaning of growing up outside the conventional four classroom walls.”


Iris, 2011


True, 2011


Piano Lesson, 2012 005_IrisSnickerdoodle

Snickerdoodle Cookies, 2012






Dinner Time, 2012



Roan With the Outhouse Guestbook, 2012



Homework, 2012


Window Screen, 2012



Grisha and Anastasia With a Squirrel, 2012

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  1. I’d be interested to see how the homeschooling culture varies regionally. I live in Texas and my assumption is that most homeschooling is very rooted in religion and a general dislike of government in one’s personal life. Is that the case in the Catskills? Montana? LA? What are homeschoolers in NYC like? It’s such a fascinating topic. Great job Rachel!

  2. I am currently living in England and my impression here is that homeschooling is a bit more mainstream than in the States. In fact, there are some schools in our area (Oxford) that work closely with home-schoolers, providing support and group activities for children. My son is supposed to begin school in September and it’s an option we are considering.

  3. I am in England and my two children are both homeschooled due to the poor education system. A lot of parents who homeschool are ex teachers who don’t want to put their children through such a limited curriculum.
    I know that in the States homeschooling was rooted in religion but many of us here oppsose religion being taught in school and don’t want our kids brainwashed and deluded.
    I think the main benefit is the social aspect of homeschooling as the children mix with all ages and ethnicities and have the freedom to enjoy education. It is very popular now with groups in all ares of the country.
    I just wish I could have had such an interesting childhood rather than being stuck in a classroom bored out of my mind.

  4. Great series of shots!

    Bob – there’s no reason homeschooling can’t teach math and science as well as the school system. I was homeschooled from 3rd to 7th grade, and my experiences were mostly positive. While most other kids were stuck inside staring at textbooks, I had crossed the country from east to west and from south to north, visiting every museum, national park, and historical site along the way. I had textbooks too – the exact same textbooks used in the public school system, but I also spent my afternoons volunteering in a natural history museum & out in the field on archaeological digs.

    There was a support system of large groups of homeschooling families that met all the time, going on field trips and ensuring that everyone had as many friends as they would were they in school.

    Jasmine – you’re right, many parents who choose to homeschool do so for religious reasons. I knew many such kids and unfortunately the curriculums many of them used were not very factual when it came to science, but when it came to all the other subjects, almost all of them excelled far beyond the levels that school-kids their own age were at. I ended up spending high school in a public school and that was an important experience. Homeschooling is ultimately whatever the parents make it, but it has the potential to be very enriching.

  5. I’ve homeschooled my children since 1989. My youngest graduated a little over a year ago and is now attending University and is an honor student.

    Over the years, homeschooling has changed enormously; reasons vary widely as do the experience. My older children, although they enjoyed homeschooling, felt isolated as homeschooling in Michigan at the time was a bit scary – they were putting mothers in jail. My youngest daughter had a very different experience and was involved in musical theater, equestrian drill teams, and was taking college classes at the local junior college by the time she was 14 and after graduating high school, started a four year university as a second semester sophomore.

    We are Christians, although not religious, and Bible study was included in our curriculum along with church history, comparative religion and philosophy. Like every other “culture” group of humanity, homeschoolers come in all shapes and sizes. You can no more put them in a box than you can African Americans, American Indians, Jew, Muslims, etc. They are people who work very hard to educate and make sure that their children have an incredibly broad social experience – that is really impossible inside the same building, the same classrooms with the same students, teachers and administrators year after year.

    Everything depends upon everything, as they say. There are good and bad schools, good and bad teachers, good and bad parents and children that should and shouldn’t be homeschooled. But one thing is certain, in 99% of all cases, it should definitely be the parents’ decisions.

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