The Perceived Impact of Home Schooling on the Family in General and the Mother-Teacher in Particular

This article presents the qualitative portion (Part II) of a two-part research study. The quantitative portion (Part I) was presented in an earlier issue of Home School Researcher (Volume 13, Number 4, 1999). As the introductory and literature review sections pertinent to this study were included in the first article, they are not repeated here. Rather, this article begins by examining the qualitative methodology utilized, and follows with (a) an analysis of the data, (b) a summary of the qualitative findings, (c) an integration of both quantitative and qualitative data, and (d) conclusions.

The Qualitative Research Methodology

Selection of Research Design
Qualitative research presents the ideal framework with which to investigate the perceptions of the mother-teacher regarding home schooling and its impact on both the family and herself since one of the tenets of its research is the importance of letting the subjects speak, and hearing the subjects speak, in their own voices. As LeCompte and Preissle (1993) point out, ethnographers “who describe cultural and behavioral patterns as they are viewed by the group under investigation reconstruct the categories that participants use to conceptualize their own experiences and world view” (p. 45). As homeschoolers are the ones dealing with and living with—in every sense of the word—the home school process, they were logically the ones to inform the researcher about its perceived impact on family structure, roles, responsibilities, and so forth.
As qualitative methodology is particularly conducive, then, to this variety of research, the only question remaining is what specific type of qualitative methodology to employ. According to Miles and Huberman (1994), “qualitative research may be conducted in dozens of ways” (p. 5). For purposes of this research study, a grounded theory qualitative methodology was utilized; this particular methodology employs a social anthropological approach to data analysis, in that it
stays close to the naturalist profile … extended contact with a given community, concern for mundane, day-to-day events, as well as for unusual ones, direct or indirect participation in local activities, with particular care given to the description of local particularities … . (p. 8)
Grounded theory is—in direct contrast to the quantitative portion of this study—inductive in approach. Lecompte and Preissle (1993) explain that
in a sense, deductive researchers hope to find data to match a theory; inductive researchers hope to find a theory that explains their data… . That is, inductive research starts with examination of a phenomenon and then, from successive examinations of similar and dissimilar phenomena, develops a theory to explain what was studied. (p. 42)

Barney G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss are, as Lincoln and Guba (1985) note, “generally credited with having coined the term” (p. 205) “grounded theory.”  It is, again according to Lincoln and Guba, “theory that follows from data rather than preceding them … “ (p. 204). Glaser and Strauss (1967) themselves, in The Discovery of Grounded Theory, explain that “the basic theme in our book is the discovery of theory from data systematically obtained from social research” (p. 2). They elaborate upon this concept further by explaining that theory
must fit the situation being researched, and work when put into use. By “fit” we mean that the categories must be readily (not forcibly) applicable to and indicated by the data under study; by “work” we mean that they must be meaningfully relevant to and be able to explain the behavior under study. (Glaser & Strauss, 1967, p. 3)

It is interesting to note that over the last several years Glaser and Strauss have evidently become sharply divided in their individual beliefs concerning the true definition of grounded theory, especially as concerns the “readily (not forcibly)” element described above. According to Miles and Huberman (1994), Glaser continues to clarify “his own strongly inductive, emergent approach as the true version of grounded theory development, and suggests that Strauss’s later work should be called ‘full conceptual description’” (p. 238).
As this particular research study does utilize a guiding research question, Glaser would most likely consider that a true and pure version of grounded theory was not employed. However, as Miles and Huberman (1994) so logically point out,
Highly inductive, loosely designed studies make good sense when experienced researchers have plenty of time and are exploring exotic cultures, understudied phenomena, or very complex social phenomena. But if you’re new to qualitative studies, and are looking at a better understood phenomenon within a familiar culture or subculture, a loose, inductive design may be a waste of time. As Wolcott (1982) puts it, there is merit in openmindedness and willingness to enter a research setting looking for questions as well as answers, but it is “impossible to embark upon research without some idea of what one is looking for and foolish not to make that quest explicit” (p. 157). (p. 17)

As I was, indeed, researching within the framework of a very familiar culture, a somewhat “tighter” (as in utilizing a guiding research question) as opposed to a “looser” grounded theory approach was called for, and was, therefore, implemented.

Research Methods 
In order to provide effective triangulation, the research methods chosen for this study included (a) interviews, (b) observations, and (c) document analysis (homeschooling magazines, newsletters, and internet web sites). Each of these elements is detailed in the following sections.

The researcher interviewed a total of nine home school mothers, with the interviews taking place in a variety of locations, including (a) the home schoolers’ homes (5), (b) a large library at a church where two home school mothers worked part-time (2), (c) a conference room at a university (1), and (d) a restaurant (1). Each interview was—with the participant’s permission—audiotaped, with the researcher privately dictating notes about details of the interview (setting, impressions, etc.) into a cassette recorder immediately after each interview took place. In order to establish validity, transcripts of interviews were returned to participants for their approval.[1]

In order to conduct observations—the second element of the qualitative triangulated approach—in the most effective manner possible, a “Checklist of Observational Elements” was adapted from Sharan B. Merriam’s Case Study Research in Education: A Qualitative Approach (1988) and utilized. This checklist was not physically carried to either the interviews or observations, but I did endeavor to maintain an awareness of its elements throughout the observation process. I also took to heart other recommendations offered by Merriam (1988):
• Observers should be relatively passive and unobtrusive, put people at ease, learn how to act and dress in the setting.
• Collecting data is secondary to becoming familiar with the setting.
• Keep the first observations fairly short to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the novelty of the situation.
• Be honest but not overly technical or detailed in explaining what you are doing. (p. 91)

The actual observations of home school families took place (a) during the interview process itself, (b) at the “11th Annual Family Resource Fair” sponsored by the Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Tennessee Home Education Association, (c) during a visit to a church attended primarily by home schoolers (“The Church with the Home Schooling Heart”), (d) while attending two distinct “learning” seminars presented by another local church and aimed specifically at home school parents and children, (e) during the 13th Annual Middle Tennessee Home Educators Association (MTHEA) conference held at yet another local church, and (f) while participating in a home school group’s skating party. Photographs were taken at the curriculum fair (“The 11th Annual Resource Fair”), the conference of the MTHEA, and the skating party. Out of respect for the participants—and the inappropriateness of photography in the midst of these events—no photographs were taken during observations which were clearly religious in nature (i.e., attendance at a service of “The Church with the Home Schooling Heart” and the two “Learning How to Learn” seminars, which were offered as a part of a regular Wednesday night church service).

Analysis of Documents
The analysis of documents included examination of newsletters distributed by three different home school organizations (Smoke Signals, from the Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Tennessee Home Education Association; HEART— an acronym for “Home Educators Are Rutherford’s Treasures”—from a home school group in Rutherford County, Tennessee; and Family Christian Academy Newsletter: Dedicated to Helping Home Educators, published by the academy of the same name in a middle Tennessee county). Also examined were several home school magazines (see the literature review included in Part I of  this research study for a brief discussion), and 61 different home school sites on the Internet.

Research Questions
The guiding research question for the qualitative portion of this research project was, as was noted earlier: What effect—as perceived by the mothers/teachers engaged in it—does home schooling have on the family in general and the home school mother in particular?

Research Probes
Selected study participants (i.e., the mother-teacher in the home school family) were asked some very general questions—of a variety appropriate for a grounded theory approach—intended to simply “get the participant talking” about home schooling. Following is a list of the primary questions asked each participant, although—in order to preserve the conversational “feel” of an interview—they were not necessarily asked in the order presented:
1. How many children do you have? How many do you home school?
2. How long have you home schooled?
3. Why did you decide to home school?
4. Please describe a typical home school day.
5. What do you like best about home schooling?
6. What do you like least about home schooling?
7. Is there anything else you’d like to say about home schooling?

Selection and Recruitment of Participants
and Sites
While some research into home schooling finds that only “89% of parent/tutors are female” (Lines, 1991, p. 17), other data conclude that “mothers were virtually always the primary teacher” (p. 17). Mayberry, Knowles, Ray, and Marlow (1995) report that
the results of previous studies demonstrated that the tasks associated with running home-based education programs were almost always carried out by mothers not employed in the paid labor force (Gladin, 1987; Mayberry, 1988; Wartes, 1988). Our study supports that finding: 63% of the mothers that we surveyed are responsible for 90% or more of the day-to-day operation of the home school. (p. 32)

Clearly, the major figure in home schooling—other than the children, of course—is the mother. As a result, this study interviewed and observed home school families wherein the mother was the primary instructor.
From this group of home school families, three smaller subsets were selected.[2]  Miles and Huberman (1994) term this particular sampling strategy “stratified purposeful,” in that it “illustrates subgroups” and “facilitates comparisons” (p. 28). The first subset, made up of three families, consisted of those whose primary reason for homeschooling was given as ideological (religious/philosophical). The second subset, composed of four families, consisted of those who cited pedagogical (academic/curriculum) concerns as their primary reason for choosing to home school. The final subset, made up of two families, consisted of those who cited ideological and pedagogical reasons as being equally important and as bearing equal weight in their decision to home school. The first two subsets were based upon data which indicated that all the reasons given by families for home schooling could be condensed into two basic categories—the ideological and the pedagogical (Kutter, 1987; Van Galen, 1986). The third subset was added as a result of actual home school mother interview experiences.
Another sampling strategy was implemented, in conjunction with the “stratified purposeful” strategy cited above, that strategy being the “snowball” or “chain” strategy. This particular sampling approach “identifies cases of interest from people who know people who know what cases are information-rich” (Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 28). As it was my intent to sample as wide and as diverse a population as possible, I utilized the services of more than one informant, and, as a result, have several small “snowballs” rather than one large one.
Despite admonitions similar to the ones other researchers have experienced—“drop the home schoolers because they are way too secretive and will never let you in” (Page, 1996, p. 107)—I felt confident of easy admission and acceptance into home schoolers’ homes, organizations, and functions. The reasons for this confidence were based primarily on a close relationship with my sister, who has home schooled her son for the past 6 years. In the role of sister, friend, and aunt, I have —on occasion—accompanied my home school sister to home school curriculum fairs, meetings, and group field trips. I believe that the reason I was not perceived as an outsider with possible negative intent, but was accepted and trusted by study participants, was due to this relationship.
The settings for this study included (a) homes wherein home schooling took place, (b) a church library, wherein some home schooling took place on a limited scale, (c) a department at a university, which served as the primary site of home schooling for one family, and  (d) the different places where home schoolers gather for group events (see “Research Methods,” above). According to LeCompte and Preissle (1993), “ethnographers must work in settings where behavior occurs naturally. They must go to their participants …” (p. 95). The fact that the investigator conducted research on home schoolers (a) in their own homes, (b) at other places wherein home schooling took place, as appropriate, and (c) at group events is evidence that this particular criterion was met in this research study.

Analysis of the Data

The data gathered in the qualitative portion of this study were analyzed using a tailored version of Harry F. Wolcott’s (1994) three-phase approach: description, analysis, and interpretation. Given the necessarily limited scope of this article, however, only the analysis and interpretation of data are presented and discussed here.

Analysis and Interpretation of the
Interview Data

As I studied, read, and reread the transcripts of these interviews, certain elements seemed to emerge again and again. Any subject or topic area that surfaced in more than one interview was considered an element, or finding, and is therefore presented as a micro-category. The larger categories—within which entire interviews clearly belonged and could be placed—are presented as macro-categories. The micro-categories are detailed in the following section.
                Micro-Categories. The 11 categories which emerged from the nine interviews conducted included (a) “Flexibility,” (b) “Home Schooling as a Stress Reducer,” (c) “Socialization,” (d) “Children Actually Teach Themselves,” (e) “Other Home Schoolers,” (f) “The Public and/or Private Schools,” (g) “Housework,” (h) “Concerns Regarding Personal Shortcomings as a Teacher,” (i) “Testing Home Schoolers,” (j) “Attention Deficit Disorder,” and (k) “Racial Tensions in the Public Schools.”  As was noted earlier, each of these elements surfaced in at least two different interviews.

                Macro-Categories. When considering these interviews on a larger scale, clear similarities and some startling differences began to emerge and form two distinct categories of home school mothers, categories which I term the “classic home schoolers” and the “pseudo home schoolers.”  “Pseudo” was chosen as the appropriate term for the latter group because one of the definitions of “pseudo” is “apparently similar” (American Heritage Dictionary, 1985, p. 999). In that all of the participants interviewed were home schooling their children —at least in the technical sense—they are apparently similar. However, as the following discussion will make clear, several surprising and important differences exist between some of the participants interviewed.
Two of the interviews—the ones with “Cissy” (P7-Ped) and “Susie” (P8-Ped-Info4)—clearly had a different feel to them. Although both women were pleasant, neither one displayed the sometimes fervent, impassioned enthusiasm for home schooling evidenced by the other interviewees. Further meditation on these interviews—along with frequent review of the transcripts and field notes—revealed other ways in which Cissy’s and Susie’s interviews were similar to each other, but different from the other seven interviews. For example, when I interviewed all the other home school mothers, the children were eager to talk to me—showing me some of their projects, playing a musical instrument for me, voluntarily engaging me in conversation, and otherwise displaying an open and friendly attitude toward “the lady who came to talk about home schooling.”  I could not help but notice the different attitudes displayed by Cissy’s and Susie’s children. Cissy’s home schooled daughter had informed her mother that she “didn’t want to talk to me,” and, when I actually met the daughter during the course of the interview, she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me or respond in any way to my smile and greeting. Similarly, Susie’s children—whom I met briefly before they left for other activities—although mannerly, clearly did not want to talk to me. They barely smiled, and everything about their facial expressions and body language fairly screamed, “Get me out of here—I don’t want to talk to her.”
I find this particular aspect of the interviews to be extremely interesting. Despite the fact that I stressed to all the participants prior to the interviews that I would be interviewing home school mothers only and would not be interviewing the children, almost all the children of the other seven participants were eager to show me something or tell me something about their schooling. Whereas Cissy’s and Susie’s children were, in effect, pushing me away, the other interviewee’s children were almost—sometimes literally—embracing me. I might have thought this difference in attitude to be a factor of the children’s age, as both Cissy’s and Susie’s children were teenagers, were it not for the fact that three of the other home schooled children were also in their teen years.
It also came to light during analysis of these interviews that, out of all 11 categories discussed above, Cissy and Susie made comments only about four, those four including opinions about the public schools (Cissy), other home schoolers (Cissy), racial tensions in the public schools (Cissy) and housework (Susie). None of the other most frequently raised topics (e.g., flexibility, home schooling as a stress reducer, socialization issues, etc.) emerged from the interviews with Cissy and Susie.
Another obvious similarity between Cissy and Susie is the fact that they both have full-time jobs, despite their home schooling responsibilities. Although several of the other interviewees worked on a part-time basis, their responsibilities in no way interfered with their ability to be home with their children on a consistent basis. “Laura’s” part-time business was operated from her home, and both “Evelyn” and “Blanche’s” part-time positions at the church library included time to work with their children. Even “Janice,” who managed to run a highly successful business, informed me that not only is she able to price her products at any time of the day or night as is convenient for her, but that she takes her daughters with her on business trips. It could be argued that Cissy’s daughter is also with her mother for a better portion of the day, but the extent of Cissy’s actual involvement with her daughter during the work day is unclear.
Perhaps the most profound difference in these two sets of interviews has to do with the actual reason for home schooling. Whereas home schooling was a choice carefully considered and ultimately decided upon by the other home schoolers, Cissy and Susie seemed to find themselves, or at least to feel themselves, forced into home schooling. Cissy obviously felt great frustration with her daughter’s progress in public school, and saw home schooling as an option that she was more or less forced into by her daughter’s poor academic performance. Whereas other home schoolers also experienced frustration with the public schools, they seemed to feel irritated with the schools, not with their children. In brief, Cissy seemed to feel that having to home school was her daughter’s fault—that her daughter’s lack of achievement had forced her into an educational alternative which she had heretofore, as she informed me, clearly disdained. One of Cissy’s comments—that if her daughter didn’t do her work and tried to “call her bluff” again (by not doing well in school), she would “pull her butt out of school so fast it would make her head spin!”—even makes it sound as if she used home schooling as a form of punishment. That Susie was also forced into home schooling as an educational option is obvious, as her son was expelled from public school, and private schools—as she informed me—were less than willing to accept him as a result.
Obviously, then, both Cissy and Susie were forced—in one way or another—into home schooling their children. It is also interesting to note that the adoption of home schooling as the educational alternative of choice did not result in any immediately perceivable lifestyle change for either. Both continued their full-time occupations, presumably making minor adjustments as necessary to accommodate their new responsibilities. Such a schooling arrangement is a far cry from that of the other interviewees, for whom home schooling is more or less a full-time job in and of itself.
Clearly, Cissy and Susie form a very different class of home school mothers, a class which some home schoolers would likely argue doesn’t even involve real home schooling. As a result, Cissy and Susie fall into the “pseudo home schoolers” category, and all the rest of the home schoolers interviewed—based on the similarity of (a) interaction with the participant and their family, and (b) content of discussion—fall easily into the “classic home schoolers” category.
In sum, the components emerging from analysis of the interviews included two major elements—the micro-categories and the macro-categories. With elements of “flexibility,” “home schooling as a stress reducer,” “socialization,” “children actually teach themselves,” “other home schoolers,” “housework,” “public/private schools,” “personal shortcomings as a teacher,” “testing home schoolers,” “attention deficit disorder,” and “racial tensions in the public schools” belonging to the micro-categories, and “classic” home schoolers and “pseudo” home schoolers falling into the macro-categories. How this analysis of the interview data may best be interpreted is addressed in the following section.

What is the perceived impact of home schooling on the family in general and the mother in particular, according to data gleaned from the interviews? From analysis of the interviews and their emergent categories, it is clear that those home schoolers who feel “forced” to home school their children (the “pseudo” home schoolers) are quite dissimilar from “classic” or mainstream home schoolers, and that this difference is reflected in both their children’s demeanors and, possibly, in the quality of relationship between parent and child. It is quite possible that an undercurrent of anger exists—in that the child somehow “forced” the parent into accepting the additional responsibility of home schooling—and that this anger permeates the home schooling process and the parent-child relationship in a manner that is detrimental to both. Clearly, the manner in which the decision to home schooling is reached greatly influences the overall positive or negative “feel” of the home schooling process, and, as a result, the perceived impact of home schooling on the mother-teacher and the family.
Most of the micro-categories which emerged in analysis of the interview data deal directly with the perceived impact of home schooling on both the mother and the family. Insofar as the family is concerned—especially the children—the home schooling mother-teachers interviewed clearly believed that their children were positively impacted in terms of family flexibility, socialization, dealing with diagnosed attention deficit order, and the problems confronted in the public/private schools, including racial tensions.
As concerns the mother-teacher herself, although the elements of “personal shortcomings as a teacher” and “housework” were clearly concerns for many home school mothers, the other “jewels” (Janice—P1-Id) received from home schooling were obviously believed to outweigh these somewhat negative factors. These positive elements include, as above, flexibility, children being able to teach themselves, and home schooling as a stress reducer.
In sum, then, the data gleaned from the interviews informed us that—despite any negatives discussed—many “classic” home schoolers find home schooling to be more of a stress-reducing, rather than a stress-inducing, educational alternative. The reasons for this include the flexibility ascribed by home school mothers to the adoption of home schooling, as well as the freedom from worry—worry about what might happen physically and/or emotionally to their children during the school day, worry about what curriculum might be taught to their children, and so forth. Granted, concern about their children’s learning continues unabated during home schooling, but at least the mothers know how and what their children are being taught. This combination of family flexibility and less worry concerning their children’s welfare turns the process of home schooling—at least for many home school mother-teachers—into an actual stress-reducer.

Analysis and Interpretation of the
Observational Data

During the course of all six observations, which included attendance at and/or participation in (a) the home school curriculum fair in Knoxville, Tennessee; (b) a church service at the self-titled “Church with the Home Schooling Heart”; (c) a “Learning How to Learn” Seminar, Part I; (d) a second “Learning How to Learn” Seminar, Part II; (e) the “13th Annual Middle Tennessee Home Educators Association Conference”; and (f) a home schooling skate party, certain elements emerged consistently. These elements included noted characteristics of home schooling parents, as well as their home schooled children.
At each observation, the home schooling parents were observed to be pleasant, relaxed, and friendly in their demeanor. These same characteristics were shared with their children, who were observed to behave in similar fashion in many differing situations (i.e., the curriculum fair, church services, the conference, skating party, etc.). In both the curriculum fair and the skating party observations, home schooling parents also proved themselves to be eager to help others.
Another characteristic of home schooling parents, which emerged from many of the observations, has to do with how very well-informed the vast majority of these people appear to be concerning home schooling regulations, legal issues, and research. Intelligent discussion of these issues and other pertinent matters could be overheard at the curriculum fair, the church service, and even the conference. The final characteristic which emerged is closely tied to this last one, as it has to do with the fact that home schoolers are not only very well-informed as a group, but they seem determined to remain well-informed. That this is true is evidenced by their willingness to attend the numerous informative seminars and workshops offered at the curriculum fair and the conference, as well as the seminars offered as part of a Wednesday night church service.
In sum, then, analysis of the observational data revealed that both home schooling parents and their children are consistently pleasant, relaxed, and friendly. Further analysis indicated that home schoolers are—as a group—eager to be helpful to others, very well-informed, and determined to remain well-informed.

According to information gleaned from analysis of the observational data,  home schooling parents and their children are consistently pleasant, relaxed, and friendly. This data coincides precisely with the interpretation of interviews advanced above, that is, that home schooling acts for many as a stress-reducing agent.

Analysis and Interpretation of the
Document Data

The documents utilized in this portion of the research included three newsletters from three different home schooling organizations, a literature review of home schooling magazines, and a visit to 61 different home schooling web sites on the internet. The one quality common to all of these differing documents was their clearly informative purpose. All of the newsletters, magazines, and internet sites were—first and foremost—providers of information regarding all facets of home schooling.
Another emerging element—the element of home schooling promotion—was seen most obviously in the professionally produced and nationally distributed “Family Christian Academy Newsletter,” although many of the home schooling magazines could be termed, arguably, as promotional as well. The importance of encouragement of home schoolers as an element also surfaced most notably in the magazines, and occasionally on the internet web sites.
Document analysis revealed, then, that the informational aspect of the documents was a universal one, that the promotional aspect could be found in both newsletters and magazines, and that encouragement as an emerging element could be found in both magazines and internet sites.
Despite the presence of articles dealing with stress and similar issues in many of the magazines analyzed in document analysis, it does not necessarily follow—according to the interview and observational data—that home schooling mother-teachers experience any more stress than the average individual living in modern-day America. In fact, many of the home schooling mothers—by their own admission—experience much less stress as a result of home schooling than they did beforehand.

In essence, the interpretation of the analyzed data from the interviews, observations, and data analysis confirms—or at least, in the case of document analysis, does not disallow—the basic finding that for many home schooling mother-teachers, home schooling acts as a stress-reducing educational alternative. An in-depth examination and detailed discussion of all the findings gleaned from the qualitative data is presented in the following section.

Summary of Qualitative Findings

What is the perceived impact of home schooling on the family in general and the mother-teacher in particular? In the qualitative portion of this research study, research in the form of (a) nine interviews with home school mother-teachers who chose to home school for a variety of reasons, (b) observations of six different home schooling events, and (c) analysis of documents (including 3 newsletters from different home school organizations, home school magazines, and 61 different home school web sites on the internet) provides a solid basis from which to draw appropriate conclusions.
Data drawn from these three areas of research should serve to either confirm or repudiate the central thesis emerging from the data. In the classic triangulation of results, analysis of the interview, observation, and document analysis data should reveal similar—or at least not contradictory—findings. At first glance, the findings from all of the research areas in this study do not appear to converge particularly nicely. I would argue, however, that they do.
As was noted earlier, the results of both the interview analysis and the observation analysis reinforce the finding that—at least for “classic” home schoolers—home schooling can act as a stress-reducing agent. The only research area that would not seem to confirm this finding is the document analysis, which included analysis of several magazine articles which dealt with issues of stress in home schooling. As was noted in the literature review proper, however, the number of articles, letters to the editors, and so forth detailing the stresses of home schooling was much less than those proclaiming the joys and “pluses” of home schooling. Apparently, then, the presence of “stress” articles in home school magazines does not, in and of itself, bear witness to the fact that home schooling increases a mother-teacher’s stress level. Such articles may simply seek to help the mother-teacher with the stresses she may encounter, although these stresses may actually be “less stressful” than those she encountered prior to adoption of home schooling.
In the final analysis, the data gleaned from analysis of the qualitative data provides the following response to the research question guiding this study (i.e., What is the perceived impact of home schooling on the family in general and the mother-teacher in particular?), and includes the following elements:
1. “Classic” home schoolers (those who choose home schooling as their educational alternative, and who do not work full-time outside the home) apparently experience home schooling differently and in a more positive manner than do “pseudo” home schoolers (those who feel “forced” into home schooling, and who continue to work on a full-time basis outside the home).
2. Many “classic” home schoolers perceive home schooling to have a positive impact on their families, especially in terms of (a) family flexibility, (b) socialization, (c) dealing with diagnosed attention deficit order, and (d) the problems confronted in the public/private schools, including problematic racial tensions.
3. Many “classic” home school mother-teachers perceive home schooling to have a positive impact on their personal lives, in that the addition of home schooling apparently serves as a stress-reducing educational alternative. This positive aspect of home schooling obviously outweighs the negatives of housework problems and concerns about personal shortcomings as a teacher. Clearly, the element of control which home schooling introduces has much to do with the perceived lessening of stress levels.
Having determined, then, the elements gleaned from the qualitative portion of this research study, a comparison and integration of these findings with those of the quantitative segment should prove both useful and extremely interesting, as we shall see in the following section.

Integration of the Quantitative and
Qualitative Data

In order to research the guiding research question as thoroughly as possible, I elected to utilize two different—contrasting yet complimentary—methodologies. To repeat a useful analogy cited in Part I of this research study, the use of the differing methodologies was an attempt on my part to more fully and completely comprehend the subject at hand, because—as Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff (1970) point out in The Modern Researcher— “a large subject is like a mountain, which no beholder ever sees entire: if he climbs it he discovers only selected aspects; if he stands off, he sees but an outline and from one side only …” (p. 185). It is also important to note that there are—according to John W. Creswell, in Research Design: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (1994)— five primary reasons for combining methods in a single study:
—triangulation in the classic sense of seeking convergence of results.
—complementary, in that overlapping and different facets of a phenomenon may emerge (e.g., peeling the layers of an onion).
—developmentally, wherein the first method is used sequentially to help inform the second method.
—initiation, wherein contradictions and fresh perspectives emerge.
—expansion, wherein the mixed methods add scope and breadth to a study. (p. 175)
Triangulation (i.e., seeking convergence of results), complementary (i.e., seeing whether different components would emerge), and expansion (i.e., adding scope and breadth) were the three of the primary reasons for a mixture of methods in this research study. Prior to a detailed examination of the manner in which these methods converged and complemented, however, a brief look at the findings of each separate methodology is in order.

The Quantitative Data: A Look at the Findings
What is the impact of home schooling—as perceived by the mother-teachers engaged in it—on the family in general and the mother-teacher’s roles as mother, teacher, wife, and individual in particular? It is, according to the results of the survey, generally a positive one. As a group—again, according to the results of the survey—mother-teachers find “lack of organization,” “housework,” “concerns about children learning what they need to be learning,” “dealing with financial issues,” “choosing a curriculum,” “concerns about using the correct teaching method,” “volunteer responsibilities,” and “the difference between expectations of home schooling and the reality”—in that order—to be the top eight stressors in their lives. It is also of great interest to note that there was no statistically significant difference in the response of participants based on their (a) reasons given for home schooling, (b) reported income level, (c) number of years spent home schooling, or (d) number of children being home schooled.
What can be gleaned from the qualitative data concerning the impact of home schooling on the family and the mother-teacher? The following section examines these particular findings.

The Qualitative Data: A Look at the Findings
In the analysis of the qualitative data, the guiding question was, also, what is the perceived impact of home schooling on the family in general and the mother-teacher in particular? The findings from this portion of the study include the following:
1. “Classic” home schoolers (those who choose home schooling as their educational alternative, and who do not work full-time outside the home) apparently experience home schooling differently and in a more positive manner than do “pseudo” home schoolers (those who feel “forced” into home schooling, and who continue to work on a full-time basis outside the home).
2. Many “classic” home schoolers perceive home schooling to have a positive impact on their families, especially in terms of (a) family flexibility, (b) socialization,  (c) dealing with diagnosed attention deficit order, and (d) the problems confronted in the public/private schools, including problematic racial tensions.
3. Many “classic” home school mother-teachers perceive home schooling to have a positive impact on their personal lives, in that the addition of home schooling apparently serves as a stress-reducing educational alternative. This positive aspect of home schooling clearly outweighs the negatives of housework problems and concerns about whether or not children are learning what they need to be learning.

Integration of the Findings
Have detailed again the data gathered from each methodology in this research study, it is appropriate at this time to see in which ways they provide a convergence of results (i.e., triangulation), different components (i.e., complementary), and scope and breadth (i.e., expansion).

In what ways did the data gleaned from the quantitative aspect of this research project converge with, reinforce, and confirm the findings determined from the qualitative aspect? At what particular “points” are the data—for all practical purposes—identical?
Both research methodologies (a) led to the conclusion that home schooling—as perceived by the mother-teacher engaged in it—does have a positive impact on the family in general and the mother-teacher in particular, and (b) confirm that housework and concerns about whether or not children are learning what they need to be learning are primary stressors for the mother-teacher.

Given the altogether different framework appropriately utilized for each methodology, these differing research approaches garnered important data that would have been impossible—or at least extraordinarily difficult—for the other method to obtain. What did each research methodology inform us that the other did not, or could not?
Data from the quantitative aspect not found in its qualitative counterpart included the fact that survey results effectively demonstrated that neither the primary hypothesis (i.e., the addition of the responsibility of home schooling to a mother’s other responsibilities will result in a perceived increase in stress) or the secondary hypothesis (i.e., those mother-teachers who give ideological concerns as their reason for home schooling will report significantly less stress than those mother-teachers whose primary reasons for home schooling is a pedagogical one) were supported by the data.
The survey results also indicated—insofar as the mother-teacher’s roles as mother, wife, teacher, and individual were concerned—that the participants perceived home schooling to have a positive impact. The data also indicated the top eight stressors for home school mother-teachers to be: “lack of organization,” “housework,” “concerns about children learning what they need to be learning,” “dealing with financial issues,” “choosing a curriculum,” “concerns about using the correct teaching method,” “volunteer responsibilities,” and “the difference between expectations of home schooling and the reality.” Data also revealed there to be no statistically significant difference in the response of participants based on their (a) reasons given for home schooling, (b) reported income level, (c) number of years spent home schooling, or (d) number of children being home schooled.
Data gleaned from the qualitative research approach—but not discovered in the quantitative data—included the discovery of “micro” and “macro” categories. Within the micro-categories, the additional elements of flexibility, home schooling as a stress reducer, socialization, attention deficit disorder, the public/private schools, and racial tensions emerged. The broader macro-categories which emerged included the “classic” home school mother-teacher (chose home schooling as an educational alternative, and does not work full-time outside the home), and the “pseudo” home school mother-teacher (felt “forced” into home schooling, and continues to hold a full-time job outside the home). Further data garnered from the qualitative research determined that—on the whole—home school mother-teachers are (a) pleasant, relaxed, and friendly; (b) eager to be helpful; (c) very well-informed; and (d) determined to stay well-informed. The data also indicated home schooled children to be—again, on the whole—pleasant, relaxed, and friendly.

Having detailed the elements contributed by each research methodology—as well as noting where these elements converge and complement—it is appropriate to discuss the manner in which the methodologies combine to increase the breadth and scope of the entire research project. Where else can a look at each methodologies’ results lead us in forming appropriate conclusions?
The quantitative methodology informs us, among other things, that the home school mother-teachers who participated in the survey judged the impact of home schooling on their families and themselves to be a positive one, while from the qualitative methodology emerges—again, among other things—a theory of home schooling as a stress-reducing educational alternative. If, indeed, home schooling can and does function as a stress-reducing endeavor for the mother-teacher, does this fact alone account for the overwhelmingly positive response from mother-teachers concerning home schooling’s impact found in the results of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies? Possibly, but not necessarily, and certainly not probably. One possible answer to this question can be found, I believe, in the highly empowering process of social integration.
Social integration involves and pertains to several aspects of an individual’s life, the chief of which may be termed “social capital.”  Social capital is made up of, according to James Coleman (1987), “the norms, the social networks, and the relationships between adults and children that are of value for children’s growing up” (p. 36). It is a regrettable fact that the norms and values of parents are not always afforded the attention that should or could be by public school professionals when policies are decided and/or implemented. As Robert L. Crowson (1998) notes,
Despite many observations of progress in school-community relations, there remain indications, however, of a deeply significant and yet inadequately addressed problem. In a nutshell, the central remaining test in a successfully adaptive professionalism (vis-à-vis parents and the community) lies within a single construct …: governance. (p. 57)

Crowson also discusses the lack of empowerment of parents by educational professionals, due, at least in part, to the fact that
the need to preserve strong norms of professional discretion against privacy-minded parents and narrow-minded communities has been a theme of professionalism in education since the work of Waller (1932). Generations of school officials have been trained around the dangers of losing control to the politics of their communities. Even modern-day efforts to be much more inclusive (in recognition of the importance of parents for effective learning) have typically ended up as subtle sets of exclusions …” (p. 63)

In undertaking home schooling, I believe that home school mother-teachers are simply taking themselves out of the sometimes tense, often antagonistic school-community equation. They are taking for themselves that which was not freely offered, that is, power, governance, and control as concerns important aspects of their children’s education. In taking charge, however, mother-teachers not only assume control of their children’s education, but they also assume a new level of control in their own lives, as home schooling affords them the opportunity to more fully integrate and implement into their lives their personal values, norms, and beliefs about their roles and the appropriate enactment of said roles. In sum, then, the element of social integration which home schooling can offer can be an extraordinarily empowering one to the mother-teacher. This, in combination with the stress-reducing aspects of home schooling, helps to explain—if only in part—the surprisingly consistent and overwhelmingly positive response from mother-teachers as regards home schooling and its impact.


What, precisely, can be concluded from this research study? Bearing in mind that both the quantitative and qualitative portions of the project are extremely limited in their generalizability—in that the quantitative survey was a non-probability one that utilized a convenience-type sampling and qualitative research is almost inherently non-generalizable—the following conclusions may be loosely and generally drawn:
1. Mother-teachers perceive home schooling to have a positive impact on both their families and themselves. Indeed, some mother-teachers seem to indicate that home schooling acts as a stress-reducing educational alternative. It may also be argued that the element of social integration which the home schooling process allows can be an extraordinarily empowering one to the mother-teacher.
2. There is no statistically significant difference in mother-teacher response—insofar as survey response is concerned—by (a) reason given for home schooling, (b) income level, (c) number of children home schooled, or (d) number of years spent home schooling.
3. The major stressors in the lives of home school mother-teachers involve housework and concerns about their children learning what they need to be learning.
4. Those home school mother-teachers who are “forced” or who “feel” forced into home schooling experience the process of home schooling in a more negative way than do those home schoolers who would be considered traditional, or “classic,” home schoolers.
5. Home school mother-teachers were found to be—generally speaking—(a) pleasant, relaxed, and friendly; (b) eager to be helpful; (c) very well-informed; and (d) determined to remain well-informed; home schooled children were also found to be—again, generally speaking—pleasant, relaxed, and friendly.
There is little doubt that home schooling is an important and rapidly growing educational movement. Some observers of the educational establishment even predict that the influence exerted by this movement will not only increase, but spread into areas other than education. As Joel Belz (1997) notes,
What special interest group in American society right now may be most effective at lobbying the U.S. Congress? If you guessed that it’s a band of educators, you’d be right. But if you picked the National Education Association—the very liberal union of public school teachers that is so active in public affairs—you might well be wrong these days. For according to Rep. William Goodling (R-PA.), a 22-year veteran of Congress and chairman now of the influential Education and Labor Committee, the homeschoolers of our country, and especially those associated with the Home School Legal Defense Association, have developed more expertise than any other group in getting the attention of our nation’s lawmakers… .
I would suggest that Rep. Goodling’s high praise of homeschoolers for their ability to win points in Congress may represent no more than the tip of an iceberg—that it’s only a precursor of other ways in which homeschoolers may more and more shape society far out of proportion to their numbers and acceptability to the rest of society.
That will happen only partly because of the effectiveness of the educational methodology these people are committed to. It will happen even more because of the kind of people they tend to be, and the things they believe about matters other than education. (p. 5)

Given the rapidly expanding size of the home school movement, and its concurrently increasing influence on a national level, research into the many aspects and facets of the home school movement is essential. It is to be hoped that this particular study—which probed the perceived impact of home schooling on the family in general and the mother-teacher in particular—shed some light, albeit a faint one, on the increasingly important and increasingly vocal home school family.


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[1] Each participant was assigned a code name/number containing essential description information about the interviewee. For example, the participant coded “P3-I&P-Info1” was the third subject to be interviewed (P3), gave both ideological and pedagogical reasons as being equally important in the decision to home school (I & P), and was the first informant giving names of other potential study participants (Info1). For ease of discussion, participants were also assigned appropriate pseudonyms.
[2] It should be noted that all mother-teachers interviewed were Caucasian.
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