English, Literature, and Modern Languages Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Literacy in Composition Studies







First Page


Last Page





Approximately 1.8 million students in the United States are homeschooled, according to 2012 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (Redford et al.). However, researchers have only begun to examine how these homeschooled students reflect on their own literacy development, especially once they have entered college. Using the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN), I gather and analyze eighteen literacy narratives of currently and formerly homeschooled students, exploring how these students reflect on their own developing literacies, especially as they contrast their experiences with those of their traditionally-schooled classmates. The results of this study reveal, first, that these homeschoolers participate in a wide variety of literacy practices that both respond to and redefine those of the “traditional” classroom. Second, many of the narratives tend to embrace the “child prodigy” literacy structure, as identified and defined by Kara Alexander (2011) and Stephanie Paterson (2001). Third, four narratives reveal problems that can occur in homeschooling: namely, a parent-educator’s perceived lack of authority, and, in two cases, a tendency to trap students in unhealthy family environments. Despite these exceptions, most narratives reveal their family network as a place of vibrant literary sponsorship; and a few students narrate the “pedagogic violence” that may occur when they transition from this warm family environment into traditional secondary schools (Worsham 121). Overall, I argue that as participants in a non-dominant mode of education, these homeschoolers feel the need either to justify or to repudiate their literacy acquisition process against the dominant group. More quantitative research is needed to understand whether these experiences represent trends across the homeschooling movement.


Homeschooling, child prodigy, literacy narrative, active double-voiced discourse, Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, DALN



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.