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Homeschoolers That Make Us Go Wow!

Pick a stereotype: political renegade, religious extremist, social hermit, or misfit. You’ve probably heard all of these names unfairly applied to homeschoolers at some point. Homeschooling families have long known these stereotypes have little to do with reality, but inaccurate ideas about homeschoolers persist, largely because of a lack of knowledge.

As the homeschooling movement gains momentum, though, homeschoolers are gaining visibility. We now have many examples of successful, influential people who were homeschooled as children. These successful homeschoolers help dispel misinformation. They give us courage and inspire us. Some common characteristics they seem to share include independence of spirit and thought, creativity and perseverance, traits prized by most homeschoolers. Read on to learn about a few of our favorite homeschooling celebrities.

Francis Collins. Brilliant scientist and Evangelical Christian, Francis Collins was homeschooled in rural Virginia until the sixth grade. In 2003, Collins led a team of scientists in the Human Genome Project, which mapped the entire human genome. In 2006, Collins published The Language of God: A Scientist Creates Evidence for Belief. In 2009, Collins was named director of the National Institutes of Health.

Tim Tebow. New York Jets quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow was raised in Florida and homeschooled by his Christian parents. He played football for the local school team and was named Florida’s Player of the Year twice.

Sho Yano. At age two, Sho Yano began reading. By age four, he was playing the piano, and by age five, he was composing music. His mother began homeschooling him when she realized the local school was simply unequipped to keep up with his academic interests. Yano received a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago at the age of twelve and a PhD in molecular genetics when he was eighteen. He’s currently finishing medical school.

C.S. Lewis. Lewis, best known for the Chronicles of Narnia series, was a brilliant writer and theologian who taught English at Oxford University. He was homeschooled by tutors in Belfast, Ireland.

Thomas Edison. Energetic, curious, and exuberant are adjectives Edison’s mother might have used to describe him. His teacher had a less positive outlook, though, and called him addled. Thomas’s mother pulled Thomas out of public school after only three months to homeschool him. The energetic boy later went on to invent the motion picture camera, phonograph, and light bulb.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt probably doesn’t represent the typical homeschooler because he was educated at home by tutors and governesses rather than a parent. He frequently accompanied his mother on trips to Europe, an experience that no doubt served him well throughout his political life.

Margaret Atwood. Beloved contemporary writer Margaret Atwood probably discovered her creative muse while exploring the woods near her home in Quebec, Canada. Atwood was homeschooled until the seventh grade and enjoyed being outdoors with her father, a forest entomologist.

Michelle Kwan. Like many competitive athletes, Michelle Kwan struggled to balance schoolwork with a highly competitive skating schedule. She regularly arrived at the rink at 3 a.m. to skate before school. This two-time Olympic champion opted to homeschool from the eighth grade on so she could focus on skating, while continuing her education.

Agatha Christie. Intensely shy as a child, mystery writer Agatha Christie was homeschooled, although her two sisters were not. Her books continue to rank among the best-selling and best-known titles in the world, falling behind only the works of Shakespeare and the Bible.

Woodrow Wilson. The twenty-eighth president of the United States also served as governor of New Jersey and President of Princeton University. Wilson attended Johns Hopkins for graduate school and later taught law at NYU Law School. As a child, Wilson struggled in school and suffered from dyslexia. He didn’t learn to read until he was ten years old, when his father began homeschooling him.

Pearl S. Buck. Loved for her poignant dramatizations of Chinese life, Buck was the daughter of Christian missionaries and was homeschooled by tutors in China. She later went on to receive the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for her literary works.

Sandra Day O’Conner. Sandra Day O’Conner was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, an achievement that opened the door for other politically active women, including Condoleezza Rice.

Erik Demaine. Erik Demaine had an unconventional homeschooling experience, traveling around the country with his father, a glassblower and goldsmith. This unconventional beginning paid off, though. Erik started college at age twelve. He finished college at age fourteen and, at the age of twenty, became the youngest college professor ever hired at MIT. Erik is a mathematical genius and a leading theorist on the subject of origami mathematics. He uses paper origami models to understand complex mathematical problems. The models can then be used in real-life applications, including molecular biology and robotics.

Bethany Hamilton. Professional surfer and author of Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, homeschooled from the sixth grade on to balance surfing with her education.

Condoleezza Rice. Twice named by Forbes Magazine as “The Most Powerful Woman in the World,” Condoleezza Rice was homeschooled in Birmingham, Alabama. She went on to become the first black, female provost of Stanford University and U.S. Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

Jennifer Love Hewitt. Actress, songwriter, producer and singer Jennifer Love Hewitt started her career in Hollywood early in life. She homeschooled to balance her performing career with her studies and attended a traditional high school as time allowed.

Abraham Lincoln. A list of successful homeschoolers wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Lincoln, believed by many to be one of the greatest presidents in U.S. History. Lincoln grew up in a one-room cabin in Kentucky, where he taught himself to read from the Bible.

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