Kevin Rua

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Martin Packer

Committee Member

Eva Simms

Committee Member

Janine Certo


Case Study, Homeschooling, Literacy


Homeschooling is an increasingly popular practice, and this raises questions about how it is carried out. One important area for investigation is the literacy practices of homeschooling. Literacy is often seen as a necessary component of formal schooling. This project investigated the role and function of literacy in two homeschooling families. Specifically the research was designed to answer the following questions:

*How is homeschooling both similar to and different from formal schooling?

*What are the literacy practices of homeschooling? What tools are used in these practices? What knowledge and skills are used in these practices? What are the goals of these practices?

*What are the consequences of homeschooling literacy practices?

A case study methodology was used. Participants were recruited through various homeschooling associations and data was collected using interviews, field observations of home schooling interactions, recording of these interactions, parent journals, and various artifacts. Data from each family were analyzed and presented as a case, then the two families were compared.

Regarding the first question, analysis showed that both families exhibited features of both formal and informal education. Both families utilized educational resources outside the home, such as libraries, the zoo, and museums. The families shared two characteristics that were not comparable to formal schooling: (1) each family had one adult teaching only one child and (2) the adult and child had a relationship beyond the teacher-student relationship. Regarding the second question, analysis showed that the two families utilized literacy in similar ways. For example, both used reading and writing for organizing thinking, directing behavior, abstracting, synthesizing, and categorizing. Regarding the final question, parents in both families believed that literacy promoted their child's independence, and observations and analysis of interactions suggested that homeschooling promotes attentiveness.

A sharp distinction and tension have often been described between home-based literacy practices and school-based literacy practices. This study showed that homeschooling can fall towards the middle of a continuum between formal and informal education, and as such may serve as a model for ways to incorporate home-based literacy practices within school settings.