Homeschooling in Polygamous Communities

HomeschoolingPhoto: chefranden

As a homeschooling mother, I often deal with criticism, curiosity, and questioning from many different people. A surprisingly common question is whether I am part of a cult, because of the choice I made to educate my children at home. I laughed the first time I heard the question. But the issue itself is no laughing matter. Being a homeschooler does not automatically make someone a cult member. In fact, many homeschoolers are not religious at all. Some are. Some are not. Yes, some cult members do choose homeschooling – particularly those in polygamy. But that does not represent the vast majority of homeschooling families. Here is a look at just some of the many differences between sect homeschooling and more traditional family homeschooling.

What Lessons are Being Taught to the Kids?
HomeschoolingPhoto: behang

It’s possible that children homeschooled within a polygamyous sect are taught the same lessons in history and other common subjects as other children. However, it’s also possible that many are not. Because the women in a polygamyous sect are limited on what they experience, what they teach the children may also be limited. Limited access to the outside world could hinder what is known or taught about in the homeschool setting. This type of limitation can fundamentally set up the students to believe and understand only the type of lifestyle led within the sect.

Social Interaction With the Outside World
Kids HomeschoolingPhoto: Lyn Lomasi

In most traditional homeschool settings, there is a great deal of interaction with the outside world. This may include library visits, trips to the grocery store, sports, church outings (in applicable homeschool families), homeschool festivals and gatherings, and normal everyday interactions.

ReadingPhoto: Lyn Lomasi

Polygamyous life generally restricts the members to a certain location. Most do not interact with the outside world and are often discouraged to do so. This could lead to bias in education, which might possibly hinder children socially and academically. In a recent article of mine, I give advice on homeschooling without bias and why parents should choose this route.

Psychological Effects of Sect Homeschooling

Because of the isolating nature of sect lifestyle, it is often difficult to obtain statistical measures of certain aspects. But, as a general rule, those living in a polygamous setting do not interact with the outside world. This may intentionally or unintentionally cause a fear, hatred, misunderstanding, or even total ignorance of the outside world. As a traditional homeschooler (not associated with a polygamy lifestyle), I make sure my children are out in the world in some way every day. Apparently, my style is in line with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s observance that most homeschooled children should not be in isolation.

Child SulkingPhoto: Lyn Lomasi


For more on the psychiatric effects of families raised in a polygamy sect, please read Asher Kade‘s article on the psychiatric effects of polygamy.