17 famous people you didn’t know were home-schooled

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Getty

  • More students than ever are receiving an education and graduating with high school diplomas.
  • While traditional schooling makes sense for most kids, young actors, athletes, and, musicians often don’t have the time to stick to a traditional school day.
  • Here are 17 notable people you probably didn’t know were home-schooled.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Around the world, more children have access to school than ever before. For most students that’s a great thing, but for some the traditional school schedule simply does not work.

If you’re a home-schooled student, you’re not alone. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, 3% of all US students are home-schooled. Over the years, some of these non-traditional students have gone on to become household names.

Continue scrolling below to see 25 notable people you probably didn’t know were home-schooled.


Thomas Edison was considered a difficult child at the public school he attended in Port Huron, MI, so at the age of seven, his mother — an accomplished school teacher — took him out of school and taught him at home.

As a teen, Edison spent time selling papers to passengers coming through town on passing trains. He ended up eventually producing his own newspaper, the Grand Trunk Herald, and becoming a telegraph operator, all before turning 19.

What he’s known for: Created the first commercially available incandescent light bulb.

Sources: History, Britannica


Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was born in New York City — and was one of fourteen children.

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Theodore Roosevelt in military uniform.
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Wikimedia Commons

Roosevelt and his siblings suffered from a variety of physical ailments, and as a result, were home-schooled. The children were taught by their mother, aunt, and a French governess, who evidently did a fantastic job: Teddy was admitted to Harvard in 1878.

What he’s known for: 26th US president, leader of The Rough Riders, inspiration for the teddy bear.

Sources: NPS, Miller Center


Mystery writer Agatha Christie was home-schooled by her father and taught herself how to read at just five years old.

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Wikimedia Commons

Her father was responsible for her schooling until he died when Christie was 11. After, her mother sent her to a Parisian boarding school, partly with the hope that she’d become an opera star. It didn’t happen, but Christie did end up traveling to Egypt following her graduation, which became rich fodder for her future novels.

What she’s known for: Mystery novelist who wrote “Murder on the Orient Express,” and “And Then There Were None.”

Sources: NNDB, Bustle


Alexander Graham Bell was home-schooled by his mother until he was 11 years old.

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Wikimedia Commons

He was then sent to the Royal High School, in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he received generally poor grades. Though he was considered a mediocre student, Bell unveiled his first invention, a device to de-husk wheat, when he was 12. Despite his poor grades, Bell went on to be a noted inventor, and held more than a dozen patents. Ironically, an elementary school in Chicago – the Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School – was named after him.

What he’s known for: Inventor of the telephone.

Sources: Biography.com


Sandra Day O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1930 and was home-schooled while living on her family’s remote Arizona ranch.

Her mother taught her to read when she was just 4 years old, and O’Connor was a reader all her life. In 2002, O’Connor published a memoir about her childhood called “Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.”

What she’s known for: First woman to serve on the US Supreme Court.

Sources: Biography.com


The Jonas Brothers were all home-schooled in between touring and recording albums.

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The Jonas Brothers performing onstage at iHeartRadio’s 2019 Wango Tango.
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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for iHeartMedia

In an interview with MTV, Joe Jonas remembered holding a gradation ceremony at home.

“We have someone who’s like a principal of the home-schooling school, so she flew out and they all surprised me by giving me, like, one of those cap and hats … cap and gown, whatever, mine was a cape! I cut it up so that it looked like a cape,” he said.

What they’re known for: Famous pop star brothers.

Sources: MTV


Simon Biles and her younger sister were adopted by their grandmother after their mother was sent to rehabilitation for substance abuse.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Biles’ grandfather decided to home school the Olympic gymnast so her education could work around her demanding training schedule.

What she’s known for: American Olympic gold medalist gymnast.

Sources: Romper, The Undefeated


Tim Tebow spent his childhood working on his family’s farm and did spend attend a day of public school before starting at The University of Florida.

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Jeffrey Beall, Flickr Creative Commons

Tebow has been an outspoken advocate for homeschooling and in 2017 released “Know Who You Are. Live Life Like it Matters: A Homeschooler’s Interactive Guide to Discovering Your True Identity.”

“They wanted us to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, but it wasn’t No. 1. It wasn’t the most important thing,” Tebow said in a 2018 interview with ABC News. “They wanted to instill love in our hearts, love for God, love for one another. They wanted us to be able to learn a work ethic, a dedication.”

What he’s known for: Former college football Heisman Trophy winner. Current minor league baseball player.

Sources: Good Morning America, ABC News


Before they were grand slam champions, Serena and Venus Williams spent their childhood being both trained and educated by their father Richard.

Serena Williams went on to study fashion at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, while Venus Williams a BS in Business Administration from Indiana University.

What they’re known for: Multiple grand slam tennis champions and Olympic gold medalists.

Source: Town and Country


Like many child stars, actress Elle Fanning had to forgo a traditional education to free up time for her career.

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Jason Kempin/Getty

Elle was home-schooled for several years, alongside her older sister Dakota.

“I was home-schooled up until third grade, and I liked it because my grandma taught me, and I loved being with my grandma,” she told Interview magazine in 2014.

“But then I didn’t really have any friends, none my own age,” she continued. “So my mom put me in school in fourth grade. It’s cool because I’ve realized things about myself that I wouldn’t have if I weren’t in school. My favorite subject is science, which is so weird because I would think that my favorite subject would be, I don’t know, something more artistic. I only have two more years left now because I’m a sophomore. But I’m also excited to get out of school.”

What she’s known for: Famous actress who’s appeared in ‘Neon Demon,” “Teen Spirit,” and “Super 8.”

Sources: Interview


Ryan Gosling’s mother pulled him out of school when he was 10 years old after he struggled with bullying and ADHD.

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Getty

He was also a bit of a troublemaker. “When I was in first grade I watched “First Blood,” and I filled my Fisher-Price Houdini kit with steak knives and brought them to school and started throwing them at kids in recess,” Gosling told Macleans. He was suspended for the stunt.

He spent a year being home-schooled by his mother, a year that he says gave him “a sense of autonomy that I’ve never really lost,” he said in 2007. “I didn’t want to work in a paper mill, and I wasn’t going to stay in school. I hated being a kid. I didn’t like being told what to do, I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like any of it. Being a kid and playing and all that stuff just drove me nuts.”

What he’s known for: Famous Canadian actor known for his roles in “Drive,” “The Nice Guys,” “The Big Short,” and “The Notebook.”

Sources: Huffington Post, Guardian


Justin Timberlake started his musical and acting career young. As an elementary school student he was a member of The Mickey Mouse Club, which left little time for traditional school.

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Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Timberlake attended E.E. Jeter Elementary School in Millington, TN, until he was about 13, when his family moved to Orlando to help Justin pursue a singing career.

“I have some faint images from my childhood,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017, “but no, I can’t really remember not being famous.”

What he’s known for: Actor and chart-topping pop star.

Sources: TripSavvy, The Hollywood Reporter


Justin Bieber released his first album when he was just 14 years old.

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Chris McKay/Getty Images

The album went platinum and forced Bieber to forfeit school in exchange for touring and making music. Despite touring and recording music through his teens, Bieber was able to graduate from St. Michael Catholic Secondary School in his native Stratford, Ontario with a 4.0. Bieber completed his coursework online.

What he’s known for: Grammy Award-winning pop singer.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter


When Emma Watson started her decade long stint as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films, she worked with a tutor on set.

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Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Unlike her “Harry Potter” co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who attended all-boys’ schools Sussex House School and the City of London School, Watson was home-schooled when she wasn’t on set. She went on to graduate from Brown University in 2014.

What she’s known for: Actress who played Hermione Granger as a child in the “Harry Potter” films.

Sources: Biography.com


Blake Griffin was pulled out of a Oklahoma public school after his mother, who was herself a teacher, disagreed with the direction the public school system was heading.

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Al Bello/Getty Images

Blake and his older brother Taylor were home-schooled by their mother for eight years before both attending Oklahoma Christian School. Blake eventually went on to the University of Oklahoma, where he played basketball and was named Big 12 Player of the Year as a sophomore. The next year, he was the number one draft pick for the Los Angeles Clippers.

What he’s known for: Power forward for the Detroit Pistons, former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Sources: Al.com


Demi Lovato told The Daily Telegraph that she left school at the age of 12 because of severe bullying.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images

“I was bottling it up 100% and one day I was in a bathroom and the lights were out, I couldn’t turn them on because you had to have a key in a separate part of the school,” she said.

“I just called my mom and I was crying and I said ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore’. It was a rough time, I was by myself.”

The former Disney Channel star was home-schooled alongside the pop musician and “Wizards of Waverly Place” star Selena Gomez.

What she’s known for: Popular singer and former Disney actress.

Sources: The Daily Telegraph


Michelle Kwan is the daughter of two Hong Kong immigrants and a five-time world champion figure skater.

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Getty Images

To make more time for training, Kwan switched to homeschooling after the 8th grade.

What she’s known for: Five-time figure skating world champion and winner of both bronze and silver Olympic medals.

Sources: Biography