Having been homeschoolers now for one full year I have managed to avoid any confrontations. However, I have heard countless stories of terrible encounters with nosy onlookers or judgmental friends, family members and even strangers. I know homeschooling is different. I also know lots of mom's can't imagine making this choice. But please... even if you don't agree. Just don't say these things.
1. Your Kids Ought to Be in School!
My kids are in school. They just don't ride the big yellow bus and sit at a desk for all the same hours your kids do. As a matter of fact while at the grocery store just now we just did math, home economics, science and reading.
2. What Makes You Qualified to Be a Teacher?
Not only is this offensive but it's also incredibly ill-informed. Many homeschool moms are college educated, intelligent and intuitive women. Finding the perfect curriculum or program that fits the learning needs of your child takes an incredible amount of time and diligence. We spend hours reading about effective learning systems. Our thoughts are always consumed with the types of learning that will help each individual child learn in their best style. We're constantly trying to create new methods that work best for our kids. One would argue that homeschool moms can provide an even more effective educational experience solely because they can work outside of the constraints of the classroom and are teaching less children than a standard classroom. So am I qualified to teach physics?... nope. Am I going to find the perfect programs and curriculums for my kid? You betcha.
3. What Are They Learning About Right Now?
Homeschool moms hate nothing more than the skeptical stranger quizzing their child. "So if you're homeschooled what's 4+4?" Would you ask that question to a kid when he gets off the bus? Don't ask them what the capital of your state is. I know it seems pretty unassuming but it makes us want to throat punch you. If you see them out and about, don't even think about questioning how their child is learning while at the mall, the store or playing. Your kids might be in school from 8-3 PM but my kids can do school anytime of the day. But don't fret skeptics, most homeschool moms already have a plan up their sleeve for how to respond to your nosy requests. Luck of the draw if you get a nice one or a not so nice one. Come on... you'd have it coming.
4. Are You Some Kind of Religious Nut?
Guilty as charged. Prior to homeschooling myself I had the impression that most homeschooled kids came from religiously conservative homes. These parents wanted to be sure that their child was only taught their message. But, boy was I wrong!! There are so many reasons that parents homeschool. For us it was about helping our special needs kid. For others it's moral, or to avoid bullying or to learn in a different way than the classroom allows. I've even heard of parents who homeschool because their child was accelerated and needed a faster learning speed. I've met and heard of parents in all spiritual spectrums. It's not about being a nut. Homeschooling is about doing what's best for that kid.
5. There's Programs For That, You Know...
Your special needs kid has an IEP and a special program at school. Modified testing or special classrooms. Awesome! I hope that's working for you! I hope your kid is progressing well. However, my kid wasn't. Guess what, I no longer need an IEP or an aide, or meetings or daily emails. Homeschooling allows Moms of special needs kids to create the environment that works best for their kid. My son fidgets... all the time. So he does school in a chair that swivels. And it works. He gets to move... when his body is moving he can concentrate. In the classroom, this would be a total no go. Because children sit quietly at their desks and only move when told. We know there's "programs for that." We also know they don't always work.
6. Aren't You Sick of Being Around Your Kids All The Time?
Yep! I definitely get sick of being around my kids all day long. I'm human. I'm also not holed up in my house all day long for days on end without breathing during the light of day. We're out and about. We're doing things with other families. Or taking part in local programs. Recess for us means my kid can play outside at his leisure... as long as he'd like.
7. Was Your Kid Kicked Out of School?
Yes, all homeschooled kids are school house rejects. This is just beyond stupid. Legally, expelled kids are still required to do school. If they're in the school system that tutor is required through the school. That is not homeschooling that is punishment. Homeschooling families file specific paperwork with their school district and follow up with testing or portfolios of their year full of work. It's not just something you on a whim decide to do. So no... we're not just all harboring little felons who were cast aside by the school.
8. Won't Your Kids Be Lonely?
You're right. If only my kids could shuffle from one class to the next experiencing all the fun things kids experience in the hallways of a school. He's definitely missing out. Or wait. How about he gets all of his schoolwork done for the day in around 3-ish hours and goes onto other activities with other homeschoolers. Or what about the programs he's able to attend that schooled children do not? Let's talk about just how many local homeschool groups there are. We don't have time to be lonely.
9. Your Kids Are Going to Be Socially Awkward!
Maybe. Your kids might be too. In my case, it was going to happen... he was socially awkward no matter where he went. I've met very socially adjusted homeschoolers and very awkward kids who have been in a brick and mortar school their whole lives. This is a pretty sweeping assumption and it really needs to stop. Homeschooled kids interact socially the same -- if not even more -- than your schooled children. There is no distinction. Except that maybe homeschooled kids socialize with people of all ages and demographics where your schooled child will socialize only with kids in their general age range.
10. How Are They Going to Respect a Boss?
This makes me want to blow fire from my nose. This assumes that homeschool moms never put their children in a situation where they're led by someone else. That's just absurd! Homeschool kids go to soccer, play instruments, do musicals, participate in chess clubs, attend extra-curricular classes and co-ops. So this idea that because they don't have a formal classroom teacher, that they won't function in a workplace is pretty ridiculous. In fact, it's quite the opposite, studies show that homeschooled students are more successful in college and in the work place than the typical schooled student due to their innovation and ingenuity.
So I'm probably not going to convince you to change your mind about homeschoolers. As a matter of fact, I'm not even one of the die hards... my middle child is still in a brick and mortar school. Because school works for her and it's the best place for her to be. But if you have to say something to a homeschooler... how about "Hi! I'm so and so." Let them do what they believe is best for their kid.
So yeah, let's just stop saying these things to homeschoolers.
*Side note: I use the word mom mainly here but there are dads, grandmas, aunts, step-parents, etc. who are the main educator. Don't say these things to them either.