Written by Kara S. Anderson
I’m lucky to Iive in a pretty terrible school district. Lucky, as in – people don’t really question our decision to homeschool.
“Oh,” they say nodding, “of course. The schools here …”
And sometimes, for the sake of peace and quiet, I don’t tell them that my son went to a small church preschool that was adorable, and then we tried a private Montessori-based school that was amazing, but that it was also expensive and would have changed our lives entirely if we had decided to send him there full-time.
We never tried public schools, because at that point something was telling me that schools were not for this kid.
Any school. Anywhere.
But still, I am lucky that people don’t really question it, and so only a few times have people truly challenged our choice home educate.
That doesn’t mean that we never get questions though:
- How long are you going to do that?
- Just in grade school, right?
- Isn’t it hard? I could never do that.
- How can you teach every subject?
- What about college?
Usually, I think these questions are born of genuine curiosity, or perhaps a little worry. A sweet friend of my mom’s once stopped me in Target to tell me that she prayed for me all the time.
“You’re just taking so much on yourself,” she said.
She right, but it’s usually good, I said. I wanted to explain that I don’t do what teachers do – homeschooling is different – and our life is very blended.
My work involves homeschooling, and we simply live our lives together.
All of us keep learning.
But that wasn’t what she needed to hear, and so instead I said something I say a lot, that’s “it’s good FOR NOW.”
The “for now” will get a lot of people off your back – the loving, worried ones and the ones who maybe feel that you are homeschooling at them.
The latter are a tricky beast – they are the folks who feel like your homeschooling is an indictment of their choice not to.
You can usually spot them by the following:
- sudden and extreme school pride – Go Tigers!
- an explanation of how homeschooling could NEVER work for them
- defensiveness about their job or unique life situation
- doubt that homeschooling works
- questions that are really judgements: “I noticed you’re still tying Trudy’s shoes – doesn’t it worry you that because you homeschool she’ll never be a functional member of society?”
Sometimes, they come armed. They have read a book or article. Or they met a homeschooling family and those kids were weird.
They want you to know that you are really bothering them with your life choices.
Or sometimes, they want you to know that they would homeschool, but they can’t. They have a very real reason – an unsupportive spouse, the need for two full-time incomes, an illness …
And so do you understand? Do you? Really? That they just CAN’T homeschool, OK? And it’s great that you do – really. But everyone CAN’T, so I just hope you get that.
This is such hot water, sisters.
But I want to remind you that you probably didn’t do anything to get yourself into it.
It’s true that just as I met a man once who challenged our choice to homeschool after crashing my mom’s birthday party, there are people who are homeschooling at the world.
They want everyone to know that they have it figured out – that this is not only right, but that everything else is wrong. If you look at their Facebook page, it’s ALL memes about how schools are prisons and Candy Crush rankings. That’s it.
But that’s not most of us.
So what can we do when people get defensive about our choice to homeschool?
- We can listen. We can let them say what they need to say.
2. We can affirm their choices.
“Well, Sharona is thriving!” you can say.
“Your school sounds like a perfect fit for your guys,” you can add.
“If we were looking for a school, that’s exactly what we would want,” you can pledge.
3. We can gently assert that homeschooling works for us, “for now.”
This is powerful because we are saying we don’t feel like we have it all figured out – but right now? Right now we’re all good.
Hopefully, this will be enough. Hopefully, this kind approach will send the message, “Really, I’m not homeschooling at you.”
And if it doesn’t, you can always ask them to “please pass the pie.”
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN. TELL US: WHat do you say to people who get confrontational about homeschooling? SHARE HERE!
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