I’m not homeschooling AT YOU

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?

  1. 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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15 thoughts on “I’m not homeschooling AT YOU

  1. Tracy says:

    I always say, “each family has to decide what is best for them and their children. We homeschool because it works best for our family. I’m sure you’re doing what’s best for your family. Your kids seem to really like it and are doing well.”

    • Angela Morrow says:

      This is what I say and at the “for now” in relation to my own children. Almost always works. People need to be affirmed that we are all doing the best we can. I need that and I assume other parents do too.

  2. H.S.N. says:

    I got the “I can’t be friends with you if you think homeschooling is a better option ” about 3 weeks ago. Yes, I do think it’s a better option for us. I think every parent should do what they feel is best for their child. We feel this is best for us. “I can’t believe you think it’s better, you are like all the rest that homeschool, I don’t fit in anywhere”. I’m sorry, but yes, if we thought something else was better for us, we would be doing that.
    My answer was not the answer this “friend” wanted

  3. Melissa F Miller says:

    Oh, Kara, this post spoke to me. We live in a FABULOUS school district. We moved into this district (at considerable cost) after doing SO much research and meeting with admin, principals, and teachers. We removed our boys from their lovely progressive private school a half hour away (yes we were driving two hours a day!) and enrolled in the public school within walking distance. We lasted 63 days. But EVERYONE moved here for the school. So I am confronted with the question so often. I take a breath and say, “It just wasn’t a good fit *for our family*.” It’s a mantra. It’s the only thing I say. I don’t engage. I just repeat it as needed.

    • maria says:

      Melissa this is us as well – I did tons of research and had tours and talked to teachers and we moved to this district for the schools but after one year we realized it wasn’t a good fit. I get questioned all the time because its such a high ranking district.

  4. Juliana says:

    I pulled my daughter out of public school at the end of 4th grade. She starts “eighth” grade next year, but most of her work will be at the high school level. We are also moving to a district that is in the top 5 in the state for ACT/SAT scores.

    People understand homeschooling middle school (the folks who had a positive middle school experience are few and far between). The social/familial pressure to return to public school is HIGH!

    I want to scream, “this is still the same kid we sat in the meeting about with the specialists addressing us it was an intervention!” UGH!!!

    Pushing my square peg into the public school’s round hole will not make my daughter a round peg. Learning to love and appreciate her shape, and to communicate with everyone (not just teenagers) is a better use of her time and energies.

    [stepping down from soapbox]

  5. Sarah Mast says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been pegged as a sweet sugar-coater. I really struggle with being truthful, tactful without sounding harsh. I have replied a few times that, “if I didn’t think this was the best thing for us, I wouldn’t be doing it, because it’s a lot of hard work”. Because I definitely wouldn’t, if I didn’t think it was the best option for them. It’s just the truth. I think people look at (our) lifestyle dreamily, and I often have to explain the choices we make for that lifestyle, which includes only one spouse working, forgoing ‘fun family things’ that are like, $100 per event, and living in a basement suite, instead of owning outright. We live in a VERY expensive place, but I’m happy with our decision. Our values are x, y, and z, and we make our decisions accordingly. I think sometimes people struggle to follow their values if they are different from the culture-at-large.
    Thank goodness I’m not in charge of everyone else’s lifestyle decisions! 😉

  6. Rochelle says:

    Great article! ?? I just like the ‘it suits us’ line with a smile and a slight shoulder shrug if necessary! Then if necessary, encourage the enquirer how their Little Johnny is excelling at school

  7. Jenny White says:

    One thing that helps is that I don’t walk around feeling like I need to explain to everyone why we choose to homeschool. If we’re running errands, and they look and wonder, then so be it. If they ask questions, whatever. I owe no one an explanation or defense of my choice to homeschool. (I know that sounds defensive LOL). But seriously. I’m unusually blessed to have supportive family on both sides and oodles of homeschooling friends, so that has been wonderful. Everyone else? who cares.
    (sorry…I’m feeling a bit “short” tonight)

  8. Lynna says:

    Yes. All of it. Yes. We also get this tension when people find out how many kids we have (#8 is on the way). I seriously want to say, “If my goal was really to make you feel inferior, I would have chosen something way easier and with way less impact on my daily life than having a passel of kiddos and homeschooling them just to shame other people!” When people say, “How old are your children?” I usually just say, “11 down to 2”. I don’t share how many unless they ask. And my line on continual repeat is “Every family is different. Every family has to decide what works for them!” Smile.

  9. Dee says:

    It bugs me to no end, but I usually try to put people at ease so that they can feel better about their decision to send their kids off to school. I tell them that my son has severe peanut/tree but allergies and the teachers (our educational system is horrible) don’t get paid enough to deal with oversized classrooms and make sure my son stays alive so I just want to take the burden off of already overstressed and underpaid teachers. Plus the fact that my son requires lots of movement while doing lessons and unfortunately the traditional school is just unable to accommodate his uniqueness without labeling him. So, we are good learning “at home”…for now but the term homeschooling is really a misnomer as we are seldom at home.

  10. Alisha says:

    This is so timely for me. I just posted a learning moment from my Instagram to my personal Facebook page, and some school moms didn’t like it. It turned into over 12 comments of back and forth. One mom was saying how homeschoolers need to prove themselves, that they are doing okay. But, all I was doing was sharing a milestone for my own son. I guess I live in a bubble.

  11. Lisa says:

    I wish I could have read this article 4 years ago. When I made the decision to start homeschooling, I had almost no support from anyone near me, friends or family. My first encounter with an “I’m not homeschooling at you” individual completely caught me off guard, and the more I tried to defend my choice, the more she tried to “prove” how wrong I was. I now realize it was her insecurity as to why SHE wasn’t homeschooling that made that personal. When people question me these days, I am much more confident in saying that this is just the right choice for our family…for now.

  12. Heidi says:

    We started homeschooling my son’s second grade year. As we were still involved with the school’s Cub Scout pack, I was at Open House that fall. One mom visibly paled when she learned that we were homeschooling . I think that she thought that it was contagious – that my son would tell her son all about it and that he would beg to be homeschooled as well. Which was not their best choice. So her solution was to refuse three attempts at after-school playdates until I got the hint that she didn’t need our “propaganda” of living our best choice.
    And later my younger kid started public school, then my older returned for seventh grade. Every year was the right choice for each kid and for the family as a whole. Besides hearing “You’re so brave”, I was most baffled by those who immediately assumed that I was judging their choice. I finally reasoned that it must be because they were immediately judging my choices and assumed that I followed suit or they wished that they could homeschool but something was in their way.

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