How do we deal with homeschool naysayers whose opinions we care about? Here are some tried-and-true tips on how to deal with homeschool naysayers.
Almost every person who announces their decision to homeschool will have to deal with homeschool naysayers. It’s just a fact.
“I don’t think homeschool is a good idea.”
“Your kids are going to end up weird and unsocialized.”
“Homeschooling is wrong! There’s a reason we have public schools.”
“Homeschooling should be illegal. Kids
“Only teachers are qualified to teach your kids. You should just put them in public school.”
“How are you going to teach them everything they need to know?”
“They’re going to fall behind the rest of their peers.”
“They’re not going to be able to compete in the real world.”
“They’re not going to be able to get into college.
These are just a few of the doubts, criticisms, and outright opposition you will hear from loved ones and strangers alike when they learn that you have opted to homeschool your child(ren). I admit it can be difficult to cope with all the negativity. And I think we can all agree that the criticism stings just a bit more when the negativity is coming from family and friends. You might be able to let negative remarks from strangers roll off your back, but hearing it from people who you think should be supportive can be a hard pill to swallow.
So how do we deal with homeschool naysayers whose opinions we care about?
Know Your Why
When you are new to homeschooling, it doesn’t take much to have you wondering if you are doing the right thing. You may already be riddled with fears and doubts? Can I do this? SHOULD I do this? So, when you hear doubts and criticism from loved ones, it can be enough to make you wonder if maybe they’re right. That’s why you need to know why you chose to homeschool. The big, deep why. The one(s) that made you feel as though this is the best educational option for your child(ren) and family. Perhaps your child has exceptional learning needs that wouldn’t be met by your local school district. Perhaps there are medical concerns in your family that are best addressed by having your children home with you. Perhaps you feel as though homeschooling will allow you the flexibility to teach your children not just what they NEED to learn, but what they enjoy learning. Whatever your reason is for being passionate about homeschooling, keep that in mind. Write it down if you need to. That way, when you start feeling the doubts creeping in, you can remind yourself of why this was the best choice for your family.
Often, the doubts and criticisms that loved ones have about homeschool stem from misunderstandings. The next time someone is being negative about homeschooling, ask them “What is it about homeschooling that you disagree with or find problematic?” You might be surprised at what you hear. Some of them may not have any good reason other than homeschooling is not something they are familiar with. And unfamiliar often equates to “can’t be trusted”. After all, in their minds, if homeschool was such a good thing, we’d all be doing it. However, some may have questions and concerns that are deeper. They may believe that homeschooling is very expensive and have concerns about whether you can afford all of the resources. They may think that you are depriving your child of the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities like clubs and sports. They may believe that homeschooled children do not receive diplomas and, therefore, are unable to attend college. They may also believe that homeschool requires 8 hours a day of study and question whether you can commit to that. Understanding their concerns enables you to address them.
Once you know what your loved ones are concerned about as far as homeschooling, you are better equipped to clarify things, clear up misconceptions, and give them a better idea of how homeschooling works. For example, if they are concerned about how expensive homeschooling is, you can tell them about all the ways you save money on homeschool resources and activities. If they are concerned about your child’s social life, you can explain to them about the Tim Tebow law and the various activities your child is involved in (such as 4-H, homeschool co-ops, martial arts, and more). If they are concerned about how homeschooling may affect your child’s future, you can share stories of successful homeschoolers (there are loads of them!). You can also talk to them about how your homeschool day goes so that they can see just how much you can get done.
Get Them Involved
If talking to your loved ones about your homeschool life isn’t convincing enough, invite them to get involved. Invite them to hang out with for the day. Or ask if they’d like to tag along while you go to co-op. You could even ask for help. For example, if someone is really good at something, ask them if they’d be willing to let your child try it out with them. Then, you can casually point out that they are learning and that that is the basis of homeschooling – finding learning opportunities all around you.
Share Your Child’s Progress
Sometimes just sharing something cool that your child has learned or is learning can be enough to get people to stop worrying so much about their progress. Especially if they are learning something that isn’t typically offered in public school or at their grade level. For example, a 7-year-old taking a class that is focused solely on Greek Mythology, physics experiments, or Robotics is super impressive. However, even just giving family periodic updates on how your kids are doing in school can be enough to show them that you (and your kids) are taking their education seriously.
Set Firm Boundaries
If all else fails, it may be time to set some simple yet firm boundaries. Sometimes loved ones don’t realize how harm their statements may cause. Not only to your morale, but to your children’s. If you feel that they are crossing the line when it comes to discussing your decisions, it may be helpful to pull them aside and let them know. I recommend not reacting in the heat of the moment. Walk away from the situation and give yourself time to calm down. Figure out what you want to say to them. Then ask if they have time to talk. Be respectful yet clear about what is bothering you about their actions. Perhaps you find it wearing to have to hear about how they are against your decision every time you see them. Or maybe you think it is unfair (and annoying) that they continue to quiz your children at random about what they are learning. Or it could be that you are tired of them flat out telling you that you need to put your kids in public school. Whatever your concerns are, let them know. Then tell them, in no unclear terms, that you would appreciate if it they would keep their negative comments to themselves and refrain from questioning your children. It can be scary to have these types of conversations with loved ones, but sometimes it is necessary. Remember, be firm yet calm.
These are just a few tips that veteran homeschoolers have used to deal with homeschool naysayers. I hope they help!
Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.