10 Things Never to Say to a Homeschooler
Each walk of life comes with its own round of questions and comments. High school graduates are asked where they are going to college and what their major will be. Newlyweds are asked when they will begin procreation. Pregnant women are asked their due date, the baby’s gender, and how much weight they’ve gained. (Are you SURE it’s not twins?!).
As homeschoolers we encounter a lot of curious folks and are frequently subjected to shocked looks and interrogation. I know that we’ve made an unusual choice and many people are unfamiliar with homeschooling. I don’t mind curiosity. Go right ahead and ask me questions. But, ask because you’re genuinely interested, and not because you think I’m nuts and want to prove it to yourself. Some things are rude and intrusive and some are best unsaid. For example:
10. “You look so normal.” Implying that they expected a denim jumper, white socks, tennis shoes, and ten pajama clad children clustered around the dining table practicing for the National Spelling Bee.
9. “I don’t have enough patience to homeschool.” Neither do I. Seriously. I just trust that if God calls you to homeschool, as He did me, He’ll help you with patience, as He does me. He doesn’t just throw you in the deep end and walk away. He helps you keep your head above water.
8. “Oh, can you babysit?” This is such a hard one. I would love to help out a friend, and often do, but homeschooling is really a very full time job. I wouldn’t ask a friend who works a “real job” to take time off to watch my kids unless it was an emergency.
7. “You must be rich.” That’s just a rude thing to say to anyone, homeschooler or not. Who wants to discuss their financial situation with strangers? Homeschooling is only as expensive as you let it be. There are free curriculum options, and every homeschooler’s best friend is their local library.
6. “I could never homeschool because..(insert reason).” This is a totally fine comment from a friend, but random strangers don’t need to justify the choices they have made to me. It always seems defensive. I’m not judging you for your schooling choices, and I’m hoping you aren’t judging me for mine.
5. “What about socialization!?” This is a question that is difficult not to flip right around and ask the questioner regarding whatever schooling choice they have made. Each form of schooling has its own pluses and minuses when it comes to socialization. Homeschooling is not a social death sentence. Homeschoolers can have as many or as few social interactions as they choose.
4. “You’re not going to do this when they’re in high school are you?” Are you kidding me? High school is when homeschooling finally gets interesting. I’m having a great time discussing Les Miserables and Great Expectations with my high schoolers. I learn something from them every day.
3. “Katie, can you count to a hundred for me?” Every homeschooler has the skeptical friend or relative who takes every opportunity to grill the kids, seeking holes in their education that will support their opinion that you are destroying your child’s life by homeschooling her. For us, this situation resolved quite naturally when my kids became more knowledgeable than their interrogators.
2. “You think that you can do a better job than the schools?” People homeschool for such a variety of reasons. Very often it has nothing to do with the local public school and everything to do with their lifestyle or where they feel God is calling them.
1. “I couldn’t stand having my children around all the time.” (To which I am tempted to reply, “Hey, I couldn’t stand being around your kids all the time either.” But, that wouldn’t be very nice, would it?) This is the absolute worst and I hear it ALL THE TIME. So many random strangers say this to me right in front of their kids. How do you even respond to that? I generally just look at them in amazement, but I would like to tell them that, if this is the case, they should examine their hearts, not about homeschooling, but about how they are handling their kids and parenting in general.
I realize that many of these sorts of comments are rooted in concern. People think that we are destroying our children’s chances at a good future by experimenting with their education this way. I’ll let my friend Lydia (http://smalltownsimplicity.blogspot.com/) tell you how homeschooled kids turn out:
“I was homeschooled myself, along with my siblings. We have all chosen very diverse paths in life. One teacher does not mean that every child will "turn out" one way or another. The personality of the kid comes into play, as well as who God has created that kid to be. My siblings include a writer, an internal auditor (banking), an engineer, a doctor, a dancer, a singer and a stay at home mom homeschooler (me!). While what we do as homeschool mamas has weight and importance, it won't make or break our children forever. God has a plan and we can work within that to help our kids be who they are meant to be.”
Thank you, Lydia and all my friends who chimed in on this one.