It’s back-to-school time again – even at our homeschool – and everywhere we go, families are out with their kids, big and small, shopping for school supplies. Everyone wants to be friendly and make conversation from the other moms in the aisles to the cashiers at the counters. The top question we get is “What grade are you in?” (which isn’t always easy to answer, especially at this time of year when we’re so in-between). The second is always,
“What school do you go to?”
That’s when my kids or I respond with, “We homeschool”. There are so many clever answers to that question, but we normally stick to the basics. Although homeschooling has become much more common in recent years, we still get a huge variety of responses to that question. Here are the top 7 reactions I get when people find out we homeschool.
7. Is that legal?
I don’t get this question that often, but it has come up. It always stuns me because homeschooling IS so common! Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and has been protected in Missouri since the mid 80’s. Many prayers, long hours, and days spent lobbying went into protecting the rights of parents to educate their children at home, so my answer to that is always a resounding, “YES!”
6. We homeschool too!
This response isn’t super common, but it’s becoming more so as the years go by. In the US, homeschooling has seen a dramatic rise in the last 10 years. There are more resources for homeschoolers than ever before, so it’s no surprise that more parents are educating their children at home. At any rate, it’s always exciting to bump into another homeschooling family! We usually spend a few minutes discussing local co-ops and curriculum and then walk away smiling. Connections are fun!
Every once in a while, I get this response. It’s like, the person just doesn’t know what to say. They’re either blown away by the fact that we could possibly be a homeschooling family or they are incredibly against homeschooling, but they have been taught that if they don’t have anything nice to say, they should keep their mouth shut. Either way, we occasionally have someone just say “Oh.” and walk away. It always leaves me wondering.
4. I thought so!
This is always spoken in kindness, but generally leaves me feeling uncomfortable. It’s usually something like, “I thought you must be! Your children are so well behaved!” While I’m thankful that my children are generally well-behaved in public, this kind of comment gives the general impression that the person giving it thinks homeschooled children are more well behaved than others or that public schooled children are out of control. I always thank the person for the compliment, but am left wishing it hadn’t come out as an insult to other kids. All that aside, this comment does remind me of one of the reasons I love homeschooling. It gives me the time with my children that I need to train them up. They are with me most of their waking hours, so every moment is a teachable moment.
3. My daughter, friend, aunt, cousin, third cousin twice removed…does that.
This is kind of an interesting response since usually that person already has a view of what homeschooling families look like. Sometimes you can tell that they have a negative view, sometimes a positive view. I’ve found that often, the conversations turn to how their family member is socializing their children. It’s funny to me because so many people are concerned for the homeschooled child’s socialization, so people want to share ideas and let you know that their family is doing it right…or wrong. Ha!
2. I could never do that.
This is one of the most common responses and one of my least favorites for a couple reasons. First of all, yes, you could. Everyone could. I really, truly believe that. You may not want to, it may not be your priority, it may even be the wrong choice for your child, but if you wanted to, it was a priority, and you believed it was right for your child, you could. I detest the stigma that homeschooling is some lofty goal to be reached only by the elite. I know single moms who homeschool. I know full time working moms who homeschool. I know moms of kids with special needs who homeschool. I know moms who have three kids, one in public school, one in private school, and one homeschooling. We all want what is best for our children and if you believe that homeschooling is best for your child, you CAN do it. That’s always my first thought.
My second thought is that these people think I must either have an extreme gift for patience or perfect children. I have neither. My children fight. They drive me crazy some days. They drive each other crazy most days. I lose it. I yell. They make messes All. Day. Long. We are nothing special. If we can do it, so can you.
I guess I hate this response most of all because it seems like those who say, “I could never homeschool” are making an excuse. I don’t need your excuse. If you don’t want to homeschool, that’s 100% your decision and not one I’m going to argue with. You don’t need to defend your decision in any way, shape, or form. But please don’t make it sound like homeschooling is something I can do because my kids are better behaved or I have “The Gift of Patience”. Trust me, I don’t.
1. Oh, that’s so great!
This is the #1 response I receive and my #1 favorite! It IS great! It’s great to know that I’ve made the best decision for my kiddos. It’s great that they’re home with me all day. It’s great that I get to be their teacher! I LOVE homeschooling and love sharing about it with others! This comment usually leads to big smiles all around.
So here’s the lesson of the day…
Words matter. If you ask someone where their kids go to school, be excited for them, no matter their response. If you don’t like their decision, you don’t need to lie, but smile at them and let them know you hope their kids have a great year! And if you can’t do that, don’t ask in the first place.