When I took the plunge into homeschooling my kids last year, I knew there would be pushback from friends and family. I very quickly learned that I needed to shut down the criticism and negativity surrounding the topic of homeschooling. Now, I’m sharing my tips for overcoming homeschool criticism and dealing with homeschool negativity.
Now that you’ve decided that homeschooling is right for your family, it’s time to deal with all of the nay-sayers in your life. Unfortunately, this is something that every single homeschool family I have met deals with on a regular basis. So, it’s important to know what to do and how to deal with homeschool criticism.
When I started homeschooling my kids last year, I knew I was going to have a tough time convincing many people especially: my brother and his wife (a public school teacher), my husband’s parents (they believe perfect attendance is mandatory), my dad (probably the most pessimistic man on Earth), and pretty much anyone who has never homeschooled before.
These are my tips for how to deal with homeschool criticism.
But How Will Your Kids Get Socialization
Without fail, the FIRST thing I was asked by every single person when I announced our journey into homeschool was “aren’t you worried they won’t get the socialization from school”.
Seriously, this question fires me up every time! There are hundreds of memes across the internet poking fun at this question so I know I’m not alone. It’s best if you’re prepared with a quick and simple response…because when dealing with negative reactions to your homeschool you will get even more ridiculous questions.
When I’m asked this I simply reply…. “Well, we’re homeschooling, not turning into hermits.”
Keep your answer to the age old “how will they socialize” short, simple, and light-hearted. If they push further then simply state that there are plenty of socialization opportunities and you don’t have any concerns about it.
Remember, Concerns Come from Love
At the beginning of your homeschool journey it can be tough to remember that your friends and family are coming from a place of love. Even though it feels judgmental, they mean well, they’re just ignorant about homeschool and the unknown can be scary for them.
Depending on the type of relationship you have, feel free to go as in depth or as basic as you want with them. I’ve learned that by approaching their questions with an understanding that they are asking because they love my kids and they just don’t know any better, I’m much calmer.
It’s also okay to acknowledge their concern and offer answers to their questions. I typically reply with, “I understand your concern, but I’ve done tons of research on homeschool and you would be shocked at all of the resources that are available these days. I would be happy to answer any specific concerns you may have.”
I like to turn the tables on them to ask me specific questions. By being an open book and not getting defensive I’m able to take control of the conversation. The most important thing you can do is stay calm and not get defensive.
How Qualified Are You to Teach School
I hate to admit it, but I was guilty of asking this question before we started our homeschool journey. Not only did I think I wasn’t qualified to teach my kids but I didn’t understand why other people thought they were more qualified than the school.
My younger cousin homeschools all of her kids even though she got her GED later in life. I thought she was risking their future because she hadn’t finished high school much less graduated college. But I can admit, I was ignorant at the time and this is why it’s so important to remember that many critics of homeschool are coming from a place of love.
To counter this now offensive statement, I reply in a jovial tone with “I don’t do all of the teaching myself…that would be crazy! I simply choose the curriculums, sign them up for classes, and supplement with courses and study materials that I know will work with their learning style. You would be shocked at all of the amazing resources that are available… most of the time, I’m learning right there with them…it’s a win/win!”.
My tactic of being jovial is to keep the conversation light hearted and to keep them away from feeling the need to prove a point. In many instances they think I’m agreeing with what they’re saying but then I gently turn the conversation in a way so they no longer have a solid argument.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading through my post Is Homeschooling Right for You. Not to see if homeschooling is right for you, but if you have the answers to those questions you’ll be able to speak to your reasons for homeschooling, your student’s goals, and other tidbits.
I love throwing pro-homeschooling tidbits into my conversations with critics. For example, even though my son started behind in 3rd grade, he advanced to 5th grade levels by the end of our first year of homeschooling.
Which brings me to my next favorite criticism…
Aren’t You Afraid They’ll Fall Behind
My simple answer is “nope”. My longer answer is…”Statistically speaking the majority of homeschool children surpass their public school counterparts because of actual instruction time, one on one teaching, and lessons are tailored to their learning style. But, we do yearly standardized tests, just like public schools, and I know exactly where they are among their peers in public schools. In fact, we just did this year’s testing and they’re already 2 grade levels ahead in every subject…so I think we’re good”.
Obviously, this tactic only works if you have already done your yearly test and if your child scored above grade level. But, for this question I like the simple answer of “nope”. You shouldn’t worry about your child falling behind. All children learn at different rates and all teachers teach at different levels. No two children are going to know exactly the same things even if they are in the same class…it’s all about what they retain.
The cool thing about homeschool is you’re not teaching to a test but you’re teaching to instill the joy of learning. Sure, your child could memorize facts and figures to answer on a test OR they could learn how to think independently and how to find the answer themselves.
Finally, if all else fails, make the subject off limits!
Only YOU can decide what’s right for YOUR family. If you have some major negative nellies then it’s time to put your foot down. Let them know that ultimately, homeschooling is your decision and the subject is no longer open to discussion.
Sometimes there’s people in your life that believe only they know what’s best and sometimes you just have to stand your ground and put them in their place.
I have one relative in particular that I finally had to say “Look, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. I’ve done plenty of research and I know I’m making the right decision for my children. If you’re not able to get on board with this choice then I would prefer we not discuss it any further. ” Then change the subject and never bring up homeschooling again….at least until the kids score some obscene number on their SATs or get admitted into a prestigious college. No one says you can’t say “I told you so” in the end. ???