Responding to the homeschooling critics

coffee talkWritten by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

I am blessed to live in an area where homeschooling is not at all unusual. Everyone knows at least a few homeschooling families; nonetheless, we aren’t immune to the naysayers, the critics.

I used to be outraged. I used to bristle. I remember one of my first encounters with a lady who was quite vocal about her disgust with homeschooling. I had just moved to town and was attending a new church. Here is how my conversation went with this woman:

So where does your son go to school?”

“I am homeschooling him.”

“Oh. Well, I would never do that. We have the best schools in the state right here.”

That was the end of the conversation. She actually turned her back to me, quite literally, and never engaged me in conversation again for the decade I attended that church.

Most of us have had that conversation or one similar. We’ve heard the common babble about socialization to the audacious “why aren’t you using your degree?” and its strange partner, “do you even have a teaching degree?” comments.

We wonder what would actually possess someone to say, “I am a better mom because my kid is in school.”

We inwardly flinch when we hear, “My kid would like to be homeschooled, but I would kill him.” Our hearts break a little when they say, “I could never be around my kid all the time. She frustrates me way too much.”

I have zipped my lips a hundred times over the past 13 years. I have rolled my eyes to the back of my head while wearing a beatific smile and maintaining eye contact with someone who sounds exactly like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me. (“Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.”) In my head, do you know what I’m saying? Please stop talking. Please, oh please, stop talking.

If you are a homeschooler, you’ve been there. And you’ve experienced that dilemma: should I keep my mouth shut, or should I respond? I think often we feel like homeschooling traitors if we don’t respond, as if somehow we need to launch a counter-attack to set the critics straight.

For me, there is absolutely no advice better than that given in Colossians 4:6:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV).

Years ago (and keep in mind, this is my 13th year of homeschooling!), I would stew on negative comments for days, pondering what I should have said, regretting what I did say, or having imaginary conversations in my head in which I set that person straight. (Oh, come on. You’ve done that too, right?)

These days I have a checklist I run through in my head when I find myself involved in one of these types of conversations. My mental checklist goes something like this:

  • Is the person just making conversation?
  • Is the person actually interested in homeschooling?
  • Is the person completely off track and needs some gentle correcting?
  • Is this a waste of time and energy?

Recently homeschooling came up in a conversation with a new acquaintance—one with whom I’d be sharing a fair amount of time. His confident assertions about homeschooling (he’d “met a few homeschooling families”) irked me. His opinion went something along the lines of “homeschooling can be successful if the family is highly structured and runs a tight ship, but those families that just go to the store and call it math are bound for trouble.”

In my head I’m saying, “Did you really just say that? Seriously? Because your copious research into homeschooling has allowed you to make such a grand declaration?”

What I really said, while smiling, was something along the lines of “Each family is different. Some work well with structure and some don’t.” And then I changed the subject. The conversation wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t mean any harm by his comment, and I knew that. He was just making conversation. He wasn’t asking for my philosophy of homeschooling, and I wasn’t asking for his.

An officer shampoos the hair of a Sailor in the new beauty salon aboard USS Iwo Jima.

U.S. Navy Photo

My friend recently had an encounter in which I think she responded admirably. While getting her hair cut at her usual salon, she (as well as everyone else in the salon) overheard the older woman in the next chair ranting about homeschooling. The stylist appeared to agree with her, offering encouraging remarks now and then.

As my friend says, “I didn’t want to show disrespect to this woman, but I felt like I needed to address this for my own sake.” So after the woman left, my friend approached this stylist with a few pictures of her kids on her phone. “Do you see these kids?” she asked him. He nodded, smiling. “They are smart, beautiful, friendly, well socialized kids. They are mine. And they are homeschooled.

“I’m not very outspoken, but I think you have the wrong idea about homeschooling. There are a lot of things I need to keep my mouth shut on because I don’t know enough about it, but I do know homeschooling. And I know that my kids are very socialized and educated and I feel lucky to keep them home with me.”

She was pleasant, kind, and level-headed while presenting her own views on a topic which the other client had made quite public. She stood up for her own choices without tearing down the other woman. I totally high-fived her.

We want to defend our choices. We want to make them see how wrong they are. In our ardor, we may get angry, defensive, and hypercritical. We may find ourselves engaged in a battle, determined to convince someone that homeschooling is best!

But you know what? Homeschooling is not best for everyone.

Be confident in your decision, and resist the urge to shake some sense into everyone who has a word “against” your choice.

That doesn’t mean you should never respond—but just respond thoughtfully, graciously, and with the right seasoning.

And practice your own beatific smile.

So what’s your tactic? How do you respond to the homeschooling critics in your life?

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About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.


  1. Great post! I wish I had your confidence. I feel like it takes so little to knock my confidence right out the window. I’ve been homeschooling now for 3 years, and my children are doing just fine. They have friends, they are educated, and happy. I have some amazingly supportive friends, but now and then someone just pulls the rug out from under me when it comes to my decision. We’re still happy, we’re still plugging along, and that’s all that matters, right?
    Green Momma’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday — Our Week

  2. This is our first year homeschooling and it has been hard. I know we are being called to homeschool, but I don’t have a ton of confidence yet. We have been met with more criticism than support and it has been rough for me. It is shocking how quick others have something cruel to say, even people from my church. It has been so hard to let it go and move on.

  3. I was homeschooled, so it’s what I know. There are days I think I would like to put my kids in school, then I remember there is no one else who loves my child as much as I do, no one else will give them the individual attention they need, and no one else can pass on my values as well as I can. That’s the reason I homeschool in a nutshell.

  4. Momma MOshi says:

    I have been homeschooling for 3 years, and have delt with alot of naysayers in my present job. I tell them (in a loving manner) that I am called to do this by God, and who am I to tell God no??? In the end we have to answer for how we raised our children and ran our home, not how the people down the street raised our kids. Stand strong for what you belive and have confidence that you are doing the best for your child. Homeschool Moms are awesome!!!!!!!

  5. Erica L says:

    There is a french phrase l’espirit de l’escalier (staircase wit) meaning the perfect comeback that you thought on the stairs after you left… (or close to that). I always have that moment, and giggle with relief that others must too, if there’s a word for it. I do not homeschool, but would really like to, still need to try to convince my kids (5 & 8) and husband to give it a try. I think that will be very hard to do. Not to mention the grandparents, then friends. I don’t think I care about strangers at this point!

    • It is hard when your spouse is opposed. Once you know their concerns you are better able to show them the facts that support your choice. It is nice to have others on your side & they may help in convincing your husband but once you have him convinced don’t worry about the others. People will make comments based on perception. Their perception. To some perception is everything but in truth perception is faulty.

      We homeschooled when our children were young, then sent them to school, now are bringing them home after 7 1/2 years. My DH loved homeschooling, then was opposed, but is warming to it again. I believe it was fear of not giving them what they need & I did not have the necessary argument to convince him. Now our once outgoing children are withdrawn & defiant. Their overall grades are fine. There are other reasons why I have decided to remove them from school as well. Also, our children had friends who they were happy to have over while homeschooling but all this time attending school they have not wanted to have any school friends over. Only neighborhood friends have been here and not that often of late.

      • Erica L says:

        Thanks for your words Andi. Good luck bringing your kids home. I hope that everyone in your family finds peace with that choice.
        We live in a great school district, my kids have only had loving, hard-working, dedicated & kind teachers. But I feel strongly that homeschooling would be a good fit for our family. We’ll see…

  6. I have to say as a single parent, I’m constantly having to defend my decision. My brother-in-law is the least supportive since he can’t imagine I can financial make it and homeschool.

    I’ve found comfort in biblical direction in this matter. Here is my declaration:
    Lynda’s latest post: # 17 ~ Sometimes, you just have to say NO!

  7. I hope I can answer people who criticize with grace when I start homeschooling next year. There are many in my area who homeschool but there will always be criticism. And there are great private christian school options in our area also, which we can afford, but I still am convinced that homeschooling will be the absolute best educational option for my kids. I have an MD and practice in a free clinic, and I’d like to keep volunteering there regularly which teaching the kiddos at home, so I’m still trying to figure that out, but I’m so excited for the path we are called to.
    sarah’s latest post: February “Twitterature” and Assorted Updates

  8. I was homeschooled back when it was much less popular. We definitely got some derogatory comments in our direction. My brother, while working before public school hours at a local coffee shop had a customer remark what irresponsible parents we had to let him work before school. When he remarked he was homeschooled she handed him back her change and demanded that he count it back to her because he “probably couldn’t even count change.” And they say that you don’t get socialization practice when homeschooling. 🙂
    Steph’s latest post: Imagination Gone Wild

  9. I am in my second year and the only one in my church excited about home education. it has been tough cause I love it and i want others to care to ask me why our family chose it instead of making assumptions. all my friends are wanting their kids to have a great influence in the public schools. that may happen but I do not share the same vision for our kids. their influence w ill happen in other forums.

    I had a close friend say they could never do it cause their kid loves people too much. ouch. I hope this leads me into a place where I don’t take offense easily or assume their comments reveal what they think about our family. they probably didn’t think of the implications but it was hard for me not to wonder if they are saying we can home school because our kids don’t love people all that much.

    I am still on the journey to not worrying what people think and to understanding which conversations are worth it. so far my experience has been that none of them are. 🙁
    Lana’s latest post: The World’s Advice

  10. on a funny note I heard someone say that everyone wonders how kids outside public school get socialized… but what they are getting is that more than anything else, kids get in trouble at school for…that’s right…socializing. 🙂

    the question that I have had success with is, ‘how do we know when we received a good education? what is education for?’ if they are really interested in the topic this question reveals that. if not it becomes obvious they were speaking before thinking.

    Lana’s latest post: The World’s Advice

    • Stacie@HobbitDoor says:

      I love this! Thank you for sharing. I usually say something similar about the socialization. I LOVE the questions as a way to engage them in productive conversation.

  11. My son is only 4, so our homeschooling right now is very loose, fun, and play/craft based. However, we decided when he was only 6 months old that we wanted to do this crazy homeschooling thing due to us living in a fairly rural community. So far, he loves it and asks every morning, “What are we gonna do in homeschool today mama?”

    Anyway, I can still get my blood boiling when I remember a few years ago, a family member who is an educator (as is my husband, BTW) made the snotty comment, “What exactly makes you think YOU are equipped to teach him better than someone who actually went to school to become a teacher?” Of course the remark stung like crazy, but I’m proud of my response. I said, “It’s not a contest in my mind. I didn’t choose homeschooling because I think I’m better than someone with a teaching certificate. I chose it because given our family dynamics, our desire to travel, and my beliefs about one on one education, homeschool seemed right for us. That doesn’t mean public school for others is ‘wrong,’ and it certainly doesn’t mean that I decided to keep him home because I think I’m smarter or ‘better’ than a public school teacher. This is just our choice for us.”

    Did I change her mind? No. She was still rude about it. I think it personally offended her as a teacher that I would choose to not put my son in public school. But she misunderstands the drive behind me choosing to homeschool. It isn’t a slight to someone else if I choose to homeschool. It’s just what I believe is best for US.
    Kat’s latest post: Kitchen Table Classroom: Touch-and-Count Cards

    • I think your response was fantastic! For a variety of personal reasons we are choosing not to homeschool our children, though I’ve thought about it a lot. What stings is when I hear homeschooling families saying that they homeschool because they love their children so much – perhaps I shouldn’t, but I take it as a dig – that I send my children to school because I don’t love them as much. I just love that you were able to stand up for yourself and your values without tearing others down. Beautifully said!

  12. Most of these comments do not bother me to be honest, I guess it takes a lot to shake me up. Most of the time I just ignore those people, like in the case of your friend, I would not use my energy and get myself involved in another persons conversation just to make my view heard.
    On the other hand that women from your church would just outright annoy me!
    I have met people like that (luckily not too often) and they tick me off,….. what gives them the right to be so ….I do not even know what to call those.
    In the past I just stood there and did not know what to say, now I just respond: “To each their own.” then I just turn and talk to someone else or walk away.

  13. we are not a homeschooling family but we do do “attachment parenting” and i remember when our first child was born 8 years ago, i felt like everyone was judging me for allowing our son to sleep with us, extended breastfeeding, etc. now that we’ve had our 4th baby, i feel like no one really cares what we do. i think i was projecting a lot of my own insecurities in other people’s comments. or at the very least, i took other people’s opinions was too seriously.
    our third child was adopted and i used to also really bristle at some of the comments people would make about adoption. but then i had to remind myself that i was once uneducated about adoption/adoption language, so i need to show grace to others. sometimes, if they say something in front of my daughter that i would not consider to be appropriate, i do have to speak the truth in love.

  14. Thank you for saying that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. We have two children and a few years before we will start school and still unsure which way to go. I have many homeschool friends who often make it a truth issue, when it’s a preference. Maybe I will graciously direct them to your blog. 🙂

    • I agree with this. I think we have to be careful not to do the opposite–make a mom feel like she’s not doing the right thing because she chooses NOT to homeschool. The verse given is great–we all need to give grace and try our best not to judge other parents, just do what we feel called to do.
      Charity@TheHomeschoolExperiment’s latest post: Walking Through Mud

  15. We live in Mexico City and here homeschooling is not something people do! Criticism is everyday! Sometimes I would like my kids to be in school but I know we are where we should be, at HOME! Thank you for sharing this encouraging post!

  16. Mary Beth says:

    Really, really, really great post!!! Have been there for sure and I agree the smile and nod works best. I find that teachers are the most offended, and a I am assuming they are taking it personally as a critism, when really it is not about them. Just send love and light.

  17. The best advice I’ve ever gotten on this topic is to start by saying, “There are pros and cons to every educational choice…” It communicates to the other person that you don’t think you’re better than they are and can diffuse any sort of defensiveness they may be feeling about their own family’s choices!

  18. Sarah — I really liked your post. It fits in perfectly with my most recent post. I think I’ve learned the art of smile and nod and discerning if someone is really serious about homeschooling or just making idling conversation. I thin it’s important that society in general sees us as non judgmental and gracious, too.
    You made so many great points today. Thank you!
    Mary’s latest post: Stop Telling Me Why You Can’t Homeschool

  19. Sometimes I mess with people and tell them we have a private tutor. 🙂 Then I fess up and say we homeschool. But that momentary look is priceless.

  20. A very balanced perspective! I am newer to homeschooling, so I haven’t had too much flak…yet! (or at least to my face!!) Nonetheless, I have received flak for most of our other decisions: to become a Christian, to have them (previously) in private school, to be a stay at home mom, to this, to that…the list goes on!
    I agree with your overall theme though: is the person open to hearing our rebuttal at all? Or our they just venting and it would be a waste of breath to argue? And how is our attitude if we do share our opinions?
    Thanks so much for sharing! I’m sure most homeschoolers have been there, in one form or another.
    Rachael D’s latest post: The Hard Journey of the Cross: Forgiveness

  21. Thanks for this post it seems in my local culture, that there are some very strong opinions and general misunderstandings about home schooling despite it being very prevalent in the area. I like your mental checklist. I may adopt it.
    Rita’s latest post: The First Year Home Schooling and the Baby Years, What They Have in Common

  22. I’ll be bookmarking this post!
    I have a friend who doesn’t have kids and she admits that ALL the kids she knows who are homeschooled are well-educated, well-socialized and a credit to the community at large (including my kids- who can sing at a funeral in front of an open casket when choir members four years older from school refuse, etc, etc). She is still very much against homeschooling. It’s just wrong to keep decent kids out of school.

    (for those curious- the ‘merely players’ post that links up is photos of my oldest daughters in character for Taming of the Shrew)
    priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)’s latest post: Merely Players: A Shakespearean Life

  23. Thank you for pointing out that homeschooling is not for everyone! Unfortunately, everyone – both homeschoolers and public/private school families – seems convinced that their choice is the correct one for everyone. Homeschooling is right for some families, and even for some individual children, but not for others. That doesn’t make either choice better than the other. Different choices in different circumstances!
    Tricia Ballad’s latest post: The King is Called Home, Part 6

  24. I used to take other views personally, but now I just love them. I imagine them surrounded by love and understanding, then acknowledge we all have different journeys, and continue the way I know I am meant to parent my children. Thanks for writing about this important issue that inevitably comes up for homeschoolers.

  25. I love the checklist – I think so many of the comments that rankle me really are just people making conversation. The best times are when people get to know my kids and say something like, “they’re so friendly! I wonder if that’s the homeschooling?” I’ll take those comments happily! I have struggled with know when to respond seriously to comments and when to just let things slide. More often lately I let things slide, as I feel too busy actually homeschooling to defend homeschooling, if you know what I mean! Thanks for this post!
    Catherine’s latest post: Favorite Resources: Jim Weiss Recordings

  26. I began homeschooling about 13 years ago too and find that I’m just less likely to react than I was in the beginning. I am a homeschooler who supports public education – actually I support CHOICE in education and just as I get frustrated by people acting ignorant regarding homeschooling I also feel the same when people make blanket statements about public education or teachers in general (my husband is a teacher and I know first hand just how hard they work). I feel less a need to prove myself than I used to and I recognize that the truth is that each educational choice has pros and cons. We do miss out in some ways by homeschooling where we live AND my children benefit in many ways fromm our choice. I’ve met many wonderful kids who are public schooled and have involved parents and I’ve met some strange homeschool famililes that I don’t really identify with:) People will say what they will – the important thing is to go into homeschooling (or whatever choice a family makes) for positive reasons.

    • Laura welty says:

      Hello i
      Have homeschooled
      Thirty hears six children. All of you ladies are wonderful and have great ideas. Inwould like to comment gently that although your suggestions are very encouraging , putting the words strange and homeschoolers
      Together continues to portray a very negative picture of homeschooling that many people even those inclined to become more open minded would have difficulty getting past The stereotype is very dangerous to homeschool freedom God bless your journey

  27. Excellent post! I completely agree with you that homeschooling isn’t for everybody. I certainly know of parents who I think would be lousy homeschooling parents (they aren’t that great at parenting to begin with). Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with direct criticism of our choice to homeschool, but I’ve certainly felt the “vibes.” I think the way I manage it is by promoting homeschooling and sorting out my thoughts about it through my newspaper column and on my blog. If the naysayers are interested, then I know they’ll read it. If not, then I won’t worry about what they think anyway.
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Project-based Homeschooling for Young Children: Interview with Lori Pickert, Part 2

  28. Oh, I will add that two years ago on the soccer field this mom was talking about what a great guy my son is and somehow we ended up discussing homeschooling – she is not a fan. Anyways, it clicked that she didn’t know my son was homeschooled and so I told her. Fortunately it was a friendly conversation but I was pleased that she had to realize that by her own admission, homeschoolers CAN be outgoing, confidant, happy kids (since she had pointed out that my son was all these things).

  29. I think that often the reason non-homeschoolers respond the way they do is because too often homeschooling families have made their own rude remarks, giving others the impression that we’re the only ones in God’s Will. They feel defensive because we’re the ones who were unthoughtful in the past. Keeping in mind our own comments and attitudes, as well as your final thoughts (“Homeschooling is not best for everyone. Be confident in your decision, and resist the urge to shake some sense into everyone who has a word ‘against’ your choice.”) will help us to remember to look at the plank in our own eyes that might have caused the speck in someone else’s.

    • Very wise perspective. When I was pregnant with our first child, I quickly realized how passionate mothers are about their choices. The way those choices are communicated often comes across as being the ONLY way rather than this is best for our family/this is our preference. If it isn’t homeschool versus public school (or private in our case), it’s something else (Suzuki method? How old to begin music lessons? Phonics or whole language?). I’m sadly fairly sure this will continue into college and grandchildren 😉

  30. Wow! Well put. We are also blessed and live in an area where we don’t get too much grief for homeschooling. But my heart goes out to those who are constantly bombarded. My husband is in grad school and has been researching homeschooling and it is startling some of the things people put up with. It really bothers me that people think they can know what is best for someone else – seriously – we can NEVER see the whole picture. So mind your own business and be kind!!
    Mindy’s latest post: Comets, Meteors and Shooting Stars

  31. Thanks so much for this post! I think grace, respect, and acceptance are needed for all situations, regardless of what we choose for our kids. Each year and each kid brings different needs and perhaps even a different schooling method! In my circle, I get the other side of “criticism”, even though implicit, that a Godly family SHOULD homeschool, and some others assume that I chose school for my eldest so I can have an easier/less busy life….and often times I find myself wanting to “defend” this choice. Anyways, like what many others said, it just really depends on the family and we should love by not judging, like many other areas of parenting! God have mercy on us!

  32. Jennifer says:

    The last few times this happened to me its been about “socialization. Without realizing it the first time I just sighed and said its such a misconception, my daughter can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I think my lack of anger and my obvious tiredness with the question along with stating the obvious as an aobvious fact took the wind out of the other person’s sails. They just really didn’t know how to go forward.

  33. Peggy C says:

    Great post! My children are still young (1 and 5) so I’m sure I have the majority of interesting comments ahead of me, but most people we know are aware that we are a homeschooling family. I admit that I have an advantage in That I do have a masters in education and 10 years public school teaching experience, so who is someone else to tell me what to do? But I know they think it sometimes, regardless. I do find that most comments are, as you say, mostly making conversation, but others I think come from a defensive point. I’ve found this as a vegetarian (for more than 20 yrs) that when you tell someone that you’ve made a different lifestyle choice as them, they take is as you saying that their choices are wrong. I get a lot of, ” I’d be a vegetarian too, but…” So, looking at it from that perspective it’s easier to come up with a response (sometimes) that puts them at ease. I don’t care, really, if other people homeschool or are vegetarians or not. Just because its the way I want to live does not make it optimal for everyone. My closest friends are actually all non- vegetarian and non-homeschoolers. But I do still sometimes have a defensive reaction to an ignorant comment, so I love your checklist.

  34. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but neither is public school. I don’t talk about others choices to send their kids to public school, so I would rather people not talk about my choice to homeschool.
    Great topic and article. I find it’s just easier to keep my mouth shut. Most of the time anyways.
    It makes me sad when a parent says they couldn’t be with their kids all day. Not that I think you should homeschool or stay at home, but because I think they should really think about why they couldn’t be. Apparently there is a problem that needs to be resolved.
    Dianna’s latest post: Practicing Frugal Daily: Warming Up

  35. Great post! I have a teaching credential but have chosen not to teach and I do not have kids yet and at this moment do not plan on homeschooling. That being said I find it so interesting to hear such strong opposing opinions to homeschooling. Of course having a credential would do wonders for a homeschooling parent but if it was necessary it would be a requirement! From my experience in the classroom, children benefit from available one on one attention and to learn in a safe environment. And homeschooling is a great choice in fostering that! I also think that parents have to be willing to do homeschool to make homeschool work. Those that oppose it are obviously not fit for the job…but just because they are not fit for it does not mean other parents aren’t as well. Keep on fighting homeschool mommas! I find you all inspirations!

  36. We are just starting the homeschooling journey. My oldest just turned 4 in December. I have mentioned the fact that I am planning on homeschooling to a few family members. They shrug it off, because they think I’m a little bit loony anyway (only one that has attended church in the past 10+ years). I did feel a little hurt when my step-mom called me a few months ago, to tell me I should get my son into Head Start ASAP because her friend’s granddaughter can already read. It made me feel like I needed to step up my pre-school game…after much prayer and frustration, I realized that one of the reasons I chose to homeschool, was to go at the pace of my kids, not everyone else.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, I used to be the one who wondered why a mom who graduated college would want to stay home with her kids to homeschool, and “waste” the degree. I wondered why they didn’t just send their kids to school, because that seemed so much easier. Needless to say, my heart has since changed, and I am planning on homeschooling my 3 little ones.
    Sabrina@theunlikelyhomemaker’s latest post: Homeschooling for the Newbie- The Why

  37. I recently wrote a post on a very simular topic. I live in an area where there is a large homeschooling community and don’t seem to receive much grief from the general population about our decision to homeschool. However, we do get opposition from a certain relative. You can read about it here
    Crystal’s latest post: Maternity/Due Date Count Down

  38. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I don’t homeschool, and like you, I am confident in that choice and decision because that is what is right for my family.

    Still I LOVE visiting this page daily (on my simple tour!). I do that because I want to understand homeschooling better. I know that in my life and in my children’s we will meet homeschooling families and I want to understand them so I can be supportive of their choice.

    However, I specifically seek this information. Not everyone does that, so many people have such a limited understanding of it. It’s not something they are exposed to. People fear what they don’t know! I hope that when I meet homeschooling families, that I can learn from them and I hope they have patience and understanding. I don’t want to offend with questions, I want to learn. My guess is there are some people (as in any situation) that come off as rude, or that come out of the gate fighting for what they believe to be true.
    I commend you for being experienced in when you can and cannot educate someone. Just please never stop trying to do so! The more people that can speak about the things they are passionate about, in an intelligent and educational manner, the better chance we have to come together for the things we ALL our passionate about.

  39. After homeschooling the past five years I’ve found just not saying much works best. Sometimes I’ll say every family makes their own choices etc but you won’t change people’s opinions. Best to hold your tongue.

  40. Johanna says:

    Loved this post. I admit, though, that I’m nervous about spending so much time with my very spirited 3 year old. It’s probably the main reason I haven’t made a definite decision to homeschool. So I can understand the remark made concerning that (even if it wasn’t the most tactful).

  41. Stacie@HobbitDoor says:

    I do not currently homeschool my children ( ages 4, 2, 10 mos) but we may in the next couple years. However, I am a graduate of homeschool. My siblings and I all went to college. I am a nurse. Our family has always said homeschooling is a calling and NOT for everyone. Two of my siblings currently homeschool and one does not. If people truly want to know, I gently point out how well we all turned out. If they are not really interested or it will just be an argument, I let it go. It is often shocking to me how upset I can get all these years later when people make rude, uneducated comments. I guess it’s a great reminder to watch the things I say!

  42. Thank you! Great reminder! I’ve been homeschooling for 6 years now. Most of the the people I meet say nice things, or like you say, just try to make conversation. My biggest critic is my own mother! She comes from a long line of public educators. While it’s hard, even she deserves a gentle answer.

  43. For the most part, those around me respect and even support my decision to homeschool our two children. However, one day the kids and I were at the park and a grandfather-aged man asked why my kids weren’t in school. After answering that I homeschool them, he started sharing with me his “grave concerns” about homeschooled kids in this country. I listened as politely as I could. As this man was noticeably overweight I had a hard time holding back a comment about how I had “grave concerns” about the obesity problem in this country! I did restrain myself from that smart-aleck comment and thankfully he left the park before I could change my mind!

  44. Our little ones are still young, and we get little criticism for homeschooling. Very luck, I suppose! If anyone does raise a curious eye, I offer my pat “it’s what works for our family now, but our priority is our children’s needs.” That seems to put off naysayers. I tend to think those who criticize homeschooling have a specific opinion of what it is, much as I did, before we began this path; their comments come from a place of ignorance or undereducation about the reality of homsechooling. So many see homeschooling as a threat to the choices they’ve made. If *their* children are in school, and that school isn’t good enough for *your* kids, it’s as if you’ve pointed out a flaw in their parenting.

  45. I tell people that we homeschool because I need the kids to stay home and tend to the potato-whiskey still in the backyard.

    I don’t generally get much trouble after that.
    Deb’s latest post: Random Monday

  46. Love this, thanks 🙂
    Renee’s latest post: When life give you mud

  47. Thank you, this is beautiful. When we first homeschooled, many years ago, I was so enthusiastic and wanted to talk to everyone about homeschooling. We were fortunate to live in a place where it was widely accepted. Now I tend to wait and hold back. In our family we often joke about possible responses to the question, “Why aren’t you in school?”
    Lisa’s latest post: Winter Play on Mother Nature’s Playground

  48. Gilda J. says:

    Wonderful post. I have the same background as you do, and before starting home-schooling I researched it for 3 years, not to mention had experience teaching all ages, 3rd grade to college and older adults, in 3 countries. Nevertheless, people who know I am a teacher come to me and lecture me about the wrongs of home-schooling. The worst part is, they never listen. So I guess that qualifies as waste of time (wah, wah, wah). But the most irritating thing is when they just approach my child (who could be in some activity or another, and I wouldn’t be right there) and rant about how they don’t understand his parents’ thinking, and how he, the 12 year-old should tell us parents to put him in school. This is what really bothers me, since I ‘m not even there to respond. He tries to respond, but again, they don’t listen. I have decided to ask, from now on, how long have they researched home-schooling before they formed an opinion. I bet most gave it a whole minute’s worth of thought. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

  49. “Homeschooling” is a diverse term. Many people have questioned our (husband and I are on the same page)decision to take full responsibility for our kids education. As a public and private school teacher (art) for nearly 20 years now, I felt confident that my kids education would flourish under our tutelage. Do I still have freak out parenting moments-“Am I making the right decision?” Of Course. Every parent should.
    I choose the Socrates method of just asking questions usually about the state of public schools or the theories of education. I suggest reading up educational theories for your own teacher growth and to help you respond to the naysayers. No one has all of the answers and we are all doing our best to do our best for our children. Let’s be supporters of parents trying their best.
    Jody Jaques’s latest post: Broadway Clay Class in March Studying Friedensreich Hundertwasser and why he HATED the square.

  50. I love this. My entire family thinks only meth heads homeschool. I had a similar encounter in which this tipsy man was in my shop ranting and raving about the filthy, stupid, ignorant, disgusting etc snowboarders. I had ask him to keep it down because people were leaving the store. He was with his date or wife and another couple. They were in their mid thirties. Then he come up to the cash registrar and stretches across the counter all seductive like and says, hey,maybe you could help me with something? Naturally I said I don’t think so. He ask why? I said, well, you see I am one of those dirty nasty horrid ignorant etc snowboarders that you have been going on about and I walked away. I actually repeated verbatim his rant words. His wife and friends were rolling on the floor laughing. He stalked off beet red, veins bulging. Haha

  51. I’ve been homeschooling 25 years and not done yet. I’ve had many conversations about homeschooling, some positive, some negative, and some eye opening. Never have I changed anyone’s opinion by arguing the pros and cons of public vs home school. I simply answer their questions and tell them what we do. Four out of five of my children have graduated and no one has ever told me they can tell they were homeschooled that didn’t know we did. But they do tell me how wonderful they are to talk to, how well spoken they are, and good to know. If they do find out we homeschooled we get one of two reactions; either they’re surprised they turned out so well in spite of their lack of public education or they understand that’s the result they’d expect from homeschooling. Like the author pointed out, know your audience and respond in kind. Some, very few, really want to know more about homeschooling, but most are making conversation and too many just want to change YOUR mind and get your children back in public school.

  52. I homeschool my autistic son.. And I hear plenty of naysay. Of which, I usually ignore. I could not imagine not homeschooling with him as it’s going so well. I am a certified teacher with @a decade of teaching experience..and if someone is particularly rude I usually point out that fact and it shuts them up quite nicely. I usually then tell them something along the lines of.. If you only knew what I knew about mainstream education you would certainly rethink your choice to enroll your child in such programs..

  53. I love everything about this. Very well put 😊

  54. I’m really glad I read this. My son is in 7th grade and he is enrolled in an online public home school…..we had to take him out of sixth grade last year due to some health problems. Since I never really intended to do home school, this has been an incredible journey and has opened my eyes to the many benefits of this choice. The drawback is that we are still governed by the same rules that apply to traditional public school. There are tests and projects, and each class has a certified teacher. This can be good, and it can also be difficult. Since we are used to all of these rules though, it hasn’t been a huge problem for us, even though I am aware there are other options out there and we can change at any time. I’ve been insulted from many due to my choice for my son, even though he has a health condition. It is unbelievable. Even another home school parent said I wasn’t really homeschooling because the academy he is in is a public one. But just like I told this person I study through all of my son’s lessons so I can help him with the material, we go on field trips, and I incorporate Bible study into his day which has been a great thing for us both. So while I may not have taken the plunge into “real” homeschooling as some define it, it feels real enough to me as a start and I am open to other curriculum and methods. My daughter is still at public school but definitely wants to come home. It has been difficult to have one away and one at home. The plan was for my son to go back to school once he got better, but now I am considering having them both home next year and starting over with a non-public school approach, maybe Classical Conversations or something. I’ve already received lots of criticism from family members even though my son’s health was the main reason for our choice to bring him home and do virtual school. One relative even asked him if he feels like he is missing out on everything by not being at public school. This same relative constantly makes remarks about how children need to always “be with others.” Well my other child is not particularly benefiting from “others” at school and comes home lately quite depressed due to the behaviors she has to sit next to at school. Another relative loudly told me that my son needs to go back to school next year and I need to keep my other one in also. It is really frustrating to have people chime in about what is best for your kids when they don’t live your life and really don’t have any business saying anything. Most everyone thought I would be running back to the front door of the school time his health started improving but that isn’t the case. When I bring my daughter home (which could happen before this school year ends) I will endure even more remarks. So this article was helpful to me in controlling the urge to argue with people who really don’t know what they are talking about!

  55. We have been homeschooling for a year now and i can honestly say fortunately I have never had anyone (stranger or relative) say anything negative. Most people are very supportive or at least curious. We fortunately live in an area where it is quite common and accepted, but I think it helps that I am a man and have graduated from prestigious universities. If anyone criticizes homeschooling I would just tell them “We love homeschooling but I believe it is definitely not for everyone.”

  56. I think it’s important to remember that some people may have had a bad experience with homeschool (or homeschooling families) and even though it’s not fair for them to make sweeping assumptions, that’s the place they are coming from. For instance, my mom was a speech pathologist and there was a homeschool family whose daughters had many special needs that the parents didn’t address and my mom’s heart just broke for those girls not getting extra help they needed. She knows better that I think all homeschool families are like that, but when it’s mentioned her first throught is of that family. So she may come across less charitably than she really means it sometimes.

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