Episode 23: Answering Intrusive Homeschool Questions
If you’ve been homeschooling any amount of time, you’ve probably experienced this. It’s so easy to get annoyed or even defensive when the questions feel intrusive or even ignorant. But that right there is the key… Is the questioner just ignorant of homeschooling in general? Many people are truly clueless about homeschooling and in their ignorance, ask questions. We may be the only people they know that homeschool, and by our response can help them better understand what homeschooling is all about. Take the crazy and often ridiculous questions as an opportunity to enlighten them
But then… there are some that aren’t ignorant but just find it insulting that you would even consider homeschooling. Of course, they may be rude… but again what would be reciprocating their rudeness accomplish? Consider taking a breath and reminding yourself that what you say next could change their perspective of homeschoolers in general!
My first tip:
Understand WHY they are asking!
This may include various reasons from being rude to genuinely wanting to understand, to actually being interested and trying to wrap their minds around the huge shift in thinking. And truly that is the fundamental key, to embrace homeschooling you need an open mind. Some people just aren’t there yet, but we can take every conversation as an opportunity to change their perspective. Ask yourself a few questions before responding:
- Are they just being rude?
- Are they angry because they feel like my choice inherently makes their choice look wrong?
- Are they struggling to wrap their minds around the paradigm/cultural shift you’ve embraced?
- Are they just making casual conversation?
My second tip:
Ask yourself how you can turn the conversation into something positive!
If the questioner is rude – or quizzes your child on their math or history facts… just turn the conversation to them and how they must love math or be a history buff. One of my favorite resources on this topic is the book, Manners that Matter for Moms by homeschool mom Maralee McKee. Maralee encourages us to deflect the conversation by asking them about the subject that they brought up or to intervene if our child gets caught in the pop quiz situation and shift the conversation to one of his or her strengths.
If the questioner is concerned and has valid points – let them voice their opinion. Give them time to share what’s on their heart, and then voice your opinion and your reasons for homeschooling. Don’t feel defensive or threatened, this is your decision and at the end of the day, you and your spouse/partner are the ones who must live with it. Simply let them know that you understand their concerns, but you request that they respect your decision.
If the commenter expresses that they could never homeschool – just let it be. They are probably not looking for a response and because they feel like they could never homeschool doesn’t mean they are dissing you because you are. In fact, they may secretly wish they could!
If the questioner asks about socialization – don’t get snarky and share with them how we were told not to socialize in school! If you feel that they deserve a response, take this opportunity to teach them that socialization is not 25 children of the same age together all day. But in its best form socialization is interaction with people of all ages and types, which our homeschooled children get in various ways.
If the questioner asks why you homeschool – determine his or her motivation first. Are they just being rude? Then a short answer is appropriate because you have no obligation to justify your homeschool decision. If they are really looking for more information give them the full treatment. Here is your opportunity to make homeschooling shine! Let them know how great homeschooling is and how it produces amazing students and graduates that colleges across the country are recruiting!
These guidelines are pretty simple and straightforward, but I know if we can turn our frustration into a positive way to present homeschooling it may make a difference!
Now to answer the fun fact question from the beginning of our segment. Our survey results showed that 28% of homeschoolers choose to homeschool primarily out of frustration and dissatisfaction with public education. This fact itself is a perfect piece of information to use if you’re asked critical questions regarding your decision to homeschool. Just a little ammunition to help you out this time of year!
Finally, I’d like to thank today’s sponsor – A2ZHomeschooling.com — My friend Andrea has created amazing resources for homeschoolers, in fact, you really need to head over there! You’ll find information about local homeschooling events and state laws that are sure to be a useful resource for years to come. That’s A2Z: A, the number 2, Z, homeschooling.com
And, once again, I want to encourage you to take a deep breath before you answer a challenging and intrusive homeschool question during the holidays… remember.. You might be the only homeschooler they know – thank you for representing us well!
Wishing you a happy holiday and an amazing new year!
Jamie and Homeschool.com
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