Do you ever feel like you cannot let your guard down when speaking with non-homeschoolers about your decision to homeschool? Do you feel judged, condemned or under a scrutinous eye?
You are not alone. We all feel like this at times. Sometimes this feeling is justified, other times it is not. The important thing to factor into the equation is that you do not need to get defensive when you feel threatened. As homeschoolers we need to not care what others think, or what we think they think and just stand firm in what we are doing.
When someone asks me a question about my homeschooling I can usually tell if they are genuinely interested, just trying to make conversation or simply being critical. It is vitally important to know how to differentiate between the latter two. Otherwise we might make enemies out of well meaning friends.
The questions that I usually get are as follows:
Do you have to be a certified teacher to homeschool?
Usually this is from people that I do not know very well, sometimes strangers, and they are simply curious. I’ve even been asked this question from moms from foreign countries where homeschooling is unheard of, so in these situations I knew they did not mean any harm in asking this question. It sure would be easy to get defensive about this one since it is a question about you and your qualifications but when you find your confidence in the Lord and what He has called you to do, then it does not matter what anyone else thinks.
What are you going to do about graduation? Will your kids only receive a GED?
I simply answer this one with, “our kids will be a part of a homeschool gradation and they will receive a diploma.” That’s it. I try not to get into the details and nitty gritty of it all because this question tends to come from skeptics, in my case anyways. I could get into the fact that private schools don’t generally give out GED’s, but actual diplomas and the graduates have the same chance to get into college as any public schooler but I don’t say much about this one since I usually do not want to start an argument.
How many hours a day do you have school?
I’ve been asked this question so many times that I’ve lost track. Sometimes it’s a genuine inquiry from someone just starting out. Other times it is from the skeptic who just wants to pry. Even though every day looks different in our homeschool, that answer makes the skeptic super uncomfortable and I sometimes get the look like they are about to call social services on me. Therefore, I basically just pick the time frame that I generally shoot for and rattle off those hours and then try to change the topic of conversation!
Do you take breaks?
This one made me laugh. I have had the same person ask me this several times because I can tell that it bothers them that I homeschool and they were just looking for a way to “get me,” as if breaks are a terrible thing. Yes, I take a break to deal with a disobedient child or change a baby’s diaper, or check my Facebook, (just kidding, I don’t even have Facebook!) But even if I did, you can’t tell me public school teachers don’t ever have breaks throughout the day and that kids don’t have recess. Sometimes it is so obvious that someone disagrees with your decision to homeschool that you simply have to take your conversations with them with grace. You aren’t going to be able to get them to understand, so just pray for grace, smile and have a sweet attitude toward them when sticky topics come up.
What do you do about gym?
My family is not into sports, at all. We are more of the hunting, farming, fishing, swimming, hiking and biking variety. Therefore, we are outdoors, often. The term “gym” is not really in our vocabulary, nor do I feel that it needs to be in the sense that many people think it does. If we are active in our daily lives, then we shouldn’t need to worry about the skills generally taught in our school’s gym classes. My nine year old just played dodgeball for the first time last month and my six year old just learned how to do jumping jacks this spring, but does that really matter? Are they really missing out by not doing what everyone else does? I will admit though, we do own several treadmills and the kids enjoy running on the at their leisure, maybe that can count as gym?
Are you part of a co-op?
Sometimes skeptics get nervous about your homeschooling so they want to make sure that you are “connected.” The problem with this is, co-ops can cause more stress for some people than it is worth. My first few years of homeschooling, I didn’t join any groups at all. I always had a baby that needed a nap or needed to be nursed. Actually, I am now hitting round two of that season with a toddler and newborn on the way so I certainly will be taking a step back from all the activities that I started to sign my kids up for as they got older. Maybe home was not a pleasant place for the skeptic that asks these types of questions and you could be a shining example of what a good home looks like for them.
Whatever the reason for the question, you ultimately do not know what the other person is thinking. Even though I can usually spot a skeptic, it does not mean that their heart can’t be changed towards homeschoolers. Be a good example, speak kindly and try to avoid snark answers, even though it is hard at times, trust me! Humility goes a long way and even if the skeptic has no intention of lightening up, simply pray for the right words or gently redirect the conversation.