Lee, I was wondering about relatives or friends who upon learning your child was now homeschooled decided to test them on information. They did not do this to a child who is in public school. How do you respond to this type of behavior which I think is rude?
~ Karen (no state, to protect the innocent!)
It is SO tempting to be snarky, especially if you've heard the same question every week for 15 years. But it isn't how we should represent homeschooling- even though homeschooling isn't a 'system', folks still lump homeschoolers together, so if they meet a rude homeschooler, forever after they will believe and spread the word that all homeschoolers are rude. If I had a nickel for every "I met this weird homeschooling family" story...
Anyway, I usually answer questions with questions of my own, in the form of clarifying some part of their question. It not only requires them to rethink the premise of their question, it helps me gauge more accurately where they are coming from, and I can answer accordingly.
Anyone with a teaching degree does have a lingo they learned in college. Most of the terms are about managing thirty kids, the intricate regulation and standardization of curriculum, and the qualifications and ongoing training of the teacher him/herself. That's probably what that teacher was throwing at you, Lee.
I haven't had teachers quiz my pupils - usually my eldest talks their ears off first. Anyone who has encountered her knows that's like being hit with a fire hose that squirts dictionaries, thesauruses, and fantasy novels instead of water.
One of my friends had someone ask her, "Would you let your kids go to public school if they wanted to?" She replied sagely, "I'm not sure. Would you let your kids be homeschooled if they wanted to be?" That seemed to shut them up. No matter what, always smile and share all the exciting things you're doing in your homeschool. Even when your children shrug and say, "I dunno," you can inform the nosy busybodies that that is usually the answer when you ask the same of public school kids.
I too have a family full of teachers. I usually tell them that homeschooled kids are about 2 "public" school grades ahead of their "Piers". and then proceed to let them know my 14 year os taking chemistry. Fam - no comment
My husband's parents have been very supportive ever since school shootings started happening. The rest of his family just tolerates our strange behavior, and chooses not to talk about homeschooling anymore than they would talk about politics, LOL!!
It is important to put our "best feet forward" for the sake of the whole hs community. When we leave the house, I ask them if we look like hs-ers.
Of course my kids know I'm just refering to the stereotype of bed-head and high-waters, (which does happen in ps, too, but doesn't get blamed on that method) but appearance can really reinforce a person's opinion...
We have been homeschooling for 20 years and have heard it all from my husband's mom and others. The worst was our next door neighbor who would come by repeatedly just to ask when I was going to put my kids in a "real" school. Not only did she believe that homeschooling should be illegal, she also thought having a business out of a home should be as well. So we were the worst possible people in her eyes as we not only homeschooled but also run a business selling used curriculum to homeschoolers our of our house!! Horrors! One day after getting the usual question from her I replied, "I respect the choice you made in the education of your children, please respect mine." After this I heard no more from her regarding our homeschooling until many years later. I was shocked one day to have her on my front porch asking me to help her granddaughter homeschool herself through her last year of high school. Lots of replies went through my mind, but the one I gave was that I would be more that happy to help. The granddaughter was a year behind but wanted to graduate with her friends on time. She completed her junior and senior work in less than a year. She started in Oct and finished in early May. She graduated a month before her friends and was signed up for summer college classes, on scholarship, before her friends graduated from high school. No more problems with the neighbor. She likes us now.
I have a rather unusual problem, I believe. My (fully homeschooled) 19yodd works at the church and they don't like homeschooling. They (pastor and his wife) absolutely love her and her work ethic and her abilities but they constantly let her know that they don't approve of homeschooling nor of the parenting decisions we made.
They have had a few discussions about it and my daughter explained that we just wanted what we thought was the best for our children, like most parents. Doesn't matter how non judgmental she comes across, they still let her (and us when we're around) know that they don't approve of our decision.
These people have remarked on many occasions that they respect our dd and value her abilities. Yet they seem to disrespect her by continuing to make us aware of their disapproval.
I used to think that people might see that the 'proof is in the pudding'. In this instance, whilst they fully benefit from the pudding and like it, they still see fit to criticise the cook and the cook's methods.
Any tips or ideas for handling this?
GREAT question - and I love your blog! Wait till you see my November newsletter on Delight-Directed learning! You're going to love it!
A couple of years ago, a client asked me a very similar question, and I did a blog post about it. Maybe it will help you as well:
Salt and Light
Thanks Lee! I am already subbed via RSS and email to all your articles so I'll look forward to reading it.
We have a teacher friend who would question my kids at any occasion while all the kids were playing together, 2 hs, 2 public school, 1 Catholic school. My eldest never seemed phased by it, but my youngest did NOT like the questioning. One time she perked up looked my friend full in the face and with the most innocent faced asked, "Why are you asking me all these questions?"
To which my friend gracefully responded, "You are right, I guess it is not right of me,or something to that effect. My youngest is very good at answering a question with a question, and I don't think she would have stopped until she got anything other than a, "OK, I'll leave you alone."
In regards to the pastor's or other peoples' criticism. If these were people that I could not just avoid, I would jokingly cry out the next time they critise me, and beg them not to crucify me in public, or say, "Oh no are you going to read me the riot act AGAIN". They may not even realise how much they do it, or come across as you needing their approval. If my husband did not get flat out mad at such a comment he would probably say, "Sorry Master, did not know the master would be dis mad a me." Maybe you could ask them why they feel justified in criticizing your choices, but they may just like to give you a long explanation.