Be prepared for homeschool criticism and know how to respond!
Choosing to homeschool is such a huge undertaking. You are now responsible for your child’s education and you really need all the support, encouragement and motivation that you can get.
Having someone chatting in your ear and making you question your decision to homeschool is the last thing you need as a new homeschooler.
What is homeschool criticism?
Most homeschoolers deal with homeschool criticism at some point along their journey. I knew when we made the decision to pull our daughter from public school kindergarten that we’d most likely have lots of backlash and questions coming from all directions.
Usually the “criticism” is presented as a question that immediately makes you feel guilty or incompetent to homeschool.
I’ve found that it’s merely a matter of those around you not having enough information and being ill-informed or wanting to better understand homeschooling.
My first tip for dealing with homeschool criticism is not to think of it as just that. Many times I have walked away from someone I thought was judging or bashing our choices only to realize later they were genuinely curious about our lifestyle.
Other times I’ve realized that outsiders to this way of life could be a bit jealous that they don’t have the freedom and flexibility that have.
How do you handle homeschool criticism?
After thinking about our experiences, I realized we get the same questions and comments repeatedly so I’ve perfected my responses over the years. Now I’m confident when I face homeschool criticism or curious onlookers.
By knowing how to handle homeschool criticism from those around you, you’ll reduce some of the stress you’re experiencing and build more confidence in your decision to homeschool.
Here are the most common questions and concerns that I hear from those who are not familiar with homeschooling and how I’ve chosen to respond. Hopefully these are helpful to you as you educate others on the benefits and advantages of homeschooling and why your family has made the amazing decision to homeschool.
Aren’t you worried about socialization?
I bet we’ve all heard this one.
“What about socialization?”
“Homeschoolers are unsocialized.”
“They’ll turn out weird and not know how to talk to other kids.”
“Aren’t you worried they will be shy and anti-social?”
Socialization is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the process beginning during childhood by which individuals acquire the values, habits, and attitudes of a society.”
To be honest, one of the reasons that we homeschool our kids is so they don’t fall in with the rest of society. We want them to form their own opinions, develop their own unique personalities and create healthy habits and routines.
Socialization in school age children is often thought of as the ability to communicate and work alongside those in their grade level. The reality is that children should be developing communication and relationship skills with all ages.
My kids can hold a conversation with someone their own age, a younger child and an adult if necessary.
By boxing them into an age specific peer group, I believe we are actually hindering their ability to socialize properly.
Our favorite response to this type of criticism is to always mention how weird is good. We aren’t trying to raise cookie cutter kids. 😉
I’ve also let my girls handle these ones before. Sometimes it’s simply the child responding to such a comment from an adult that helps them see that the kids are well spoken and communicate wonderfully with others.
How do you know what to teach?
This is a great and valid question. I’m sure if you’re a new homeschooler you’ve actually asked this question to yourself!
I think this question comes from genuine curiosity. As a public educated student myself, I did wonder what exactly homeschoolers were learning and where they got their info.
For this question, I don’t believe you need to rattle off your list of curriculum or textbooks. This, however, is a great opportunity to share how flexible homeschooling can be.
Responses to this type of question can be short or extensive, depending on how involved you want to be in the conversation.
Normally my response is simply, “Whatever the kids want to learn.” (We do a lot of delight directed learning, so this is pretty spot on for what I’m teaching.)
You can mention following a specific curriculum or program. If you want to get really detailed you can chat about your state standards or guidelines that you follow.
I like to share just a few of the interesting topics we recently tackled. For example, we just learned about electric circuits, Vikings, penguins and the Galapagos Islands. Probably not topics they are expecting 😉
Are you qualified to homeschool?
It’s funny that you aren’t asked if you’re qualified to parent, yet some people will ask if you’re qualified to homeschool. I’m pretty sure you’ve taught your kids to walk, talk, feed themselves, and get dressed among many other things.
You know your kids better than anyone. You understand how they learn, what they enjoy and how to motivate them. There isn’t anymore more qualified to teach your kids than you!
“Yes, actually the law requires **fill in your state’s requirement** so I’m definitely qualified.”
I’ve often times tossed out the idea that my kids are actually really lucky because they have 1 on 1 with their teacher any time they need. In a public school it’s 26 to 1 on average. So not only am I qualified, I’m by far more accessible and focused on their individual education.
“I know my kids better than anyone… so I’m actually over-qualified to be their teacher!”
Shouldn’t you be homeschooling longer?
This is one of my favorite questions as a homeschooler. Often times we will have finished all our lessons for the day by lunch time and are able to enjoy other activities.
Seeing a homeschooler out in public enjoying themselves during school hours really irks some people apparently. I’ve had cashiers, movie attendants and other adults make comments to my kids such as
“It must be nice to not have to go to real school.”
“Shouldn’t you still be at home learning if you’re homeschooled?”
The funny thing is – the kids probably learn more on those field trips or outings than most kids learn in that time sitting in a public school classroom. We use our “extra time” after book work and lessons for hands-on learning, experiences, trips and lots of other non-conventional learning.
Normally my kids will jump in to respond to these types of comments. They’ll simply reply with something along the lines of “Yep, we are definitely still in school.”
“We are constantly learning, even while we’re here.”
“This is our field trip for the week.”
I’ve even gone as far as telling a stranger tons of details on the things my kids were learning. “Right now we are learning to budget, follow a recipe, calculate discounts, and figure sales tax.” That one shut them up real quick!
How to Stay Confident
Sometimes it can feel like homeschool criticism comes from every direction. It can suck the excitement and confidence out of you so quickly.
It’s SO important to remember the reason you started homeschooling in the first place. Keep in mind the values, characteristics and lessons you are instilling in your kids. Refer back to your homeschool mission statement frequently. Keep a homeschool journal to document all the amazing trips, lessons and accomplishments your family achieves along the way.
Don’t let the opinions and thoughts of others sway your decision and your conviction to homeschool.