If you choose to prehomeschool, you’re going to face questions that people who choose other educational routes for their children will not face.
That’s just part of the package deal.
The reason people are curious about homeschooling is because it’s different. The more you communicate about your homeschool experiences the less “different” it becomes.
Thanks to the Duggars on “19 Kids and Counting,” there’s a lot better understanding of homeschooling then when I was a kid.
But there are still going to be questions.
And, unless you follow Duggar philosophy, you might need to broaden people’s homeschool perceptions a bit.
Here’s a simple way to think about this job of educating others about your homeschool:
If you’re going to DEVIATE (homeschool) from the norm,
be prepared to EDUCATE, COMMUNICATE and
encourage others to PARTICIPATE in your homeschool journey!
Before you start informing others about homeschooling, you need to be informed yourself both because you want to articulate ideas about homeschooling effectively but also because you otherwise might easily be shaken in your own confidence about your decision to homeschool.
Start with thinking about a simple question:
Why do people homeschool, and, more importantly, why do YOU homeschool?
Most people homeschool because:
- They want to instill values and beliefs
- They want to customize education
- Accomplish more learning
- Have flexibility in approaches to instruction
- Encourage family relationships
- Allow for a different social setting
- Protect their children from harmful information or influences
Most likely you homeschool for several (or all) of the reasons above!
These are some great reasons to educate your child at home as opposed to following the “norm” and putting your child in school.
As a previous classroom educator, I can confidently say that, while teachers often have very good intentions, the structure of a classroom has strong disadvantages over a mother teaching her child at home.
No teacher, no matter how kind or caring, will have your child’s interests at heart like you do or will know your child like you do. And with all your possible shortcomings as a home educator, that love for your child can more than adequately compensate for your flaws or lack of personal education.
I’ll show some statistics later on that are proof of the advantages of homeschooling.
Don’t feel insecure; you’re making a good decision for your child.
Now that you know the reasons you homeschool, be prepared to share those reasons with others!
Here are the most common reason people homeschool and ways you could respond to the question above about why you homeschool: “I homeschool because…
- I really want to instill in my children the values and beliefs that are incredibly important to my husband and I, and I think homeschooling is the easiest avenue for me to ensure they are taught these things.
- I can customize my child’s education to his/her needs and interests. It’s like having tailored clothing verses a one-size-fits-all design for education. I think having something custom made is best for my child.
- I feel like my child and I can accomplish more learning with one-on-one instruction than my child could receive in a classroom with 24 peers. It’s just difficult for a teacher with that many students to keep up with each child’s needs, and we don’t have the time constraints of a commute or waiting for other kids to finish before moving on to the next thing.
- I have flexibility of teaching in a way and at a time that fits my child. Not every kid learns best in the morning or sitting down. I can adjust based on what my child needs.
- I think quality family time and good relationships with family members helps my kids now and in the long run. I want my kids to have the extra time together and with me that I wouldn’t get with them if they were in a classroom and on a bus from 7:30-3:30.
- I can expose my kids to a more diverse socialization experience. My kids get to interact with people of all different ages, cultures, ethnicities, and I get to be the one that helps them learn how to interact with people in a positive way.
- I want to shelter my little growing plant. You don’t put a sapling out in a snowstorm and expect it to thrive. I want to be there to actively teach my child what’s right and wrong until they are mature enough to successfully and confidently navigate pressures that would tell them otherwise.
As you explain your reason for homeschooling, it’s helpful to avoid using comparison of other forms of education with homeschool. The goal is to educate and not offend or alienate the person asking; that would be counterproductive for homeschoolers in the long run.
However, a question about homeschooling is inherently a question about “why not send your child to school” and sometimes requires a bit of comparison. But within that, you can soften comments by using phrases like “my husband and I feel like for our family…” instead of blatant school bashing.
Educational institutions are doing an important job, and teachers are often some of the kindest and selfless people you’ll meet. Whether or not you feel an institutional approach to education is right for you and your family doesn’t negate the valuable work that these teachers are doing.
Statistics can be a little tricky to work into a conversation without sounding overly defensive, but there might be certain scenarios when it’s necessary to back up the idea that homeschooling is a good decision for your children.
Here are some statistics provided by the National Home Education Research Institute:
- The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)
- Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
- Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
- Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
- Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
- Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.
Knowing why you homeschool and how to use supporting information to back this up is a helpful starting point. Educate yourself and think through your answers before you get stumped by a “why do you homeschool” type of question.
You may have seen this picture floating around social media. From this, it’s evident that people’s perceptions regarding how homeschool works on the day to day basis is pretty…uh…inaccurate. Because of this, I think it’s also super helpful to know not only why you homeschool but also HOW you homeschool.
What is it that you’re doing on a day to day basis to teach your children at home. When people ask me about our homeschool, I say, “We do a lot of active, hands on, exploratory learning.” That helps people know that we’re not sitting at a desk with a text book, which people are intrigued by. It just helps give them a little bit of a framework to hinge their understanding of homeschooling on.
If you’re not sure “how” you homeschool or how to explain it, check out this link that offers a list and explanation to approaches to home education.
In the modern era, we have a wide range of tools for allowing people windows into our homeschools! Use Facebook, texts, FaceTime and other media to allow friends and family to “visit” your homeschool! Instead of waiting for the awkward homeschooling questions from friends and family, start posting, sharing and just communicating about your homeschool experiences!
If “communicating” about homeschooling opens a window into your homeschool, allowing others to “participate” in your homeschooling is like opening your door; it’s huge to creating bridges into your classroom. There are so many ways grandparents, aunts and uncles and others can take part in your home education. Here are just a few ideas:
- Take your kids to work on a “field trip” to daddy’s work and introduce them to daddy’s workers. Have your kids (if old enough) ask each coworker a prepared question about his/her job.
- Have your children put on a private music recital, poetry recital, speech or play and allow your in-laws or other family members be the honored guests.
- Ask a far away relative to be a pen pal so your child can practice her/her writing or art project while keeping their audience (family member) in mind.
- Do field trips with family members. Allow a family member or friend take your child on a field trip to learn more about the subject he/she is studying.
This is great not only to help your friends and family better understand what you’re doing, but it’s a great experience for your children and builds family relationships in general!
Homeschooling is awesome, but it takes time for people to learn why you do it and how it works. Friends, family, the grocery checker, your pediatrician, and your neighbor will ask you sometimes awkward questions about your school of choice for your children. It’s important to be prepared to be your own homeschool public relations expert in these scenarios and to handle the scenarios with grace, humility and confidence, but you can do that! You can be your very own homeschool public relations advocate.