Problems and Issues

My friends and family are against homeschooling. They’re trying to talk me out of it and it’s causing arguments.

Put the “burden of proof” on your family and friends and don’t participate in any more arguments or homeschooling debates. Explain that you have an unfair advantage over them because you’ve done your research and they haven’t.

Put the ball in their court and tell them you would be happy to debate the merits of homeschooling with them once they finish researching the subject as much as you have. Provide them with a list of books, magazines, websites, articles, research, and anything else you can find on the subject. Make sure you’ve read the resources on the list so you can actually discuss them with anyone who accepts your offer. My guess is that no one will take you up on it.

At this point, it’s very important that you follow through by not letting yourself be drawn into discussing or debating homeschooling with any of them until they’ve read at least some of the references on your list. Be kind, but firm, and say something like: “I understand your concerns and know that you just want the best for little Johnny because you love him. I love him, too, and that’s why I decided to homeschool him, especially after reading all the research that supports homeschooling as a wonderful educational alternative. I’d be happy to discuss this further with you, though. Have you read any of the books, magazines, or other things I suggested? No? Well, I’m excited at the thought of discussing this with you so let me know when you get a chance to read them!”

Then smile real big and change the subject. If they try to bring you back to the argument, remind them about your unfair advantage over them, and then change the subject again. It may take a while, but they’ll give up or actually read the research and become converts.

My husband is uncertain about homeschooling. How can I convince him that it’s right for our family?

Try to ease him into it slowly. Offer to give him books, articles, or websites to read so he can become more comfortable with the idea. If he’s still against it, ask him to give it a “trial run” for one year (or one semester if he won’t go for a full year). After that, you both can evaluate how things go and decide whether to keep on homeschooling the next year. Usually that’s all it takes. Your husband will see the benefits of homeschooling and be more supportive.

If a trial run isn’t quite enough to sway him, offer to test the children at the end of the year. If their scores are within the average range or above, then that should reassure him that they’re achieving at an average level when compared with publicly schooled students.

Test results can also be used as a way to reassure family and friends who are a little leery about homeschooling. Use the “testing” offer as a last resort, though. Testing can cause stress for everyone and really have nothing to do with learning.

When strangers find out we’re homeschoolers, they try to quiz my children. Even my relatives quiz the children to see how much they’re learning. It makes my children feel very uncomfortable. What can I do?

I don’t think people understand how uncomfortable children are with “quizzing” (whether they’re homeschoolers or not). How would they feel if people repeatedly put them on the spot and demanded that they produce “proof” of their knowledge?

While adults can often refuse to “perform,” children often feel trapped into answering because they’re taught to be polite to adults. When it happens to your children, step in and kindly explain that you don’t normally allow people to quiz your children. However, if they’d allow your children to quiz them first, you might make an exception. Most people won’t accept the challenge. In case they do, however, prepare questions beforehand that your children can ask. (The more difficult, the better.)

If that strategy doesn’t appeal to you, you could ask the offenders outright, “Would you try to quiz my children if they were publicly schooled?” That would hopefully make them stop to think about their motives.

After you intervene a few times, your children may feel comfortable coming up with their own strategies. Maybe something like, “Oh, are we playing a trivia game? Cool! Let us go first!” I’ve also heard of children answering a stranger’s question with, “Why are you asking me? Don’t you know the answer?”

My son is shy and gets upset every morning before school. Everyone tells me that making him go to school will eventually get him out of his shyness, but my instincts tell me that homeschooling would be better for him.

Shyness is not overcome by forcing a child into an uncomfortable situation and surrounding him with 25 to 30 same-age peers every day for 6 to 8 hours. Shyness is overcome by gradual interaction and acceptance of a few close friends and the steady introduction of new people and new situations when a child is ready. By slowly building your son’s interactions with new people and situations, he will become more confident and better able to adapt to the new experiences he will face as he grows older.

My mom constantly raves about her other grandchildren’s accomplishments and the great education they’re getting in our local public schools. She even brags about kids she hears about on the news – the awards and medals they get, and how great their schools are. When I try to share what my children are doing as homeschoolers, she asks me why I’m getting so defensive. She never seems to care about the interesting things we’re doing, and the children are starting to notice.

It sounds like your mom disapproves of your homeschooling and is using a passive-aggressive method to try to make you stop. She doesn’t want to actively interfere by telling you to put the children in public school, so she’s trying to get you to do it by making it appear as if it’s all your idea. (So you can’t blame her.)

Now that you know her intentions, it’s very easy to stop her – just don’t play her game. When she brags about other children, say, “Really?! That’s great!” and change the subject to something completely unrelated to homeschooling or education in general.

Don’t be surprised if she tries it again and again. Just be firm and respond with, “Wow! That’s interesting!” and change the subject again. And so on, and so on. Just don’t engage with her on the topic – ever.

If you are consistent and don’t respond to her attempts to get you riled, she’ll eventually stop trying, or she’ll come right out and tell you she wants you to put them in school. Then you can finally discuss what is bothering her and resolve the real problem.