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Homeschooling Questions - how to answer them

Homeschooling Questions - some are asked out of genuine interest; some are asked out of concern; some are just really dumb, annoying questions asked by those who have no idea and no real interest.  And some homeschooling questions are designed to be tough asked by those who are looking to lay a trap, start an argument and eager to put you down or place you in an uncomfortable corner - usually by those who think they know best for everyone!

Ever had these homeschooling questions and wondered how to answer them?

Me too!

Most homeschooling questions are not really difficult to answer - but because they often come as a surprise, the situation often causes us to be defensive and we are often left wondering how to respond.

I think that there are different answers depending on the setting and the people involved.

Answering those who are genuinely interested

I am interested and I would really love to know more.

Some people are genuinely interested in why you homeschool. The answers you give to these people depends a lot on whether this person is seriously considering homeschooling and would like further input - or if they are a casual observer - or whether they will remain a big part of your life.

If you're out shopping, and the check-out person discovers your children are "not at school" because they're being homeschooled ... and they seem interested, you can give some short comments about the blessings of homeschooling.

"We love the flexibility it gives us."

"We love hanging out together as a family and learning all sorts of things."

"The kids learn a lot in a far shorter amount of time."

"It's great to be able to tap into their special interests."

"They develop great friendships as they mingle with other kids and participate in groups.."

What about when you've started - and then wish you hadn't opened your mouth!

We all have found ourselves beginning a conversation and then wishing we hadn't opened our mouth.  Sometimes, it turns out that the random person we are talking to has a very strong, negative opinion and are happy to share it with you and your kids.  Try to arm yourself with some curt but pleasant answers for them.

"We've come to borrow a library book, and not to debate homeschooling with you. We're very happy with what we're doing. Thanks."

"I'm not here to convince you that homeschooling really works well in our family."

"Socialization means that you are mixing with people. Mixing with 30 other children all of the same age is very un-natural and does not promote healthy socialization."

"We are very concerned about how our kids socialize. We don't like the unnatural and detrimental effects of socialization that can often happen in institutionalized schooling and that's one important reason why we homeschool."

What about a family member?

If they are a family member or someone who will be a part of your life in larger doses, you will need to take time to explain more of why homeschooling works best for your family. They would be interested to hear your homeschooling reasons, and to understand what it looks like in your home, interact with your children and perhaps be involved in the learning in some way.

Take time with these family members and help them to gain understanding.  Allow them and encourage them to be a part of the learning so that they will witness the benefits which homeschooling has for your family.  Show them the homeschooling projects. Get them involved.

Since they're interested - give them a book to read! Many homeschooling questions can be addressed by referring them to a website or to a book written by an experienced home educator.

My Top Favourite Homeschooling Books to give to others!

Homeschooling Answers to Negative Family Members

This is where it gets tricky.

We would like to love and respect our family and their opinions and be gracious to them, but at times, we will just need to acknowledge that their opinion is not going to be the same as ours and we are not going to be able to get their approval. This can really be difficult especially when our parents openly show their disapproval and negativity.  Remind yourself that it is God's approval we seek, not man's.  That we are following God's calling and need to remain obedient to that.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

Be quietly confident in your answers

It is possible that family members (parents in particular)  feel that they will miss out on "Grandparent's Day" at school (tue scenario) or they may feel that somehow your actions are a reflection of your own disappointments of your life.

I think the best thing to do is to be gently firm in your responses; to be quietly confident. This can be really hard when you're just beginning, because most of us begin with great nervousness and even the slightest comment can throw all our positive thinking out of the window.

Arm yourself with good books (like the ones above), some inspiring quotes, some encouraging articles.  Write down your own reasons for homeschooling.  Keep this in a prominent place - perhaps at the front of your homeschooling diary or as a poster.  Writing down how homeschooling will benefit your family will also serve as a great reminder for you when you are having a bad day ... and yes, we all have them!

Add Bible verses which remind you about the role of the family - how God gives us wisdom when we seek it and trust that He will equip you for the task to which He has called you.  Psalm 78 and Deuteronomy 6 are good places to begin.

Include family members in the learning experiences

The second thing you can try to do - is to include them.  Many, many parents begin as doubters only to be transformed into homeschooling evangelists because they witness the fruits of homeschooling in their grandchildren.  Make your own parents your best supporters by including them.

  •  A learning day together?
  • Can Grandma teach home economics?
  • Can Grandad teach woodworking skills?
  • Get them involved in a course or skill you want your kids to learn (as a part of the independent learning program course list)
  • Invite them to a concert in your home.
  • Recite some memory verses, a song, a musical piece, a play, puppetry etc. 
  • "Grandparent's Day" at home!
  • Show them your projects!
  • Invite them on excursions.
  • Send them photos!
  • Interview them about their life and their experiences.

Homeschooling Answers to the Authorities

In one sense, these answers can be the easiest and my best advice here is to keep the answers concise, giving them only what they need to know. Be aware of what needs answering and what doesn't and try not to be fooled in thinking that if they ask a question, that you must supply an answer.

This may not always be the case and so you will need to check what the specific regulations are in your state and country before you enter into answering all sorts of homeschooling questions.

Informing the School

You will most likely need to inform the school that your child will no longer be attending.  Can you do this via email or letter?  Do you need to be there in person?  Choose the best option for your particular circumstance.

Do you need to inform the school where your child will be going?  If not, you may just be able to write a pleasant email / letter informed them that your child will no longer be attending the school.

If you need to inform them of which school they will be going to - you may be able to state it in a sentence or two. For example,

"My child will not be returning to ... (name of school).  It is our intention to home educate and our child will now be under the homeschooling authority in our state. (name of authority).  Thankyou. Regards..."

The Registration / Regulation Process

The process for enrolling your child for home education is different from state to state, country to country, so you will need to work out exactly what your family decides to do in this regard.

If you are going to register your child, you will need to follow their guidelines and provide the documentation that they require.  Some regulatory authorities require an inspection of the home/ premises as well as the program.  You may wish to have another support person with you for this. It would be ideal if the husband and wife could both be there.  Another home educator who has gone through the process will be especially useful at this time to let you know what is expected and to help you prepare.

Answering the Annoying Homeschooling Questions

OK - answering the dumb homeschooling questions - are these really worthwhile answering at all?

"Are you qualified to teach your kids?"

Umm. Yes!  

Somebody "qualified" probably taught the person who wrote the 'School Crossing' sign in the photo on the top of this page ... probably a "qualified" teacher, I'd guess! Don't you hate that word, "qualified" - what does that really mean?

Parents have been teaching their kids successfully for generations! If there is something that I don't know (and that's a lot!) - I will happily learn it with my children. Ever heard of adult education?

But - is learning only about what I teach my kids?

Children learn all the time.  As we get to know them more, we have the joy of placing all sorts of wonderful learning opportunities right under our children's noses.

What will help my child learn best?  Following an interest?  Doing a workshop?  Learning a skill?  Being outside?  Making a collection?  Taking an online learning course?  Being taught by a tutor or by another teacher? Being involved in community projects or group learning?

With open source learning, our world has become a lot closer and learning opportunities have increased dramatically.  It never is a question of, "Will they learn?" It may not be exactly what the common core is - or the content of a state's syllabus or a prescribed textbook - but certainly, they will learn.

"Are you concerned about their socialization?"

Absolutely! That's why we homeschool.

"How will they meet their life partner?"

Are you serious? I didn't meet my husband at school. Did you?

"It's easy for you - You're so patient!"

My patience is running out just about now!

"Do you like being with your kids all day?"

The difference between me and you is that I have terrific kids!  They are always a joy to be around! They never fight or argue! They prepare all the meals and are always keen to do the washing and the chores. I'm never grumpy or tired - that's because I'm so unbelievably exceptional!

But in reality - we're a family and we choose to be a family together - to live together. to learn together, to love, to forgive and to persevere through the difficult days and to give thanks that God has placed us together on this journey which we are privileged to share together!

Is everyday perfect? Absolutely not!

Am I still committed? Do I still love them?   Absolutely!

Where to from here?