If you are starting your homeschooling journey, regardless of your child’s age, you will get criticism from someone for homeschooling. Your family and friends may criticize your decision, your child’s current school (if they were in one until now) may do their best to scare you, and other parents may question you about it. This post will help you deal with criticism as a homeschooling family.
When you are new to the homeschooling world, it can feel scary and overwhelming to deal with all the criticism, judgment and negative opinions.
Disclaimer: This post is not relevant to legal situations where social workers, the state, lawyers or your ex-spouse is involved in the decisions regarding your child.
Stand strong, homeschooling parents!
Homeschooling, like parenting, requires growing a thick skin. The quicker, the better. The internet and social media allow plenty of opportunities for parents to agonise over every single decision and to compare with other families. As a result, parents place too much pressure on themselves and their children (whether in or out of school) to perform, succeed and make them look good.
This is not what education should be about. Instead, it’s about helping your child learn how to learn, and how to love it, and thrive healthily in a world full of opportunities and information.
Homeschooling around the world
In some parts of the world, homeschooling is more popular (and legal) than in other places. The homeschooling community may be large or small or nearly non-existent.
Your reasons for homeschooling may also be unusual, such as your child having a disability or maybe your child is a very serious gymnast and requires more time to practice.
Generally, wherever children are legally allowed to homeschool, the results speak for themselves. Most children thrive on it (when it’s done right – a healthy learning environment at home) and even surpass their peers in academic, tertiary and career achievements. This fact alone makes it so much easier to deal with criticism as a homeschooling family.
Criticism #1 – Why are you homeschooling?
Children are homeschooled for any of the following reasons (or more):
- Child has been bullied at school and is depressed and anxious.
- Child is not coping with the curriculum and/or class size. (Read here for tips on choosing curriculum.)
- Child has interests and abilities that the school cannot cater for.
- Child has learning disabilities or physical health or mobility problems that schools cannot support.
- Parents choose to homeschool out of personal preference.
- The family wants to travel with their children and incorporate seeing the world into their education.
- Parents choose to homeschool for faith-based reasons.
- Parents may feel their country’s education system is failing them.
- Homeschooling can provide unique opportunities that differ from opportunities within public education.
Why is YOUR family homeschooling? If you know your why, then you have an answer to the question above. You don’t owe other people an explanation, but if you do provide one, be confident in it. You are doing what works for YOUR family, not for someone else’s family.
Criticism #2 – What about your children’s social skills?
This is one of those face-palm questions that you will hear more often than you can count. Firstly, it’s a ridiculous misconception to think that school = socialisation. In school, children are in an over-crowded class and told what to do when, and what to think. During break times, children are pressured by their peers and those who don’t fit in with the popular crowd are cast out, bullied, or forgotten. That’s hardly socialising!
Seeing friends on a daily basis is not necessarily normal. Sometimes, family time is much better. If your children can’t work on family relationships, how will they cope when crisis strikes? Families should learn to stick together, especially in a culture where so many families are broken. Social skills are about so much more than having friendships. It’s about empathy, commitment, sacrifices for loved ones, being kind, dealing with criticism in a healthy way, using tough times to grow and knowing what healthy relationships should look like. Schools don’t teach this because they are over-stretched and as a result, the children suffer a lack of crucial social and life skills.
Social skills in the real world
Real social skills are also about self-confidence and using what you’re good at to connect with others and contribute to the world. The current world of work is so different now, so children need to learn how to find support networks of people who understand what they do and help them move forward. Homeschooling provides an opportunity to exactly this – the freedom to choose better friends in different places, according to interests.
Criticism #3 – Aren’t you depriving your child?
Another face-palm question. Maybe the best answer to this question is a resounding YES. I’m depriving my child of a spoon-feeding style of education in school. Certain overarching perspectives taught in school are not healthy, true or helpful and I choose to substitute them with something better. I’m depriving my child of rote learning, in exchange for acquiring critical thinking skills and independent learning. Deprivation of bullying, negative peer pressure, negative pressure to perform is a good thing!
Criticism #4 – How will your child cope in university?
Here’s the assertive answer to this question: Firstly, PLENTY of homeschoolers do extremely well at university, thank you very much! Secondly, my child will cope because my child will have had many years of learning and knowing how to research, find information, summarize it into key concepts and explain it in his/her own words.
My child will cope well at university, knowing what they want to study and why and will have the independent drive to get it done. Navigating more responsibility and a heavier study schedule will hopefully go over smoothly, thanks to plenty of independent, supported preparation at home.
Criticism #5 – Are you sure you can do this? How will you cope?
Well, hey, you’re welcome to help if you’d like! (No, really.) I’m not sure I can do this, but I will figure it out. I am a parent, capable enough of researching options, methods, approaches, support networks and other helpful resources. I will cope because I plan to find ways to cope. Homeschooling is worth it, and we will learn new things together along the way. Yes, there will be sacrifices, as with anything in life, but we look forward to exploring our homeschooling journey. When my children drive me a little nuts, there’s always coffee, chocolate, a bath or someone to call for support.
Short answers to criticism for homeschooling
Sometimes the temptation to be snarky can be overwhelming. Explanations often turn into an exhausting debate with someone who is convinced you’re doing it all wrong and will ultimately screw up your child. You may win the debate, but you may also go home feeling defeated all the same. It’s not worth it. When dealing with criticism as a homeschooling family, sometimes it’s better to just draw the boundary lines clearly and respectfully. Your family choices do not have to be up for negotiation! Remember that!
Here are some short responses you can use:
- Thank you for your concern, but our/my decision to homeschool is not up for discussion/negotiation/debate.
- My child and I do not have to prove or explain anything to you. You’re welcome to be encouraging and supportive, but I do not need more judgment, criticism and negative opinions.
- Please research homeschooling and its results before you criticise. I am happy to send you information.
- Our family is homeschooling and we appreciate support and respect, just as much as you do, even though you do things differently. Please keep this in mind. Thank you.
Final thoughts on dealing with criticism as a homeschooling family
You are doing your best for your child(ren). The relationship is worth more than the curriculum and academic achievements. Yes, education is important, which is exactly why you are choosing a different path than others might.
You are a good parent. You can do this. Lean on those who DO support and understand homeschooling.
Don’t let other people get you down or make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong. Mistakes happen on both sides of the line. There are no perfect parents, families or children. There are no perfect schools either.
Keep your head up, be proud of doing something different. You’re courageous.
YOU CAN DO IT!
How would you encourage another parent encountering criticism for homeschooling? Comment below. Remember to subscribe, like and share with other parents too!