Homeschooling is seen as a different, radical choice by many. When you make this decision people are bound to ask why. They also ask other, sometimes more personal questions.
Questions People Ask About Homeschooling
How can you afford to homeschool?
This is a tough question to answer because our financial status is very private. We haven’t really been asked this recently, maybe because we’re doing okay, but we were asked this a lot when our kids were younger.
I really don’t like this question at all and there’s really only one way I can answer this: When you believe in something as fervently as we believe in the benefits of homeschooling, you find a way. There have been years when we spent very little and years when we spent a lot. Read my article all about how much it costs to homeschool.
What it comes down to is priorities, and being honest and realizing that homeschooling isn’t right for some families because of the costs. There was a time when I really HAD to work full-time, and our very survival depended on me putting the kids in school for a brief period. When we realized how poorly the kids were doing we made a very hard decision, and I quit my job and started working from home. Quitting my job had serious financial implications on my family, but the sacrifices have been worth it. What works for us won’t work for everyone, that’s another reason why I hate this question.
How do you separate being a parent and a teacher?
Well, I don’t. I know it’s hard to step out of the teacher-student mindset, but there really is no need for a homeschooling parent to separate parenting and teaching. Think about it this way: when your child is a toddler everything is integrated; you don’t switch from teacher to parent, teaching is an extension of parenting. That doesn’t change when you children reach school age.
How will they learn to raise their hand?
Turn to your kid and ask them to raise their hand. Did they do it? Ok, my job is done here.
Seriously though, I don’t know why this is a concern. I can see a few instances in which an adult may need to raise their hand, but my guess is that most people can catch on pretty quickly.
Thinking about this from another perspective though; hand raising is a form of turn taking, and turn taking is very important in childhood as well as adulthood. Being a good turn taker makes you a good partner, good listener, good employee, good boss…So, how can we teach turn taking skills to our kids? Games. Round robin storytelling. Reading out loud. Conversation.
How will you teach (advanced) math?
I counter this question with a question of my own: If I am so ill-prepared to teach my child math, why would I want to send them to the same system that left me this way?
The truth is that there are so many ways to teach math, even if you aren’t comfortable with it. Here are some options:
- Buy a curriculum that does the teaching for you. You can even choose to learn along with your child.
- Hire a tutor.
- Enroll your child in a virtual school for math.
- Enroll your child in a brick & mortar school for math.
- Find a co-op that can provide math instruction.
Don’t worry about math, or any other subject you don’t feel capable of teaching. With a little creativity your child can get all of the instruction they need.
What about socialization?
And here is where I point out that people keep using the word socialization without knowing what it means.
To socialize means to interact with other people. Socialization is the act of socializing. Socialized means the person knows how to interact with other people. And lemme tell ya, no one has socialization down better than homeschooled kids!
I drag my kids to the store, the post office, the doctor’s office, co-ops, the museum, the mall…In fact, once could argue that my kids are MORE socialized than most kids. Why? Because life after high school isn’t segregated. Schools segregate students by age, race, ability, zip codes, even religion in some instances. My kids are never segregated by any of that stuff.
How do you have the patience? I could never homeschool!
Yeah, so, about that…I am probably one of the least patient people you’ll ever meet. But, just like I mentioned above, when you believe so fervently that something is the right choices for your family, you make it work. Sometimes that means I have to make a conscious decision to act a certain way when tough situations arise. It means I have to sometimes deny my inner personality and fake a smile when I really want to scream “why aren’t you understanding this???” I’m not an inherently patient person, but I do want homeschooling to work so I do what it takes.
Public school was good enough for you, why isn’t it good enough for your kids?
This one is a toughie. The truth is, while it may not make sense, some people will be offended by your decision. Some people, especially family members, may take your decision to do something different as an affront to how you were raised. The key here is to stress different, you just decided to do something different. The worst thing you can do to someone who asks this is start rattling off every fault you find with the public school system. While you are under no obligation to win these people over, if they are near & dear to you, you might want to try. Let them know how much you value your education and how you want to foster that same love of learning in your children. If nothing else a simple “We are so excited to have this option, I know not everyone has this opportunity.” will work.
Now it’s YOUR turn!
Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.