So, I know that in this day and age of the internet, blogs, vlogs, Facebook, and all the other social media, it is so easy to get offended. In fact, I know a great number of people that actually enjoy being upset and seem to hold grudges for a long time, and then they post about such offenses ceaselessly. Let me assure you that I am not at all offended when these things are directed at me, but I also know that it hurts for some people, some of my friends, to hear such statements, so I am here to offer some alternative suggestions...
Things not to say to a homeschooler…
“Oh! You must have the patience of a saint!” --Um, no, I really don't. I mean, I might, but probably not. I lose my cool like most moms do. I get frustrated with my kids, my dog, and my husband. I say things I don't mean (“if you do not clean up this mess in the next ten seconds, I will throw everything you own into the trash!!”), and I can spew empty threats with the best of them. My daughter no longer believes, for example, that I will cut off her hair, although I have done it before. I'm just too tired to deal with the emotional trauma that will follow said hair shearing… Today. Maybe tomorrow, though.
Here's what you can say: “Wow, I would think it must take more than normal amounts of patience to homeschool. How does that work?” --or-- “You are doing great!”
See? Tired eyes, hair falling out, and so not completely calm.
Another thing not to say...
“I could never do that!” --Well, yes, you could if you had to. When the transition to middle school for Tommy wasn't working, and the powers that be would not give him a paraprofessional to help him with the major change of schools and schedules and people not being so freaking terrifying for him, out of concern for safety, I had to homeschool him. I refused to wait and see if he would or would not wander off, and I refused to trust that the middle school kids were all really just kind children that would watch out for him. I didn't know any of the teachers or staff. We did not have money for private school, or lawyers. I had to homeschool. Lucky for me, I fell in love with it, and homeschool is so much more than just school. Another thing: what if I were to turn that phrase around to such naysayers? It would go a little like this: “What?! You send your kids to school?!? I could never do that!” Think about it:)
Instead: “What inspired you to homeschool?” --or-- “You're doing great!”
schooling anytime, anywhere
The one question to try to avoid… unless you are really searching for clarity or seeking to understand, and then only with open sincerity and no disdain:
“What a about socialization?” -- Ah, yes, a fan favorite. I don't know any homeschool families that never leave their house, and none of them have confessed to locking their kids in a closet and/or forbidding them to play with other kids. Socialization is important. It is important that all kids learn to treat each other with respect and kindness. Navigating social situations is also a life skill that needs to be learned. Here's the thing, though: a lot of those skills don't actually happen in the classroom, and social skills are so much more than getting along with twenty to thirty other kids that are all the same age.
Kids being with younger and older children teach kindness, respect, and responsibility. Older kids end up mentoring the younger ones. Learning how to talk with people of all ages is what is going to really help these children in the future. Work environments, school environments, social environments -- these are all filled with people of different ages, ethnicities, and skill levels. The homeschool community is filled with kids, a lot of kids, and they are all different ages, ethnicities, and skill levels, and they are learning to communicate, problem solve, and get along with one another. These kids are in scouts, dance, swimming, karate, they volunteer, and most of them are active in their churches. Socialization happens.
Better: “Do your children hang out with other kids?” --or-- “You're doing great!”
a homeschool production- grades six-twelve
Here's a good one:
“I don't think my kid would listen to me all day!” -- Well… They won't. I mean, they're kids, not angels. Kids are some of the most manipulative creatures on the planet. I've been played several times; I've been ignored, disrespected, and eye rolled at. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Learning and living together all day is not a fairytale, but it is not impossible, either. The first year is rough, as you learn to live, be in school mode, and be in family mode, all together. There is usually a honeymoon phase (This is the best thing ever! Why did we wait so long to do this?!) then there is the what-on-earth-was-I-thinking-this-is-the-pit-of…. Well, you get the idea. There are ups and downs. You, however, are the parent. You are, above all else, the parent. Your child will respond to your authority, mood, consistency, rhythm and reason.
Say this instead: “I'd love to hear how you all handle conflict.” --or-- “You’re doing great!”
Katie changing a tire
Don't get me wrong, homeschooling does not make me a better anything (mom, wife, teacher, friend). We all have to make the best choice for our families, for our kids. It's not all or nothing, either; I know families that have one in public school, one in private school, and one or more at home. There are pros and cons to every situation, all the time, everyday, and the last thing we parents need is judgement- perceived or real. So, be kind to one another, and instead of saying something crazy to someone who does something different than you, ask them about it in a kind and curious way, if you must, or smile and ask how you can help if you can, or simply cheer them on. Positivity usually wins, and is well received and appreciated. So, be a little bit mad (in the zany way) and respond to one another with crazy, wild encouragement!
Keep calm, and parent on!