Some people just don’t understand homeschooling at all. That’s OK, its not something that most people have ever come across or researched. It’s not “normal”, school is the best thing for kids in the conventional mindset.
Surely it’s compulsory?
It’s not compulsory, it’s a choice, parents have a legal obligation to provide their children with an education. You can choose to sign that duty over to a school, or, you can take full responsibility for their education yourself. This is the option I prefer for my family.
Don’t Home School!
In my experience objection to homeschooling runs high in the community. This may be because we seem to be rejecting the choices others have made for their children. It’s natural to be defensive.
Only those that know us well or fully understand what is involved tend to support us. I’ve run into some negativity even within my own family, surely they should know me better by now?
Objections to Home Schooling
Of the objectors, some just roll their eyes and let us carry on doing our thing, gossiping behind our backs a bit, but they mostly just ignore us.
Some like to call social services, that’s easy, I have a certificate from the government to prove that they’re OK with me keeping the kids home from school. I’ve been checked and approved.
Some make nasty comments to our faces. It’s the nasty comments that get to me because I’m not good at reacting to unexpected criticism with no chance to plan my witty, intelligent response. I’m a bit rubbish at confrontation and thinking on my feet.
Here are some of the anti-homeschooling remarks I’ve had aimed at me.
Homeschooled Kids Miss Out On Opportunities
“You are denying them an opportunity.”
I don’t understand this one at all. What opportunity would that be exactly? I think I’m giving them an incredible opportunity and one I’ve built my life around.
Do they mean the opportunity to get an education? They are getting one, a good one, I would say a better one than the schools are handing out.
Do they mean the opportunity to go to university? If they choose to go, they will go. You don’t necessarily need a high school certificate, or similar, to meet entrance requirements.
There are alternate entrance criteria and if they need pieces of paper these are easily obtained through night school, Open University, iGCSEs, TAFE, or similar ( in far less time that the school system takes). Universities actually like homeschoolers as they are self-motivated and there to learn.
And is University really what we should be aiming for anyway?
Do they mean the opportunity to have all that fun in school? We tried school, it wasn’t fun, it was torture for all involved. I’m sure many kids enjoy it, mine didn’t. Looking back to my school days, I enjoyed some of it, but I enjoyed weekends a whole lot more.
Do they mean the opportunity to use the sort of equipment they have in school? We have computers at home that work, the ones in school often didn’t work and my child had to watch someone else have a computer lesson. Any equipment the boys would like, I can buy. Homeschooling science is an absolute joy ad we can buy any piece of equipment we want or need. The rest is on YouTube.
Because we travel, I can take my kids to the best places on the planet to learn about anything first-hand, be that London’s amazing museums, a Mayan temple in the Guatemalan jungle or a Muslim country and it’s mosques. You can’t beat learning at source. ( see how much learning happened in our first year of travel by clicking through here)
I can’t think of any other opportunity they could mean, if you have any ideas please let me know.
Homeschooled children have the opportunity to sleep, eat, play, move about, read and even go to the toilet, when they like, nobody is enforcing an artificial schedule on them.
They have the opportunity to learn about whatever captures their imagination to whatever depth they choose, when they choose and in the way that best suits them.
Kids outside school have the opportunity to be surrounded by love, encouragement, and support, not strangers and criticism and bullying.
Homeschoolers have the opportunity to spend time with their family, even when Dad’s only day off is a Thursday and to know that they are the heart of everything we do.
School-free kids have the opportunity to travel, to see the world for themselves, at any time of the year and get that education as we travel.
Home school children have the opportunity to socialise with many people, from babies to old age pensioners, from all backgrounds, nations and careers, all day, every day, if we choose. We only have to leave the house.
They have the opportunity to do their learning when they feel like it and if they don’t, it’s not a problem. We’ll go to the playground and try not to learn anything for a few hours, if that’s actually possible!
So no, I don’t think I’m denying them an opportunity.
Homeschooled Kids Don’t Take Tests
“Will someone from the school come and test them?”
Not so much a nasty comment as a daft question, frustrating after I’d explained homeschooling extensively to the lady in question.
No, we are nothing to do with the school, my kids do not have to jump through the artificial hoops that school creates, they are not expected to memorize xyz by a particular date. They are not required to memorize xyz at all, unless I or they think they should for some purpose.
We are not learning the same stuff as they do in school. I write the curriculum with a heavy bias towards what interests us as individuals, we cover everything you would expect plus a lot of material that is not taught in our local junior school at all.
Plenty of research goes into my curriculum, it’s extremely comprehensive and we cover it naturally through life and through fun.
Homeschooled Kids Are Weird
“He’ll turn out a Cissy.”
Yes, it’s true, somebody actually said that to me. Followed up by “How will he toughen up?”.
These are possibly the most ridiculous arguments against homeschooling I’ve ever heard. What sort of parent would want their child bullied, physically and mentally hurt, in the name of “toughening up”? I don’t think any further explanation is necessary.
If only homeschooled kids are weird, please explain why I know so many weird people ( sometimes almost illiterate) who wasted their childhoods in school?
“He won’t be able to socialise.”
Well, when I unlock the cellar and let him out, he does have this habit of playing with other kids. I’ve tried to stop him but I can’t!
Crazy, just crazy, why does this old chestnut keep cropping up? They meet other people all the time, from a far wider demographic than that found in your average classroom.
There are other homeschoolers about, lots of them, we form groups and clubs and networks . We hang out and play, we have weekend camps, sports clubs, choirs and drama groups.
If that’s not enough, they can go to all the regular clubs school kids go to. But they’re a bit lame, they only happen after school and on weekends.
In a nutshell, they socialise in the same way adults do, in the real world rather than in an institution.
How Can You Homeschool When You’re Not a Teacher?
” But you’re not a teacher.”
No, and I’m not standing in front of a class full of other people’s kids trying to keep them in order and get them all to the same point at the same time. I don’t need to be a teacher.
I do have a fairly academic background, which reassures some people, but the only qualification you need for this job is to love your children and want the best possible outcome for them.
As a point of interest, there are many. many teachers that reject the system they are a part of and choose to homeschool their own children.
Home education isn’t for everyone
I can fully understand that homeschooling isn’t for everybody, not everyone would or should or could even consider it. For us, at the moment, and for millions of dedicated homeschooling families, it’s just perfect.
The only thing I ask of these people is that, before passing judgement and writing us all off as a lunatic fringe of hippies, religious nuts and earth mothers, do a bit of homework, find out a bit about it, look at the research and the demographic.
I think it’s a great way to live and has endless benefits for the children and families involved. There have been many homeschoolers that have gone before us and I hope many more to come after us, the movement is growing and I’m glad. I hope more people will come to realize that mainstream school is not compulsory, preferable nor the only option.
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Friday 17th of July 2015
I am a mum of 4 kids. I have 3 in primary school and we are happy with that ( for now) and one at home ( he's only 15 months), but I really want to homeschool during high school. When I mention this to people some say " oh that's good" and then we get into an agreeable conversation about how schools these days aren't for everyone ( though neither is homeschooling), but others have no idea. They don't research. They make all these assumptions and some are quite rude!
Friday 17th of July 2015
Thanks for commenting Cass, these old posts get buried a bit, thanks for letting me know you were here. Good luck with whatever educational path you choose.
Thursday 30th of October 2014
As a trained teacher, I can definitely say that a lot of teacher 'training' is woefully inadequate anyway, and in a school you end up doing 90% behaviour management -- probably teaching a subject you weren't 'trained' for anyway.
I'm not a teacher anymore, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that I don't want my daughter to go to school for her education -- there are just so many flaws and issues with that system, I just couldn't stand it!
My daughter is only young - just about to turn two. But I'm trying to get a good head start on how to naturally incorporate homeschooling into our lives -- rather than just when she turns five and we have to make it official. And hopefully by then I'll have my own answers to the criticisms that I know are going to come -- even from our own family.
So I really appreciate your site -- we are thinking of travelling at some point too. Your articles are really helpful!
Thursday 30th of October 2014
Jessie, you wouldn't believe how many teachers I know who won't send their own children to school. Just about all of my closest HS friends are ex teachers. Good luck! ( I'd forgotten I ever wrote that post by the way, I was really feisty back in those days, have you seen our other site http://homeschoolgrouphug.com ?
Monday 18th of February 2013
Well done Alyson. One of the best home- / unschooling articles I have read. You articulate the reasons behind why we do it very well. I am going to print it out and stick it to the side of my fridge. Thank you!!
Monday 18th of February 2013
Thank you Thursday Took. What a wonderful name! Love it. Could you do something even better for me? Share it, like it, spread it, any way you know how. We will be travelling on no income other than what I can make on the blog for the next few years. Every extra person that sees this is a potential dollar in the travel fund from advertisers. This is our livelyhood, it's from the heart, nothing fake. Share, please share :) Thank you Alyson
Monday 5th of November 2012
Oh Melanie, please, please do, should we have T shirts printed up? Maybe ones that say " We homeschool and we're NORMAL". The bad press we get is incredibly frustrating, I've learnt to live with it, but I'll keep banging my drum on here in the hope that just one person will have a lightbulb moment and change their outlook on this amazing and rewarding path we've chosen. Do me a favor Melanie, share this page with everyone, spread the word. Alyson x
Monday 5th of November 2012
Hi Alyson, spreading the word! I find the more confident I get with home education myself the easier it is explaining it to other people. Most people I speak to are fascinated, and lately I've actually had people say they admire me! I think a lot of parents are disenchanted with the education system in the UK, and most of them don't even know it's legal; lets face it, the government don't exactly advertise the fact! On the other hand I can only guess what people say behind my back, but that's not a worry for me! I find that if I tell questioners that there are a lot of famous people who were home educated and name them (I always throw in a couple of presidents), they think it must be ok; I also name celebrities and their eyes light up-oh shallow souls! The fact that a lot of ex-teachers homeschool speaks reams to me as well. The one thing that I do struggle with slightly is when asked what she's doing at the minute, my five year old often says,"We get to do whatever we want to do ALL day!" The looks I get haha! Melanie.x
Sunday 4th of November 2012
Think I'll print this out and tape it to my chest. It will save a lot of wasted time repeating myself over and over and over (you get the idea!).