If you decide to homeschool not only will you have to deal with people saying things to you they shouldn’t, you will have to watch your child hear things they shouldn’t have to. It always happens the same way. We make the mistake of going out in public during school times. (Why don’t I just buy everything on Amazon?) A well meaning stranger says, “Why aren’t you in school?” This quickly leads to a litany of questions no child should have to answer. This always annoys me. My poor kids shouldn’t have to prove that they are worth it because they homeschool. There are just some things not to say to a homeschool kid!
Things Not to Say to a Homeschool Kid
“Don’t you wish you were in real school?”
The concept of real school may be foreign to most homeschool kids. They are in real school. Every day they do real school work and learn real concepts. I know the implication is that homeschooling is not real school while public school is. However, they are learning and growing.
Instead, ask what my child’s favorite subject is. They will talk to you all day about Science or their favorite book.
“I bet you wish you had friends.”
Ok, let me be honest. People who worry about homeschoolers being socialized and then say things like this, make me wonder if they were ever properly socialized. Most homeschool children are so involved in activities, groups, and co-ops that they have to cut down on friend time to focus. My daughter lives to make friendship bracelets for each of her friends…
Instead, ask what my child’s favorite activity is with his/her friends. You will be surprised to hear just how full their social schedule is.
“Do you know _____?” Insert either a real question or one to try and stump the child.
I have encountered tons of adults who use the knowledge that my children homeschool as a chance to test them. A child is not summed up by how much they know. By doing this, you are testing my ability to educate and my child’s ability to learn. Here’s the thing, you can’t know if that child has a learning difficulty, hasn’t covered that material, or just doesn’t want to answer you when asking these questions.
Instead, ask what my child is learning about this week. They will probably flood you with information about whatever we are focusing on that week.
“Why do your parents force you to homeschool?”
First of all, rude! Anyway, this question is such a shot at the parents. Most homeschooled kids are not forced to homeschool. In fact, many homeschool kids ask their parents to continue homeschooling once they have started homeschooling. For some families with special needs it can be necessary to homeschool.
Instead, ask what they love about homeschooling. You will find that most homeschool kids are glad to tell you all about the benefits of being homeschooled.
“Are you super religious?”
Are you? This question always make me laugh. Contrary to popular belief, not all homeschoolers are devout in their faith. In fact, there are many secular homeschoolers. Not every family has 27 different bibles on hand while they do school work. While I understand that you are trying to figure out the why of homeschooling for our family, please don’t approach my kids with questions like this.
Instead, ask why we homeschool. We are very open about it and will gladly tell you all about our homeschool journey.
“I guess it’s ok for you guys, since you have so many kids. They have each other to socialize with.”
I only have two so I don’t get this one as much but my friend with more kids does. My friend Kelly says, “Well yes…they have each other but they have friends they see every day and some days they see each other all day…”
Instead, ask my kids what it’s like to homeschool together. They might tell you some really fun stories.
“But you’ll never go to prom, get a diploma….” Insert normal standard activity here.
I contribute this one to ignorance. Most people just don’t know. Homeschoolers can go to a homeschool prom. They do get diplomas. They can even walk in a graduation ceremony. The only difference is the setting they are educated in. You will see many homeschoolers who have all of the same great social experiences as a child in a traditional school setting.
Instead, ask about their favorite things to do for fun. You might find that they are not going without in the social and fun department.
“Aren’t you worried you will be weird?”
I always love this one. Does my kid worry if he will be weird? He is wearing a pair of sweat pants, a polo, and a tie, with a pair of flip flops. That ship sailed ages ago. Of course they will be weird. I don’t mind their weird because they are pretty amazing. One of my favorite quotes is from Alice in Wonderland:
Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.
We might be weird but some of the most amazing people I have ever met are a little weird.
Instead, ask what my kid is interested in. They will let you know just how weird they really are.
“But you seem so normal?”
My two get this one a lot. Most homeschoolers actually turn out to be very well adjusted people. It amazes me when people tell my kids they seem normal.. My daughter usually laughs and says, “that’s because you don’t really know us yet.” We are complete geeks. I even have a T.A.R.D.I.S. for a bathroom door!
Instead, compliment them on their behavior. They love to hear that they are doing well instead of hearing a comment implying they shouldn’t be as normal as they are.
“So you must watch a lot of tv?”
I get this one often as well. Believe it or not, we don’t spend that much of the day in front of the tv. Between schooling, play time, cleaning, extra-curricular activities, having my husband home part of the day, and different learning activities we generally don’t have much time left in our day.
Instead, ask my child what their favorite thing to do with their free time is.
Just for giggles.
I love the way my friend Cathi handles people asking her kids things.
“I’ve just taught my kids to combat negative comments or questions with humor (which usually stumps the stumper). If someone asks them a question they don’t know the answer to, they just say something like,
“I don’t know. I’m Homeschooled. We don’t learn edumacationatory nonsense. We just like to focus on getting an even tan.”
In all seriousness, your kids will interact with people who say rude things. They may not mean to, but they will. Find a way that will work best for your child to address this person with respect without feeling talked down to.