explaining

Explaining the Homeschool Decision

How do we explain our homeschool decision?

Congratulations! You have made the decision to join the homeschool community! Whatever method you choose or curriculum you purchase, you are embarking on an adventure that will enrich your life in ways you never thought possible.

The decision to homeschool is completely your own, but we all live within a community of some sort. And most of us need to explain our decision to at least someone in our support community. What is the best way to approach that explanation?

Points to Ponder

Here are some things to consider as you provide information needs to know and address concerns regarding your homeschool decision.

Your Parents

Why they might need to know.

Unless you are completely estranged from your parents, they will know that you are homeschooling. While your parents may be concerned about your decision to homeschool, explaining your decision to them ahead of time will probably be better than letting them discover it on their own.

What they might be concerned about.

Your parents most likely care a great deal about you and your children. They may be concerned that you will be overwhelmed or unable to provide the education your children need. They might worry that your children will be different and might be left out. They may also feel that your decision to homeschool is a reflection of your feelings about the way you were raised and schooled.

How you can help ease their concern.

Make sure your parents know that this is a well-thought-out decision, not just a whim. Next, don’t push. Answer reasonable questions as honestly as you can. If they are interested, you might choose to show them your curriculum or tell them about your school adventures. Meanwhile, do not be critical of your own education, but focus on the current educational climate.

The best thing you can do is to conscientiously school your children, which will hopefully allay any fears that your parents have.

Extended Family

Why they might need to know.

If you spend any time at all with your extended family, your children are likely to get the “What grade are you in this year?” and “What are you studying in school?” questions. If your family is aware that you homeschool, some of the more unusual answers that can be produced by these questions are likely to make more sense and cause fewer raised eyebrows.

What they might be concerned about.

Hopefully your extended family has your children’s best interest at heart. They may be concerned that your children will be considered different from other children. They might worry that they will miss out on childhood activities and milestones that many public or privately schooled families consider very important. They may also believe that you are judging them for their school choices.

How you can help ease their concern.

Explain your decision as a personal one that is in the best interest of your family. While you might choose to explain some of the benefits of homeschooling, be sure to do so in a way that does not bash their schooling choices.

Friends

Why they might need to know.

Whether your friends need to know that you are homeschooling or not really depends on the degree of friendship you have with them. If you spend any amount of time with them as a family, they will soon find out you are homeschooling. While beginning the homeschool journey will likely result in a whole new group of friends who will be in the homeschooling trenches with you, it is also helpful to have the support of lifelong friends as well.

What they might be concerned about.

Your friends may be concerned about how your decision will change you and affect your relationship. Like extended family, they may wonder if you are judging their parenting decisions. They may worry that your children will no longer have as much in common.

How you can help ease their concern.

The easiest way to handle the concerns of friends is to not allow homeschooling to become the driving topic of every visit. Let them bring it up and answer any questions, but make sure to maintain the foundation of your friendship. Above all, work to encourage and support your friends in their educational decisions.

Neighbors

Why they might need to know.

If you are planning to keep your children indoors at all times during school hours, your neighbors probably do not need to be told. But if you intend to let your children spend time outdoors during school hours, your neighbors might need to know.

What they might be concerned about.

Your neighbors may be concerned that your children will be different. If you follow an alternate school schedule from theirs, they may wonder if you are actually educating your children. If your neighbors don’t know you well, they may be concerned that you are homeschooling in order to hide something.

How you can help ease their concern.

First, teach your children how to be considerate and respectful of your neighbors in all circumstances. Then, build relationships! This will not only ease their concern about your decision, it can also broaden your support group in unexpected ways. Who knows? You might actually end up finding neighbors with homeschool experience!

Other Social Groups

Why they might need to know.

In general, church and community groups probably don’t need to be told you are homeschooling. However, Girl/Boy Scouts, sports teams, youth groups, etc. are usually organized based on grade levels. If you choose to organize your homeschool without grade levels, or if your child is in a grade that doesn’t match his age, you may need to discuss it with the group leaders.

What they might be concerned about.

Group leaders may be worried about how your children will fit into their organization or which grade level to place them in. There may also be a concern if the majority of the children in the groups know each other from school, creating an automatic connection that your child might struggle to fit into.

How you can help ease their concern.

The best way to address concerns is by letting your community see your children function well in a variety of social situations. Often homeschoolers are tempted to limit their social activity to the homeschool community. But variety of social interaction is great both for your children and for their traditionally schooled friends!

A Few More Thoughts

You will always encounter people who do not quite grasp your decision to homeschool. Some will ask questions, and your relationship will naturally produce multiple opportunities to interact and explore your reasons for homeschooling. Frequently, though, you will find that the simple act of raising well-rounded children speaks for itself, especially when those children can interact well both within and outside the homeschool community.