Saturday, August 23, 2008

Handling Homeschool Skeptics and Critics

Handling Homeschool Skeptics

By Mimi Rothschild

When you decide to homeschool your child – even if you just consider homeschooling your child – you will immediately see a domino effect of raised eyebrows. The homeschool skeptics will throw a bunch of words at you, like “socialization” and “peers” and “normal.” If these skeptics are strangers, you don't owe them an answer, right? But even strangers can have their hearts changed by the right words from a homeschooler, making it easier for homeschool parents and children who come across this person in the future.

In all stages of life, we come across those who disagree with the decisions that we make. Homeschool is no different. As adults, we are more prepared to handle critics than your child may be. It's important to be open minded when people criticize us and our homeschool choice and we should allow our children to see us practicing a relaxed and open hearted nature in the face of skepticism.

That is the foundation of dealing with skepticism by homeschool critics. The next step is to know your stuff. There is research and statistics that support homeschool as a positive choice for children in all aspects of life. This includes socialization and academics and future prospects: the favorite catch phrases of the skeptics. Facts are the best weapons against prejudices and fears. Having “experts” back up what you know in your heart is the right thing may be the non-emotional incentive that a critic needs to finally understand your position on homeschool.

Being open minded and prepared to discuss homeschool with those who openly disagree is not enough to change anyone's mind. Neither is being armed with an arsenal of pro-homeschool statistics. In fact, nothing that you say or do alone is going to change the mind of the hardcore skeptic. You may be planting the seed for future understanding or watering the seed that another homeschool family planted. Or your words and arguments may fall on deaf ears. The important thing is that you stand by what you believe about raising your children without any investment in whether or not you change anyone's mind.

Opposition comes in many forms. The important thing is that you don't protect your child from the criticism that homeschool receives from skeptics, but show them by example how to handle it: diplomatically and with an open mind. Everyone is different and everyone is allowed to have his or her own opinions. And thank goodness for that. It's this same open mindedness that allows them to be a homeschooler in the first place.

Responding to Critics of Home School

When you decide to take your children out of traditional school and put them in a home school situation, you are likely to run into all sorts of opposition and bizarre questioning from everyone who knows you. Friends, family, even people you barely know may demand explanations and throw in their two cents about your decision to home school your child. However, you know that your reasons for taking your children out of school are correct and your loved ones will eventually come around. Maybe, they will even come to think that your decision to home school your child was a good idea.

That being said, perhaps the best way to deal with a naysayer is directly. If you don't know a person well, or you believe they are just being nosy, you don't really owe them an explanation of your decision to home school your child. Your family and closer friends are another matter. The most common objection to your decision to home school your child might be that your child won't get enough socialization if you home school. To this objection, point out that you are not moving to a deserted island; your child, in addition to home school, will still be participating in music lessons, dance classes, swim teams, girl scouting or whatever other activities she enjoys. Also, point out that lots of people decide to home school their children, and there are a lot of resources for meeting other kids in home school and setting up play dates and group activities.

Another commonly heard objection to home school is that the parent doesn't know enough about a subject to teach it. While your child is young, home schooling in most subjects, with the possible exception of foreign languages, won't be much of a problem. As they get older, point out to critics of your plan to home school that there are all sorts of resources for home school. Tutors and online telecourses can bridge the gap between what you are comfortable teaching in home school and what your child needs to know.

Whatever your reasons for considering home school for your child, there will be people who object for one reason or another. However, if you are confident in your decision and have done your research into home school properly, there should be no reason why you need to get defensive. You may even help convince another person that home school is a better alternative for a child.

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