For me, a few questions fit into that category, and I think homeschoolers will almost universally agree. Sometimes these questions are asked with genuine curiosity, while others carry an implied criticism.
- Shouldn't he be in school? What's the right answer, if you don't want to explain all about homeschooling? "He's finished for the day" usually avoids the next volley of questions. If I'm up for it, I'll say that we homeschool. Some people are sincerely interested in learning more, while others voice their disapproval.
- Do you have to [use the same curriculum as public schools, be a certified teacher, have everything approved]? In New Jersey the answers are No, No, and No. (Interestingly, the degree of state regulation has been shown to have no bearing on students' test scores). State regulations vary widely, however, so be sure to check your state law if you're considering homeschooling.
- What about college? This obviously comes from people who know that we homeschool. These people usually don't realize that many colleges now welcome homeschoolers, who tend to be self-motivated and eager to learn. They know how to learn and aren't afraid of working hard to do that.
- And the favorite of most homeschoolers, What about socialization? (a) When I was in school, we didn't have all that much time to chat with friends during school hours. That's why we were constantly passing notes in the hallways between classes! (b) Aside from that, I don't know any place other than K-12 school where we're segregated into groups based strictly on age. Does an 8-year-old boy (for example) learn anything positive from another 8-year-old boy? He might learn to make noises with his armpit or, er, expand his vocabulary, but in my experience, that's about it. We did participate in co-op classes so my son could have some of the "classroom experience." (c) Most of all, though, I think it's far better for children to be allowed to converse with people of all ages. My son has been going shopping, going to the library, going everywhere with us since he was in an infant carrier. Since he was about 5, I've encouraged him to ask questions of adults, such as store employees; this was, of course, done with close supervision when he was young. But by now he has long been comfortable talking with adults. Often he's less shy and more patient than I am! He's also good with children of all ages.
I am not, not, not suggesting that homeschooling is the right choice for every family. My husband and I have prayed, every year since our son was about 3 years old, about what the Lord would have us do. This is the right choice for us. Many children will thrive in a classroom environment. I'd just encourage all parents to prayerfully consider the options to determine the best for their families.
What question(s) do you really dislike? Why?
photo credit: From Anton Chekhov to Anton Calculus via photopin (license)