For most families, homeschooling is the road less traveled. You might feel as though you’re blazing a trail in your family or community, and that can get lonely at times. To complicate matters, it’s common to cross paths with homeschool doubters now and again.
Doubters can come in many forms: a well-meaning church member, grocery store clerk, long-time friend, or even a member of your extended family. If these individuals have never needed to understand homeschooling before, they’re likely coming from a place of misinformation and misunderstanding.
There are many ways to effectively deal with homeschool doubters while staying firm in the decisions you’ve made for your family. Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can employ next time that awkward conversation comes up.
1. Keep conversations about education simple
When you find yourself in a conversation about education with someone who might not understand your choice to homeschool, keep the conversation simple and surface-level. There’s no need to detail every nuance of your stance on school.
Each family has a different set of values and factors that led them to homeschool their students. It’s not unusual for others to ask questions, show curiosity, or even openly judge what you’re doing. Guarding your answers can help you to keep these conversations in the “safe zone” and avoid uncomfortable or intense disagreements.
2. Avoid the urge to get defensive
Try to view others’ questioning from a place of empathy, and avoid the urge to get defensive. There was likely a time when you did not understand homeschooling as well as you do today.
Remember that this is where they are right now, and give grace where you can. Patiently explain what you can when you get the chance. Becoming defensive won’t help them level with you any faster—in fact, it may actually hinder their ability to be more open-minded.
3. Don’t argue with people who don’t understand
Sharing too many details or becoming defensive can lead you into arguments with homeschool doubters. Avoid this scenario whenever possible. Getting pulled into drama is a waste of energy that ultimately distracts you from your priorities.
Your student is paying attention and will learn from the way you respond to others, too. Most of the time, it’s best to simply agree to disagree and move on.
4. Share tools and resources you’re excited about
While you can’t control someone’s critical attitude, you might be able to counteract it with your enthusiasm. If you like, share tools and resources that help make your homeschool routine run smoothly.
Whether it’s a curriculum you truly love or a tool like Transcript Maker that helps make tracking class credits a breeze, discussing these resources sends the message that you’ve got your bases covered.
5. Stay positive
In the same vein as showing your enthusiasm for resources and tools, keep your responses to doubters as positive as possible. And work to keep a positive mindset around homeschooling itself.
It can be easy to let others’ doubts get to you and bring you down, both as a parent and an educator. Keeping your thoughts, conversations, and perspectives as positive as possible will help to counteract any nagging self-doubt that creeps up from time to time.
6. Don’t try to force others to accept homeschooling
It’s natural to want support, understanding, and validation from your family and friends in all areas—not just in homeschooling. But the reality is that we aren’t always going to receive that support.
When you have friends or family members who are major homeschool doubters, it hurts. You desperately want them to accept your choices and support you and your student, no matter what. But it’s impossible to force anyone to understand or agree with you.
Sometimes, people come around on their own. Other times, they don’t. It’s important to accept the possible worst-case scenario—that they’ll never “get it”—and stay the course anyway.
7. Empower your homeschool student
Doubters can easily undermine your decision to homeschool—but they can also erode your student’s self-confidence. In addition to making you question yourself as a teacher, doubters can lead your student to question themselves, too.
Because of this potential problem, a majorly effective strategy for dealing with homeschool doubters is to empower your student. After all, you’re in this together. Keep communication open with your student and continually seek out ways to help them boost their self-confidence.
The bottom line
When doubters get you down, remember why you made the choice to homeschool your student in the first place. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and you probably expected you’d come up against naysayers sooner or later.
You put a tremendous amount of effort into doing due diligence and teaching your student every day. Stay positive and self-affirmed in the path you’ve chosen, and help your student to do so, too. The best defense against homeschool doubters is standing firm in the choices that are best for your family.