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3 Things Never to Say to a Homeschooling Mom

It’s not easy. Homeschooling, that is. We homeschoolers are forever going against the flow, paddling upstream against the current of tradition in an effort to give our children the values and education we deem important. Some days are great; some days are…well, not so great. But either way, we persevere in commitment along the homeschooling journey because we believe we are doing what is best for our children and our families. But it’s often a challenge to do things “differently”; to choose a path that is contrary to the “norm”. Add to that challenge the tremendous responsibility for your child’s educational development, and it’s not surprising that most homeschoolers are in need of a bit of encouragement!

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For those non-homeschoolers (mother-in-laws included!) who seek to be a support for home educating moms, there are a lot of ways to lighten the load and provide encouragement. Making a meal, providing free childcare, or helping with transportation are just a few of the things that come to mind. But sometimes the best support can come from what you don’t say. Even well-meaning non-homeschoolers can stick a pin into the home educator’s balloon of optimism with a few uninformed comments. When a homeschool mom is feeling unsure, stressed, inadequate, or just downright exhausted about the homeschooling experience, the last thing she needs is to have her chosen path questioned. Here are 3 of the top things guaranteed to transform a typically unflappable homeschool super-mom into a crazy madwoman:

1. Aren’t you afraid that you won’t be able to give your kids everything they need educationally?

The simple answer? Yes. It’s a question many of us homeschool moms wrestle with every day, stay up late agonizing over at night, and feverishly work to combat during schooling hours. We often struggle with a sense of being overwhelmed that we cannot do it all, and we sacrifice time and money on a daily basis to make sure we are covering all the bases. But we also know that we have a higher investment in our own children than anyone else on the planet does, and that we have the freedom to individualize our instruction to the personal needs of each child, rather than fitting the child to a curriculum. And we recognize that we are not doing it alone; we have support networks, co-ops, online teachers, community college classes and endless resources at our disposal to help us give our kids what they need.

So what we need is to not be questioned about whether or not we can do it all. We need to be commended for the educational efforts we do provide every day, and directed toward and encouraged to use the resources available to us, so that we do not feel like we have to do it all.

2. Are you concerned about your children’s socialization?

Aren’t you? (Oh wait – did I say that out loud?)

Homeschoolers don’t generally have time to ponder this question, with all of the transportation to homeschool soccer leagues, piano lessons, co-op meetings, part-time job, church activities, choir, art classes, summer camp, mission projects, dance practice, swim team, service activities, family business responsibilities, and volunteer projects. As we participate in all of these engagements, our kids are surrounded by people of all different ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, which helps to prepare them to live in the real world (one where people are not segregated according to age and geographical locale) and know how to interact with individuals from all walks of life. By the way, with the statistics on bullying and school violence being what they are, many of us also question the wisdom that the optimal socialization experience for a group of 12-year-olds is another group of 12-year-olds.  I’d like to give a longer answer to this question, but we are going by our local nursing home to play the piano for some patients, and then we have baseball practice and violin lessons after that. You’re welcome to come, if you’d like to see our children’s socialization in action.

3. If homeschooling isn’t working out, you can always just put them in public (or private) school.

We are homeschooling because we believe it is what is best for our family. It is sometimes difficult, and sometimes does not go well. But we do not want to be encouraged to give it up; we want encouragement to keep going. We want you to respect our choice to homeschool as the right decision for us, and not deter us from that path. Just as a family who has chosen public school for their children does not want to be told “Well, you should just take him out and homeschool him” when their child struggles in school, homeschoolers do not want to be told to throw in the towel when times get hard. Homeschooling is a long journey, and moms need support in seeing the big picture instead of getting bogged down by the small details and frustrations along the way. If you hear, “I don’t think I can do this anymore” from us, think of it not as a desire to abandon the homeschooling journey, but a cry for encouragement and support along the path we’ve already chosen.  Point out how great a job we’re doing, offer to watch the kids for awhile, give us a night out on the town with friends or our spouse, and let us know that you believe in us. And then tomorrow we’ll wake up with renewed energy to tackle the most exciting, challenging, amazing task ever put before us – homeschooling our kids.

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.

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  1. Sarafina

    We live in a rural area and don’t have access to all those activities nor the money to participate. Providing socialization has meant a lot more hard work for me for 9 years…organizing co-ops and homeschool support groups…which eventually end because most moms don’t seem to have the time to help out. So a couple of years ago I just gave up on trying all that stuff. The boys have Scouts and private art lessons and that’s all. This has been ok for my youngest, but not for my teen. It’s really hard to find friends for a teen in a rural area. So, next year he’ll be going to public high school for his last two years, just to give him the opportunity to be involved in clubs, learn to adapt to different teaching styles, and hopefully to make a few friends. I’ve seen what happens to homeschool teens who don’t have a circle of friends and it’s not what I want for my kids.

  2. Haler

    I answer all “I-care” FAQ folks the same; “I know you and I both care deeply about every facet of education in our country. And now, I’m so glad we both are fully researched and legally compliant with the education industry choices we’ve made for our families. Do you feel as gratified in your own parenting investment in your kids as I do? After all, we both agree its unfortunate when folks prefer hype, agenda, speculation, and fear over fact.” And just for good measure I like to add, “I respect that my folks chose public school for us kids, despite little more in their busy lives than blind trust, and heavy-handed report card scrutiny, and constant complaints about any extra dime or time they were called upon to invest. So the usual affiliations, memberships, financial investment, reporting authorities and checks and balances give me far more assurance and results our family share, and society will garner. Responsible parenting is so fulfilling, isn’t it?”
    And I mean every word of it.
    Curious to me is this: Well-meaning folks and those who would foist stereotypical, flip, ignorant policing ego-tactics both ask the same FAQs. So my answer never changes. Questions reflect little if any research, more, fear and speculation. One typical reply is “Oh, well I just thought…” And I reply gently, “Actually, you guessed. If you had thought, then you would have weighed in the responsible person you know me to be, not givVen to unresearched reaction.” These are tough statements, but v-e-r-y easy to say, if you invest in assessing your work. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what every theologian has memorized, “For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.” (Eccl. 5:3)

  3. LOVE IT! I still laugh at the question about my kids being around other people. Six years ago my girls went to Panama on a mission trip with 500 other teens. While they were gone someone found out we homeschool and said, don’t you think you are sheltering your kids from the world and other teens? I bit my tongue and politely told them that at the moment they were in Panama (a place in the world) with 500 kids. Then of course I got the how can you send your kids out in the world question!! We have 2 graduates and one last year of homeschooling and it has been the BEST thing we ever did for our kids and our family!! Thanks for your post!

  4. Thank you so much for this awesome post; I had to repost it on my blog:-)

  5. Lisa

    I like what you have written but would just like to add something else regarding the socialisation issue. Sometimes some mums can feel a touch inadequate because they are not doing even half of what was mentioned in the socialisation part. I know for sure that our busy lifestyle does not include half of those events and our running around is usually done in the evenings for swim club etc, but I still know for sure that my kids are not missing out soically, ever. The last time someone asked me if my kids were getting “socialisation” I was so fed up that I just told them we had screwed them up for life socially…I can tell you that that shut them up in a jiffy, and I was not even bothered that I didn’t give an inventoried reply about what we do during our day/evening, because to be perfectly honest, it is npne of their business.

    • Laura

      I could have said that! We can’t afford to have our children in activities and classes and I’m not sure I’d want to if I could. If I’m away from home too much who’s doin’ all that cookin’ and laundry? Some of the kids have done Scottish dance. But that’s it and we may have to stop that. I still believe we’re doing the best thing and I don’t have to convince anyone else. 🙂 I sometimes feel like even other homeschoolers look down on us because we don’t do all those things. I’d honestly rather stay home and have people over occasionally.

  6. Heather W

    I love that you put Mother-in-laws in a supportive role. I REALLY wish it was like that for us. The socialization thing REALLY bugs me. I asked someone once why I would want my kids taught how to treat other people by other kids who have no clue how to treat other people. They looked at me like I was crazy. 🙂 I really appreciate this, thank you!!

  7. EXCELLENT! Thank you!

  8. Marylin

    Nice job expressing how a lot of us feel! Thank you so much. Believe it or not, you just encouraged me! Just the boost I needed for the upcoming school year. Thanks!

  9. Thank you! Thank you for putting into words that which I could not! I had tears in my eyes when I read the part of “what others can do to help a homeschooling mom.” They were very real, tangible gifts that would mean the world to me! Thanks for giving us a voice!

  10. Monique

    Absolutely beautiful.. I will print it and display it in my home. Can’t tell you how many times I get the ‘you should just send them to school’ comment.

    Thanks so much!!!!

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I especially like the bit about socialization. That is the number one comment that I hear. You really nailed it with the listing of activities and the variety of social exposure that our children receive. Nice job!

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