Answering Objections about Home Education
by Beverley Paine
When I felt too tired or world weary to answer questions from people that really didn't want to listen to a reasonable or intelligent answer I usually said something like "the government approved our homeschool" or "I'm totally weird and wouldn't expect others to do this". The first response was the most comforting to many as for some inexplicable reason South Australians seem really hung up on authority. Once they know that someone in authority thinks the whole idea is okay they usually relax and talk about something else. The second answer made people feel less guilty about their own style of parenting - as if my choice to homeschool was an indictment on their choice to school.
Robin would often tell people the kids were having a 'flexi-day' - industry has them so why not kids? But that was back in the days when parents weren't required to work 40-60 hours a week! His comment always brought a wry and understanding smile. Guys seem to get away with saying whatever - women especially seemed to take any answer better from him than me, without pressing or questioning further. I used to get quite irate at this!
Don't forget it's always our perogative to change the subject. We don't have to talk about our personal family life to anyone if we don't want to. The choice to communicate or justify our position is ours. If you really feel the need to say something, just say, 'it was a family decision' and then change the subject and talk about something else. I'm slowly learning that it's okay not to talk all the time. It's often much better to nod, mumble 'hmmm', raise the eyebrows, look away then back and change the subject, if the topic is one I'm sensitive or emotional about. I'm allowed to respond in my time, not within the time frame set by whoever is antogonising me at that moment. If they really want to know the pros and cons they can google... :-)
When we're tired is NOT the time to be entering into any kind of debate, even a gentle one. It really upsets our confidence levels and we feel the repurcussions for days. You can always ask the person if they are genuinely interested and if so, then perhaps you can arrange to have a cuppa or lunch together in a week or two (when YOU are better prepared and less tired.)
Since writing this article I have produced an expensive booklet covering many 'objections' to home education homeschoolers have to counter every week. It is available from Always Learning Books.
Are You Crazy by Debbie Harbeson has some positive and practical ideas for helping relatives come around to the idea of homeschooling, instead of trying to convince them, such as:
Pat Farenga, long term supporter of home education, produces a regular newsletter - in this issue he explores How to Handle Homeschool Skeptics, with a few responses by home educating fathers.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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