Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Do You Overcome Homeschooling Stigma?

Or do you feel there isn't a need to? I'm asking from curiosity, arising from a recent experience.

It's been a while since I've encountered raised eyebrows answering that question. You know, the one that goes "...and where does he go to school?".

DS and I are so used to it now. But then again, it's been a while since I've been made to feel uncomfortable about our answer.

I don't believe they actually meant to be rude. I've met many people who don't get homeschooling. And some have been downright insolent, believe me.

The people I met the other day may have just been ignorant about homeschooling. They are both from a community that obviously believes very strongly in sending kids to certain types of academic establishments, no matter how stifling the arrangement. (I think they were even taken aback when I mentioned DS was having fun LOL).

Unfortunately however, this will be the first time I will be meeting such people on a regular basis without the chance for me to stay aloof.

It isn't a huge problem for me. I believe very strongly in what we're doing for DS and why we're doing it. And DS is just so obviously happy with learning at home that I can't imagine doing anything to change it at the moment, not that I would even consider changing it for a bunch of narrow minded individuals. I must also admit I might have been a little rash and explained why we're doing it a little too ardently to the extent that despite not meaning to at all, I may have come across as being elitist.

I find it difficult to be unfriendly. So, I'm curious. What do you do when you're in a situation like this? Do you even take time to explain why you homeschool? How would you phrase it that your child would not fit into a particular grade level or any given mould?


  1. Yes, I generally do explain why we homeschool. But it's more because I feel a need to be understood. I've learned that often people really don't want/care to know. In that case it's easier for me to just take the easy road, "We're foreigners. It's what we do." That's enough of an explanation for them. We're not considered normal anyway. LOL!
    But if I sense the person maybe an independent thinker who can grasp what I'm saying, then I do.
    I've been made to feel like a doofus more than once as people just shake their heads at my "crazy ideas." Oh well.

  2. People are only just now starting to ask us 'why aren't you in school?' Amazingly, people have been quite open-minded so far; I really expected a lot of negativity because homeschooling gets such bad press here, many people haven't even heard of it or think it's illegal, and many others think it's something only for hippies and travellers. Or maybe it's just the British attitude of smile and don't ask too many questions; I don't know.

    When I do come across someone who reacts negatively (because I'm sure it will happen eventually), it will all depend on the person. Generally, I try to say as little as possible. Your polite, clever guy is such an endorsement for homeschooling and will do far more to eliminate ignorance than words.

    I made the mistake once of saying way too much to someone who liked the idea of homeschooling, but had some of the typical ignorant questions. I really sounded like a homeschooling fundie. I wasn't rude, but I went on and on far too much, and too passionately.

    I wish I had more advice for you, or a good line you could use, but due to lack of experience in this area, I don't, so I'll be keeping an eye on the comments. :) Just thought I'd share my experience in this area.

  3. I encountered these skeptics when we were considering homeschooling. When asked (and yes it came with the raised eyebrow) -- "why in the world are you considering homeschooling???" I found that the most effective response (sadly) was to say something like "we consulted many experts on educating very bright kids. Experts like (insert name here) and many of them recommended that we try the homeschooling route to best cater to their diverse and insatiable needs. This tended to nip any further discussions in the bud!

    I am sorry you are having to go through this. Anyone who spends even a minute on your blog should realize what a wonderful job you are doing with A. Hey -- maybe that is the strategy? Refer them to your blog???!!

    Hope you are enjoying the cooler climes! Happy Birthday A!


  4. Ladies, thank you so much for pitching in and giving me your honest opinions. Being somewhat tongue-tied AND passionate about homeschooling, I find it hard to express certain things pertaining to why we homeschool, especially when people ask but don't really want to hear the answer, know what I mean? I think the fact that my DS listens to me (at times) and I listen to him (at times LOL) was too alien a concept for them to believe.

    Thank you again. I feel recharged knowing that I have the support of friends like you out there :)

  5. We have family that aren't fussed on the homeschooling - so the subject just generally gets ignored by mutual consent :)

    Strangers though, I do tend to feel rather defensive though and go into preaching mode. Esp when they ask things like "how many hours do you work each day?". I can answer either none or 16, depending on what they need to hear lol

  6. And they don't always really want to hear it, do they?

    Thanks for chiming in Kerrie! I was curious about how you handled this :)

  7. I don't think I've come across any negativity ... yet. Sayer will be 6 on Christmas, so it may be that so far she's just been too young for folks to wonder why she isn't in school. But when it comes up in conversation and I mention how bored she'd be in kindergarten because she's reading at a late 2nd grade level and is just about at 2nd grade level in math, and she'll happily hold forth on the subject of Egypt or Greek gods ... all questioning stops. So long as they don't ask me about her science background, we'll be fine :)


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