Anyone who knows anything about homeschooling is aware that this adventure can come in all shapes and sizes. As different as what a typical homeschool day looks like from one house to the next may be, one thing I’m finding many of us have in common (besides a deep-seated love for our children) is that it is quite recurrent to have extended family members who don’t fully grasp the enormity of what we’ve set out to do.
While some unfortunately have relatives who are completely against home education of any form, and others have loved ones who are behind them 100%, what I’m finding is that a great portion of us (yes, I’m including myself) have relatives who are somewhere in the middle- slightly apathetic and not caring much about how we educate our kids one way or the other.
Maybe it’s because they think it’s our business, and ours alone (which is true), or they’re simply unsure how to approach something that is so unconventional to them. No matter the reason, all too often our families are not taking our homeschool commitment seriously.
Since this is an issue so many of us are dealing with, today I’m sharing:
10 Things You Need to Know If You Have Family Who Homeschools
1. Homeschooling is important.
We’ve taken a huge responsibility in educating our children. This takes time, effort, and dedication. While learning at home does mean that we can be more flexible, it does not mean that we can make a habit of canceling school.
Last year, someone in my own family expected me to cancel our first day of school so that I could run another family member (who lives 30 minutes away) to the hardware store. After I replied that I couldn’t because it was our first day, I was told that I needed to sort out my priorities.
Please, think about what you’re saying before you ask us to drop school for the day for something trivial. Our children’s future is in our hands.
2. We are happy to help out on occasion, but please don’t put everything on us.
This is closely related to #1. Serving others is very important to instill in our children, but when the phone calls for help become non-stop, it really does harm the flow of our homeschool.
Just because we are home most of the time doesn’t mean that we aren’t doing anything important. Please, consider asking others for help from time to time.
3. If we do not answer the phone when you call, don’t be offended.
If we don’t pick up the phone, it is either because we’re not home or because we’re in the middle of our homeschool routine. Think of this as my job. If you would not call someone at work, please give me the same consideration.
I also ask that you would not call back repeatedly until we finally give up and answer the phone. You may not realize this, but it can be extremely difficult to get the kids’ attention again after we’ve been interrupted.
4. Please call before you stop by.
We are always happy to have visitors, but please call to let us know you are coming so that we can plan accordingly. Again, a child who is interrupted while in the midst of a project will often not get their concentration back for quite some time.
5. Please show some interest when the kids show you something they worked hard on.
This is something I’ve seen all too often. My kids will excitedly show someone a project or notebook they’ve been toiling over, only to have them say, “Oh that’s nice,” without even giving it a second glance.
Our children’s efforts have no less value than those of the students in traditional school.
6. Homeschooling is not a generic version of school.
This is related to #5. As an example, too many times I’ve watched relatives make a bigger deal of back-to-school time for the kids going to public school than for those who are homeschooled.
Why? Our kids are also starting a new year. Again, home education has as much value as the education acquired in a public school setting.
7. If you buy school supplies for your grandchildren or nieces and nephews who go to school, please consider doing the same for our children.
I’m not including this in order to save money, but to make a point. Children who are homeschooled often need the same sorts of supplies as those of children in school. Please understand the message you are sending if you buy school supplies for one group of children, and leave the others feeling hurt and confused.
8. Ask us about our homeschool.
Unlike most kids in public school, homeschooled kids are excited about what they did all day (okay, and so are the parents…). Ask them what they learned, what books they used, what they’ve been reading, and what a homeschool day looks like for them. Homeschooling isn’t just something that we do, but is who we are. Let us know you care by showing an interest in what’s important to us.
9. Please realize that we’ve made this choice because it’s what’s best for us.
Watching people that you love doing something that is foreign to you may be uncomfortable, but please know that we’ve got this.
(And please don’t try to persuade our kids to ask to go to school so that they can graduate from your high school alma mater.) Pretty please.
10. Consider offering us your expertise.
Do you have any idea how much we homeschoolers love when people- especially our loved ones- come into our home to help out? Grandparents are perfect candidates for this. Consider sharing with us:
- What life was like during WW2
- How to sew, knit, or crochet
- How to cook
- Old family stories
- How to change the oil in the car
Or anything else you enjoy. We would even love for you just to come and read to the kids. Be involved. There are few greater joys than a family that is together often.
If you are related to a family of homeschoolers, please consider what I’ve written today. We love teaching our children, and it’s one of the most important things we’ll ever do.
All we ask is that you support us along the way.