Welcome to the second article in the Homeschooling Criticism Series!
It’s no good looking all calm and serene in the face of criticism if you then go home and collapse into a snivelling heap, all confidence destroyed, convinced you’re setting your children up for a lifetime of failure.
Here’s how to build your homeschooling confidence so criticism enters one ear and sails straight out the other, never thought of again.
Except for a giggle with your homeschooling friends about the ridiculous things people say to you, of course.
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1. Be strong in your convictions
Know why you’re homeschooling. Be confident in your reasons, your values, your progress. If your convictions are strong, it’s much harder for other people to shake them.
What do you believe?
- Children should love learning
- Learning should involve freedom
- Individualised learning and one-on-one attention is best
- Your children should grow up with strong faith and values
- Family relationships are the most important
If you can articulate your reasons, then you can remember them whenever you’re criticised. If you’ve made the conscious decision that keeping family relationships the priority and focussing on a few close friendships is better for your children, then you won’t be thrown into turmoil by people’s socialisation comments. You’ve put the thought in, defined your reasons, and are confident in them.
Writing a homeschooling mission statement is a great idea – learn how to in Begin Homeschooling with Confidence.
2. Normalise homeschooling for yourself and your family
If you feel like you’re the odd one out, that every other child is going to school and you’re going against the herd, find a NEW herd.
- Join a homeschool group
- Get to know lots of other people who homeschool
- Join online homeschooling groups
- Read homeschooling books
In short, surround yourself with people and input that tell you that homeschooling is absolutely wonderful, and in fact is the only sane thing to do.
When having your children home with you seems totally normal, most criticism seems absurd and is much easier to brush off.
3. Celebrate your successes
Make sure you really notice and acknowledge your homeschooling successes. These can be big and impressive to other people, such as getting a high mark on a test, or small and impressive to you, such as seeing your child have the confidence to strike up a conversation with another child at the playground – something they haven’t done since being bullied at school.
Keeping a journal where you note all of these successes down is a great idea – whenever your confidence feels battered, take it out and read through it. It’s guaranteed to put you in a positive mood.
4. Smile and nod – then carry on
Got someone who always subjects you to a diatribe about why homeschooling will ruin your child / family / society? It takes two to argue, so make the decision to stop playing their game.
If they start rambling on do whatever it takes to keep your blood pressure down. Tune out, walk away, or imagine their hair catching on fire.
And don’t forget you have every right to ask them to stop talking about it. They’re being incredibly rude by criticising you, and a polite but firm request to JUST SHUT UP already (worded a little more graciously, of course) should never be considered bad manners.
5. Guess their reasons
Most of us are very self-focussed. We spend far more time thinking about ourselves than about other people. Therefore, if someone criticises you, the reason is usually more about THEM, not you.
What could their reason be?
Someone’s worried that your child won’t be able to get into uni? Maybe they didn’t go, and regret it and feel they’ve been disadvantaged by that.
Criticism about social skills? Maybe they secretly feel horribly insecure, and hope your children won’t grow up feeling the same.
Think they need to be forced to learn? This person may have no intrinsic motivation, and need to whip themselves into doing anything.
Personal story time: Once, we had a random woman yell at us in a caravan park about how cruel homeschooling is, and how our children would never succeed. After the shock wore off we thought about it. She was young, and lived in the park with her two toddlers. Maybe she regretted not getting an education, and she felt trapped, stuck living at a caravan park because she couldn’t earn enough money to buy or rent a house. Maybe, like most of society, she didn’t understand that parents could educate their own children (and that undamaged children are quite good at educating themselves) and feared our children were heading for a life like hers. We all felt much calmer about her unprovoked attack after that, and even felt some compassion for her.
You may not be right about their reasons, but thinking up a few stops you obsessing over what you MUST have done wrong to attract that criticism. It also shows your children that life isn’t all about them, and models empathy and compassion – and the world could certainly use more of that.
Finally, always remember – your job is to educate your children, not other people. You don’t need to waste time trying to convince other people you’re right, or get their approval. Spend that time doing more with your children, and your family will be the ultimate proof that homeschooling really does work.