When I started homeschooling my daughter, I never imagined all the questions that we would get from non-homeschoolers. People seem to be perplexed by homeschoolers because they can't put us in a box. They can't categorize us, and, for some reason, that makes people uncomfortable.
When we meet someone new and they find out we homeschool, we generally get one or two of the same questions over and over. I get it -- people are curious. (I probably would be, too.) So, I'm OK answering questions and fostering discussion. What I find exhausting are the judgmental questions of people who seem perplexed that we aren't, um, weird.
7 Annoying Questions Homeschoolers Hear
1. Are you worried your kid won't have a "normal" childhood?
If by "normal," you mean, am I worried that my kid won't have to deal with bullying and peer pressure or overcrowded classrooms and underpaid teachers while I give her one-on-one attention and allow her to experience ongoing travel and field trips while learning, then my answer is, "No. I'm not worried about her not having a 'normal' childhood."
(And honestly... What's "normal," anyway?)
2. Are you going to homeschool the whole time?
This is a regular question that is perplexing to me. Recently, I actually had someone tell me, "Oh, it's OK to homeschool her now while she's at this age, but as she gets older you'll need to put her in school."
For different homeschoolers, answers to this question will vary. However, our answer is that we intend to homeschool as long as it is working for us. If, one day, my daughter wakes up and says, "I think I would like to go to traditional school" -- or when I have to teach Calculus -- then we will explore that option. For now, she's happy and we're happy and she's thriving.
3. How can your child be socialized, then?
Homeschooling isn't a quarantine. We don't enclose our house in a plastic bubble or embark into a biodome where we shut ourselves away from the world for years on end. In fact, we even go out with our kids. In public. Sometimes? We even let them play with other kids and go on field trips!
My child is socialized just fine. However, for those of you who are worried, she attends regular classes outside of homeschooling (Spanish, gymnastics, music, theater class), as well as activities where she gets to "socialize" quite often. As a matter of fact, I've had several different parents tell me that they've noticed my daughter taking leadership roles in groups of kids.
4. Oh, so this is a "religious" thing.
(Sometimes there are even air quotes around the "religious" part. For real. I'm not kidding.)
For some homeschoolers, it is about religion, but you may be shocked to know that for many others it has nothing to do with religion.
For us, it was a mix -- we did want to incorporate Christian teachings into our curriculum, but that wasn't the only thing. My daughter is also highly interested in many things that are being removed from public schools, like art and music. I happen to think that those things are important in learning and expanding your mind, so that was a big reason for us, too.
5. Are you really qualified for this?
I would say I'm about as qualified for this as I am for parenting, but if you want to really get into my credentials, I am an educator and an academic writer. However, many parents who homeschool are not educators and they are just as qualified (probably more, in fact).
What mainstream school parents don't realize is that most homeschool parents spend a great deal of money buying curricula and countless hours planning out homeschooling schedules. We do our homework, yo.
6. Aren't you afraid that your kid will be behind in his or her studies?
No -- in fact, I feel the exact opposite. Most of the homeschool kids that I've met are ahead for their age/grade levels. I happen to think this has a lot to do with the one-on-one attention most of us can give our kids during homeschooling, and also the way we can personally tailor to our kids' learning needs and styles.
7. Wow, your kid is so outgoing for a homeschooled child!
OK, this really isn't a question, but it is a statement I get all the time about my daughter. (Dude, she's so loud.)
I have a very outgoing child, and, for some reason, general public perception is that homeschooled kids are backward, shy and introverted. Homeschooled kids are just like traditional school kids -- some are shy and some are outgoing and some are in between. And some, like my daughter, never, ever shut up. (Ever.)