6 Ways to Break the News You're Going to Homeschool
- Melyssa Williams Home Educating Family Magazine
- 2014 8 Aug
So, you’ve done it. You’ve made the homeschool leap. You’ve said no long enough. After firmly planting your feet on the public school hallway and protesting for years, shaking your head so fervently that your banana clip came loose, you’ve finally cracked.
Or maybe you’ve known you would homeschool since the Beginning of Time. Maybe you had your method planned out since the day you first saw those two pink lines. Perhaps you and your spouse are homeschool graduates. Since you are, in fact, able to interact socially with a minimum of awkward instances, you know it can be successful.
And so you’re homeschooling.
Whatever the case, you have news to break to loved ones. You know the ones: the grandparents who fed you hot dogs and jello molds and let you watch Nightmare on Elm Street as a child, but who now only give their grandchildren organic juice and wax sentimental about the perils of today’s entertainment. You have to tell your best friend, who not only has public school children of her own but is married to a teacher. Awkward! You have to tell your siblings. And, let’s face it, they already think your kids are kind of weird. You have to tell the librarian who will stare when your homeschool brood comes in at noon on a weekday. Your hairdresser and your pastor and your coworkers and your dentist. The pediatrician, the mail lady, and the dog’s vet. The bank teller, the vacuum salesman, and the mechanic. Being a homeschool family is a bit like living in a fish bowl: the water’s fine, but it can get a little poopy sometimes. It’s best to keep your mouth closed when in doubt.
There are plenty of methods for breaking the news to a loved one, but here a few favorites:
Invite them for a meal and tell them during dessert.
It’s hard to argue when your mouth is full of pie.
Choose your words carefully.
Saying things like, “Public school is great for some people!” may seem innocuous. But trust me, you might as well be saying, “Public schools are great for some people…people who HATE THEIR KIDS.”
When you say, “We are just going to go a different route,” all they will hear is, “We will be learning Latin in kindergarten while your kids are frisked for guns and bullied, bring their babies to show and tell, sell drugs out of their My Little Pony lunch boxes, and slip through the cracks.”
Yes, you can say, “Isn’t it wonderful that we all have options?” But you might as well just come out with, “Too bad you’re choosing the wrong ones, and we will be praying for you to get your act together.”
It’s just a hard conversation to have with someone who doesn’t understand. But here’s a thought and a prediction that you can take to the bank: the ones who protest the hardest are the ones who will choose to homeschool in a year or two. They’re the ones who think, wrestle, and will join your fish bowl soon enough. So, smile and nod a lot. Be polite. Keep it simple. Serve pie. And when they call you next year, banging their head against the phone and shouting things like, “Talk me out of it!!!” you will understand, because you have been there, too. Don’t pretend there isn’t a phone sized dent in your forehead. And speaking of the phone
Tell them over the phone.
When things get stressful, and your mom starts coming unglued because you live next to a perfectly good Montessori school, and she already bought little Sue her back to school outfit, complete with Dora backpack, and public school was good enough for you, wasn’t it, and are you questioning her own mothering choices, and why don’t you just stab her through the heart because you are slowly killing her anyway, say something like, “You’re breaking up, Mom! I—can’t—*crackle*—hear—you—the house must be going through a tunnel—”
Let the kids tell everyone for you.
Bring popcorn and a frosty beverage and put your feet up.
Forget the word “homeschool” and call it something else.
Tossing out “My daughter is a second grade drop-out,” is an excellent option to halt a difficult conversation. Or try, “Sue goes to a satellite school for the gifted.”
You can stare blankly and just say, “Didn’t the school call you for this field trip?” when the doctor questions why you have a fan club of groupies at your dentist appointment.
You can even just blithely say, “They go to a year-round school,” which will confuse people into a perplexed silence. Most people have way too much pride to admit they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Just sound confident. And serve pie.
You will surely be met with the oh-so-typical response of “I could never have enough patience to homeschool!”
Calmly answer, “I don’t need patience. I have pie.” And when they ask about socialization, cheerfully accept their offer to take your kids to the zoo. (Again, sound confident. Confusing the enemy is totally the way to go.
No matter how you tell them, be prepared to do it all again tomorrow.
And just keep swimming.
Originally published at hedua.com/blog. Visit for more helpful articles like this!
© 2014 by Home Educating Family Association. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published in 2014 Issue 2 of Home Educating Family Magazine, the publication with the most meaningful discussions taking place in the homeschooling community today. Visit hedua.com to read back issues and for more articles, product reviews, and media.
Melyssa Williams is a ballet teacher by evening, writer by morning, and snacker by noontime. She's a hopeless bookaholic, author, magazine columnist, mommy of three (not counting the dog or the chickens), drinker of mugs of half and half with a splash of coffee, red wine lover, former contemporary dancer, and the mind behind the Shadows Trilogy for Young Adults. She brakes for thrift shops and avoids the mall like the plague. She can be reached at: shadowsgray.com and thedazeofus.blogspot.com and as a former penpal to many other homeschoolers back in the olden days, she always, always writes back.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Kerkez