by KAREN DAVIS on SEPTEMBER 2, 2011
Over the years homeschooling, I have learned three basic rules for dealing with extended family. I learned these the hard way. And I have noticed that others have found them helpful. So I am writing them out and posting them in this season of lots of folks deciding to homeschool. Please feel free to pass them on to individuals or to groups where you think it would be a blessing.
By the by, I no longer use words like never and always lightly so that word choice is not accidental.
Many, perhaps we could even say most, new homeschoolers deal with opposition for their choice from extended family members. This can be difficult to face, especially when you are still shaky yourself. Here are three rules that I have found invaluable in warding off, or at least diminishing, family opposition. They are not rules for how you think about homeschooling, but rather for how you present it to extended family members and in family gatherings.
Rule Number One
Always keep homeschooling about your family and your children. Relate those reasons that are positive. Do not make negative statements about schools in general. I think we can help Sally catch up on her reading skills better at home as our school does not have a program that quite fits her right now will be a lot easier to accept than the schools are terrible at teaching reading so we are pulling Sally out! Making general negative statements puts other family members on the defensive and can really put grandparents in a tough place. Defensive people get angry and mean. If you can avoid putting other family members on the spot, it really helps.
Rule Number Two
Always make it about one year at a time. Not sure why this helps but it does, trust me. If your kids aren’t school age yet, then make it only about preschool or kindergarten. Nothing more – you will evaluate and decide from year to year. Now you may have decided once and for all; however, this still isn’t lying, you really never know for certain what life will throw at you. Trust me on that one, too!! So adopt a see every year attitude around family and see if it doesn’t help diffuse the what about algebra questions that you are getting at kindergarten age.
Rule Number Three
Never forget that you do not need to convince anyone else! It can be difficult to convince someone else when you still have doubts deep down yourself. Reminding yourself that you do not have to convince them will take a lot of pressure off. It will also help you stay off the defensive. My brother did not agree with my homeschooling right up until my oldest graduated. Now he thinks it is great at least for my kids. That is a long time to wait but it is sweet when it comes. Homeschooling is YOUR decision. Never forget that.
Some people will still be difficult but I think that you will find that these three rules will diffuse a lot of family opposition. Remember that they have not done the reading and the research that you have. Sometimes you can drop in a bit of that learning but do wait for the opportune moment. Grandparents face peer pressure, too – what will they tell their friends? And most family members sincerely care about your kids. That can be difficult to keep in mind when they are being so unsupportive but try, it all helps! You never know when the fiercest opponent will suddenly become your greatest ally.
Karen Davis – Karen’s oldest child is 23 and they have always home schooled. She has home schooled in six different states. She has become a strong area networker which has given her a peculiar kind of “fame” – her husband finds it highly amusing when they meet someone and that person realizes that she is THAT Karen Davis. She and a friend have organized a “Getting Started Homeschooling” workshop which is widely attended and has been extremely valuable to parents in her area.