Stupid Things People Say About Homeschooling

I’m one of those homeschool moms who had amazing support from my family (on both sides) when we decided to homeschool our children. The day before we spoke with my husband’s parents about the commitment we were making, they had a very positive experience with another homeschool family, solidifying the idea of homeschooling in their minds. You see, my In-Love’s are retired and were living on the road in their RV. They were at an RV campground with another family camped next to them. They began visiting with one another when my In-Love’s asked if their kids were out of school on vacation. The mom invited them to the back of the RV and opened a large cabinet to reveal tons of school supplies as she said, “This is our school. We homeschool on the road.” My In-Loves were impressed and excited! If I could ever find out who that was, I’d send them a big hug!

Thank you to all the homeschoolers who rock people’s socks off!

monopoly by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere
free photo source for bloggers Pix-O-Sphere credit Lisa

But I still had opposition from other people in our lives. Believe it or not, the opposition came from the church. Shortly after we withdrew our children from the church’s private school, the pastor preached against homeschooling and he said this from the pulpit in an evening service,

“Moms shouldn’t homeschool. They teach their kids from the back of a cereal box.”

By the way, none of their private school teachers were credentialed. Then the onslaught of fear mongering and accusations of ‘it’s illegal to homeschool” and “Lisa, you’re breaking the law!” Within a week, then Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger declared home education is protected in California and well within a parent’s Constitutional rights to home educate.

Apparently a lot of people are ignorant of the law and the freedom we really do have to choose our child’s education. Nonetheless, homeschool families are continually under attack from people who are ignorant of the freedom we all have. It’s annoying to hear ridiculous statements from people and hurtful when it’s family criticizing you. They lack confidence in their own adult children to teach their kids at home.

Then we have the criticisms from public school teachers. Many of them don’t think we’re educated enough to teach our children. I find that wildly ironic since many of us were educated in the public school system. They’re confident to teach us, but not confident that the education they gave us is enough to teach our children. Hmmm.

As homeschool families, we comically come to realize just how uneducated a lot of people really are. We have to endure the stupid things people say about homeschooling.

You might roll your eyes or snicker at some of these.

“You can always spot a homeschool family, they’re weird.”
While at a museum, critics say, “Shouldn’t those kids be in school?”
“You can’t teach math by going shopping at the grocery store.”
“If math gets too hard for you to teach, you’ll be bringing them back to us.”
“Homeschool moms teach their kids from the back of a cereal box.”
“Your kids won’t learn social skills.”
“Your house would be cleaner if your kids were in school.”
“How would you even know how to teach what a verb or a noun is?”
“How will they learn to stand in line?”
“You’ll never have time to put your make-up on.”
“How will they learn to handle bullies?”
“I sure hope you don’t have guns at home.”
“You probably let them watch TV all day.”
“You’re not capable enough to teach your kids.”
“How are you going to make sure they’re socialized?”
“I could never homeschool, I’m always glad when my kids go back to school in September.”
“Does this mean you’ll be making your kids wear culottes and denim jumpers?”

One of these days I might just give a sarcastic response. Something like, “Oh yes, we let our kids eat boogers for breakfast and toe jam for lunch while letting them watch Bugs Bunny all day.”

What stupid things have you heard?
How have you responded to them?

Lisa (61 Posts)

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  1. says

    Cereal boxes? That’s a new one for me! And a funny one. That pastor had a major conflict of interest, for one thing. What kind of minister thinks families have no business raising their own children? Sounds to me like he gets his sermons off the back of a cereal box. Surely not from the Bible!

    I’m blessed with very supportive friends and family. In fact, they seem to have more faith in me than I do, most of the time. I’ve heard a few doozies, though, from random people. “Do you have to hide them inside during school hours?” (Nope. I’m a free citizen, and if I want my kids to go outside, they go outside.) “Won’t they miss out on PE?” (I hope so!) “You know that’s not legal, right?” (Yes ma’am. I’m a rebel)

    I hear fewer and fewer of these as time goes on, so I guess more people are familiar with it now. I’m going to miss those comments, honestly. What will I write about when all the misconceptions die down?!

  2. kathy lapan says

    I had a family member question how I would teach math. I used to teach math in a private school. And I have an MBA. In accounting. And she knows this.

    But honestly, if you made it through public school and you cant, with the help of textbooks, the Internet, and other homeschooling mothers, teach your children…well, then I guess that is an advertisement for homeschooling, isn’t it?

  3. Meghan says

    Oh my- a CEREAL BOX?! What a totally rude and ignorant thing to say! I would’ve approached that pastor. That’s completely inappropriate and I believe we’d end up leaving. I hope you have since found a supportive church!

    I get the socialization comment, which makes me roll my eyes. My kids were in public school. I’ve seen the “socialization” and I don’t necessarily want my kids exposed to it for 6 hrs a day! Maybe one day I’ll get up the courage to say, “Well, I’ve seen THAT village and I don’t want it raising my kids!”

    I haven’t been asked about the line question but we stand in lines in the grocery store, library, DMV.

    The comment about, “How will you even know what a noun or verb is?” Hmmm.. do you?! I have a homeschooled high schooler and get the question about math all the time. Math is SIMPLE. My response to that tends to be that if you got a public school education (which you view as top notch), then you should’ve completely those math classes competently. You should be able to go through it with your child!

    My husband got told by another homeschooler that you CANNOT do high school science at home. WHAT A JOKE! Of course you can!! It’s easier to do with a group or co-op but it’s not impossible!

    • says

      Yes, Meghan. We left eventually. 😛 Probably should have left sooner than later, but praise God we did find a supportive group to worship with.

      Science is my favorite part of homeschooling and it was my favorite in public school as well. Although, I haven’t made my kids dissect a frog yet. The idea of it grosses them out, even though I find it fascinating.

  4. says

    I agree with Cindy — why on earth would a pastor take a stance against homeschooling? Crazy.
    I have not had this particular objection raised to me in regard to my own abilities (thank goodness!), but a friend of mine considering homeschooling right now is being told by friends and family that she doesn’t have the patience to homeschool her daughters and that because they do not have a good relationship right now, homeschooling would just make it worse.
    I keep trying to encourage her and tell her that the best thing about homeschooling is the way all of that one-on-one time improves the relationship between parent and child and builds more trust between them. But it makes me so sad that friends and family could be so hurtful.

    • says

      Frolicking, it is assumed by many (as Cindy suggested ‘a conflict of interest’) because the private school looses money every time someone removes their children from the school. And in our case, we removed 3 of their students. 😉 In a previous year, 15 students were removed in order to homeschool. All for various reasons. That drastically affected their income. The insult was given while there were only 2 families in the church who homeschooled at the time. It felt like an accusation to us specifically. Imagine how we were viewed from that day forth. Nonetheless, both ours and the other family are no longer at that church. Ironically enough, that same pastor later hired a homeschool mom to teach in his school.

  5. says

    One I’ve gotten: When are you going to go back to work and use your degree?
    My degree is in English and Philosophy…I can’t imagine a better way of using it than by educating my children, and I am probably more qualified to teach my kids in these areas than the average teacher at the schools around here.

    One we got a lot from so-called experts when they found out we were homeschooling our older children: That we should definitely send our child who has a rare, highly visible, genetic condition to school so that he can acclimatize to being bullied and shunned by his peers (not the exact words used, but that was implied).

    I don’t know about you, but I think the surest way to break a child is to surround him with rejection several hours a day. Why not surround him with loving acceptance and allow him to grow into the man he’s meant to be? He’s already challenged far beyond what most people are. Let him grow to be a strong man who will be able to shrug off those types of things.

    • says

      Some people are blind to how offensive they can be. I agree about the breaking down of children. It’s awful that people would even think putting children (much less special needs children) in the company of bullies. They need to watch the docu-film “Bully”. I highly recommend it.

  6. says

    The pastor’s wife, who was the “director” of women’s ministry at our former church, told me that by not having my kids in public school, we weren’t shining the light of Jesus to others. *Sigh* As if my child were the only Christian in public school.

    • says

      Not only that, but since when are children expected to be Jesus? The Holy Spirit does a much better job at winning people than a child can. There is this myth that public school teachers are Atheists with an agenda to kill our kids faith. I think people adopt these myths when they live in a bubble.

  7. says

    Well, I have to kind of agree on the clean house comment. If I stayed home and sent the kids elsewhere, my house would be much cleaner. However, if they weren’t home, I probably wouldn’t be either. So, in reality the house would be just as a mess as it is now. Some of my favorites (all from my mother) include:
    -How will they get into college?
    -There is no way your covering everything they do in school?
    -Don’t they want to go to school with their friends?
    -When are you going to let them go to school so they can learn how to function in the real world?
    -Aren’t you afraid you’ll make them gay keeping them away from other kids and the opposite sex that’s their same age?

    • says

      “Make them gay”???? oh for heaven’s sake!

      For the record… my house was rarely spotless when my kids were under age 12. Regardless if they were in a school or not..which they were at the time. But then I had my fourth child. Keeping the house clean is easier when the kids are old enough to keep up after themselves and do their chores diligently.

    • CindyJ says

      My mother is the one that criticizes my choice to homeschool more often than others. She is just relentless. She makes some of the same comments–mostly the ones about friends and learning how to function in the real world. But I have to say that the “gay” comment is outlandish!

      I also work from home and did before I began homeschooling. The new comment is, “You need to send your daughter to school so that you can get a ‘real’ job outside the home.”

  8. DKBurr says

    Lisa, I have heard so many of these, but not the cereal box comment :)
    I do have to chuckle, sometimes when I am in town with my boys (17yr old, senior & 21yr old) I will quietly say: “look, there’s a home schooling family”. They frequently stand out because they are “weird”. They have a tendency to “weirdly”, though not perfectly, display obedience, friendliness, and an ability to interact with people outside of their own age group 😉
    I dare say, I will be finished home educating, just in time to avoid a very public eye roll and loud groan, that is going to happen when I can’t believe someone has again uttered “How are you going to make sure they’re socialized?” Oh, boy.

    • says

      When we first moved to So Cal I was amazed at how many children I saw out with their parents during a ‘school day’ and I wondered if they homeschooled. I was under the impression that So Cal was strict on compulsory attendance in school, so seeing so many children out bewildered me. The only family I thought I could safely assume were homeschooling were the ones who brought books to the store with them. 😉

  9. says

    ROFLMAO!!! Twelve years of homeschooling under my belt. I thought I had heard all of them, but the cereal box was new to me. Usually I get the socialization sorts of questions/comments. But they shut up really fast as soon as they hear all the various things my kids have done/still do. Seriously, my kid interacts with a wider swath of the population than any schooled kid.

    For the most part, when faced with people who fret about my children’s education, I simply suggest they look at my kids. Do they look like they are poorly socialized? Unable to read or cipher? Victims or bullies? Lazy? Ignorant? Weird?

    After the first couple years, when I was a lot more defensive about the whole venture too, I haven’t got any sort of blowback from anyone except the public schools.

    • says

      I think people misunderstand what socialization is. My kids are super social. At the same time I see plenty of withdrawn kids coming out of public schools. Sometimes a kid feels the most isolated and lonely in a room with 40 people.

  10. says

    Just shared this post with my 15yo, who is now a second year public high school student. I asked her what stupid things she’d heard about homeschooling. She said mostly it was that kids couldn’t figure out what she did all day. And were very angry about her blowing the curve with a 100% on the biology final–“but you were homeschooled!” She also said there was a student who asked why she was signing up for all honors level classes for this year–“um, cuz I’m falling asleep, literally falling asleep, in all my classes?” “but, you were homeschooled!”

    Yeah, and next year she’s signed up for all Advanced Placement classes.

  11. says

    Seriously! This one is my favorite:

    “How are you going to make sure they’re socialized?”

    One more time, just one more time…if I am asked this again, I am not sure what I am capable of. It is strange the things that come out of the mouths of those that really have a meager understanding of homeschooling and what it is all about.

    My response is typically the canned one…my daughter is a gymnast, her socialization comes from being with her peers and teammates, etc. What I really need to craft is an answer that goes far beyond. Seriously, the socialization thing is so old.

    Socialization goes far beyond the reaches of the public school perimeter. Oh…this one really rattles my chain :)

  12. DKBurr says

    Kind of late but I just remembered one.
    “So, you’ll just give your kids all A’s, home schooled kids can always be straight A kids”. I’m sure I must have stared for a second, but then I told her that I am sure the vast majority of parents do not invest this amount of time and effort to hand out canned grades. It is all about the education, atmosphere, time with the child etc.

    We do focus on mastery of a subject, easier when you set your own schedule, but all of our kids have different abilities, so will be stronger and get better grades in certain subjects.
    You just never know what someone will say! :)

  13. Lori says

    We homeschooled our kids from the start. I think some of our relatives thought we would only do it for a few years. Once I was told, “You’ll have to put your kids in school one of these days.” In which I responded, “Who says?”

    I have found that most of the people that give you a hard time are simply just ignorant.

    I also think we should call things what they are (government schools) instead of coming up with a name to make them sound nice (public schools). I don’t get asked as much as I used to why we homeschool, but I finally came up with a standard answer that would throw people off, “I don’t trust the government with my money, let alone my children.”

    • CindyJ says

      I like your response, but do you use it with people who are employed by the public school system?
      I have many friends who are teachers and would hate to offend them.
      If only we could find a way not to pay taxes or get some money back for homeschooling our children!

      • Krikit says

        Oh, Lori, I like that response! Yes, some people are misinformed and unintentional, but there are always those rude ones. And for them, they will get that answer from now on!

  14. Morty says

    “How will they learn to handle bullies?” LOL what, implying the public school system does anything to handle bullying? Kids handle bullying by committing suicide. Something I was spared from in homeschooling. Pull the other one.

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