I often encounter comments where an onlooker complains that a family is “supposedly homeschooling”. In using the word “supposedly”, they are usually implying that the family is homeschooling in name only. other words, these people feel the homeschoolers are only claiming to be homeschoolers, while not teaching their children.
If you know someone who you think is not homeschooling as you feel they should, and are concerned, what should you do?
Determine if it is your responsibility or right to get involved. If you are not a close family member, and the children are not abused in any way, you may want to bow out of the conflict altogether.
Take a closer look if you have some kind of kinship to the family. Determine what kind of homeschoolers they are. Unschoolers often cause the most alarm in this area because they use child led teaching. Therefore you may witness that a child may go for a week or longer just coloring, or playing outside. What you may not witness however is them taking out their books an hour before bedtime to read, do penmanship or even math. Some children focus best on their work when they have expended all of their physical energy.
Determine why you are concerned. Are you concerned because you do not believe in homeschooling, or because a 10 year old cannot read? Most of the problems I have had with disapproval has come from the feeling of the person confronting me and not based on what my children do or do not know. If the problem really is a child who is not performing up to “grade level”, a few well placed questions may help you discover a learning disability (that would exist even if the child were in school), and possibly even a level of genius in other areas.
Be direct. There is nothing more aggravating to a homeschooler than a passive-aggressive attempt at control. Calling the Department of Social Services, talking to other family members behind their back, and quizzing the children, will very likely turn your old friend into your enemy. If you have a legitimate concern, then speak to the parent. You may still not agree with them when the conversation is over, and on rare occasions, you may even discover you had reason to be concerned, but it is more likely that you will begin to see homeschooling in a different light.
*Have a question about homeschooling? Just ask.
*Want to know more about homeschooling? Start with the 2006 homeschool blog in review!
* Have you seen the homeschooling curriculum glossary?