Let me say in advance Thing 1 and Thing 2. Thing 1) Not all homeschoolers are created equal. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families doing it. Thing 2) We’re a defensive lot with good reason since the world really is out to get us. And Thing 3) Counting is overrated, so don’t ask me to be consistent. There may or may not be ten things that piss me off as a homeschool parent.
Do NOTs With A Homeschool ParentAsk About Math -- My eight year old starts having a temper tantrum every time we ask her to do a math check. I think is because we have some demented notion that “Math is Hard” and “Math is Real School.” Neither is actually true. Math is fascinating and sometimes challenging, but actually not particularly difficult. You do a problem, and you always get the same answer. Let’s compare that with a boat electrical system wherein you can do the same thing and get a different result every time. Most homeschool families are defensive about their math curriculum and education in no small part because they are deschooling the parents. The kids would have a lot easier time of it if none of us had ever had to do School Math.
Challenge Curriculum -- Don’t take on a homeschool parent regarding their choice of history or science books. While the homeschool movement is gradually going “mainstream,” there are still enough of the end point fundamentalists out there that talking about the age and origin of the earth is pretty well a topic not taken up in polite company.
Reminiscence About Prom -- Look, we frackin hated prom. It is an anachronistic ritual perpetuated by the rich elite to make the rest of us feel like ugly wallflowers. So don’t go on and on about how wonderful it is and how sad it will be when my daughters miss it. You’re starting to piss me off. In fact, let’s just generalize the prohibition to high school. High school sucked. Remember? It wasn’t like the Disney movies, and I see no reason to inflict that hell upon any child of mine.
Worry About Socialization -- Okay, that’s better. We’re not actually going to get upset about this topic. Every homeschool parent knows that our children are considerably more socially capable than your average schooler kids. Sure, we have our loners, geeks, whackos, and freaks just like the Regular World. But overall, our kids know how to interact with people at a much more mature and diverse level than children who spend all day with 29 other folk the same age and basic demographic.
Look Amazed When Our Kids Do Something Special -- This one knots my knickers. Every time my kids do something a little strange, highly advanced, or just plain spectacular, it is as if every normal in the room is struck dumbfounded. “A homeschooler can read at age 4?” they gasp. Or play a musical instrument, make and sell jewelry, paint spectacularly detailed miniatures, dramatically deliver Shakespearean sonnets, or read high school level fiction at age eight to name but a few examples from homeschool kids I’ve raised or met. Why are you so surprised? A homeschool kid gets the undivided attention of at least one adult as well as virtually unlimited time to explore their interests and hobbies. As a result, it should surprise no one that they tend to pick something they like and become exceedingly good at it. I don’t think this makes these kids prodigies so much as it demonstrates what all children are capable of given the time and attention.
Talk About Finances -- We’re broke. Most homeschool parents are broke. I don’t want to talk about it. Shut up. Whatever you do, don’t suggest that financially it would be more responsible for one of us to work. Mathematically (and YES, we can do math) there are very few markets and very few parents with the skill set to make it more economically responsible to have both parents working full time... particularly if the household has 3 or more children or one under three years of age.
Bring Up Team Sports -- Yeah, I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do about that one. While I can do without the 6 hours with 30 kids thing, a group sport really can’t be beat. Going to have to ponder a creative alternative. It would have been easier if we hadn’t left on a boat.
Mention Homeschool Law -- Some states make being a homeschool an absolute trial and misery. I am fortunate enough to have the kids registered in a state that is pretty straightforward and not particularly onerous. However, talking to parents in states with more stringent rules is like opening Pandora’s box of Political Hell.