50+ Comebacks for Homeschooling Naysayers

(collected from the internet, conversations, and a couple of decades of living it)

About Socialization

1. “Socialization? That is why I homeschool.”

2. “Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.”

3. “You go to school—how do you socialize?”

4. “What do we do all day? Nothing. We just sit on the couch all day, staring at the wall.”

5. “What swear word do you think my kids don’t already know?”

6. “Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.”

7. “Socialization is overrated.”

8. “With our large family, if you come down to breakfast in this house, you’re socializing!’”

9. “Socialization is the easy part. I just corner the kids in the bathroom every few days and steal their lunch money.”

10. “Oh, right, because (obviously) spending years with no one but her own family really hurt Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

11. “The last thing I need is what you call socialization.”

12. “In school, they tell you you’re ‘not there to socialize.’ But now you’re saying that IS why they’re there?”

13. “We want our kids civilized, not socialized.”

14. “I’m not relying on the school to socialize my kids.”

15. “I prefer to have my kids skip over the bullying skill you learn in middle school – after all, it’s really only useful IN school.”

16. “Well, I guess I can teach my kids how to swear, and we can make them wait in line for the bathroom.”

17. “You mean because we live in a cave, never go to a store, a restaurant, or a doctor’s office, never go to church, never visit friends or family, and basically avoid all contact with other human beings? How is it then that I’m talking to you?”

18. “Do you mean good socialization or bad socialization? Because it works both ways.”

19. “Do you mean, ‘Do I think my children are missing out on something by not being in public school?’ Yes, they are definitely missing out on some very important things. They are missing the explicit, X-rated vocabulary from the playground, bathrooms, school bus; the sexual harassment in the lunchroom on hotdog day; and the physical, mental, and emotional abuse from the little extortionist in the next desk who used to beat my child for the correct answers whenever the teacher’s back was turned. My children do miss out on those things by not being in public school, and that is exactly why we are homeschooling!”

20. “New studies show that, contrary to popular mythology… the average homeschooled child has no problem ‘socializing’ with other children… as long as he remembers to use smaller words and shorter sentences.” (From the Mallard Fillmore comic strip, 6/14/2005)

General Homeschooling/Unschooling Jabs

Get These Responses:

21. “If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.”

22. “It’s not as difficult as it seems.”

23. “You see a problem with the idea that my kids are out in the community all the time, while yours are cooped up in an environment that resembles a prison? And you’re worried MY kid isn’t in the Real World?”

24. “We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school.”

25. “We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the simple fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

26. “If you ask, “Are you worried about the quality of the education my children will get at home?” Perhaps you should be more concerned about the type of education your children are getting in public school.”

27. “If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.”

28. “We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.”

29. “Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.”

30. “Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.”

31. “This is working for us right now. If that changes, school will always take them back.

32. “If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.”

33. “How will YOUR kids find the time to explore their interests and discover what’s important to them if they’re stuck at school for their entire childhood?”

34. “Have you noticed that when someone has been “schooled” that it’s not a compliment. Why is that?”

Please Just Stop…

35. Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

36. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

37. Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.

38. Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same person who is running up to pregnant women and telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

39. Please stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

40. Please stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

41. Please stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and the lines are long.

42. Please stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

43. Please stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.Or

44. Come out from under that rock. There are proms available everywhere for homeschooled kids who want to go.

45. Please stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.

46. Please stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t envy your Homework Police nightly battles.

47. Please stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

48. Please stop assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.

49. Please stop assuming that I must be some kind of supermom because I homeschool my kids.

50. Please stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school. I don’t think you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

BONUS!

      • “If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, don’t say anything at all!”
      • “Pass the Bean Dip.”

This video may help you too!

Chaos to Confidence: For New Homeschoolers

 It’s Time!

Homeschooling helpA Group Mentoring/Support Program starting August 1st, led by Sue Patterson.
If you’re a new homeschooler/unschooler, Chaos to Confidence is perfect for you!

  • Everything a new homeschooler needs to know to be successful
  • Get answers to questions you have and didn’t know where to get them answered
  • Join a community of new homeschoolers exploring this path together
  • Group coaching from me for those critical first 12 weeks!

Don’t miss out!!!
Space is limited, so sign up soon!





From Chaos to Confidence

You can do this – and I can show you how!

If you’re just embarking on this homeschooling journey,
I want to invite you to this mentoring program:

Chaos to Confidence.

Chaos to Confidence is for you if:

~You’ve just removed your kids from school and you’re unsure about your next steps.

~Your kids are now “officially school age,” so you’re ready to commit to homeschooling/unschooling.

~You’re overwhelmed by all the info on the internet – but wondering who to listen to.

~You have plenty of people who think homeschooling is nuts, but something deep down is telling you that this is right.

~You’re wishing you didn’t feel so alone.

I’ve created this group mentoring/support program because I know what it’s like to be so new that you’re not even sure what questions to ask!

In our 12 weeks together, I give you the foundation you need to be successful and take you from chaos to confidence!

I can help you.  Every Day.  Walking beside you.

I’ve been where you are now – I remember it clearly. I was so afraid I was going to screw up my kid, or that they’d hate me when we were all done with this. But I knew that school wasn’t where they needed to be. I had to figure out what the heck was the right thing to do – and fast.

I saw what worked and what didn’t. Over those years while my three kids were homeschooling, people began to come to me looking for support and advice. They’re grown now, in their 20s. They are not screwed up nor do they hate me! (In fact, they’re successful, socially savvy and really happy with their lives!)

But maybe you want to know more about them…

The oldest went to community college, transferred to a university and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He also spent a lot of time doing community service, got his Eagle Scout award, went to Japan as an exchange student at 16, joined the Peace Corps after college and worked in Nicaragua, moved back to Texas, got married and just bought a house.  He is 27.

The second spent most of her teen years doing community theatre, taking acting, dance and vocal lessons. She took community college classes and went to an acting conservatory in New York City. She finished her conservatory classes in Los Angeles and ended up with an associate degree in fine arts.  She lives and works as an actress in Los Angeles now. She is 25.

My youngest loved people and all the pop culture type of things. After only unschooling, she went to the local high school for a year and half, made the dance team, did fine in school, but decided it wasn’t worth it. She left to go to cosmetology school and now works in an upscale salon in Austin, Texas. She married a local firefighter, bought a house and had a baby in 2015. (Adorable, I might add!) She is 22.

I’m not saying your kids’ paths will look like my kids’ paths. I shared this for you to see how different they each were and yet we were able to support them in ways that were totally individualized – not the cookie cutter one-size-fits-all (even though it’s called an IEP) ways schools have to use.

I can show you how you can focus on YOUR kids’ strengths and help them unfold into the person they’re meant to be. I focus a lot on helping you, the parent, undo the fear and the assumptions that the school way is the only way. It’s not. My kids are living proof of that.

If your kids have been miserable in school, I want you to know that a better way DOES exist! And I’m so happy we’ve found each other because I want to show you how to make this work!

Sometimes families made the leap to homeschooling but got distracted by curriculum and headed off on the wrong path. They ended up feeling isolated, frustrated, and disappointed in their homeschooling experience. Many ended up putting their kids back in school. They wished they had had someone who could have been a guide or a mentor to them – just someone to help them start off on the right foot or guide them along the way if they get stuck.

So that’s 2 types of families that Chaos to Confidence is built for:

The Brand New Homeschooler who is feeling overwhelmed and doesn’t want to waste time going in the wrong direction.

The New-ish Homeschooler who started probably last year and ended up unhappy with their approach.

Here’s My Plan…

INFORMATION & KNOWLEDGE

You need practical information. Operating in the dark is scary and the info that you’ll get in this program will wipe out a lot of your fears. We will start with the basics – getting legal, thinking about what “learning” really means, finding reliable resources.

CONNECTION & SUPPORT

Sometimes homeschooling/unschooling moms can feel really isolated. They really need to feel connected to other parents on this path. So, I’m creating a private Facebook group for you and the other new homeschoolers in the 2016 Chaos to Confidence program. Over these 12 weeks, we’ll be able to get to know each other and give support. Members can pop into the group to share success stories as well as fears that show up. Learn where to find support locally, in your state, regionally, globally, and online.

REASSURANCE & INSPIRATION

Chaos to Confidence is the reassurance you’ve been looking for! I want to share everything I know with you so you have success and confidence when you feel like you’re swimming against the tide. As you work your way through the program, you’ll find yourself on steadier and steadier ground. Your anxiety and fear will begin to evaporate. Your kids will be happier and more engaged. You’ll see changes in the way the entire family gets along. You’ll be able to see learning in a way that might be different from what you’re used to – richer, exciting, much more enjoyable. And I’ll be with you every step of the way!

Here’s what we’ll do each week!

(I’m soooo excited!!!!)

Homeschool Coaching

And here’s the framework for the entire course!

homeschool coaching

Sounds great, right?

Sometimes we just need a little hand-holding to get started.

I’ve made the price super affordable – just $90 total for 3 months of reassuring support and boatloads of information.  That’s group coaching from me on our private FB group for a $1/day!

But I want to keep the size of a group manageable, so don’t delay.

And now, it’s time to sign up!





Before working with Sue I had tried every method I could think of to make my son’s traditional schooling work for him. I was feeling confused, defeated by all the bad advice I was getting, and very alone in my decision to teach my son at home. Sue helped me to realize that other options existed that were actually better for my son and his situation. I now feel confident and excited about his learning experience. He is now thriving and enjoying this unschooling experience in ways he could never have done in the traditional environment. It has been an amazing transformative experience!
~ Becky M., Michigan

A Wonderful Coach + All That Knowledge = EXCELLENCE!
~Tracy M., Kentucky

Before working with Sue I had tried every method I could think of to make my son’s traditional schooling work for him. I was feeling confused, defeated by all the bad advice I was getting, and very alone in my decision to teach my son at home. Sue helped me to realize that other options existed that were actually better for my son and his situation. I now feel confident and excited about his learning experience. He is now thriving and enjoying this unschooling experience in ways he could never have done in the traditional environment. It has been an amazing transformative experience!
~ Becky M., Michigan

Dealing with Naysayers

xlrw1459717Here we are in the holiday season celebrating with friends and family, some of whom we haven’t seen in a while. While that’s exciting, it can also be a little nerve-wracking. No one can push our buttons like family, right?

When your sister asks why your 9-year-old isn’t reading yet or your uncle wants to know when your teen is starting classes for the college prep track, you begin to shrink a little. Some of us are quickly transported back to old social patterns with relatives. But you’re not a kid anymore, and your own children need you to step up to the plate and help them navigate through this family maze. I’ve often found deflecting to be the better alternative to engaging with these naysayers.

It’s worth it to take a few minutes beforehand to figure out what’s going on with you when these situations arise. Do you feel judged or criticized? Is this an issue that occurs in other areas as well? Do you feel uncertain about your decisions, and they sense it? Does your family compare the “success stories” of the children of similar age?  Try to figure out what triggers you in these situations and then you’ll be in a much better position to work on it.

The truth is, you have something at stake here. You’re more at risk of getting your feelings hurt as they insensitively lob potshots at your choices. Try to remember that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. They don’t get a vote in your family choices.

Sometimes family members want to know more about this approach to education. Ask them if they’d like some reading suggestions – books or online. This will separate out those who were simply making conversation from those who are truly curious and want to learn more about unschooling. Maybe their child isn’t having the best school experience?

Remember that sometimes they are simply uninformed and worried about you and your kids. If this is the case, thank them for their concern and tell them that for now, it seems to be working. Remind them that school will always take them back if it stops working for your family. This might reassure them that even though you’re making what they consider to be a wacky decision, you’re still the reasonable person they know you to be.

Then change the subject. disapproving-1

People love to talk about themselves. Take the opportunity to find out what’s happening with them! Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to convince your naysayers of the brilliance of your decision to unschool. That may be your cue to simply ask them, “Could you Pass the Bean Dip, please?” This is a familiar trick used by many unschoolers through the years.

And remember, as your children continue to grow and thrive with your unschooling approach, criticisms will decrease. Time will pass and your own confidence will grow. Don’t be surprised when, down the road, doubting relatives offer you as the example to a parent whose kid is struggling.

Because this can be so stressful for many new homeschoolers, I want to share a webinar I did that can help you.

To arm your kids with some snappy comebacks and help them cope with the naysayers that may cross their path this month (or any time!), check out:

When People Quiz Your Kids
50 Comebacks for Naysayers

The Curriculum Crutch

“Buy this, and your kids will be smarter!”

“Use this, you’ll be more organized!”

“Get this series and you will unleash their inner genius!”

Or something like that. Ahh… the lure of curriculum.

crutchesMarketing has targeted our community for some time now. Advertisers realize that while we are an independent lot, we still harbor a lot of fears. And isn’t that how marketing works best? Identify the fear or the lack, and then convince people that they need the product to fill their void. It’s as if they’re handing us crutches and telling us to lean on them – when in fact, we have no weakness, no lack of opportunity. The whole world awaits our children and these crutches they offer will simply hold them back.
Pre-planned materials often inhibit learning, keeping the child from all the benefits of discovery and exploration. It keeps parents from continuing to engage and facilitate new interesting opportunities out in the world. Don’t look wistfully at those crutches – embrace freedom! And yet. So many don’t. When people do things on what seems like a subconscious level – when they don’t question it, and they just accept it – we have to look a little deeper.

What’s the hold?
What are we believing way deep down?

This desperate search for experts or someone to tell us what to do… isn’t it time to let that go? No wonder we have those tendencies though. Schools conditioned us to look to teachers for instructions. How many times were you told,  “Don’t read ahead”? Our self-confidence was systematically broken.

If we poked our little faces up to explore outside the very clear boundaries schools had set into place, we were humiliated, ostracized or punished. And if you think this is too harsh of a characterization, what was used in your schools to get you back in line or make you more cooperative? Were you called out in front of the class? Did the teacher say, “Class, Johnny has something he wants to share with all of us,” when Johnny didnot have anything he wanted to share at all. Were you sent to detention to “think about what you had done?” Was your named scrawled across the chalkboard when you did something wrong? – a reminder of who the class “troublemakers” were. Not that long ago, religious schools and many schools in the south used corporal punishment for reprimanding youth. And while now, spanking is passé at school, diagnosing and medicating are the control mechanisms du jour.

Why do I bring this up?

Because  this is what has conditioned us – you, me, all of us who spent time in the school system. We learned something there, something that trumped any other academic pursuit:

  • making waves comes with a price,
  • stay safe,
  • do not lean into that inner yearning that doesn’t fit the school plan.

But! You’re reading this, so you’ve probably mustered up the courage to say no to the schools and you’ve started on your home educating path. You still run into a lot of naysayers though, so you’ve either figured out ways to word it – or maybe avoid the conversation altogether (“Pass the bean dip”).

One way that does seem to appease everyone is if you’ve “found a good curriculum.” Even if it’s 1st grade! Your naysayers are a little relieved if you tell them this. Often because they doubt themselves – and definitely, they doubt YOU! – to provide a good education for your child without a preplanned curriculum. They ask questions about oversight or testing or scope and sequence. None of which have to do with learning, and actually only relate to the teaching process.

And that’s what using a curriculum does.
It pulls you into the teaching process
as opposed to the learning process.

Maybe your concerned relatives/friends come to you from a place of fear for you and they have only your best interests at heart. Let’s assume that’s the case. Where does that idea come from though? All that research they’ve done on unschooling families or even the current homeschooling movement in general? Not likely.

It comes from that deep seated fear they learned as children:
Don’t step out of line or something bad will happen to you.

Before you’ve even talked to them about the enormous advantages you’ve discovered by choosing to home educate, they can’t hear it. They’re working on their laundry list of all the things that could go wrong. (Maybe in your spare time, you could create a laundry list of all the things that could go wrong if a child went to school? Might take a while.) And if their concerns center around academics – their assessment of YOUR intellect, or college opportunities, or basic education – you may have discovered that whipping out a full-service curriculum will calm them. (and it helps with those lingering fears you haven’t completely tackled, that pop up in the middle of the night)

But you’re still locked in.

Because that’s kind of the issue with these naysayers. They’ve watched you eyeing the door. They see the yellow light spilling in from the cracks on the other side. But now you’ve gone and opened it!  And it’s just like the  Wizard of Oz – leaving that familiar black and white room for Technicolor! They’ve been conditioned to stay in their seats. They’ve bought into all the rationales that tell them that the black and white classroom is best. Wizard-of-OzAnd when you start heading for that door, they panic – for you, for themselves, for the entire system that their world revolves around.

So that’s a lot of fear swirling around.

And you have it too, to some degree. You may have just started dismantling it. It’s impossible to leave the school system and come away unscathed.

We come away with various levels of confidence and courage. And that’s where curriculum comes in. Curricula development companies don’t want you to trust yourself and just jump into life. They want you to prep for life – with their textbooks. They want you to think that life is better tackled in a linear fashion. Yet, what part of real life is like that? They want you to doubt your own abilities and rely on them. They’re counting on all those years of you USING curricula to influence you to the point that you think that’s where learning comes FROM.

What do you get when you choose their curriculum?

  • You insert someone else between you and your child. These experts believe they know more about what your child needs to learn than you do – even though you’re standing right in front of them.
  • You trade a watered down 3rd person narrative ABOUT life for actually living the life in front of you and your child
  • Instead of creating a learning environment unique for your child, you try to fit them into that curriculum box.
  • You stop your own curiosity as you look for cool opportunities to share with your child, and trust that the curriculum knows best.
  • You become a warden, enforcing the curriculum package on your child. Your child tries to assert himself, explore his own curiosity, and you focus on snuffing that out so the all-important curriculum can be followed.
  • You tell your child that YOU know what’s best for him, and he cannot trust himself.
  • If you discover that the curriculum isn’t working for you, you stay with it a little longer because, after all you spent quite a bit of money on it.

Instead of moving toward MORE confidence, you move toward more dependency. You perpetuate the cycle.

You end up CHOOSING the crutches, instead of the freedom of stepping into life with your child.

What if you let go of those crutches?

(you don’t even need them!)

  • Your child learns to trust himself and his ability to find what he needs in the world.
  • You and your child live a full rich life starting now – not waiting until later (after 18, after graduation, etc.)
  • You get to discover what are your child’s true interests – they won’t have to wait for years into adulthood to figure them out.
  • Your family bonds are prioritized and healthier than they ever could have been.
  • Your child knows that when you tell him that his learning is really his – you mean it.
  • You are truly in charge of your own lives – what an adventure together you’ll have!

john-holt

Pass the Bean Dip

Over the years, moms have shared ways to cleverly remove themselves from awkward situations. One of these methods is frequently referred to as, “Pass the Bean Dip.”
The saying was circulated a lot on message boards from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Some attribute the saying to someone named Joanne at The Well-Trained Mind forum. But I have my doubts. It sounds like a southern saying to me, something that may have been passed on from grandmas to aunts, etc.

When someone is asking questions about how you are unschooling (or even parenting) your child, and you’re fairly sure they’re not really looking for answers, you can get out of the hot seat by using a little distraction: “Pass the bean dip.”

Maybe you’re not ready to go toe-to-toe in an argument about your parenting choice, or maybe the time or place is not ideal.

“Pass the bean dip,” will be your ticket to breathe more easily and switch up the conversation. It’s not unlike a sports or weather distraction, “How ’bout those Rangers?” or “Can you believe this weather?” Another possibility is to ask the other person about their own children, job, lives – people really prefer to talk about themselves than listen to you! 😉

“Could you pass me that bean dip?”

Don’t Do It

Do They HAVE TO go back to school?
Normally, I don’t write anti-school blogposts. Many wonderful families who love their children use the school system and many more see school as their ticket to the American Dream. That’s fine.

I’m usually perfectly okay with people making decisions that differ from mine. But this time of year, I have twinge that doesn’t want to go away. It persists for about a month or so. I’m sure it’s exacerbated by all of the hoopla surrounding all the Back-to-School sales. Something in me wants to step into those shopping aisles, turn to those moms with their supply lists, and say, “Don’t do it.”

I know the reactions that would get.

The raised eyebrows.

The defensive posturing.

I hear those mothers who loudly announce to each other, “Only four more days…” With their kids within earshot, we all know the rest of that statement, “…until they go back to school and get out of my life.”

I also know there have to be mothers in those stores who don’t agree.

Something is tugging at them to maybe explore something else for their child.
They are mothers who want more time with their sons and daughters.
Mothers who see their own family as the most important unit, and not their child’s homeroom teacher and class.

And these are the mothers I want to lean over to and say, “Don’t do it.”

For years, these mothers have been conditioned to stop questioning the status quo, get back in line and ignore their gut about keeping their kids home. Quickly they rationalize that sending them to school is The Right Thing To Do. All of the pro-school marketing comes flooding back into their heads.

They think, “But they’ll have fun at school.”  Have you forgotten the boredom? The frustration with canceled field trips (only 2-3/year)? The staring at the clock waiting for the bell to ring? Sure, you can probably remember some fun times. But were there really that many? As compared to when you were out of school in the afternoons or in the summer?

Or they think, “They learn so much in school!” That’s not even true compared to the thousands of hours they actually spend there over the child’s lifetime. Studies show that children really only receive about 75 minutes of instruction time per day – that’s not even an hour and a half!  With so much time shuffling to classrooms, waiting for class to settle down, bureaucracy and busywork, collecting and passing out paperwork, going to assemblies, lunch, recess, not to mention that the instruction is aimed at the center of the bell curve and is obsessed with test prep, it’s pretty clear that not a lot of learning is happening.

Others argue, “They love being with their friends.”  They might – but not AT school. They have only three minutes to get from class to class, and a brief lunch period to hang out together IF they are lucky enough to have the same lunch periods. And, really, how many other kids did you hang out with after school? My school day was spent making plans  for how we would eventually get together in off-school hours or weekends. But it wasn’t that fun hanging out with them during class time. And what about the bullying so many kids have to endure? They end up creating all kinds of maladaptive coping mechanisms, learn that no one will rescue them and are forced to be in these situations for most of their waking hours.

Maybe the worry is:But I couldn’t homeschool – I’m not a teacher!” It’s not necessary! Most of the education they received in school to become teachers has to be shelved because of the way the system is set up. Even if teachers are good, most of their time is spent on crowd control and test prep and creating lesson plans for the entire class. It isn’t individualized  the way you could with your own child.

Still…

I want to tell them, “Don’t do it.” And if they didn’t roll their eyes and push their shopping cart away from me, I would add a few more things.

  • Life is short. Spend as many hours with your kids as possible. As I look back at the years my kids were living at home – it really did fly by!
  • Life is an adventure. Real life waits outside those school doors. Parents can have the incredible opportunity to become tour guides joining the kids on these adventures and learning alongside them.
  • Learning is everywhere. Learning happens everyday all the time. It doesn’t have to divided up and parceled out in boring, dull, disconnected ways.
  • You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of kids are homeschooling. They are all discovering that schools do not have a corner on that market of learning. They are living in a way that allows them to pursue their interests, practice personal responsibility, learn on their own or in groups, make friends, and create entire communities out in the real world.
  • You really can do this. Resources abound!   Homeschooling books and magazines, articles, blogpostsFacebook groupsPinterest boards – even coaches – are out there to give you the support you need.

So, if you’re wondering if some option exists that could work for your family…or you have that uneasy feeling that you’re trying to ignore, maybe it’s time to make a change.

This article isn’t for those who are perfectly happy with their school choice.

But if you’re hesitating about whether or not to send your kid off to school, imagine me, leaning over, whispering to you:

Don’t do it.”


And if you’d like more support, Chaos to Confidence started August 1st!
It’s basically coaching for $1/day for 3 MONTHS of mentoring/coaching!
Find out more here!


 

Reinventing the “What If Game”

When I was little, especially late at night, I could get myself into a tailspin. I’d worry about all kinds of things.  And, because I was a chatty little kid (surprise, surprise!), I’d go to my mom.

“What if things don’t work out?”

“What if they don’t like me?”

“What if there’s a car wreck?”

“What if.. what if… what IF??”

After a couple of these questions, my mom would shush me and say, “You’re playing the What If Game.”  What that meant at our house was that you’re borrowing trouble, worrying about things that may or may not happen. I spent a lot of time on that. Sometimes, it helped me figure out scenarios and what to do if something bad DID happen. But mainly, it just wasted my time.  I heard a saying once,

Worrying is like a Rocking Chair… lots of action, but going nowhere.

In my case, telling me I was playing the What If? Game was meant to help me. But it was also meant to get my mom a little peace and quiet.  Unfortunately, it ended up minimizing what I was thinking about. It made me be even more critical of myself, thinking,

“Why am I so negative?”

“Why do I bother people with my crazy thoughts?”

“What’s MY problem??”

I don’t think that was ever my mom’s intention, to make me feel worse. But I didn’t really have the power to shut it off, just because she slapped a label on it and implied I should knock it off. I just didn’t have the tools.

In parenting, we do that sometimes, consciously or not. We either step in to solve the problem, or we dismiss our kids’ concerns as not important.  Solving the problem for them prevents them from figuring it out, and then ultimately trusting themselves that they CAN figure out problems. It keeps them dependent on others for solutions – always waiting to be rescued by someone smarter, stronger, more resourceful. See the problem with this route?

And if we gloss over their worries, they’ll learn to take them somewhere else. They certainly will learn that they can’t share them with you! And you’re supposed to be the one helping them figure out the tough lessons in Life. If you take this option, you miss a huge opportunity to not only help your child, but also to reinforce your relationship with them.

So let’s rewrite the rules for

The What If? Game

Because, now I have tools.  I know these things:

  • Your mind can only think about one thing at a time.
    This is just a simple fact. We often think we’re multitasking, but it’s never really simultaneously. It’s a constant shifting. So, try to control your mind to the point of, “OK, I need to think about this instead right now.”
  • Attaching yourself to a particular outcome is where the suffering starts.
    We don’t know everything and we really can’t see around the proverbial corner. How many times can you look back and see that something really seemingly catastrophic turned out to either make you stronger for something else or yourself, allowed you to relate to someone in a different way, or opened you up to some unforeseen opportunity. So thinking, “I don’t get it – right now. But maybe I will down the road,” might be a helpful approach.
  • Is the bad thing happening now? Ok, then. Breathe.
    This is all about living in The Present moment. I’m not saying to live in La-di-da Land, look at what’s happening now. Is it where you want to be TODAY? Is it what needs to be happening NOW? If you can look at the situation more calmly, you’ll be able to assess the situation more accurately than if you’re full of anxiety. You’ll have time to panic when/if it does show up.
  • Visualizing GOOD things happening can be just as powerful as visualizing the worst case scenario – so do that!
    Getting in the habit of doing visualizations can start at any age. When you’re putting your child to sleep, help them to visualize some peaceful happy setting. Remind them that they can go back there in their mind at any time.  We spend so much time panicking about that imaginary horrible scenario – what would happen if we spent that much time visualizing great stuff?
    So how about taking it even to another level?  What if your visualization was about conquering that fear you’re worrying about? What if you think about succeeding in that situation that is distracting you from the Present?  What if you totally flip it and it turns out to wonderful – beyond your wildest dreams?  Run a few of those scenarios in your head and see how that feels.
  • Which story you decide to tell yourself is TOTALLY up to you!
    Neither are based in facts, so why not be kinder to yourself? Physically, this will help you as well. A body that is constantly anxious and tense will act a completely different way from one that is content or even happy. So choosing a happier story is kinder to your physical body as well as your mind.
  • Have a handy list of your strengths or of things you have accomplished.
    This may seem odd at first, because we’re taught that focusing on our good points is conceited, egotistical – definitely not a good thing.  But when you think about it, how could being ACCURATE about yourself be a bad thing? Sure, you may not want to regale everyone at Park Day with all your wonderful accomplishments, but tell yourself the truth. Make a list of the things you feel good about accomplishing, things you are genuinely thankful for… this list will boost your self-esteem and help you when you’re at a low point.
  • Generosity beats Stinginess. 
    It’s as if you are looking through two different lens: one of Scarcity and one of Abundance.  And it all boils down to your personal perception. If you feel full of whatever you’re wanting, you are much more at peace than if you are worried there simply isn’t enough to go around. When we’re afraid we’re not getting our fair share, we resent those who we think are getting more than us. It’s not a pretty picture – but it is incredibly common.  Unfortunately, this has a huge impact on our day-to-day attitude, on so many levels. It keeps us unhappy and negative. But using the other lens, think of yourself as having so much that you can share and be generous with others.  Society often throws us into unnecessary competition.    But think about when you helped someone else – with no gain for yourself. You felt happy and positive about the world. Why not try to do that more often? Help someone else. It doesn’t do anything to diminish your own light. Take a break from your own melodrama for a while and find someone less fortunate than you. Help them…and you will end up helping yourself.

That’s probably a pretty good start at my list. Incorporating these kinds of ideas into your child’s world – or even more firmly in your own world – will really help us all reinvent that dang What If? Game.