When I started homeschooling 9 years ago I was so grateful that my family and friends were supportive of my decision. I know that there were some who didn’t quite understand what I was doing or why but I didn’t come across any negativity or opposition.
It was wonderful. It helped me gain the confidence I have today as a homeschool mom and has helped me help others along the way.
I’ve realized though, throughout this journey, that not everyone understands the life of a homeschool family, not everyone realizes that sometimes the best intentions can be terribly unhelpful. Sometimes when people don’t understand the ins and outs they make assumptions, and those can lead to tension or even hurt feelings.
I think one of the most important things we can do is communicate our needs, open ourselves up to questions and help those close to us realize what they can do to help support us as we endeavor to teach our kids. It’s not only important for us but for those we care about so that their good intentions can have great results.
So, I asked some of my fellow homeschool bloggers to weigh in, I talked to a lot of homeschool moms both in person and online to get an idea of how friends and families can best support their favorite homeschool family.
Offer Encouragement– This came up with almost everyone. It can be a daunting task teaching our kids every day and the occasional pat on the back can make all the difference.
“Understand the weight we carry daily. We know our children’s’ education is in our hands, so encourage us as often as you get a chance.” ~Deana- Redeeming The Days
“After all these years of homeschooling, I still need those around me to respect and even celebrate what happens in our homeschool. I’m teaching, the kids are learning, and no one is watching Dr. Phil or playing video games all day long. The same encouragement you’d give a child or teacher in public school is welcome here, too!” ~ Emily- Life at the Table
Offer a Helping hand- We don’t get sick days, or vacation time. We are with our kids, many times 24/7. It is a wonderful but tiring job. I know a lot of homeschool moms with little ones, a husband who works a lot, or without a large support system who need, more than anything, a break.
“Ask me if I need help sometimes- I might just take you up on it! Sometimes spending all day most days with three kids can be trying. I’d love someone to hang out with them for a bit so I can go to a dentist appointment, or go food shopping, by myself.” ~Caitlin- My Little Poppies
Don’t Quiz our kids– Unlike most public schools all homeschools are not the same. Many homeschoolers learn at their own pace, tweak their lessons to interest the child, or are advanced in one subject while at a lower level in another. Asking our kids the state capitals or if they’ve learned to tell time yet… less than helpful. We’re trying to instill confidence and a love of learning, sometimes that looks different than you’d expect.
“Thank you for not grilling my children on math or history facts. We do not teach to a textbook or a test. We do ensure they are making progress in their learning, at their God-given pace. It may not look the same as the kid from the public school down the road and we appreciate you not comparing our children to any other student.”~ Crystal –Triumphant Learning
Share Your Interests– Do you collect stamps? Maybe Civil War reenactments are your thing? Do you love to cook? Homeschoolers are looking for learning opportunities around every corner and we’re always thrilled to have someone with an interest or passion share it with our kids. Friends and family offer a welcome addition to our learning, and an additional teacher to help them learn and field questions is always fantastic. So if you’ve got something to share just offer!
Respect our time and schedules– Homeschooling can be really flexible and that is wonderful. However, flexibility doesn’t mean that we can drop everything at any time. It also doesn’t mean that just because we are home all day that we have extra time on our hands. If you know the homeschoolers in your life try and keep a daily routine try not to disrupt that. Just because your friend homeschools don’t assume she has extra time to make cookies for the bake sale. Our time may be spent at home but it is full and busy.
“Thank you for being understanding that I did not answer your phone call and did not call you back until later in the afternoon. We were in the middle of an exciting chapter of Boy of the Pyramids.” ~Crystal- Triumphant Learning
“Simply understanding that homeschooling children is the equivalent of a full-time job. We can’t always take on extra things or do more just because we are home.” ~Deana- Redeeming The Days
Ask questions and try to understand– For the most part homeschooling families love to talk about what we do and why we do it… in fact sometimes it’s hard to get us to stop! If you don’t understand something just ask! Want to know what we’re learning or how our days work? Ask! Sometimes families and friend have concerns about what we’re doing or if our children are struggling, it’s ok to ask or bring it up, just please try and understand and ask before making assumptions.
“Please don’t be afraid to ask questions about homeschooling! I love to talk about homeschooling- from why we started to the cool projects we’re working on.” Caitlin- My Little Poppies
Share information, ideas & supplies– Did you hear about a class we might be interested in? Know about a great place for a field trip? Maybe you have a laminator lying around or you’re getting rid of some craft supplies. We love that kind of stuff! We don’t always know about great opportunities so sharing them with us is a great resource!
And last but certainly not least know how incredibly thankful we are to everyone who supports us along the way. I know I would not be where I am today in my homeschooling journey if it weren’t for the support of my family and the friends I’ve made along the way. You are invaluable to us, and we thank you for all you do!
“Our support system is so valuable. We need you. And thank you…we can’t say it enough” Deana- Redeeming the Days