Homeschooling has been legal and relatively mainstream for almost twenty years. Homeschoolers have a tremendous amount of freedom and nearly endless learning opportunities. Colleges actively welcome homeschoolers who now attend a huge variety of colleges and universities. Yet it’s amazing some of the ridiculous things that are said to homeschoolers.
I asked a few groups of homeschool moms to share some of the crazy, rude, funny, clueless, and snarky things said to them. Enjoy!
“Here, I thought about you when I saw this.” <<< As a neighbor handed me a bootlegged VHS tape of an algebra lecture she found at a yard sale. My oldest was six at the time.
“How do you think your kids will feel when they realize you kept them from an American childhood?”
My dad to me: “That makes sense (that I would homeschool). Why would you make things easy for yourself?”
“Does the government pay you to do that?” (Real question from my neighbor one time.)
Said to my husband by a customer who was a retired teacher, “It’s people like you that are stealing jobs from teachers! Is your wife even qualified to teach?”
One of the big reasons we started homeschooling was that my oldest wouldn’t learn anything in public school. My mom (and several others) said, “But school isn’t for LEARNING!”
“I couldn’t homeschool, cause I’d kill my kids.”
One mom actually said to me, “Oh my gosh! They are homeschooled? They seem so normal!” So, I said. “Oh my gosh! I’m going to have to fix that!” lol
My all-time favorite was, “Oh, so my tax dollars are paying for you to teach whatever you want and I have no input at all?” <<< I assured this sweet church lady that her tax dollars weren’t paying for me to do anything and her input wasn’t necessary.
I was at a family reunion, sitting with my uncle’s wife. We were watching my kids play with all of their distant cousins whom they rarely see. At one point – still watching my kids play with the other kids – she said, “But how will your kids ever learn how to play with others?”
“I couldn’t stand to be home with my kids all day!” (What I wanted to reply: They probably couldn’t stand being home with you all day either.)
“Don’t you want him to have a chance to be normal?” (Referring to my 2e child)
Pediatrician: “Oh, so you’re one of those people that hate America.”
A neighbor once came over and said, “Can you homeschool my 3 and 4 year olds with your kids so that I can get some cleaning done every day?” She was dead serious. In fact, that was the whole reason she came to my house in the first place.
“I can’t imagine thinking I knew enough to homeschool.”
My daughter’s friends from figure skating are always shocked when they do something around town and she knows someone everywhere they go. “Where do you meet these people?” My daughter said, “I don’t sit in school all day. I have a life.” lol
“So you don’t care if they go to college?”
I love it when my kids are with public school kids and someone finds out my kids are homeschooled and they suddenly start asking my kids math facts and giving them words to spell. What??
Curious acquaintance, when my daughter was a highly verbal three-year-old: “Wow! She talks so well. Does she go to daycare?”
Me: “No, she’s home with me.”
Curious acquaintance, clearly shocked: “Then HOW did she learn to talk so well?!”
Me, feeling particularly unintelligent at that moment:
A random lady in a restaurant when she questioned why my kids weren’t in school – “Are you absolutely sure that’s legal?”
“How do you stand being around your kids all day?”
“But they need to know how to deal with bullies!”
A neighbor once asked my 12 year old daughter if she could read, and then proceeded to hand her a book she was supposed to read and answer questions about.
(Said in an Eastern European accent) “Oh, so you know everything?”
“Does that mean she is valedictorian of her class?”
My daughter who has never been to public school has been asked “How do you make friends?” and “So you don’t know much about talking to people?”
During my annual “womanly” exam, my gynecologist told me that I would need to put my kids back in school by high school.
“What about …. prom, sports, drivers ed…. (insert anything here)?”
“Oh great! You homeschool? Now I know where to send my kids when they have days off school.”
That one gets me every time.
When my daughter was in 3rd grade, a man asked me if I was qualified to teach her. I could have given him my resume, but instead decided to say, “Dude, I totally rocked 3rd grade! I got this!” He wasn’t too impressed, but I got a good laugh out of it.
“How will she learn to drive?”
“What are you going to do when they get into more advanced courses and you don’t know how to help them?” (Um, if I expect my kid to learn it, then I’d better be able to learn it, too!)
As a homeschooled kid, I was asked, “Does your mom give you A’s on everything?” Being snarky, I would say, “No, I earn them myself.”
Brother-in-law’s father: “Do you get to see the outside of your house often?”
Me with a puzzled expression: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
Brother-in-law’s father: “Are you stuck at home all the time?”
I then had the pleasure of informing him about our church and sport activities that keep us hopping!
“How are they going to cope in the REAL world?”
“I’ve never heard of that turning out well.” (From a lady at church.)
I live in Washington where there are laws on what we have to teach, but we don’t need proof that we meet those expectations… And we have to test our kids once a year, but we’re not legally required to show anyone those results. My parents are HORRIFIED that we’re so “free to ruin our kids”. I regularly say “well we could move to Texas where we don’t even have to tell the state that we homeschool…”
From my MIL: “Well, you know that we don’t agree with homeschooling, but I have to say that if everyone did homeschooling like you do, it might not be so horrible.”
Me: “Uh . . . thanks?”
Anonymous (for obvious reasons)
“I couldn’t do that. I NEED my free time.”
“How are you going to teach him to read?” (From a 4th grade classroom teacher when my homeschooled kids were in 4th grade)
We live in a state that does not require testing or portfolios to be turned in, so people often ask how we are held accountable and are shocked and dismayed that there isn’t more “oversight.”
I was talking to a stranger the other day and made a casual mention of my kids being homeschooled as necessary background to the point I was making. The person interrupted me to assure me that she was fine with me homeschooling. Um, okay, thanks? (Better than the alternative, I guess!)
“Just because you hated school doesn’t mean your kids would.” (I was gifted/2E and highly creative – just like my kids.)
Something I heard at the park just today. “Oh, you homeschool? We are thinking of homeschooling, but will wait until 7th grade. There’s no way I could teach the basics.”
“So, like, you can just stay in your pj’s all day?”
My then 8 year old son who is gifted with disabilities.: “Are you sure you’re qualified for this?”
My reply? “No. No I’m not sure at all.”
From a helpful/not helpful friend: “It’s a good thing you didn’t send her; they would have eaten her up…”
“Will your kids have a diploma?”
I amused myself when someone asked me how the kids get one (a diploma). I said, “We MAKE one” and her eyes just about popped out of her head.
“Are you in a co-op? How can you do anything if you’re not in a dayschool/group?”
From a friend : “They need to learn to do things like stand in line.” I wanted to ask if they seriously thought we’d never stood in a line anywhere before.
“I wish I could, but I don’t have the (time, money, patience, degree – insert whatever here too)”
We had the strangest and meanest comments when we got to the high school years. From the normal “he needs to be around other kids all day” to “you are making him into a mama’s boy.” It was never about the quality of education, it was about the social aspects each time. When he graduated in Computer Science, I saw it as a win for homeschooling and to show his first grade teacher who called him stupid. He recently was nominated to be on the Alumni Board for the School of Science. Socially awkward, indeed!
“If you homeschool, he’s just going to turn into a ‘nerd alert’ like you.”
“Do you give her A’s in everything?”
“Wait, you were homeschooled?! But you’re so… normal!”
My mom is a former school teacher, and when I was growing up, she would never allow me to learn anything on my own because she thought the school system would teach me the right way. Fast forward to now, where I homeschool my gifted child. Whenever I talked about the subject with my mom, I was met with stony silence. It wasn’t until my brother, who also pulled out his gifted son to be homeschooled, explained to her that people were pulling their gifted kids out of public school to give them more opportunities that my mom started feeling pretty proud. (She likes to come out on top in any comparison with others. lol)
My husband’s grandmother, who we happened to live next-door to at the time, threatened to call the police because we weren’t sending our son to school. This was for KINDERGARTEN. He was already reading on his own, and we thought it would just be a waste of his time. For awhile, I just ignored her comments, but she was one to continue to repeat whatever she was saying, getting louder and louder until she got the response she was expecting. FINALLY, I just looked at her and said, “Go ahead. Kindergarten isn’t required by law anyway.” She had no idea what to say to that. She was so sure she was going to be sending us to jail that she seemed disappointed.
“IS THAT EVEN LEGAL?”
Another one my daughter just reminded me of, from after a 3 month stint with pneumonia a few year ago: “Well, that explains why you look like that.” Only for “that” substitute a common 4 letter word beginning with s. And this was a total stranger on my doorstep.
“Oh, I just don’t have enough patience to do that.” (Brief pause.) “But are you able to homeschool other kids, too? I think mine would just LOVE that!”
I was homeschooled from middle school through high school. An adult I knew constantly harassed me about it. He would say, “Do you get a play-play diploma?” and “What are you going to put on your class ring? A picture of a bed?”
When I was being homeschooled as a child, someone always told me, “I hear your teacher has something going on with the principal.” I hated it!
My grandma when I told her we were going to homeschool: “But don’t you want them to go to college? You’re gonna make them stupid.” My grandma today to everyone she meets: “My grand-daughter homeschools her kids, it’s wonderful, they’re so smart and two are in college, you should talk to her so she can tell you how to homeschool.”
“But they seem so NORMAL!”
To my daughter: “But what do you DO all day?”
She answered: “Homework!”
“But you’re homeschooled!”
(Under her breath or to herself) “But I still have homework, you dunce…” lol
“Why in the world would you want to homeschool?”
My answer — “Why in the world WOULDN’T I?”
“What do you DO all day?!”
In reference to my daughter working at her own accelerated pace in math: “But what are you going to do when she gets into higher math?”
Me: “There are entire buildings full of people who have made higher math their career. Between that and online classes, I think we will find something.”
“What about high school?”
My answer — “Don’t know. I’ll worry about that as it gets closer.”
(This was said to me shortly after we began K.)
To my eldest daughter, then five: “But if you don’t go to school you don’t get to have a backpack!’ Because that’s what school’s all about!
A school board member, a man who was usually nice and from our church, suggested that we were taking away funds/being selfish to the school budget/other kids, by keeping our kids home. I countered that we are paying taxes and NOT taking anything from the school and letting the teacher have one less student in her class/better teacher/student ratio – and I wanted to say DUH.
“But how are you going to teach them to read?”
“Are you going to homeschool college?”
“If you need help teaching x subject, I’m pretty good at it, just let me know.”
“So what are you going to do when she becomes high school aged?”
My sweet grandma likes to brag, which is fine, but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when she relayed a conversation between her and some other person who was concerned about socialization until my grandma assured her that we get out a lot and the person then felt better. I couldn’t help but think, rather snarkily, that I was SO RELIEVED that this random stranger was satisfied with the social calendar of my three children.
“But what’s wrong with the public schools?”
“But you’re not trained in autism.” (About teaching my 6 year old autistic son, even though I’m autistic)
“My son just graduated university with a teaching degree, maybe he could help you.” Said by someone I barely knew… assuming that his 22 year old son was more equipped to teach my second grader than I was lol.
“Unschooling is unparenting.” (At my first homeschool meeting in a new town when I mentioned, just mentioned, child-led learning.) Oh, brother!
“Are you permanently homeschooling? You’re brave! I could never do that!” Said by a preschool teacher. I thought that was a funny comment coming from a preschool teacher, because I could never be a preschool teacher!
I went to college for a teaching degree, but my husband and I unexpectedly got pregnant and I never finished. It cracks me up that some people will say something along the lines, “Well, at least you went to college and got SOME education for being a teacher.” I took exactly ONE class for my major: fundamentals of reading. The end.
“I could never do that. I can’t wait for school to start, because my kids drive me nuts.”
Once I was checking out at the grocery store and the clerk said, “Do you homeschool?” I guess I gave her a quizzical look. (It was probably 4 p.m. — definitely not school hours, so I was wondering how she came to that conclusion.) As I was struggling to respond, she said, “Oh, I could just tell. They look homeschooled.” I just cracked up laughing because it was so crazy!! And we don’t wear denim jumpers or anything!
“You must be the most patient mom in the world. I could never do it.”
A guy in a gas station when my son said he was homeschooled – “So he doesn’t learn anything? How can you get away with that?”
“If you let him say he’s in 4th grade, he’s going to get bullied.” (My son is 7 and has 4th grade curriculum.)
I get told all the time that my son is so smart. What’s funny is that sometimes if they say it *after* they learn he’s homeschooled, I get a mixed bag of reactions. Some aren’t surprised and their reaction says, “Of course he’s smart, he’s homeschooled.” And others are totally surprised and trying to mask it like “Whoa, I can’t believe he’s so smart…he’s homeschooled!!”
There’s also the one about how our kids will never be able to get up for work in the morning when they become adults. Guess what, people? My 14yo got himself up and out the door to work this morning at 5:30, where he helped his boss kill a cow and 3 hogs for butchering. Tomorrow he is leaving at 6:30 to work in the meat market on a catering job, and then he will come home and do his school work. My 16yo got himself up and off to work at 5:45 or so, worked a full day of farm work and animal care, and came home and did a good day of senior level schooling. So yeah, they can get up for work just fine and they’re not even adults yet. I’m gonna claim a win on this one. (Stepping off my soapbox, ha!)
Being in Texas: “You don’t have to file anything?? How do they make sure you’re actually teaching the kids???”
“They are so social. You’d never know they were homeschooled!” – I get this one all the time when we go to a new sports team.
Reminds me of the time we were serving at a soup kitchen and one of the ladies we served asked my son – 7 at the time – where he went to school. He told her he’s homeschooled and the lady proceeded to tell him he’d never learn to interact with others in society. It was all I could do to not ask why serving her and having that very conversation wasn’t a good example of his ability to “interact with others.”
“I’m sending my children to public school to be missionaries.”
“What can you really teach them?”
“So, let me guess, you just decide you want to teach your kids about something like apples and then you spend the whole day talking about apples? Yeah. That sounds *really* educational. Way to prepare them for life.”
— a family member way back when we first started.
Her: You didn’t answer the phone.
Me: We were outside. The boys have a bunch of friends over.
Her: (laughing) Wait. What? Where did they meet them?
— same family member as previous comment.
“What if all the Christians abandon the school system?”
This isn’t specifically a comment, just the general feel I get from my MIL. Before I had kids I was a public school teacher, and I got to listen to her bash public schools and how the teacher unions were ruining schools (which I agreed to some extent, politicians have really mucked up our schools). So, when I said I was going to homeschool I got variations of “Don’t let your kids turn out weird.” and “I know __________ who just isn’t really educating her kids, you’re not going to do that?” And just a general feeling of judging every time I see her. It’s to the point that I don’t really want to go visit because I feel like I have to get my kids to perform like trained monkeys to prove they’re learning stuff.
“What about prom???”
A kind one – at the till in the grocery store – “Your kids are homeschooled aren’t they? I can tell…” I was so scared she was baiting me, but I went for it and asked how she could tell. She said, “I can tell the homeschooled ones because they always look at me and talk to me without being told to.”
What ridiculous things have people said to you about homeschooling? Please share your story in the comments!
I enjoyed reading this. It brought back a lot of memories. I think I also heard most of those. On one of the more recent instances, where someone quizzed my kids, I remember being mad at myself for not standing up for them. I decided then that I wouldn’t allow it. I would recommend that to other homeschool parents, that they interrupt the quiz, and simply say, “I’m sorry, we don’t allow that.” It’s one of the rudest things, and I just don’t understand why people think they have that right.
I get this one a lot “They wont have any friends!” as my kids play with EVERY SINGLE kid in our neighborhood. I had a neighbor come to my house and ask if I home schooled cause he saw my kids outside during the “day” and should be in school. I told him I home schooled and they were done for the day.He looked shocked and said “Do you even teach them?!” Fast forward a few months and he is asking my oldest questions (cause his son wouldn’t answer) and is surprised my 9 year old is answering questions his 14 yr old cant answer. He looked at his son and then my daughter and said to me “Guess I should have home schooled.” My MIL was surprised and shocked when we first decided to home school and peppered me with questions about how I was going to teach with no teaching degree and how the public school system was great and we should put her in kindergarten. She was 4, reading, writing, and doing 2nd grade math.. no.. kindergarten would have been dull for her. Now her daughter is homeschooling so its acceptable now.
I’m a former (what I call “recovering”) public school teacher but knew without question that I’d homeschool as soon as I was blessed with children. They are teens now and I still regularly get this question (among so many others): “So, when you’re done homeschooling, are you going to go back real teaching?”
I love the last one! (they look at me and talk without being told to!)
I’ve heard most of these comments and often had people quiz my kids (especially in math). We came up with a plan to handle the awkward quizzes and told them they should respond with, “My mom is the one in charge of giving me tests, so I’m not going to answer that.”
My son recently graduated college, with a degree in mechanical engineering, and is now working for a big company. During a conversation he had, shortly before his college graduation, it became apparent he didnt know how to pronounce a French word (although he knew what it meant). A family member (through my son’s marriage) felt the need to put him down by saying, “If you had gone to public school you’d know how to pronounce that. Didn’t you learn anything about….?”
It bothers me when people try to tear homeschooled kids (and their parents) down. I find it ironic that they like to use the argument that our kids will be lacking in social skills–when it’s they themselves that are often the ones lacking in “social skills.”