Changing Public Opinion About Homeschooling

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Updated 9/27/2022

Rude comments from the inlaws. Strange looks in the grocery store. A raised eyebrow at the doctor’s office. A front page news story that perpetuates a homeschooling myth. A soccer friend who tells your kid they will never get to college because they are homeschooled.

We know homeschooling works, but we’re often surrounded by people who think it’s either illegal, nutty, or damaging. They’re not changing their view – or so you think!

There are things you can do every day that will help change how people view homeschooling. Don’t worry about it or make a big deal, but just be aware that over time, your actions may leave a positive impression:

1.  Mention park day in casual conversation. Often. Let your neighbors and relatives know that your children go to park day. With friends. Hmm, maybe socialization isn’t an issue after all!

2.  If you are available for an appointment when school is in session, let them know why. Most parents want after school appointments. Question: “What time do you want?”  Answer: “We homeschool, so any time is fine.” Sometimes that comment leads to a receptionist asking about homeschooling. Either they have a kid in school who isn’t happy or they know someone!

3.  Most people are only curious, so don’t read too much into what appears to be a prying or critical question. Some may also have a reason for their question that they aren’t telling you. They may know a child who is miserable in school. Just smile, and say you homeschool. If curious people hear it enough, they’ll realize how mainstream homeschooling has become.

4.  Have your child bring something they love to do when you go to visit grandparents or friends. For most kids, it’s not going to be math homework. A book is often a good choice, and the impression made is that the child likes to read, so homeschooling can’t be all bad. Of course, if your child doesn’t like reading yet, find something else – perhaps paper and colored pencils.

5.  If t-shirts are your thing, wear one that says you happily homeschool. Or perhaps the sturdy book bag that you take to the library will promote homeschooling. You can often find these items at conferences and online. Thankfully, the days are long gone when homeschoolers had to hide in the house during school hours. Not only can you be out and about whenever you want, you can even wear your homeschool pride if you choose!

 6.  Understand that some people want to know why you are at the grocery store or having fun during school hours. Sometimes it helps to give a conventional explanation and say that you’re taking the day off and can do that because you homeschool year round. If you are visiting family, tell them it’s a vacation week.

7. And finally, if you use Facebook, “like” the supportive homeschooling updates that show up in your feed, and perhaps some of the stories about problems in schools. When you do that, your non-homeschooling Facebook friends may get curious and click on it and learn something! The same is true when you “share” a Facebook post.  As I understand it, Facebook also takes note of “likes” and that page is more likely to show up in your news feed next time. Knowing this has changed my Facebook habits, and I’m now “liking” pages not only to show support, but to keep them coming!

Opinions are formed from thousands of impressions picked up over the years. For society, the educational opinions come from what the schools say, from a schooled experience, and from what the media says. It’s the little things we do every day that will change public opinion about homeschooling!

Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.