Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Homeschoolers

Updated 9/27/2022

Thanksgiving is the first big family holiday of the school year, and you may be seeing some people for the first time since you started homeschooling. It’s possible that someone may express their worry, so just take a deep breath and be prepared! You really can have wonderful holiday visits with family and friends. Just remember that this is your child, and you know what is best!

10 Survival Tips!

1. Try not to take doubting comments personally. With so much emphasis on readiness skills and publicity about kids dropping out of school or being unable to read, it’s understandable that some people will worry that your child is going to get behind.

2. Be prepared to step in should someone decide to quiz your child. If they have a problem with your educational choice, they need to talk to you privately. Insist upon that.

3. Make sure your child is rested for the visit, eating food they like, and that you’ve done all you can to prevent a kid crisis. If it happens, just quietly remove your child and comfort them in another room. It’s not because your child is homeschooled. Even kids who go to school can have meltdowns when they are exhausted!

4. Smile and join the family with a “how nice” when your sister-in-law brags about what her child has learned in school. And keep saying to yourself, “It’s not a contest, and I’m doing the right thing.”

5. Answer questions. Some people are curious, not critical. They want to know more, and that’s a good thing. And it could be they are privately interested in homeschooling or know someone who is!

6. Remember, Thanksgiving is a holiday! It’s time to put on your public relations hat. Even if you home educate or unschool year round, declare it a “school vacation” when you are around family. Don’t bring math homework! If your child likes to read, bring a book. If your child likes games (and is old enough to lose without falling apart), bring some games to share. Whatever you do, look for things that will keep your kids happy and also keep people from thinking they detect a problem.

7. Take it one year at a time. Even if you are planning to homeschool your child until graduation, there’s nothing wrong with saying that you are taking it one year at a time.

8. Graciously accept suggestions. People need their ideas validated, so just thank them for suggestions. Don’t disagree or argue, because the quickest way to get the topic changed is to acknowledge the person by saying “Good idea.”  Or “I’ll check into that.”  Or “What an interesting perspective.”

9. Don’t defend your homeschooling decision. People have to say their piece before they can move on to talk about something else. If you get defensive, you’ll just add fuel to the fire. And if someone mentions how bad you were in math when you were young, just laugh and say it’s true, and you’re enjoying learning new things with your child.

10. Don’t rant about how bad the public school is because some of them have kids in school and will be insulted. Use the magic phrase, “It is working for us this year.” It’s hard to argue with that because every child is different, and you aren’t criticizing other choices. When you say that, they’ll also be reassured that you haven’t closed the door on school – it’s just that homeschooling is working this year!

I hope your holiday experience with your family is a positive one from beginning to end.  Some families are very supportive, so perhaps you’ll be lucky! If not, just smile to yourself and make a mental note to write and tell me, so we can both roll our eyeballs over it!


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.