How to Respond to Homeschool Critics

If you’re a new homeschooler or having those moments of doubt we all have about our choice to homeschool, getting challenged about homeschooling can leave you frozen and speechless. What do you say to the relative berating you about putting your kids (back) into public school, or the cashier at the grocery store randomly quizzing your kids? How do you respond to homeschool critics?

Getting criticized doesn’t leave anyone feeling good.

No one likes to be told they’re wrong! So when you know you’re making the best choice for your family, having the right response to handle those who disapprove can help you deal with the critics better. Here are 4 ways to respond to homeschool critics.

1. Graciously

Many times, relatives, well-meaning neighbours, and clueless professionals will attack our choice to homeschool out of a sheer ignorance and the best interests of the kids at heart. These people simply don’t know all the thought and careful consideration that went into your decision, and they truly care about you and your children. But in their rush to ensure the best for your kids, they tromp all over your feelings with myths, condemnations and outright bullying.

The method may be hurtful, but if you can look beyond that, you’ll see their heart is for protecting you and your kids. So the best way to respond to these homeschool critics is to be gracious and forgiving. Thank them for their concern, assure them that you’re not rushing into anything, and gently change the subject.

For most, while this may not completely end their criticism, it will probably end the hurtful words, at least temporarily. For those that persist, try the next response.

2. With Shock

Sometimes critics can ask intrusive personal questions or can be quite rude. They don’t take the hint to change the subject, or they start asking for extremely detailed answers about your homeschool methods, curriculum and assessment. They may even try to come between you and your children, or you and your partner. These people are so horrified by your unconventional choice, they stampede right over ettiquette.

Sometimes, these critics are just like that. There are people who thrive on knowing (and repeating!) every detail of a new mother’s morning sickness, or what the pastor had for breakfast. They are nosy and intrusive, period.

Other times, these homeschool critics have just forgotten common decency in their rush to prove you wrong.

Either way, the best way to respond to these homeschool critics is with shock at their rudeness. A shocked stare, a gasp, or a well-placed “How could you ask that??” might bring them back to their senses and remind them of their manners. Sometimes, you may have to be rude back: “Excuse me! That’s extremely personal!” or “I don’t care to answer that! That’s private!”, etc.

However, there are those who will even push beyond that. Here’s how to handle the determined critics:

3. With Firm Boundaries

There are people who just don’t know when to quit. How do you respond to homeschool critics that question your decision every time you talk to them? Or blame every little problem your child has on homeschooling? They might send your child “Back to School” care packages with blatant hints about sending your child to school. Or corner your partner to feel out for any indecision on their part that they could use to drive a wedge into your decision to homeschool?

These homeschool critics need to be firmly yet respectfully put in their place. Refuse to discuss the matter with them any longer, with phrases like “Thank you for your concern, but we’ve got this.” or “This was our decision as a family.” Make sure you and your partner are on the same page, of course, so neither of you are vulnerable to attack. Back each other up.

You may even need to go further with boundaries around whether or not your children will be left alone with them, or how much time your family will spend with them. Unfortunately, some homeschool critics won’t get it till they have a door shut in their face — literally.

4. With Facts

Maybe your homeschool critic is well-meaning, persistent, but truly curious about what you’re doing and why. Sometimes criticism comes out of self-doubt, so these critics will question you with the very things they are thinking about for their own family. They might ask you about homeschooling myths like “What about socialization?” or “How will they go to college?”, not because they’re trying to be mean but because they simply don’t know any better.

If your critic is actually interested in learning about why your family decided to homeschool, you can answer their questions honestly. Give them your reasons, and all the benefits you’ve found for your family.

It’s a good idea to know your statistics and facts about homeschooling, so you can confidently respond to homeschool critics. And who knows? Maybe that critic will turn into a homeschooling supporter — or even another homeschooling family with you!

6. With Humor

When all else fails, you can always fall back on humor to respond to homeschool critics. Most critics will ask the same questions over and over (and over and over!) so you can prep some common sarcastic responses to those questions.

For example, when asked about socialization, I’ve often said, “No.. I thought I’d lock them in the basement,” sarcastically. Or “We socialize dogs, not children!” Or “Have you seen the village people? I don’t want them anywhere near my kid!”

Know your audience, of course. Some people can’t take a joke, or don’t recognize sarcasm. But for those occasional rude strangers, or nosy relative who can’t take a hint, a sarcastic response might just turn the criticism into laughter.

For more fun (and funny!) responses to homeschool critics, check out Hifalutin Homeschooler Memes!

Plan how to respond to homeschool critics.

Getting questioned about your decisions is never fun. But knowing how to respond to homeschool critics — and having a planned response — can make you feel more confident about your choices. And that might just lead to less criticism. After all, it’s hard to question the results, when your children are thriving at home!

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