How to deal with family opposition to homeschooling

by Karen Davis on September 2, 2011

Guest blogger Karen Davies photo

Karen Davis

Over the years homeschooling, I have learned three basic rules for dealing with extended family. I learned these the hard way. And I have noticed that others have found them helpful. So I am writing them out and posting them in this season of lots of folks deciding to homeschool. Please feel free to pass them on to individuals or to groups where you think it would be a blessing.

By the by, I no longer use words like never and always lightly so that word choice is not accidental.

Many, perhaps we could even say most, new homeschoolers deal with opposition for their choice from extended family members. This can be difficult to face, especially when you are still shaky yourself. Here are three rules that I have found invaluable in warding off, or at least diminishing, family opposition. They are not rules for how you think about homeschooling, but rather for how you present it to extended family members and in family gatherings.

Rule Number One

Always keep homeschooling about your family and your children. Relate those reasons that are positive. Do not make negative statements about schools in general. I think we can help Sally catch up on her reading skills better at home as our school does not have a program that quite fits her right now will be a lot easier to accept than the schools are terrible at teaching reading so we are pulling Sally out! Making general negative statements puts other family members on the defensive and can really put grandparents in a tough place. Defensive people get angry and mean. If you can avoid putting other family members on the spot, it really helps.

Rule Number Two

Always make it about one year at a time. Not sure why this helps but it does, trust me. If your kids aren’t school age yet, then make it only about preschool or kindergarten. Nothing more – you will evaluate and decide from year to year. Now you may have decided once and for all; however, this still isn’t lying, you really never know for certain what life will throw at you. Trust me on that one, too!! So adopt a see every year attitude around family and see if it doesn’t help diffuse the what about algebra questions that you are getting at kindergarten age.

Rule Number Three

Never forget that you do not need to convince anyone else! It can be difficult to convince someone else when you still have doubts deep down yourself. Reminding yourself that you do not have to convince them will take a lot of pressure off. It will also help you stay off the defensive. My brother did not agree with my homeschooling right up until my oldest graduated. Now he thinks it is great at least for my kids. That is a long time to wait but it is sweet when it comes. Homeschooling is YOUR decision. Never forget that.

Some people will still be difficult but I think that you will find that these three rules will diffuse a lot of family opposition. Remember that they have not done the reading and the research that you have. Sometimes you can drop in a bit of that learning but do wait for the opportune moment. Grandparents face peer pressure, too – what will they tell their friends? And most family members sincerely care about your kids. That can be difficult to keep in mind when they are being so unsupportive but try, it all helps! You never know when the fiercest opponent will suddenly become your greatest ally.

Karen Davis – Karen’s oldest child is 23 and they have always home schooled. She has home schooled in six different states.  She has become a strong area networker which has given her a peculiar kind of “fame” – her husband finds it highly amusing when they meet someone and that person realizes that she is  THAT Karen Davis. She and a friend have organized a “Getting Started Homeschooling” workshop which is widely attended and has been extremely valuable to parents in her area.

The Charlotte No. Carolina homeschooling community is very large and very diverse. About 7% of the school age population is home schooled. Karen is a community leader and an amazing teacher in this very busy home school area. Her theory, developed over many years, is that a high enough confidence level tends to deflect negativity towards your home schooling efforts. It has been a pleasure getting to know her! Visit her history site.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol September 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Excellent advice! We have learned over the years, too. I think rule #1 is the best advice you gave – just keep it personal…..not “schools are awful places!” That kind of talk turns me off, too. (I went to school after all.) We began homeschooling because of a son with learning disabilities and he is our Official Reason :). People tend to not argue with that as much – although we also hear that he should be in school “because of his difficulties.” Like they do magic there or something. My oldest just started college so yes, I find the naysaying is becoming less and less frequent.


ladychadwick September 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Those are really cool ideas. I have always been the one who doesn’t worry about ruffling feathers. Which of course means I most certainly have ruffled about every feather of every person I bet!

Ah well, maybe your kind advice will help with future relations I might find hiding in the woodwork.


CaptiousNut September 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I prefer to go on the offensive. Family members giving you a hard time? That’s horrible.

I’ve long asserted that family of the non-spousal variety can be *divorced*. If siblings, cousins, or even your parents abuse you….cut them off!

After all, *school people* are the ones who rightfully should be on the defensive.

But if you, for whatever reason prefer not to discuss your homeschooling, then yes this is a very good outline of the tack to take.


Mary Ann September 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Glad to know there are some men visiting this home school site. : )


christina parker brown September 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

As always, Karen, great advice! I like how you take into account the feelings of the family too. Great job


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