Have you ever been out in public and somehow the fact that you homeschool comes up and suddenly a complete stranger is quizzing your child? Has a relative ever bombarded your kid with questions about what they are learning? Do you not know how to respond? I think it has happened to every single homeschooling family at least once. It is annoying and often times we might not know what to say. I know I have gone completely blank as my child is looking to me to see if he has to answer these questions. For me personally, I find them rude and intrusive. I often wonder if these same people quiz kids in public school the same way. Odds are they don’t, so why do they think it’s okay to do it to homeschooled children?
My son has answered people sometimes and other times he has politely declined informing them he feels he doesn’t have to give an explanation of his knowledge at that moment. I have had mixed reactions with the latter answer ranging from wow he knows how to insert himself to okay well maybe later then and sometimes I get told I have a rude child with no manners. Why does he have to answer your inquiry? Why? I have seen this discussion come up in homeschooling groups many times. Parents wondering how others handle these types of situations. Some say they get sarcastic, others politely let the person know they will not be playing along thank you very much, others let their kids answer the questions. It’s is always the same question though. Why do people feel the need to quiz homeschooled children?
Do they think our children are dumb? Or that we aren’t actually teaching them? Or is it curiosity? Either way, it can leave both child and parent feeling like they may be doing something wrong. So how exactly should you handle this situation? I would say never use sarcasm (this is just my opinion here) because it can make the other person feel you are deflecting. While you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you do what you do, I just feel this is not the way to leave a good impression. Some people already have a bad opinion of homeschoolers and many of us are trying to change the perception of homeschooling and while it may feel good in the moment to be sarcastic you may walk away causing that person to have even worse feelings. We want others to understand we are nice, capable people, right?
So, if not sarcasm what just answer their intrusive questions? That’s not what I’m saying at all! Sometimes answering their questions can lead to even more intrusive questions, especially if said child happens to answer wrong. Ask me how I know! If your child happens to get one wrong the person seems to feel they were right, this kid is being failed! I think the best way to handle this situation especially with strangers is to politely let them know that your child is not doing school work at the moment and will not be quizzed. They may not like it but from my research, this usually shuts them down because they see a firm parent standing up for their child.
Dealing with family can be way different than dealing with a stranger sometimes you may have to get a bit firmer with them. I have heard time and time again. Their family we have to just deal with it. Well, no you really don’t! If you or your child don’t want to answer questions about what your child is learning and how you can set boundaries even with family. Believe me, once you give that nosy aunt an inch she will try to take a mile. Again ask me how I know! It is never a bad thing to set boundaries for you and your children!
When dealing with these situations if I can tell someone is just being curious I will let my son engage with them. Most of the time these experiences come out positive with the person complimenting him. There is nothing inherently wrong with people asking questions of your child but you can tell by their tone and demeanor if they are being friendly or nosy. Go with your gut, if you feel they are trying to intrude stay firm. We have nothing to prove as homeschoolers and sometimes people are looking for a way to prove their opinions about homeschoolers right. You are the teacher and parent at the end of the day and you can decide to play along with the quiz or not! Our kids don’t have to answer these questions and it is not rude not to make them!