You’ll know who this lady is if you’ve read ‘A Funny Kind of Education’
She featured large in the story and the children’s lives. And accompanied us on our educational rambles and expeditions; the regular purveyor of hot chocolate and biscuits as I recount in our story, teamed with twinkle and mischief!
She was the girl’s only grandparent, my mum, and our most ardent supporter, inspiration and comfort. What love and support she brought to our home school days. We were truly blessed.
I’m very aware though, especially as I get asked about the issue, that not everyone gets this support from family when they decide to home educate. And that must be the hardest thing ever.
We did experience skepticism from some family members but it was muted with their respect for us (okay – they thought we were weird and risking it, but they kept those opinions mostly to themselves). But it was nothing to the hostility some families experience and it’s difficult to know how to deal with it. You have to be strong to ride it out.
This is where the home education community, both physical and online, are a lifeline. For basically you’ll need them to be your ‘family’ for the time being. We can’t choose the relatives, but we can choose to create another kind of ‘family’ support and my experience of most other home educating families was that they’d be happy to offer that.
Some other things you can do to keep strong are:
- Keep your priorities and principles based firmly in what YOU think is best for your family and don’t be persuaded by the scaremongering of others
- Consequently, do what you do for your child’s sake and not to please others
- Do some research and arm yourself with informative arguments. If it doesn’t work, ask people to reserve judgement – as you don’t judge them for their life choices
- However, you don’t have to defend, explain or justify your choices. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing and smile knowingly!
- There’s no right or wrong way (not counting abuse here) to parent or to educate. Everyone is different and responds differently so you can only do what you feel is right for your circumstances. There are lots of individuals in schools who silently suffer their circumstances
- Family members may want you to stay with mainstream simply because they are ignorant or afraid of other approaches. That’s not a good enough reason to stay with a system that’s failing your child. Don’t let them push their fears onto you
- Establish a good group of firm supporters you can turn to when you need it
- Don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re up against with family and how much you welcome their support
- Witnessing you standing up for what you believe is right is a great example for your child. It will help them stand up to unsupportive family members in their future, if they ever have the unfortunate need to
- Home education WORKS. There is much proof of that now. Doubters really have no argument!
My mum was surprised-cum-shocked when we told her what we were doing. But she could see the possibilities, could see the kids so unhappy in school, and was willing to wait for the proof. We were the first in our family to do such a radical thing and clearly some didn’t approve at the outset. But as the children flourished their doubts turned to admiration – the wait paid off.
If you’re experiencing family opposition, hang in there, stay strong and here’s wishing you’ll experience admiration eventually. But also remember that some will never give their approval – but that’s their problem, don’t make it yours!
And if you have a way of dealing with family doubters do leave your experiences in a comment here so we can help each other.