It will eventually happen to all homeschoolers. The quizzing of your children by family and friends. If it happens at family events or outings with friends, it may make you want to scream from the rooftops, “Stop quizzing my homeschooler !”
This week for Homeschool Q & A, Elizabeth writes from Fort Meyers, Florida.
“I spent the holidays with both sides of the family. Dinner, watching TV, even playtime…everything turned into “it’s time to quiz the homeschooled kids.” No one quizzes the public-school kids, so why do they insist on calling out my kids and teaching skills? I’m so done. What can I do to stop people from quizzing my homeschooler?”
Stop Quizzing My Homeschooler
Relatives may mean well, but when they start quizzing your children at the Christmas Dinner table, or during family events; it can leave both parent and children feeling inadequate, and marginalized.
Anyone have that relative?
You know the the one. Sweet Uncle Joe who is kind and supportive of your decision to homeschool, but if you leave your kids alone with him for more than thirty seconds, he turns into Alex Trebek and begins drilling and killing your kids about everything from the War of 1812 to the current state of politics. You know Uncle Joe? We all have met him.
We’re Wired for Approval
In my coaching, this is one of the things that I hear most often. As homeschoolers, we become so wired for approval from the people we love, that being quizzed feels like our choices for our children are less then optimal.
But what do you do when all you want to shout is for relatives and friends to stop quizzing my homeschooler!
One of my clients said to me,
“It’s easier dealing with family when they are openly opposed or even hostile about homeschooling. Then I know what I’m dealing with. I often don’t find out until later, that my kids have been put through the educational quiz gauntlet.”
And when relatives are faced with your standing up for your children with, “Please don’t quiz my kids, ” we’re often countered with; “Well you know, kids learn that in 5th grade in public school and your Susie is in 7th.” Friends and relatives may have no idea that a child has learning difficulties and such statements can undermine the confidence and progress your child is making. No adult wants to make a child feel bad.
Tips to Get Past the Game Show Hosts
Parents need to have the conversation with the offenders, and simply say, “I’m her homeschool teacher and the only one who will quiz her.” Also remember that not every comment is an attack on your choice to homeschool, or your ability to do so. Family may be genuinely interested in knowing what your children are learning about, but perhaps they are not adept in asking in an appropriate manner. And then the flipside to that is we are proud of our children, and want to share what a miraculous journey homeschool is. Finding that balance without bragging is just not easy. And getting relatives to stop quizzing your homeschooler may be just as difficult.
In general the holidays, can be a difficult time for dealing with relatives
My rule is, don’t talk about politics, religion, or homeschooling if you can help it. At least not during the holidays.
Empower Kids to Respond
One of the quickest ways to shut down the quizzers is by empowering your kids to stand strong. Help your child think of some catch phrases, or thoughts that will help them move past the conversation while being polite.
Some thoughts that they can respond with….
- “It’s hard for me to answer questions when I’m put on the spot. I’m going to go outside to play.”
- “No, thank you.”
No, is a complete sentence. Children and parents don’t owe anyone an explanation on why they don’t choose to participate or answer questions.
- “I’d rather watch TV right now, thank you.
- “My mom is the only one that quizzes us during homeschool. She knows what topics we’ve been covering.”
You can also help your children to take charge of the conversation by learning how politicians do it. When asked a question they don’t know how to answer, have them respond with, “That’s a great question, but did you know…”
- “Did you know that Praying Mantises live underwater for 1 year in the nymph stage?”
- “I’m really enjoying my art and karate classes. Here I made you this picture.”
Rehearse the Scene
Parents too can rehearse different scenarios before the family event. Think of several come-back lines to respond to prying relatives. Sometimes you may need to help your child out if the unrelenting relative just won’t give up.
Keep it general-
- “Susie is progressing well in all subject areas. Thanks for asking.” Then change the subject.
- “Susie is doing well in history. Why don’t you go ahead and go play outside now Susie-all the other kids are outside in the snow.”
- “I’d love to talk to you more about homeschooling at another time. Right now, I have to speak to Aunt Marge about her fruitcake recipe.”
Not Everyone is Asking About Your Child’s Knowledge Base
Some relatives and friends are genuinely interested in what your children are learning about because they love your kids. If appropriate, encourage your children to keep in touch with the friend or relative throughout the year. Facetime with them and show them the latest project. Have your child write a short note about what they’ve been doing, or have them send artwork. Encourage the relative or friend to join you on a homeschool field trip to see what it’s like.
You never know, the quizzer might just become your greatest support person!