Thinking about homeschooling or unschooling? Get ready for the opinions, well-meaning or otherwise! Everyone has something to say.
So who do you listen to? How do you know which opinions or concerns are valid and which are just fears and biases disguised as fact? Not all opinions carry equal weight.
7 People NOT to Take Homeschooling Advice From
Teachers are experts on what happens in schools, not on what learning looks like outside of school, and certainly not on unschooling. Unless they are a former teacher who chose to unschool their own children because they know firsthand the problems with schooling!
Would I take unschooling advice from a teacher? No. Since they are doing the opposite of unschooling, that would not be wise. Unschooling takes a whole lot of deschooling and unlearning all the school conditioning. If you are working in a school then it’s very unlikely you have done that.
2. People who know nothing about homeschooling
Strangely these are also the people who often have the loudest criticism. It never ceases to amaze me how confident people are in telling you you are wrong, despite having no sound arguments to back it up. You can disregard this advice entirely and let them know they can keep their opinions to themselves.
3. Worried family and friends
Sometimes family and friends are concerned because they want the best for you. That doesn’t automatically mean their concerns are valid if they don’t actually know anything about homeschooling. They have a right to express their thoughts, you have a right to do what you want anyway. You may like to encourage them to do some research so you can have an informed chat about it. Feel free to send them this article if you need to.
4. People who are threatened
Sometimes people are threatened by you making a different choice to them. They interpret it to mean you think they made the wrong choice. In reality, we know people make choices that are best for their individual families. You are able to do that too. People who are threatened by that need to take responsibility for their own feelings instead of putting them on you.
5. Someone who knew someone who had an Aunty that homeschooled their kids and they turned out weird
You’ve heard from them already, haven’t you? Doesn’t matter if there are millions of children in happy and healthy homeschooling families, if your neighbour’s best friend has a sister who homeschooled and her kids are weird, you’re going to hear about it! Again, advice you can safely ignore. Research wider than someone’s judgement of one person’s experience.
6. People with extreme perspectives
I say this while also being aware that many people think the idea of unschooling is quite extreme. Personally, I think those people just don’t understand unschooling. But, I do think it’s an important point to make to beware of people’s biases and how they came to their perspectives when deciding if their advice is right for you. Personally, I don’t think either end of the extreme here is really helpful.
7. Only one person
Definitely do not get all your information from only one source. As with everything, be informed! Read widely, from a variety of sources, even ones you don’t agree with! Take what resonates, and leave the rest. Still, after 14 years of unschooling, I am making sure I continue to read about other methods and ideas. Often I can find something valuable in every approach, or at the very least be even more sure in the things I do and don’t agree with! But, it’s important to me not to end up only reading the things I want to hear. If there’s new information, I want to know about it!
Unfortunately, this list probably includes most of the people you know when you’re just starting out with homeschooling or unschooling. It’s time to seek out more supportive voices! So, where can you get advice when you’re being bombarded with negative opinions?
Seek out communities around you! There are tons of homeschooling and unschooling groups. Go along and meet people, make friends, hear their experiences, and get some advice. The best person to get advice from is someone already doing it!
This can obviously be hit and miss, but there are a lot of Facebook groups where people are chatting about unschooling. This way you get a bigger audience and can get a wider range of opinions if you ask a question (can be good and bad). You can also follow along and read questions and answers by others. That’s a great way to learn.
Books, blogs, articles, and podcasts are all great resources. See my favourites here.
Trust yourself. Listen to your instincts. What do you think is best for your family?
Do they want to homeschool? Is it best for them? Are they enjoying it? Are they thriving? Look to your children!
When deciding to homeschool, seek advice from people who are knowledgeable, reliable, and experienced. While many people genuinely want to help, it’s important to be critical of where the advice is coming from. Sometimes we place more value on the loudest voices, or the people we are closest to, but this isn’t always helpful.