No question about it, homeschooling is becoming more and more mainstream. And with an estimated 2.5 million people doing it, and growing at a rate of anywhere from 8-15% each year, it will only become more mainstream, not less.
Still, there are many people who aren’t familiar with homeschooling, don’t realize it’s legal, or have never even heard of it. Plus, there are also people who know about it, and just don’t like the idea at all.
This is why it is important for homeschooling families to present a positive image when going out in public. Remembering the “one bad apple…” philosophy, it is crucial for homeschoolers to realize that others may be judging an entire population of people based on their first impressions of one homeschooling family alone.
This doesn’t mean that your student has to be a poster-child for homeschooling, reciting algebraic formulas and speaking Latin words to strangers every time you go out. What it does mean, however, is that if your family is out during the day when other children are in school, you can pretty much expect that either your children will be questioned (“No school today?”) or that you’ll get at least a couple of inquisitive looks.
When responding to these inquiries and acknowledging the looks, stay composed, be polite, and if necessary, briefly explain that the outing is a part of your homeschooling day. Or, ignore them, without aggravating the situation or introducing further doubt. Some families even practice with their children how to respond to these kinds of questions, both to avoid awkwardness and give the children a sense that what they are doing is alright.
The matter of correcting or disciplining a child in public is another touchy area. Without delving into specifics, which can be controversial from both sides, universally, homeschooling legal experts advise caution when in the public eye. Again, the precedent set by one family can affect public impressions of all others. Though it isn’t fair, false generalizations can potentially cause a trickle-down effect and negatively impact all homeschoolers down the road.
I am sure that we all know families that we would consider to be “model” homeschoolers as well as the occasional family that we might judge as not the finest example of what we are all about. While we cannot control the behavior of others, we can certainly remember to conduct ourselves in a manner that does not draw unnecessary attention to homeschooling families. And, if we do attract attention, let’s make sure it is for all of the right reasons, and showcases all of the wonderful things about homeschooling, and nothing else.