When Family Criticizes Your Decision to Homeschool

Homeschooling is a very natural, normal way of life for our family. The idea of entrusting my children’s education to the government (or other traditional school authority) is foreign to me. We’ve been on this homeschool road for so long; I can’t imagine educating my children any other way.

It makes sense. We know homeschooling WORKS.

This isn’t the case for everyone. How do you respond to homeschool criticism - especially when that criticism comes from family?

How do you react to a mother-in-law who is convinced her grandchildren aren’t learning as much as they should be? What about your sibling whose children always seem to be on the honor roll? Or maybe it is your own parent who just can’t figure out why you are homeschooling their grandchildren (public school was good enough for you, wasn’t it?).

In my 47 year old head it is easy to dismiss these criticisms because I know the bigger picture. I have amassed a support system. The skeptics have witnessed my children thrive.

I remember, however, being the young mom who was a bit flustered by the doubts and criticism.

How do we respond to these critics?

How do we defend our decision to homeschool?

When Family Criticizes Your Decision to #Homeschool

Guess what?

There is no need for a defense. You did not solicit the opinion, criticism, or question. Therefore, there is no need for a response.

Take a deep breath and remember Paul’s words in his epistle to the Colossians:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

People criticize what they do not know about or what scares them. Keep that in mind as you deal with the critics.

Be Prepared With Gracious Responses

Saying absolutely nothing when confronted with these questions or criticisms may not be realistic, so it’s helpful to be armed with a few gracious responses.

  • “My husband and I feel called to homeschool. I’m thankful to have this opportunity to spend so much time with my children.”

  • “I am excited to develop an individualized learning plan for each of my children!”

  • “We can’t wait to see the wonder and creativity that will develop when our kids are just allowed to be KIDS.”

After a while people would regret criticizing homeschooling when they were around me because I would talk their EAR off about why I loved homeschooling so much. Problem solved.

Additionally, many public school advocates (especially grandparents) are defensive about their careers and the way they schooled their own children. Public school was good enough for them - why not their grandchildren?

Again, be gracious and compassionate.

Season your speech with grace and gentleness. You may be thinking a lot of not so nice things in your head, but those shouldn’t come out of your mouth!

Don’t Criticize Other’s School Choices

Remember the Golden Rule.

Resist the temptation to criticize public and private schools. Everyone makes their own choices.

In fact, if you are supportive of other family member’s decisions, you will be setting a good example.

Never say never has been a great mantra for me during our homeschooling tenure. Maybe my child will go to traditional school one day. Maybe we will homeschool all the way through. Anything is possible because all children are different and circumstances are always changing.

Don’t put yourself in a position where you will need to eat your words a few years down the road.

You Cannot Homeschool to Please Others

Homeschooling will always have its critics. You are NOT homeschooling to receive a pat on the back or a word of affirmation from others.

And while we don’t homeschool to please others, it sure does feel good to have support and approval.

(This was SO very hard for me. I wanted my own parents to be pleased with our choice to homeschool and I wanted their support. In the beginning they were skeptics and I felt very alone.)

Pray for grace and patience, and the ability to shut out the criticisms the world has to offer. This can be especially hard when your family is the one doing the criticizing. Always show unwavering love for others and your children. Homeschool with excellence. It’s hard to argue with that.

Homeschooling is just one life choice you will make that is outside the box… once you homeschool you begin to see that living outside the box feels good. You will start making other decisions that are counter cultural. Get used to doing unpopular things.

Involve Your Extended Family in Homeschooling

Can you ask a grandparent to share a special skill with your children? (I remember asking my father-in-law to help us with a family tree project. He loved doing this and we have fond memories of that time with him.)

When we were using the Five in a Row curriculum we would have book dinners after we finished one of the selections. Not only had we studied the book all week, but we also planned out a dinner (where my kids did the cooking) and presented on the book during dinner.

I believe it is sometimes a matter of changing your family’s notions about homeschooling - and educating them about its benefits.

If involving your extended family causes too much stress and further criticism, draw a boundary and protect your heart.

Be Patient. Let Homeschooling Speak for Itself.

Over the years I’ve seen many homeschool critics soften to the idea of homeschooling.

It may take several years, but your family will come to see the benefits of homeschooling :

  • children who are personable and well-adjusted

  • children who speak well and have a variety of interests

  • children who can “socialize” with all ages and types of people

  • children who don’t rely on the artificial “rewards” the world has to offer, but rather enjoy learning for learning’s sake

  • children who have a strong bond with their parents and siblings because of so many rich shared experiences

And, if you haven’t won over your extended family to homeschooling, that’s ok, too. You have done what is best for your own family, and that is what matters. (Keep in mind the critics might never say they agree with homeschooling - sometimes it is hard to admit we were wrong.)

When Your Family is Critical of #Homeschool

As I reflect on our homeschooling experience, I am so thankful I did my best to shut out the voices of the critics (even within my own family) so I could honor God’s call on our lives. We have beautiful memories of learning and living together - memories I am fairly certain could never have been created were it not for homeschool.

Nothing compares to sharing the tender moments when we read Charlotte’s Web or Robin Hood together. I remember mornings curled up on the couch reading through every Winnie the Pooh book. We took hikes and pretended to be Lewis & Clark and spent afternoons watching ducks preen themselves by the lake.

We picked apples and learned how to make apple pie. We took an obsession with LEGOS and turned it into YEARS of learning. We learned how to play the piano, guitar, ukulele and harmonica. We took up knitting and hand lettering.

We served at the soup kitchen and mobile food pantry.

Each time we visited the zoo we chose a favorite animal and researched it in depth. We got hermit crabs, Beta fish, butterflies, and ladybugs.

We struggled over Algebra and Latin, Chemistry and Shakespeare - sometimes getting frustrated, but many times sharing in the joy of learning a difficult concept.

If you have littles and are facing criticism about homeschooling, stay the course. Seek voices and community that lift you up and support your efforts. Surround yourself with like-minded families who understand the challenges you face each day.

The following books have been helpful to me:

Whatever you do there will always be critics.

Be strong, mama - it’s all worth it!

Have you faced criticism from your family regarding homeschooling?

Share it with me in the comments below!

You might also like:

Stop Telling Me Why You Can’t Homeschool

Homeschoolers: Stay in Your Own Lane

Reading Widely and Well (a reading update)

As a mother who educates her children at home I have the responsibility of keeping MYSELF well educated, tended and fed.

I’ve been posting bookish updates every few months.

This year my goal has been to focus on reading widely and well - from a variety of genres and authors. Specifically, I knew I needed to add a bit more nonfiction to my reading life, as well as books that might not appeal to me from the get go. (So much of teaching our big kids is modeling for them, so I am hopeful my spirit of inquiry is rubbing off on them!)

My oldest is graduating high school and my youngest is entering high school. I want to be able to discuss BIG topics with them, while at the same time tending to my soul (which is going through a bit of upheaval as I face one child leaving the nest).

Learning for the #Homeschool Mom: Reading Widely and Well

How Do I Find the Time to Read?

The answer is simple: I’ve become much better about using my time!

I use all of those little bits of time in between times and while I am doing household chores - to READ. We all know how much time we spend shuffling children to and from places in the car, so I use that time to listen to books with my children.

Audiobooks have become my friend (check out, and I also make use of Overdrive through my local library.

Where Do I Get Book Recommendations?

I love being in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club! I get so many recommendations from that group, as well as Anne’s What Should I Read Next? podcast and her new podcast - One Great Book.

It’s also been fun to take part in the #bookstagram community on Instagram. My book account, @homegrownbookpicks , is where I chronicle what I’ve been reading.

Following is my latest book update! I’ll give you my favorite from each category, so if you just want to pick a few books to get started you can!

Truly, I enjoyed almost every book you see here (with the exception of The Enchanted April and The Time Traveler’s Wife) - so I can recommend them to you without reservation.

Middle Grade Books

Hands down, Out of My Mind is my favorite middle grade book I have EVER read.

I believe that everyone should read this book - it’s a great one to read aloud with your kids and discuss. This book has been especially meaningful to me because I have a dear friend who has adopted a disabled child. We are reading this book together.

I love that books can speak to us on all the circumstances of life.

Professional Development for the Homeschool Mom

I led an online book club earlier this year using Beauty in the Word (access our recordings here). This book is a deep, meaningful read, and it was beneficial to discuss it in a group!

Education by Design, Not Default is a book I would recommend EVERY homeschooling parent read. Recently written by Janet Newberry, the book has inspired me evaluate my homeschool philosophy and make some changes as my youngest enters high school.

Super good stuff!


It’s hard to choose a favorite here, but if pressed I will go with The Warmth of Other Suns.

This book told the story of America’s Great Migration - the mass movement of African Americans from the south to the north and west in the 20th century. I found myself sharing so much from this book with my family as I read!

I enjoyed all of the books in this category, and look forward to reading more non-fiction in 2019.

Historical Fiction/Classics/Books about Books

One of my favorite audiobooks of all time is Parnassus on Wheels.

This little book about books has such a charming narrator and the story just speaks to the heart of a book lover! I found myself chuckling out loud as I listened to this in the car.

I also recommend Finding Dorothy. While it is a fictional account of L. Frank Baum’s life and The Wizard of Oz, there were many grains of truth in it that were fascinating. I had no idea what Baum’s (and his wife Maud) life had been like and how his residency in the Dakota Territories in the late 1800s shaped the story of The Wizard of Oz. Fascinating stuff.

Other Book Recommendations

If you’re looking for sweet escape, I would recommend the Supper Club Novels by Carla Laureano. I zipped through both of these and enjoyed a clean Christian romance.

Of course so many readers have loved Where the Crawdads Sing - my in person book club read this one earlier this year. I enjoyed it, but there were parts that seemed a bit unbelievable to me.

I’m not much of a thriller reader, but I must say that The Silent Patient and An Anonymous Girl had me hooked. (So… maybe I am coming to like this genre more?)

Again, with the exception of Time Traveler’s Wife, these all get a hearty recommendation from me.

I’m busy putting together a summer reading list. I would love to read more nonfiction this summer, with a few beach reads, too!

Beginning August 2019 my son will be in Challenge I and there are many wonderful American novels in his curriculum. I expect I will be reading many with him so we can discuss.

Do you have a book recommendation for me?

Is there a particular book from my recommendations you will choose to read next?

Let me know in the comments!