August 15, 2012

Caring for Your Homeschooling Friend

You may be familiar with articles about 'Caring for Your Introvert.'  While out jogging last night, I thought perhaps it would be helpful, since homeschoolers can be misunderstood, to let you in on some ways you might best care for a homeschooling friend.*

1. Do ask how school is going.  I have a good friend who regularly asks me how school is going.  Every time, it makes me feel so loved, cared for, and known.  I never told her to ask, she just always has.  To me it's really no different than asking a "regular" teacher friend how the school year is going.  I know it's weirder and I can appreciate that perhaps you might be afraid of being bombarded with a barrage of information about how awesome your friend's kids are, but more than likely, you're gonna get some honest answers: some days are great, some are blah, one child is really struggling with something, another child is difficult to keep entertained.  Ask.  And I do hope your friend also inquires about how school is going for your kids and you, too!

2. Don't revere.  So many people say to me, "I just don't know how you do it," in an awestruck kind of way.  Sure, your friend has chosen to homeschool, but that doesn't make her a supermom.  Seriously.  She's not doing anything above and beyond, just different.  In fact, if it is a Christian friend, chances are she's doing that to which she and her husband feel called.  She has really crappy days sometimes.  Her kids act out.  She's constantly second-guessing herself and feeling insecure.  She's a human being just like you.  Don't let your awe at her ability to have her kids around all. the. time. keep you from getting to know and enjoy her.  You'll be surprised, I'll bet, to find out that there are times she doesn't like what she's doing at all and wishes she were in your shoes.  *Gasp!*

3. Don't despise.  Most people don't homeschool out of a need for superiority.  I'd wager that your friend doesn't feel like she's a better mother or person than you.  At.  All.  She might be pretty excited about homeschooling and really deep down wish you did it too, so you could be in it together.  But more than likely, she doesn't judge you because you don't.  (And if she does, she shouldn't, so be gracious with her.)  Before we started - 'bout to drop some truth on you here! - I thought only weirdos homeschooled and pretty much looked down on them.  LORD, HAVE MERCY!  Does He not have a sense of humor, seeing as now I am an enthusiastic homeschooler?!

4. Ask, don't assume.  I know homeschoolers who are doing such for so many different reasons.  I don't know of any two homeschools that are the same.  If you're curious about why your friend homeschools or what exactly they do all day, ASK!  You might be surprised to find that they started because of a learning disability, not because they are a crazy fundamentalists afraid of what public schools might "do" to their children.  (A little more truth for ya: I still sometimes make assumptions about fellow homeschooling families without knowing them, and am often humbled by what I learn when I get to know them.  As I said earlier: Lord, have mercy.)

To summarize, the best way to care for your homeschooling friend is to treat her like a normal person.  She possesses no super powers and likely struggles with many of the same things you do.  And while schooling her children does take up a fair amount of her time and energy, it is only one aspect of who she is.  As I walk through life, I'm learning that often we have far more in common with our fellow man than we think, but we are afraid of that which is different and make assumptions that prevent relationships from developing.

After reading, I wonder if there is anything you would add to this list.  Feel free to leave a note in the comments!  And happy new school year to those of you who have already started, no matter where that schooling is taking place.  I wish you all the best, especially those just getting started with Kindergarten!!

*I'll be using female pronouns in this post because most homeschoolers are mothers, but you can insert male pronouns as needed if you're friends with a homeschooling dad.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Cat. I like having you as a faithful reader. :)

  2. Great article! I just sat down with a new friend this week who home schools (our boys are in BS Scouts together and she is the leader of one 2nd grade Den and I am now the leader of the other den, so I am sure we will get to know each other well!) and ask her about school and her day and I learned so much! It was really great getting to know more about her and how and why she home schools! :)

    1. Thanks, Gretchen! I hope a good friendship develops. I also want to get Brian in to boyscouts some day. :)