Dealing With Negative Reactions


We are a homeschooling family. That statement will evoke a variety of responses from family, friends and even strangers. Many people will be happy and supportive of your choice, but others will immediately respond with criticism and negative comments. How do you deal with the negative reactions and comments? Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

Keep it Simple. You do not have to give a detailed summary of how you came to choose homeschooling. You do not have to support your decision with the latest research or long quotes. The choice to homeschool is private family business and it is not rude to keep it as such. A simple “After much thought and prayer, we are homeschooling our children.” is a perfectly sufficient response. Do not feel obligated to share more if you don’t want to do so. 

Keep Motives in Mind. It is helpful to consider why the person is being negative. Is the person doubting your ability to homeschool? Are they concerned about the financial impact of one parent staying home? Is it jealousy or plain curiosity? Is the family member concerned about what others will think? Does the person just want to understand homeschooling more clearly? When you consider the motivation behind negative comments, it helps not take them so personally.

Remain Positive. You are happy with your choice, and leave it at that. Don’t make negative comments about the local church school or public school. That invites negativity towards your choice. It also invites the temptation to gossip or spread rumors. It is better to leave the local church school or public school out of your response. How can you expect to gain support of a public school parent if you are denigrating their choice?

Agree to Disagree. You may come across someone who is set in his/her mind against homeschooling and has no intention of changing his/her opinion. That person may even share the latest homeschooling horror story that’s in the news to bolster his/her opinion. That’s okay. Breathe deeply, send up a quick prayer, smile and let those comments float away. Don’t engage in debates or arguments because there will be no winners. You have more to lose than to gain by letting a conversation become heated. Diffuse a potential argument by stating that you agree to disagree. Then change the subject or leave the conversation completely.

Let time bear witness to your prayerful efforts of homeschooling your children. As you strive to follow the True Education principles laid out in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, the blessings of your work will become evident to all. God will honor your efforts to be a homeschooling household of faith for Him.

Asking the Right Curriculum Questions

One of the most common questions asked by new homeschooling families is “What’s the best curriculum? The short answer is, the ‘best’ curriculum does not exist. There is no one-size-fits-all curriculum because homeschooling just can’t be categorized that way. An infinite number of factors make each household’s homeschooling experience unique. Homeschooling parents who work outside the home will have different curriculum needs compared to a parent who is able to stay at home. A mother caring for a new baby may not be able to give the detailed  question markattention some curriculums require until the baby is much older. A child with strong independent study skills may find success in a program that might cause another child to struggle. A single program cannot meet the needs of a infinite range of situations. So now what? How do you choose?

Instead of the one question, ask a series of questions. Not to others, but to yourself. The answers to these questions will help you to wade through the myriad of choices available to you and begin eliminating options that don’t meet your needs.

A crucial question to ask yourself is, What your homeschooling philosophy? Are you looking to replicate a traditional classroom in a ‘school-at-home’ approach, desiring a very relaxed learning environment or a variation along that continuum? Also think about your personal family standards. These considerations will immediately put quite a few programs in the ‘not for our family’ pile.

Take some time to study your child and evaluate how he or she learns. A highly visual child might struggle with listening as the sole method of instruction. Your child with the wiggly fingers will likely learn more from a hands-on activity as opposed to just watching someone else do something. A musical child will enjoy learning the months of the year via song while another child may find the activity quite silly and annoying. Understanding the learning style of your child will help you to narrow your options to choices that complement your child strengths.

How much structure or flexibility does your child need? Do you want your child to stick to the subject at hand or are you willing to go down rabbit trails as teachable moments arise? Does a computer-based program sound appealing to you or do you prefer to avoid large amounts of screen time? What are your needs as a parent-teacher? Can you handle a program that requires extensive preparation before a lesson can be taught? Do you have access to good library or the budget for a literature-based curriculum? Thoughtful questions like these will help you make thoughtful decisions concerning your child’s education.Stack of Library Books

If you are not sure what thoughtful questions to ask yourself, it helps to seek the advice and recommendations of others. Listen carefully to the reasons that parents give for liking or loathing a particular curriculum. How do those reasons fit with your philosophy, standards and child’s learning style? What another family finds a poor fit may be a perfect fit for yours.

Sometimes it boils down to trial and error. You may find yourself switching materials mid-year. That’s okay. Don’t torture yourself or your child with a curriculum that doesn’t work for you. Also, as your children mature and your family needs change, be ready to revisit your questions and curriculum choices. Sometimes what worked well when your child was 9 years old turns into an exercise in futility at age 14.

A time of parental reflection before evaluating curriculum will help you to wade through the overwhelming amount of homeschooling materials available. Considering your philosophy and family standards, in addition to looking to complement your child’s learning style, will set you on a path for an enjoyable homeschool journey.



Don’t Start Out Overloaded!

It can be overwhelming when you first decide to homeschool your children. Questions abound – what curriculum should you choose, which one is the best? Should I use textbooks or go with computer-based learning? Do I need lots of supplemental materials? What if I forget to include something important? It is easy to become discouraged before you even begin.

So where do we start? Every Adventist family should first prayerfully study the idea of Christian education and develop a personal homeschool philosophy. What are your family’s spiritual and academic goals? How do your spiritual goals affect the academic ones? Next, parents should observe their children and examine how they learn. Are your children hands-on learners or do they learn best by hearing information? Does your child memorize things set to music? Why start with these two ideas? When you have personal homeschool standards in mind and an understanding of how your children learn, then you can more easily evaluate curriculum and materials. For instance, if you have studied and decided not to use fiction as part of your family’s learning and you also know that your child is an auditory learner – now you can narrow down your curriculum choices based on those personal guidelines. You now know specifically what you are looking for in a math program or history curriculum. Don’t choose curriculum based solely on others recommendations- develop your own personal homeschool convictions first and couple it with an understanding of how your child learns. Only then should you begin to use the recommendations of others.

Don't burn out before you begin!
Don’t burn out before you begin!

One of the blessings of reading the books Education, Child Guidance and other Spirit of Prophecy books on education is that we learn that education for young children does not start out at full-tilt, with a full day packed with a complicated curriculum with six or seven subjects. When you consider most families are starting homeschooling with one or more “littles” under the oldest, that is a wonderful burden lifted off of a mother’s back! Bible and nature study are a child’s first subjects. Those are subjects that don’t leave out the younger children, all can join in. Formal subjects are added later, a little at a time with short, interesting lessons. Easing into homeschooling gives a family time to enjoy the transition towards a lifestyle of learning.

What if you are pulling an older child out of school to begin homeschooling? The advice is still the same. If a child is leaving a traumatic classroom situation or is discouraged about his/her learning abilities and education, a time of ‘deschooling’ may be of great help. Deschooling is a time to forgo formal studies and regroup. How much time? Depends on your family. Spend time on topics of interest to the student. Get outdoors for some extended nature study. Create a new learning routine and develop new learning habits. In the meantime, develop a homeschool philosophy for your older student, find his/her learning style and use that information to create a set of educational goals.

Starting the homeschool journey does not have to be a stressful experience. Ask God to guide you as you first study and then create or choose a program that fits your needs. The vast amount of homeschooling materials available can seem overwhelming, but take a deep breath; a slow and steady start to homeschooling can and will win the race.

Your Child’s First Textbook

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Ps. 34:11

The very first textbook to be used for the education of our children is the Bible. Day by day, we are to use the Bible to lead our children to Christ. We are to begin with short lessons, simplified so as to be easily understood. “In these simple stories may be made plain the great principles of the law of God.” Education, 185. Our goal is to direct to our children the commandments of God as standard for living, to teach them to use the Bible as a guide for life. As we use the Bible to introduce our children to God, they will be introduced to His character and their characters will be influenced as a result.

How should we teach our children? The pen of inspiration gives us guidance in creative ways to teach Bible lessons to our children. “ The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory. Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods. The teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best methods, and our most earnest effort.” Education, 186.

Let us renew our energies to consistently present to our children the most important lessons they will ever learn.

The More Things Change…

houseIt is amazing to look back nearly 45 years and see what inspired a mother to make what was then considered a radical choice- to homeschool her children.   Patricia Heidenry’s article for the New York Times from 1975 –Home Is Where The School Is – is an interesting and inspiring and still relevant read.

Why True Education?

Why should we as Seventh-day Adventist families seek out and strive to follow the principles of True Education? First and foremost, because it follows the principles laid out in the Bible. The Bible is our sure and safe guide for educating our children. We can never go wrong if we choose to make the Bible the foundation of our homeschooling efforts. Those same ideals are amplified in the Spirit of Prophecy.

A secular educational program has individual achievement and acclaim as its goal. True Education seeks to lead our children’s hearts and minds to higher, more eternal ideals. Why settle for an education that allows a child to “…gain the whole world but lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36)?

True Education is education for the whole person. It develops not only the intellectual faculties, but also the physical and spiritual parts as well. Don’t we want our children to be fully developed in all areas of their lives? As you seek to follow the principles of True Education, it will quickly become clear that it is not simply a philosophy or curriculum, it is a way of life that will deeply enrich all aspects of your family life.

Suggested reading to learn more about True Education- available free online:
Child Guidance
Fundamentals of Christian Education