Choosing homeschooling as an educational path works best if both parents fully support this choice. But what about families where parents do not see eye to eye on homeschooling? I would consider a common commitment to homeschooling as fundamental, because in the long run, ‘a house divided cannot stand’. Making a marriage work takes effort, compromise, and commitment; this is true for financial choices, having children, as well as choosing how to educate them. So, although I am an advocate for homeschooling, I would say that peace in marriage and home is paramount and comes before specific educational choices. That being said, there are steps you can take to work toward a fruitful discussion and resolution (skip to the end of the page to get to the resolution part:).
What are some of the most common reasons a parent does not support homeschooling?
My husband and I have met a great number of homeschooling families over the years where one parent either fully rejected the idea of homeschooling, or was highly critical of such education. The reasons seem to fall into two broad categories of ’emotional NO’ or ‘reasoned NO’.
‘NO’ to homeschooling based on emotion
A parent may reject the idea of homeschooling based on a knee-jerk emotional reaction, fear, or anxiety of the unknown. There are no specific reasons for the rejection. In this case providing solid information can be helpful. Before we made our decision to homeschool, we considered all the different educational options. These included public, private (such as Montessori), Catholic, French Immersion, or homeschooling. Evaluating homeschooling along other available educational choices, listing the pros and cons of each, renders homeschooling more concrete and helps to inform an opinion based on information rather than emotion.
‘NO’ to homeschooling based on specific reasons
A parent may say ‘no’ to homeschooling for a specific reason. This might include:
- academics – Will our child meet academic standards? What about testing? Will we be good teachers? etc.
- finances – Can we afford to live on one income? How could we reduce our expenses? Can we afford curriculum or online classes? etc.
- socialization – Will our child feel lonely? Will they be ‘weird’? Will they be rejected by other children? etc.
- higher learning – Will our child get accepted to university? Will they obtain or need a high school diploma? etc.
If the parent has specific concerns, research the questions. There is ample information on Homeschool.Today on a myriad of questions; use the old-fashioned way and check out homeschooling resource books from your library; or, my personal favourite, conduct ‘interactive research’ and pose your questions to an experienced homeschooling family. This can be especially fruitful as you receive real-life encouragement and living examples of how families have overcome obstacles.
However, the amount of information we can learn is finite and there are no guaranteed answers. It reminds me a bit of when one makes a decision to have children. There does come a point where one has to take a step into the unknown.
What steps can parents take to come to a resolution?
Note: If these differing opinions occur in a context of divorce or custody issues, I would suggest turning to HSLDA for support and advice.
- Set aside some uninterrupted time to have a conversation
- Power off your phones and devices – this has the added benefit of preventing you from engaging in ‘google duels’ where each person tries to come up with instant proof for their point of view.
- At this point in the process, keep the conversation between the parents only. Do not involve the children in the conversation. This can come later once you have come to a common decision.
- As my husband would say, ‘Listen’.
- Engage in the kind of listening where you fully hear each other’s objections and concerns
- Demonstrate accurate listening: restate your partner’s concerns without discounting them
- Take down notes on concerns
- Important: If the concerns are complex or emotional, just focus on understanding them, rather than solving them
- If you do not come to a resolution, write down the areas you do agree on.
- Include even small details that you agree on
- Rinse and repeat if necessary
- Allow each other time to research and process information
- Making a decision to homeschool can be a time-limited commitment.
- some parents agree to commit to homeschooling for one full year and re-evaluate the experience at that point.
- Remember that peace in marriage and home is paramount and comes before educational choices.
- You are making a decision for the love of your child. If choosing homeschooling comes at the cost of constant argument and strife, it is not benefiting your child.