The holiday season is just around the corner. With that comes lots of family gatherings and shopping for special meals and gifts. You may find yourself out and about during school hours a little more than usual during this time. You may also find yourself visiting with relatives that you don’t see often that are not aware that you have decided to homeschool. There are many common questions that every school-age child in America gets asked over and over by curious relatives and sometimes perfect strangers:
“Where do you go to school?”
“What grade are you in?”
“What is your favorite subject?”
“Do you like your teacher?” (I love it when they ask this one!)
Often, home educated children are not prepared to answer some of these questions. There are some simple things you can do to prepare your child for this line of questioning without his feeling awkward or ashamed.
Name your school. All other schools around you, whether they be private or government, have names. Why shouldn’t yours? You can put as much thought into naming your school as you’d like. You can use your surname as part of your school name, the name of your neighborhood, or even the name of a cross street nearby. Or, you can get creative and put more thought into your school name, ask your children to help, or make it a school project. The important thing is to name your school, tell your children the name of their school, and use it.
Businesses are becoming more aware of homeschooling and want to attract homeschoolers as customers. Many businesses that offer discounts or special events for teachers also include home educators. One question that will most likely be asked when you register for an event or discount is the name of your school. Putting “homeschool” in the name field is not only not a name, but also not very professional looking. However, using a school name in the proper field and indicating the type of school if asked, makes you look like a pro (which you are).
The most important place you will use the name of your school is on your child’s high school transcript. Most, if not all, colleges are going to ask for a transcript. There’s no reason why your child’s transcript can’t look as official as any other transcript.
The second most important place you will put the name of your school is your child’s high school diploma. Most colleges are more interested in a copy of your child’s transcript. It is possible that it may be requested, or that a potential employer may want proof that your child did complete high school.
Tell your kids what “grade” they’re in. I understand that as far as what you do daily in your homeschool, assigning your children to a “grade” is completely unnecessary. In fact, one of the beauties of homeschooling is letting our children move along at their own pace. They may be ahead in some subjects, behind in others, and yet right on target for their age in other subjects.
However, most of the people you know are used to schools being divided by grade levels, not abilities. One of the first questions those that don’t see your children on a regular basis are going to ask is, “What grade are you in this year?” Any child from kindergarten through 12th grade that isn’t homeschooled can quickly answer that question with hardly even thinking about it. When Great Aunt Ruth asks that question at Thanksgiving dinner and your eight year old looks at you for the answer, red flags are going to start going up in Aunt Ruth’s mind. When she then asks your child, “Where do you go to school?” and he gives Aunt Ruth a blank stare and says, “We don’t go to school,” because you never named your school, every bell, alarm, and siren is going to start going off in Aunt Ruth’s body.
I am not advocating that we cater to every whim of the world. However, home educated children make up less than 4% of the population. Most of your family, friends, and the clerks you see at the grocery store are familiar with government education and the way it works. These are a few simple things you can do to keep those red flags from going up in people’s minds when you are out and about. You can avoid drawing unwanted attention by preparing yourself and your children.