Dear Uncle CHiN,
Boy, do I wish I could get my skeptical mother to support our decision to homeschool.
For many parents the decision to homeschool comes after a good deal of soul-searching
research and careful investigation. Itís only natural after making such a weighty decision
to hope your significant others will be be just as enthusiastic about it as you are. Keep in
mind, your mother probably isnít quite up to speed on all the issues youíve just spent months
mulling over and is naturally more comfortable with the conventional, institutionalized,
one-size-fits-all model of education. Let me suggest a little reverse psychology. Instead of
trying to convince Grandma of the wonders of homeschooling, see if you canít reshape her
thinking about sending her little grand-darlings off to school.
Invest in a copy of John Taylor Gattoís book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum
of Compulsory Schooling, and encourage your mother to read it. What this award-winning,
New York State Teacher of the Year has to say about his 26 years of teaching in the public
school system is a head-turning indictment of the industrial model of education and the
cumulative effect of teaching methods in todayís schools. (Uncle CHiN believes this small
book should be mandatory reading for families and teachers everywhere!) At the very least,
it will give you and your mom some valuable new insights to ponder.
Then, just for fun, begin collecting newspaper and magazine articles dealing with
education and tactfully slip them in your motherís direction. You will notice the vast
majority of these articles carry a consistently troubling message about whatís happening
in todayís classrooms. Hereís a headline Uncle CHiN tucked into his scrapbook this very
morning: "Science Test Gives State Black EyeCalifornia Students Rank 4th From
Bottom." Of course, the idea here is to add a bit of ammunition to your argument, but
keep in mind there is a good chance Mom wonít be totally swayed by these news clippings.
As Mr. Gatto points out, most people tend to be complacently certain these problems are
happening in somebody elseís back yard, not at the school Junior is attending five blocks
down the street.
Still, keep your fingers crossed and give it some time. As your scrapbook grows and
her grandchildren flourish, your mother may even come to view your decision to homeschool
as a heroic act of responsibility amidst the rising tide of educational mediocrity and
Meanwhile, the most rewarding thing you can do is to include your mother in the joys
of your homeschooling lifestyle whenever possible. Bring her to your support group meetings
and let her get to know other homeschooling families in action. (This may dispel a few hidden
prejudices or stereotypes.) Put Mom on the mailing list of your favorite homeschooling catalogs
and inform her youíve just solved her dilemma over what to buy John and Sally for Christmas this
year. Invite her to participate in your unit study on California History and celebrate its
completion with an extended family field-trip to Sutterís Fort. Get Mom on-line and enrich
family communications while inspiring your young writers through the magic medium of email.
Who doesnít secretly delight in hearing those three electronic words: "Youíve got mail!"
Finally, take her to park day get-togethers, chances are sheíll be impressed with the
"social skills" of the young people and the pioneering dedication of the parents. Where
else do you find a large, multi-aged group of children playing harmoniously together while
their parents sit around the picnic table discussing curriculum choices and teaching methods,
planning field trips, creating classes, or sharing books and resources--all in the name of
enriching their children?
Homeschooling is more than a way to educate children, itís a rewarding way for families
to live and learn together. Keep up the good work, and before you know it Grandma will be
bragging about you right along with those talented, homeschooled grand
kids of hers.
With Love, Your Uncle CHiN
Deducting Homeschooling Expenses
Homeschooling through the Summer
On Doing "Nothing"
On Loving Your Children's Company
Over Eager Mom
Private Time for Mom
Teaching Children at Different Grade Levels
The Many Ways to Homeschool
Uncle CHiN on ADHD
What About the Prom?
Winning over a Skeptical Grandma