Doubters Don't Know the Facts About Online Learning
Tips for Dealing with Doubters (Including Yourself)
Whether you’re new to online learning, or have been at it for some time, at some point you will likely encounter people who express their doubts about your decision to educate your children at home. Sometimes, the doubters don’t intend to be negative; they simply don’t know the facts about online learning. Other times, you may encounter outright criticism. Perhaps you are even having doubts yourself, and are feeling nervous or unsure about your capabilities. These doubts are completely normal and will likely subside as you and your children become more comfortable with your new role as Learning Coach and settle into a routine. As for how to deal with those other doubters, these tips can help you decide how to respond.
Friends & Family
It can be difficult when friends and relatives are critical of your decision for a home-based education. Decide for yourself whether the opinions of these people matter. There may be some people with whom you would prefer to “agree to disagree” over the matter of your children’s education. In this instance you can choose whether to engage in any deep discussions about the issue. Don’t feel as if you must defend your decision to those who have no stake in your child’s education, they are your children after all.
In other instances, such as a close friend, your child’s grandparents, or other close relatives, whose opinions you feel do matter, you may choose to try to educate them. Provide some information for them to read, and discuss the reasons for your decision. You might even consider inviting them over to see the OLS and curriculum, or sit in on a lesson. Once they understand your reasons, and see for themselves what online learning looks like (it’s not just “staring at a computer all day”), they may change their minds, or at least respect your decision.
It’s bound to happen at some point: a stranger in a store or park looks at you and your kids out and about in the middle of the day and asks “why aren’t they in school?” This question may just be curiosity, and not necessarily criticism. Avoid defensive responses and go for polite and humorous - some parents who educate at home like to reply with “they are in school!” After all, learning doesn’t happen only at a desk, especially for online students who can go to school anywhere.
If you share that your children learn online, you can expect the inevitable question “what about socialization?” Remember that it’s up to you whether you choose to explain, a genuinely curious question is one thing, but you certainly don’t need to listen to a lecture about how to raise your children.
You also don’t owe a perfect stranger any explanation for your educational choices. While you could let your kids rattle off a list of sports, clubs, dance, church, scouts, and other activities that they participate in, you certainly don’t need to. It’s possible you might change minds, but you might also just wind up feeling upset and angry, so choose your battles.
This is the one person whose support you must have! If your spouse isn’t sure, do all you can to help him/her understand the reasons why you believe an online education is the best choice for your child at this time. Provide reading ma terial, there’s lots of information to be found on the K12 website, visit the K12 Facebook page and ask questions, and encourage him/her to attend information sessions or other local events to hear from the school itself.
Clear communication and support is very important; discuss your spouse’s concerns together and do all you can to alleviate them. Include your spouse in your kids’ academic activities so he/she can be involved in what they are doing. Some families accomplish this by having the parent who is not the primary Learning Coach teach one or two subjects; dad might do a science or art activity with the kids in the evening or on the weekend, for instance.
Often we are our own worst critics. If you’re new to online schooling, remember that it will get easier! It can be difficult for you and your kids to adjust to a totally new system. Refer to the Getting Started Guide in your OLS, watch the help videos, attend an online Q&A event or watch the online Parent Workshop (links in your OLS!)
Even if you’re a veteran Learning Coach, everyone has bad days. And on a day when the kids won’t cooperate, and everything goes wrong, you might be having doubts. Write down your reasons for choosing this educational path, and, look at it to remind yourself why you made this choice.
For new and veteran parents alike, make sure you have support! Attend local events and meet other K12 parents. Join a homeschool group or a co-op, many will allow online schoolers to join. If there isn’t one in your area, start one! Surround yourself with like-minded parents who have made the same choice for their children, and who know just what you are going through, both the occasional doubts or frustration, and the joys that go along with taking charge of your child’s education.