If you are an unschooling parent chances are at some time or another you have had to deal with the problem of others quizzing your children. Now, let me clarify for a minute that I am not talking about the innocent “What did you do today?” or “How are you doing in Math?” questions asked by well meaning family members or strangers, chances are they don’t know how else to relate to a child other than to talk about school. I am talking about the incessant need of unapproving friends and family members that feel it is their right to question your children and to find out what they know or don’t know, those who for one reason or another try to prove that your decision to unschool is wrong. These people may believe you are not capable of giving your children what they consider to be a proper education. Ofen times I have found that some people take your decision to unschool your children personally for no other reason than they are not confident with their own decisions. They may feel insecure about sending their children to public school and sometimes insecure people see it as a slap in the face that you are doing something they wish they could do, however this is not your problem.
Before I offer you some advice on how to deal with this I first feel the need to tell you that…..YOU can unschool your children! It doesn’t matter if you are single, low income, or like me and not even have a high school diploma. All you need to do to be able to unschool your child is to be there to support them, to listen to them, to trust them, and help them seek out resources of things they are interested in. That simple! Your child is capable of learning everything they need to know naturally from just living life.
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Ok, now back to how to deal with this issue. First, let them know this is unacceptable. Really think about this. If I walked in your house and asked you “Do you know all of your times tables yet? What is 12×4? You really should know that by now. What about spelling? Spell California.” You would think I was crazy! This is not normal conversation or any of my business! If this is not acceptable to do to another adult then why is it acceptable to do to a child? Quite simply, it is not. You should nip it in the bud as soon as it starts. Take your friend or family member to the side and explain this to them. They are not to quiz your children. Period. If they have genuine questions about unschooling they can bring them to you. I also taught my children that they were under no obligation to answer questions and that they could respond to “quizzers” with answers like “I am playing not doing ‘school’ right now” or “I don’t feel like answering questions.”
This should end any further questioning however the truth is some people are relentless and don’t respect boundaries. If this relentless person is your friend I highly recommend you reevaluate your friendship. Friends should respect boundaries and it may be possible that it is time for you to find more like-minded friends.
What if this person is a family member? You don’t have to take disrespect from someone just because they are family. Repeat your request, more firmly this time and let them know quizzing your child will not be tolerated. If you hurt their feelings so be it. Not being rude, but they are adults and you are not responsible for protecting their feelings, you are responsible for protecting your children. If the questions do not stop after this it may be necessary for you to distance yourself and your child from this person. You do not deserve to be disrespected or to have your boundaries ignored. You do not deserve being under stress because you feel obligated to go to family get togethers. You can not be the best parent you can be if you are under stress!
I am a person that avoids confrontation at all costs. I have often kept quiet on issues like this when I should have spoken up. Then one day I had a realization. I am my child’s role model. My child is learning from me every minute of the day and he is looking at how I handle these types of things to see how he should handle them. He is looking to see if I put healthy boundaries in place in relationships. He is looking to see if I tolerate disrespect. If I want my child to grow up and be confident in his decisions and to be able to stand up for himself than I have to be confident enough to model this for him.