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Do you try to present a good image of a homeschooling family when in public?


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I saw a woman today in a store, with her five children. The kids were loud and running amok. In between barking at the kids, the mom spoke to a store employee at the service desk and was very abrupt...not quite rude, but close. The employee, while researching the question, tried to make small talk and ask the ages of the kids (they were cute even if they were all over the place) and the mom barked out the ages and then said, "We homeschool." But it wasn't a nice "we homeschool" type of comment, it was more of a challenge. I thought it strange. When she left, it got quiet again. She certainly garnered more than her share of strange looks as she walked down the aisle and spoke to the employee. All in all it was not a good impression...and worse because of the homeschool comment. Some of my fellow employees commented on this after the woman walked by, because they know I homeschooled for so long. I assured them that not all homeschoolers act like that. Sigh.

 

So, my question: when you go out in the day with your kids, do you try to present a positive image...both you and your children? I know I always did...I was always aware that for some people, my family might be one of their only encounters with homeschooled children.

 

Ria

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So, my question: when you go out in the day with your kids, do you try to present a positive image...both you and your children? I know I always did...I was always aware that for some people, my family might be one of their only encounters with homeschooled children.
Most emphatically not. I'm not a very effective parent when I'm worried how other people view us. I expect a certain standard of behavior, but it has nothing to do with advocating or defending a certain family or lifestyle choice.
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So, my question: when you go out in the day with your kids, do you try to present a positive image...both you and your children? I know I always did...I was always aware that for some people, my family might be one of their only encounters with homeschooled children.

 

Ria

 

To answer your question, yes, we do. However, it sounds like the mom was not enjoying a particularly good day! If they were all youngish (and it sounds like that from your description) I do have sympathy for her. Five little ones at the store at once is tough to do as I have done it over and over. (And I suspect you probably have to!) I never had a choice--I always had my children with me and some days were just *hard*. I don't think I would have mentioned that I homeschooled on that day though. ;)

 

It reads to me that she was defensive without reason, but sometimes we just get tired of hearing the same questions over and over. I almost always, almost every time I go out, get comments on how many children I have. I try to be a good representative of my larger-than-normal family, but I am sure I have unintentionally put some people off sometimes that I read incorrectly. We are all human. :001_smile:

 

ETA: My reasons for desiring well-behaved children in public are not by any means solely based upon representing homeschooling. They are based upon all sorts of reasons, and that we homeschool is one of them. I am representing whatever lifestyle and faith I espouse and I am aware that I might be giving a poor impression or a good one. I didn't think you were singling homeschooling out as the *only* reason, but in case you were... :D

Edited by Kate CA
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Most emphatically not. I'm not a very effective parent when I'm worried how other people view us. I expect a certain standard of behavior, but it has nothing to do with advocating or defending a certain family or lifestyle choice.

 

I had/have certains standards, too, but I still was aware that we stood out (six young kids) and that people would, just for that reason alone, notice us more than the average family.

 

I guess I am the odd one out for thinking like that, lol.

 

Ria

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I expect my kids to act appropriately when we're out, but it doesn't have anything to do w/ the fact we homeschool. When they were very little, I did not go shopping alone because of the potential for a meltdown in the store - so dh would come with me and if either child acted up, he'd take that child outside until they were ready to behave. Dh and I have always thought that it was not appropriate to have a screaming, ill-behaved child in the store and have tried to never make other customers or employees have to listen to one of ours screaming. (And so now that they're older, we really don't have an issue.)

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As far as behavior, I have standards of behavior for my children that I would expect regardless of how they were schooled. I think most of us here would, as well. I also try very hard to be nice to people I encounter. I worked retail for fifteen years. Working with the public is difficult, so I do what I can to make their job a little easier.

 

That said, I am conscious of how we appear when we're out during school hours. Even though I can school perfectly well in torn sweat pants while my dc are in their jammies (and have many times), going into a store during school hours while we all have bed head with my kids wearing mis-matched clothes might give the impression that we just loll around and watch TV all day. It wouldn't necessarily be fair of someone to think so, but people do judge by appearances.

 

I personally don't volunteer that we homeschool. I don't mind talking about it if someone asks, but it's not the kind of discussion I seek out, either.

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Especially if we are out when school is in session. I always tell my kids that we are a testamony to many things when we are out: Our God, Our Family, and our Homeschool. Right or wrong, people make judgements about all of those things when we are out. So if I take along a ragamuffin, rascallion, posse of children, unkempt, disheveled, loud, and disruptive, then people are going to judge that which we represent to them by that behavior. So, my kids wear clean clothing, have their faces washed, teeth brushed and hair combed when we leave the house. WE often remind them the behaivior expected of them in a store. Thankfully, they are usually absolutely delightful when we are out. I can't remember a time when we had trouble in a store. Now, the van ride home is another story. ;)

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To answer your question, yes, we do. However, it sounds like the mom was not enjoying a particularly good day! If they were all youngish (and it sounds like that from your description) I do have sympathy for her. Five little ones at the store at once is tough to do as I have done it over and over. (And I suspect you probably have to!) I never had a choice--I always had my children with me and some days were just *hard*. I don't think I would have mentioned that I homeschooled on that day though. ;)

 

It reads to me that she was defensive without reason, but sometimes we just get tired of hearing the same questions over and over. I almost always, almost every time I go out, get comments on how many children I have. I try to be a good representative of my larger-than-normal family, but I am sure I have unintentionally put some people off sometimes that I read incorrectly. We are all human. :001_smile:

 

ETA: My reasons for desiring well-behaved children in public are not by any means solely based upon representing homeschooling. They are based upon all sorts of reasons, and that we homeschool is one of them. I am representing whatever lifestyle and faith I espouse and I am aware that I might be giving a poor impression or a good one. I didn't think you were singling homeschooling out as the *only* reason, but in case you were... :D

 

:iagree: I usually push our errands to the afternoon, when other kids are out of school. That cuts down on the comments. Having five daughters and no sons brings out a lot of comments, too, usually followed with an incredulous "Are they all yours?". No, I like to bring the neighbor kids with me to the grocery store. :001_huh: I've seen people comment to each other about me (I look much younger than I am). Sometimes the comments are nice. Sometimes they are rude. :glare:

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I try to put out a good image of my family, not because we homeschool but because I refuse to have our name ruined by foolishness, I was the same way when they were in ps. I tell the kids when we are out they are representatives of our family and our name and they will behave appropriately so they will not embarass the family. Of course we have days like a few days ago when they are so crazy nothing settles them and I am sure the grocery store was happy to see us leave when we did. I do put more thought into how I talk with others when we are out, if my kids have been giving me a hard time that day I may be more likely to be snippy when someone else talks to me, and that is not the image I want to project so I consider how I say things first. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I likely look like I am going to attack the next person how so much as says hello to me, those of course are the days that not only are the children acting like complete heathens but are telling every person they see that they are homeschooled :001_rolleyes:

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Not necessarily as "home schoolers", but yes, absolutely. I want my children to be well-behaved and act appropriately in public. (At home too, but sometimes there are different rules in public places, and it's important to know what's appropriate in what circumstances.)

 

I certainly don't want to present a *negative* image of home schoolers -- or of kids in general!

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I had/have certains standards, too, but I still was aware that we stood out (six young kids) and that people would, just for that reason alone, notice us more than the average family.

 

I guess I am the odd one out for thinking like that, lol.

I don't doubt you have standards, I just wanted to assure you that I have some. :D
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Whether out in public representing homeschoolers (as in on a field trip) or out as a family, I would expect appropriate behavior for the situation. I did get concerned about behavior from some kids while out on organized field trips (not my own), but I was often assured that the homeschooled groups were better behaved than the school groups. However, I did stop doing trips with certain families because I did not want to be around their kids who did not behave appropriately.

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As far as behavior, I have standards of behavior for my children that I would expect regardless of how they were schooled. I think most of us here would, as well. I also try very hard to be nice to people I encounter.

 

, but people do judge by appearances.

 

I personally don't volunteer that we homeschool. I don't mind talking about it if someone asks, but it's not the kind of discussion I seek out, either.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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Funny, semi related story...My husband and I and 4 dcs were in a Mexican restaurant one Saturday afternoon. The kids were acting up, slipping onto the floor, standing in the booth, basically behaving like kids who were undisciplined. I kept trying to correct their behavior "do this, don't do that", etc. etc. I was becoming exhausted with all the fuss. Meanwhile this older lady was staring at us during the whole meal. I was really embarrassed thinking that she must think I'm a terrible mother. On the way out she stops me and says, "Your children are just beautiful, and so well behaved!" I was astonished! I thought she was kidding, so I prodded her a little bit, "are you serious?" She was serious. I was at the end of my very last nerve. :tongue_smilie:

 

I do try to have well behaved kids in public - mostly because I want to respect other's space and well being. Obnoxious kids can be so unnerving for me, so I assume it's the same for everyone else. I hardly ever mention that we home school, unless someone directly asks.

 

I'll bet that mom was just having a bad day, PMS, frayed nerves, resenting that outing, etc. etc.

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I always try to lead by example. But , I wonder if good behavior can be mistaken as controlling or not good kids, kwim, like twisted.

 

We went to dinner and my sis's kids were all over the place, throwing things , screaming and just crazy. It was 5 pm, so we were getting lots of stares, I even had to say something. My kids just sat there in there seats quietly watching, giggling and enjoying the show, but not adding to it.

 

I wonder if my sis thought my kids were strange or well behaved????

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I expect my kids to act appropriately when we're out, but it doesn't have anything to do w/ the fact we homeschool. When they were very little, I did not go shopping alone because of the potential for a meltdown in the store - so dh would come with me and if either child acted up, he'd take that child outside until they were ready to behave. Dh and I have always thought that it was not appropriate to have a screaming, ill-behaved child in the store and have tried to never make other customers or employees have to listen to one of ours screaming. (And so now that they're older, we really don't have an issue.)

:iagree:

 

I could have written this. I don't have the luxury of having DH with me to take the youngest DS out of the store anymore...and he's been our most challenging child...so you might find me in the store with an embarrassed look on my face, apologizing for his behavior. Most people tell me he's not that bad for a 2yo.

 

That said, I am very aware of making a good impression with the general public when we are out and about. I want my kids well-behaved and well-groomed. I just hate seeing wild, unruly, poorly-groomed homeschoolers because I think it makes us all look bad. I feel the same way about the rare homeschooler I run across who don't seem to care if their kids are doing well, or even average, academically. I've met a couple of families who's children are well-behind grade level even though they have no known learning delays.

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Guest Katia
Most emphatically not. I'm not a very effective parent when I'm worried how other people view us. I expect a certain standard of behavior, but it has nothing to do with advocating or defending a certain family or lifestyle choice.

 

:iagree: When we first started homeschooling, the leader of our homeschool support group used to say that we 'had' to be ambassadors of homeschooling every single time we left our homes; even in our own yards. Then she proceeded to lecture us on what type of behavior was deemed appropriate when out in public and even within our own yards when the dc were outside!

 

In our case, my dh is a pastor and quite frankly I get sick and tired of everyone and his brother telling me and my dc how we should act, what we should or shouldn't say, etc. related to that. Talk about pressure on a kid!

 

Well, we ignore the pk and pw stuff and we totally ignored the homeschool leader. My kids were kids and we let them be kids. We had very high standards of behavior for them, but it was never, ever related to my dh's job or our schooling choice. That was simply not a pressure that they needed. And *I* didn't and don't need someone telling me how to make sure that I or my dc behave when in public for any reason. It's my job, not yours.

 

I've never had anyone complain about my dc's behavior; on the contrary, we've heard many, many compliments over the years. But the answer to the op's question is an emphatic NO. My children were just children, nothing more.

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... I did get concerned about behavior from some kids while out on organized field trips (not my own), but I was often assured that the homeschooled groups were better behaved than the school groups. However, I did stop doing trips with certain families because I did not want to be around their kids who did not behave appropriately.

 

I've actually known of a couple of organizations that quit allowing home school field trips because of the *horrific* behavior of one or two children. The problem was that the parents were *there* and did not correct the children even when asked by staff of the organization. I was horribly embarrassed to be connected to these other home schoolers in any way, but if that had been my only experience with home schoolers (as it may well have been for this staff), I might have said, "We're never allowing this to happen again" too!

 

I've also avoided field trips knowing that certain families were coming along and bringing their feral (though allegedly "home schooled" children). I don't want to have to be around children like that, don't want my kids to have to be around it, can't learn in that situation, don't want to be associated with it in any way... Eek.

 

I never want my own children to be responsible for someone else's bad impression of home schooling...

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Especially if we are out when school is in session. I always tell my kids that we are a testamony to many things when we are out: Our God, Our Family, and our Homeschool.

 

I do expect my dc to behave in public. However, there have been a few times that my dc needed a more specific reminder while at the store during school hours. I have told them that we need to present a good example of homeschoolers since everyone could tell we hs'ed since it was during the school day. That sets them straight real quick! ;)

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Most emphatically not. I'm not a very effective parent when I'm worried how other people view us. I expect a certain standard of behavior, but it has nothing to do with advocating or defending a certain family or lifestyle choice.

:iagree: What she said! :iagree:

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I try to have well-behaved dc, regardless of where they are educated. I would expect them to behave in public, and to be clean and tidy; poor behavior, sloppy clothing, reflects badly on *me* and on them. IOW, it's the right thing to do, so I do it.

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Yep. When we go out, we are ambassadors for our family, for our God, and for homeschooled families everywhere. :D That said, I don't have to remind the dc much anymore - they know to behave decently. Unfortunately, all hs families don't think teaching manners is important, so we avoid group field trips.

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I have the same expectations for my children for behaviour in public now as I did when Diva was in ps. Everyone behave, and get home alive...without losing anyone. I'm kidding. Mostly. Diva's 10, so she's expected to behave as a young lady when we're in public, period. And she does. Polite, etc. Sure, we giggle and such, but she's well mannered, and I've had many compliments from strangers on her behaviour, which makes me proud, and saddens me somewhat. Why should common courtesy and politeness be such a surprise?

 

Course, as the Littles get older, the expectations do increase. Tazzie is expected now to behave, since he's 4. No whining, begging, moaning, taking off, etc. And he does pretty good, with the occasional lapse of begging.

 

Princess is 2. That pretty much sums it up as far as *her* behaviour goes. Tantrums are a part of her behaviour, even though we are most certainly working on them, its still one of those developmental stages we all wish we could fast forward through or skip altogether. Most times she's good, but there are still occasions where she's slung over a shoulder and bodily carted out of a store, shrieking like she's being tortured. *sigh*

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I am not worried about how I represent homeschooling. I am concerned about how I represent my family and my parenting in general. But it has nothing to do with where my children receive their academics. I am not abrupt with employees unless they are truly not doing their job or are over the top rude to me and even then I will usually go the route of "kill 'em with kindness" before I will be abrupt. I am only abrupt if I am being cheated out of significant money or something extreme like that. My kids are not perfect but I do try to keep them somewhat in line in stores and I do not bark at them because that's rude and it is modeling bad behavior for them.

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I try to keep my kids in line for my sanity and the sanity of those around them. The fact that we homeschool has zero influence on that (or on its track record!)

:iagree: I have actually had people come up and ask me if we homeschool. They usually say something like, "I thought so. Your children are so well behaved and speak to you so politely." On a bad day, it seems that no one has ever asked the question. I usually time our errands to their most rested times and we move quickly to keep everyone in line....like ducklings :D

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I treat homeschooling as secondary. I first try to explain to my kids that they are God's ambassadors and they should conduct themselves as such.

 

It's proven beneficial in several occassions. Many times people just ask me why our kids are so well behaved and I try my best to give the glory to God.

 

On another occasion, I actually got a flustered mom to our MOPS group to get the support that she needed.

 

And I can't tell you how many times, sweet older men and women will give me money to treat the kids to ice cream or McDonalds just because they're impressed by their behaviour. I know Ria has similar stories.

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but I'm not sure that's a good thing, and the older I get, the better I get at turning off the idea of "how does this look to others."

 

I don't think homeschooling is really an issue. I think that regardless of whether we schooled, it would be important to me that my children behave well and that I treat others with respect.

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Absolutely! My kids understand (and are sometimes reminded) that we are homeschool ambassadors when we are out in public. I also make sure they are aware of the behavior I expect from them when we are on our way into a situation, especially if it's not a regular stop.

 

How unfortunate that homeschoolers like that give us all a bad name!

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Well...beyond hs'ing, it seems like people are sort-of afraid of kids in general. I mean, 1 or 2 are cute enough, but more than that seems to make people nervous. So if they're well-behaved, people's fear of them seems to thaw a little. I figure it's good publicity for *children.* I'm joking, but I'm serious, kwim?

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Well...beyond hs'ing, it seems like people are sort-of afraid of kids in general. I mean, 1 or 2 are cute enough, but more than that seems to make people nervous. So if they're well-behaved, people's fear of them seems to thaw a little. I figure it's good publicity for *children.* I'm joking, but I'm serious, kwim?

I know what you mean. We can tell that we are being "counted" when we are out in public and we don't want anyone to think that we have "too many" dc.

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To me it has nothing to do with whether I home school or not. When we are in public I expect my children to obey, not be running around, etc. It is because that is what is best for them not because of some judgement someone else may place on our family or homeschooling.

Be blessed

Sandy

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Quite often we're disasters. My oldest will generally do his random yells and hums and sometimes hand movements whenever he's stressed, and stores are stressful. I've become pretty oblivious to stares and I doubt anyone judges my parenting anymore (and if they do, they're welcome to step up and give it a shot!) Of course, he's in school although his schedule is sometimes different than ps so I have been out with him on odd days.

 

My other 2 are usually pretty good, although ds2 can still have a complete meltdown or anxiety attack. He can also ask cashiers about his topic du jour (scorpions, robots, cockroaches, race cars). If he's really inappropriate, I try to redirect but people usually figure out that he's not neurotypical if he's having an off day. Every once in a while he's so well behaved that I get a compliment. Those are very good days!

 

Dd seems so easy after the boys that normal kid stuff just doesn't even register with me. When she was 2, I remember using the same behavior modification techniques with her that I did with her brothers and, for the most part, the terrible 2s and 3s were uneventful.

 

It's a shame that we're only ambassadors for autism when the boys are being awful. I wish that people could see that they're autistic when they're being good, but then it's not noticeable, so no one sees anything but the verbal outbursts and tantrums. If they're being good, people just think they're "normal".

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Guest janainaz

I don't over-think homeschooling and what that looks like to other people. I consider my kids to be really good kids, but normal kids. Sometimes we're out and they fight with each other and are little stinkers, but most often I have no issues with their behavior. I actually think that the stereotype of homeschoolers is that the kids are creepily perfect.

 

My focus is just on my kids being polite and considerate in general and has nothing to do with the fact that we homeschool.

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I tell my children when we leave the house that we are homeschool ambassadors. I don't expect freakishly good behaviour but I don't want to leave a place with people saying "ug those revolting children were homeschoolers you know!" I expect the children to be reasonably groomed and reasonably behaved. Truth be told I've always expected that but I'll admit that now that we homeschool I do feel that our children reflect on homeschoolers as a whole.

 

I have been on a homeschool excursion with children who were revoltingly behaved (not mine!) and their parents just ignored them and kept on chatting. It was incredibly embarrassing. The children were very rude and you could see the distress it was giving to the man trying to lead the group. That group lead to a ban on homeschooled groups at that particular venue and I don't blame them. I believe the ban has since been lifted after another group grovelled and promised excellent behaviour. But I have certainly seen first hand how poorly behaved homeschoolers can impact on the rest of us.

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So, my question: when you go out in the day with your kids, do you try to present a positive image...both you and your children? I know I always did...I was always aware that for some people, my family might be one of their only encounters with homeschooled children.

 

Ria

 

Well, I try, but we are human before we are homeschoolers, and so we fail sometimes. But I also don't go around advertising, unasked, that we are homeschoolers.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, dd threw a massive temper tantrum while we were out (very unusual for her to do in public), and I had to haul her out of the store and sit in the van with her for about 20 minutes until she calmed down enough that I could go back in and do my business. I was mortified. But when we went back in, the manager came over and perkily started talking to dd, asking her how she was doing, etc.. She also cheerily said, "And how's Mom doing today?" And I laughingly said, "I'm fine, as long as you are talking to dd while I scoop my beans from the bin!" She kept cheerily talking to dd while I ran around getting what I needed. She was a Godsend that day, and I don't think she looked down on us - she just saw a harried Mom and helped her out for a few minutes. I apologized to the cashier on my way out, for dd's earlier tantrum, and asked the cashier to profusely thank the manager for chatting with dd while I got what I needed.

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It's a shame that we're only ambassadors for autism when the boys are being awful. I wish that people could see that they're autistic when they're being good, but then it's not noticeable, so no one sees anything but the verbal outbursts and tantrums. If they're being good, people just think they're "normal".

 

 

Hmm, that's very interesting! I won't take over the thread, but you've given me something to think about. I don't usually mention the autism except to explain the rough times.

 

To answer the OP, yes I do try to make the kids aware that we are example of homeschoolers when we are out in public, and we want that to be a good example. I can't always promise that everyone will be having a good day that day, but we try our best.

 

And when it does go bad... we're quite a sight! ;)

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I think I'm more aware of the impression that homeschoolers make when it's *other* people's children ;) I definitely don't think about what kind of impression we make when we go about our daily lives at the park or the grocery store or wherever. But, when we're purposely on a field trip then I talk about my expectation that we behave well (as usual) but that our behavior will reflect on how the people at the museum (or wherever) think about homeschoolers.

 

Come to think about it...I just did this with Taekwon-do last weekend. We were at a tournament and there were about 5 boys from our club (including my two boys) sitting on a bench and acting very rowdy while they were supposed to be sitting quietly. I went and talked to them about how they were there at that tournament representing our TKD club and that I wanted them to act in a way that would reflect positively on their teacher and on their club.

 

I think it's important to behave properly in a given situation just because you should. But I also think it's important to think about how your behavior shapes people's perceptions. I wouldn't want to be constantly harping on my kids about what other people think, but in certain situations (like an educational outing for homeschooling, or a tournament for TKD) it does make sense to point out an extra reason for good behavior.

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:iagree: I usually push our errands to the afternoon, when other kids are out of school. That cuts down on the comments. Having five daughters and no sons brings out a lot of comments, too, usually followed with an incredulous "Are they all yours?". No, I like to bring the neighbor kids with me to the grocery store. :001_huh: I've seen people comment to each other about me (I look much younger than I am). Sometimes the comments are nice. Sometimes they are rude. :glare:

 

I have four daughters so I know what you are talking about with the comments about girls, but then there is my "poor son" in the middle. Oh wow, do we hear it for him! Like we *planned* the sex of our children or something. He is a good soul though and puts up with a lot of comments! :D

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I saw a woman today in a store, with her five children. The kids were loud and running amok. In between barking at the kids, the mom spoke to a store employee at the service desk and was very abrupt...not quite rude, but close. The employee, while researching the question, tried to make small talk and ask the ages of the kids (they were cute even if they were all over the place) and the mom barked out the ages and then said, "We homeschool." But it wasn't a nice "we homeschool" type of comment, it was more of a challenge. I thought it strange. When she left, it got quiet again. She certainly garnered more than her share of strange looks as she walked down the aisle and spoke to the employee. All in all it was not a good impression...and worse because of the homeschool comment. Some of my fellow employees commented on this after the woman walked by, because they know I homeschooled for so long. I assured them that not all homeschoolers act like that. Sigh.

 

So, my question: when you go out in the day with your kids, do you try to present a positive image...both you and your children? I know I always did...I was always aware that for some people, my family might be one of their only encounters with homeschooled children.

 

Ria

 

It sounds like those were just rude people, which can happen whether they homeschool or not.

 

But, to answer you question... Yes, we try. My dh is a painfully shy man in public -- I mean, p.a.i.n.f.u.l.l.y. shy. He cannot stand having attention drawn to him. (one to one, or in a small group, he's not shy, though). Although ds and I are very outgoing people, we do understand that drawing unneccessary attention in public is not something we want to cultivate.

 

It's also kind of a go-with-the-flow thing here, too. Whenever we do go out shopping, it is to the big Mennonite town, and people there are very subdued, quiet and absolutely polite. You can be in a very crowded Wal-Mart and barely hear another person talking, let alone children squalling. You get very used to that, and it's a real shock to the senses to go in to the City and bear the loudness of the malls.

 

As a homeschooling family (the only one in our little town), we feel we need to be cautious about the image we present. There are some less-than-supportive people that we have come across.

 

So, we don't take ds to trot around the town playpark when ps is in session, for example. We try to teach him to be polite and courteous, even when others aren't polite and courteous with you.

 

I think that's about the best we can do.

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