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Teacher friend quizzing/manipulating her friend's homeschooled kids

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
You can see by my signature I'm just TTC, but we ARE planning to homeschool, and the problem I'm seeing with my closest and oldest friend is something I know will become an issue between us that could potentially destroy our friendship if she does it with my kids, and is hurting her relationship with her other friend. Just not sure how to address it gently, or whether I should just let it go for now. I will try not to make this too long. Names are changed.

My best friend "Mary" is an elementary public school teacher. She does not believe in homeschooling. Mostly for the typical mythological reasons that come from only knowing homeschoolers from seeing them on Wife Swap. I think on some level she also, as a public school teacher, sees the very act of not putting your kids in school as a personal attack on her profession. She does not have kids of her own but is an "auntie" to many of her friends' children.

One of her friends "Julie" homeschools her kindy age daughter. When she visits with their family, Mary semi-sneakily quizzes the girl to make sure she's actually learning things. Stuff like, "Do you know your ABCs? Let's hear it!" and "How many cherries do I have?" She's always cheerful but it's obvious to the mom what she's doing and it's incredibly insulting. It's not asking about what she's learning as part of natural, polite conversation, it's quizzing. The girl IS a little behind, but honestly I don't think it's because of homeschool and she'd probably be worse off in public. She has also asked the girl (in front of "Julie") if she wishes she could go to school and make more friends. I was not there but have heard both sides of the story and they match - Julie is of course upset that Mary is trying to undermine her family's decision to homeschool. Mary thinks what she's doing is justified because she doesn't think the girl is learning on level at home and doesn't think she should be homeschooled anyway for social reasons.

What I WANTED to tell Mary is that I would have been crazy ticked off if it was my kid she was doing that with. She's responsible for her own classroom. She is not responsible for making sure that all of her friends' children are learning everything at exactly the same time as they would in public school, and that if she tried manipulating my kids against homeschool so they'd beg me to go to public she would NOT be seeing my kids anymore. I can see this affecting me directly in a few short years when we don't do preschool. Who knows, she may start in on them at birth since she knows we plan to homeschool.

Suggestions? I just want to reiterate that aside from this one issue, she IS my best friend and my goal is to AVOID a big rift, not cause one. But unless I can get her to see that policing her homeschool friends is not acceptable, I'm going to be really wary of how much time she spends with my kids. She would otherwise be a great "auntie" so that makes me sad.
post #2 of 28
If you're there to witness the quizzing, I'd be tempted to interject cheeky answers on the little girl's behalf. Grin and volunteer "Looks like five cherries to me! Shall I count them out loud for you?" Or "That's a P. It makes the 'puh' sound. I'm surprised you don't know that, being a teacher and all." It's possible that being a teacher she just slips into this default interrogative, evaluative style of conversation with school-aged children without being aware that it's inappropriate. Maybe she would respond to a playful nudge or two that would cause her to wonder if she's said something inappropriate.

Miranda
post #3 of 28
I'm on the run, but I just wanted to suggest that she may be one of those people who can't even relate to how to have conversations with children without doing all that sort of stuff - that may be all the knows how to do. I wouldn't let her, but I'm just wondering if maybe she could use some subtle help learning about more respectful ways of relating to conversation with children as equals in the conversation. - Lillian
post #4 of 28
You do have 6 years before your TTC child is school-aged, so I guess I think this is really just something to worry about then.

If you are witnessing stuff, call her on it. If she is gossiping about it to you, tell her what you think. If she's your BEST friend, then she should be able to take it.

Tjej
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
I'm on the run, but I just wanted to suggest that she may be one of those people who can't even relate to how to have conversations with children without doing all that sort of stuff - that may be all the knows how to do. I wouldn't let her, but I'm just wondering if maybe she could use some subtle help learning about more respectful ways of relating to conversation with children as equals in the conversation. - Lillian
i had a friend like that- she didnt know how o interact with a kid without trying to teach or quiz them. if i were "julie" i would just say. "mary please stop quizzing my child. just talk to her as you would an adult. with respect"

i really hate when adults "quiz" kids.
post #6 of 28
I would have little patience for that stuff and bluntly say that my kid is not a circus poodle and doesn't do tricks.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
I see your point with her possibly not being able to compartmentalize and talk to a kid without being in "teacher" mode, but to clarify, when she was talking to me about her other friend's family on instant messaging she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not. It's intentional. I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I didn't, really.

I realize it will be a while before the child we're trying to conceive right now will be in grade school. But I'm not sure not saying anything for the next six years while she pulls this stuff with other people I know is really going to happen. Especially when she keeps talking to me about her concerns about her other friends who homeschool. I'm trying to find a constructive way to address this so I don't blow up at her one day and non-constructively tell her to just knock it the h*** off and leave them alone.
post #8 of 28
maybe you could pass her some info...

like, "i know you were saying you were concerned, look at this info i found"

then pass her some stuff about unschooling/waldorf etc that are more child led.

most educators recognize waldorf as a good education. they DISCOURAGE academics that early.... she needs to leave that little girl alone.
post #9 of 28
Does she know you want to homeschool?
Is she a new teacher by chance?
This might help with the idea that homeschooling is an afront to teaching.

I think how I would handle it would depend on what kind of friendship you have. If she's quizzing a child and you are around you could say something like" Oh quiz time? fun! I have a good one. What's the chemical componsition of road salt. Or the last Chinese dynasty? Or the current leaders of the G8 countries? the value of Pi to 10 decimal places?

Or you could tell her that you won't hassle her about all the stuff you hear about the school system and check in with her student's progress when you visit her and ask that she offers you the same courtesty.

Or you could have a heart to heart talk with her. Or suggest that in the interest of self education she could do a little reading on homeschooling and by the way did she know that one of the most common professions represented in homeschooling groups is teachers? (Among the 90 families in our homeschool group we have 3 early childhood educators, 4 former or current teachers, 4 principals (most often the husbands/spouses of the primary homeschooling parent) and at least 3 university professors.)

I think it would be very difficult to be close friends with someone who doesn't support homeschooling or at the very least wasn't about to be open minded and respectful about my choice. So I can see why you are concerned. I also agree with the PPs that a lot can change over the next 5 years.

Good luck
Karen
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by WTHamI? View Post
she TOLD me she was deliberately getting a feel for whether the child was being adequately educated or not. It's intentional. I wasn't sure how to respond to that so I didn't, really.
If she actually articulated that to you, you'll probably get plenty of openings like that over the next six years or so if you keep up the friendship. That's where I'd drop in a comment like "But is it our place to judge other parents' choices?" Or "Well, they may have different priorities from what you might have in the classroom. Who are we to judge?" Or "Well, you know, I'm pretty sure it's their right to homeschool." Or "You may disagree with their choice, but what can you do about it? She's the parent. I think we should just try to be supportive friends."

Miranda
post #11 of 28
Does she have kids?

If she's really an old, close friend, you could just put it to her "you know, that kind fo thing sometimes drives HS parents cra-azy."

Since you're in the planning stages, you could try the "I was reading this message board" tack, like "I've been reading this parenting message board and ventured over to the learning/homeschooling section, and there was this thread, man, you *would not believe* how insulting some homeschooling parents find that...there was an interesting discussion about it..."

Maybe she'd think it through a little bit. Or at least, learn a bit how other people (including you) might take it.

I've done something like that for a SAHM friend of mine who would drop little cringe-worthy (but not intended to insult necessarily) comments about parents who put kids in daycare, to kind of give her a heads up that people just aren't going to take that very well.
post #12 of 28
That is a friendship I would end. I have dealt with remarks and such, but I would never stay friends with anyone who tried to undermind me as a parent. I might make remarks back to the "friend" about how rude she is and you would never tolerate her doing that.

To put it nicely, a lot of people with no children "know" every single thing there is about raising children. I was the same way. I knew it all too. I even did a practicum leading a group where I helped teach parenting classes. I was a teacher and was often asked parenting advice. Then I became a mom. whoa! Not much I learned from the books applied to real life. And nothing in the education classes from college nor my classroom experience applied to actually educating my own children.

But honestly, even if you like this friend, I would put up boundaries big time with her. Like, if you are with her and you catch her trying to quiz the child, quickly call the child to you and change the subject. If "friend" gets mad, just say "this is not school time and I am sure HER teacher does just fine." Maybe you could chuckle some time and offer to come to her classroom and do an evaluation of her work for her since she feels so entitled to do whatever she pleases to judge others. Make it sound like you are laughing off her bad behaviors and then if she acts hurt, just say you are laughing with her.

I just cannot stand people like her. Guaranteed, when you become pregnant, she will tell you what to eat, how to give birth, what you need to buy. She will try to weigh in on the breastfeeding, etc etc. So you really really need to be on your guard and keep your boundaries up. That is, IF you remain friends.

Good luck!
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
Does she know you want to homeschool?
Is she a new teacher by chance?
This might help with the idea that homeschooling is an afront to teaching.

I think how I would handle it would depend on what kind of friendship you have. If she's quizzing a child and you are around you could say something like" Oh quiz time? fun! I have a good one. What's the chemical componsition of road salt. Or the last Chinese dynasty? Or the current leaders of the G8 countries? the value of Pi to 10 decimal places?

Or you could tell her that you won't hassle her about all the stuff you hear about the school system and check in with her student's progress when you visit her and ask that she offers you the same courtesty.

Or you could have a heart to heart talk with her. Or suggest that in the interest of self education she could do a little reading on homeschooling and by the way did she know that one of the most common professions represented in homeschooling groups is teachers? (Among the 90 families in our homeschool group we have 3 early childhood educators, 4 former or current teachers, 4 principals (most often the husbands/spouses of the primary homeschooling parent) and at least 3 university professors.)

I think it would be very difficult to be close friends with someone who doesn't support homeschooling or at the very least wasn't about to be open minded and respectful about my choice. So I can see why you are concerned. I also agree with the PPs that a lot can change over the next 5 years.

Good luck
Karen
Yes, she does know I plan to homeschool (and has tried to talk me out of it). She has been teaching for about six years. Your recommendation on the heart to heart talk and finding some resources about how many educators choose homeschooling and why are good ideas. I don't want to be sarcastic or snarky with her because she is my oldest and closest friend and is wonderful in many other ways. We've been best friends since we were six-year-olds and I don't want to lose her friendship over this, which is what I can see happening if she doesn't respect (or at least keep her mouth shut about) parenting choices that differ from hers, especially regarding how our kids learn.

Ultimately I think we just have very different views of the purpose of public education - to me it's a great resource for parents who can't or don't want to be responsible for their kids' education, but certainly isn't the only way or the best way to learn. To her it should be mandatory for everyone so nobody "slips through the cracks" or, heaven forbid, learns science and history from a Republican.

"Guaranteed, when you become pregnant, she will tell you what to eat, how to give birth, what you need to buy. She will try to weigh in on the breastfeeding, etc etc. So you really really need to be on your guard and keep your boundaries up."

Sorry, haven't figured out multi quote. But yes, Lisa, this is the bigger issue and I can see it coming. She's dropped a couple of zingers on those topics just since finding out we are TTC. We are on opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways but I do value her friendship and will be really sad if we can't stay civil once parenting enters the mix. I'm asking the question now and not six years from now because the homeschooling issue is already putting a strain on our friendship with her often making negative HS remarks and trying to convince me they should be public schooled before they are even conceived. If I hadn't been best friends with her for 25 years I wouldn't be so concerned about preserving the friendship but it really would be a huge loss for both of us so I'd like to keep that from happening.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
...and ultimately the real current issue is the way she is alienating herself from her other friends who currently homeschool by doing the things I mentioned above - quizzing, trying to get a 6-year-old to ask her parents to let her try public school. Because I care about her and don't want to see her wreck friendships over that, I do feel I need to gently say something about how that is not okay.
post #15 of 28
This book was written for people like your friend (and my MIL) that do not have any info on homeschooling but are against it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143...ef=oss_product

We haven't given it to my MIL yet since my husband wants to read it first. I read it. It's very gentle in its approach but does a great job of showing how great homeschooling is.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
If she actually articulated that to you, you'll probably get plenty of openings like that over the next six years or so if you keep up the friendship. That's where I'd drop in a comment like "But is it our place to judge other parents' choices?" Or "Well, they may have different priorities from what you might have in the classroom. Who are we to judge?" Or "Well, you know, I'm pretty sure it's their right to homeschool." Or "You may disagree with their choice, but what can you do about it? She's the parent. I think we should just try to be supportive friends."

Miranda
yes, i totally agree with this.
post #17 of 28
How can she be behind at five? In most countries, kindy and counting and alphabet learning don't start until six. The whole early-learning is to make up for the fact that American TEENAGERS don't study nearly as much as teens in other countries. [/rant]

Anyway... I wouldn't worry about how you are going to school your own child. I really wanted homeschooling for my first daughter.

She first asked to go to school at 26 months. She asks to go every day. She never refuses to go to school. She loves it. She is so incredibly social I can't believe it. My second is quite different, so I may have my dream come true eventually, but frankly, I'm beginning to think it's not for us.

So I agree that going with general answers like, "Different things work for different families," and let her know you're not going to get into a battle. Then re-post if your child is homeschooled at four or five and she's still bugging.
post #18 of 28
Write to Dear Abby about it. Dear Abby will reply explaining how rude it is to question other people's parenting decisions. Cut out newspaper article and send to friend.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by WTHamI? View Post
Yes, she does know I plan to homeschool (and has tried to talk me out of it). She has been teaching for about six years. Your recommendation on the heart to heart talk and finding some resources about how many educators choose homeschooling and why are good ideas. I don't want to be sarcastic or snarky with her because she is my oldest and closest friend and is wonderful in many other ways. We've been best friends since we were six-year-olds and I don't want to lose her friendship over this, which is what I can see happening if she doesn't respect (or at least keep her mouth shut about) parenting choices that differ from hers, especially regarding how our kids learn.

Ultimately I think we just have very different views of the purpose of public education - to me it's a great resource for parents who can't or don't want to be responsible for their kids' education, but certainly isn't the only way or the best way to learn. To her it should be mandatory for everyone so nobody "slips through the cracks" or, heaven forbid, learns science and history from a Republican.
Are you able to talk to her about your concerns? Could you say that you care deeply about this issue and deeply about her and that you would hate for a philosophical issue that has nothing to do with her but which is vitally important to you to come between you.

She sounds entrenched in her view and that is IMO unlikely to change as the pro-school/anti-homeschool philosophy likely forms part of her identity. I don't know that arguing the merits of homeschooling is going to work and that perhaps you could approach it more around the idea of respecting each other's paths.

That being said, she might enjoy David Guterson's book Family Matters. He was a teacher when he wrote the book and his wife was homeschooling their kids. It walks through the arguments against homeschooling from the perspective of someone who works in the school system and it is quite non-confrontational in its approach to dispelling some of the myths about homeschooling while still respecting the need for public education.

If she's worked in schools for 6 years she should be able to have some idea of how the school system can not meet the needs of every child. If she doesn't admit that then she isn't being honest with herself.

There was a long long discussion here with a teacher who was calling for more oversight of homeschoolers. Tonnes of interesting points on both sides.
There is a bit more discussion on that blog. Maybe you could pass it on to your friend and you could talk to her about it - assuming you want to get into philosophical discussions about educational theory.

good luck
Karen
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by WTHamI? View Post
What I WANTED to tell Mary is that I would have been crazy ticked off if it was my kid she was doing that with.
I would say exactly this, with a smile. If it opens up further conversation, I'd talk about why I wanted to hs and why such quizzing would bother me, offer some books or websites about hsing if she's open to learning more. Who knows what will happen 5, 6 years down the road--but if she's starts doing this kind of thing with your child, then I'd plainly ask her not to and suggest other ways she could relate to your child. It can all be phrased gently and sincerely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WTHamI? View Post
...and ultimately the real current issue is the way she is alienating herself from her other friends who currently homeschool by doing the things I mentioned above...
And that is between THEM. I wouldn't step in the middle of that. First, you're not there to witness all of their interactions and you don't know what each of them is thinking or feeling. They can speak for themselves, or choose not to. Either way, I'd step away from it and let them handle it.
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