Are You Ready to Deal with Math-Quizzing Relatives this Holiday Season?


It’s that time of year. The holiday season. The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are those which find most of us seeing all of those far-flung relatives that we visit only a few times each year. {Disclaimer: If you’re not familiar with my quirky sense of humor, read the first part of this article with a sense of humor. “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” – Proverbs 22:17}

For many of us, it can also be the time when well-meaning (or just obnoxious, but they’re our relatives, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt) family members want to make sure that our homeschooled children are being properly educated and prepared for that mysterious, very frightening-sounding place – the Real World.

To that end, said relatives often make it their mission in life to properly vet our home education efforts with the completely objective, nationally standardized Far Flung Relative Assessment of Homeschooled Children. You may have heard of it.

So, how does a homeschooling parent adequately prepare his or her children to perform well on the yearly exam administered by the math-quizzing relatives?Click To Tweet

Ways You Could Handle This:

1.Focus on test prep. Public school teachers are often accused of spending too much time “teaching to the test.” Homeschool parent-teachers are often accused of not providing our children with a culturally-normed classroom experience. Preparing for the math-quizzing relatives is the perfect opportunity to level the playing field.

Just think of the weeks leading up to the holiday season as test-prep time. It will really help if you can find out what your relatives’ children are currently learning in school and do some cramming on those topics. If that’s not feasible, try some of these tips:

2. Make sure your socialization records are in order. Be sure to let your kids out of the basement a few weeks before the holiday season begins. Sign them up for scouts, sports, co-op, and a variety of clubs. You probably need 2 or 3 social activities to pass muster, so plan accordingly.

3. Teach them to say the table blessing in Latin. If all else fails, teach your kids to say the table blessing in Latin. Then ask them to bless the Thanksgiving (or Christmas or whatever) meal. In my experience, this is a proven technique for shutting down most homeschool skeptics.

But Honestly. . .

By now, it’s probably clear that I use humor to deal with stressful situations, but, all joking aside, anti-homeschooling relatives are a real problem for many families this time of year. My honest suggestions on how to deal with them are:

1. Remember that your relatives love you and your children. We all have that one really obnoxious relative who may not love us or our children, but, for the most part, the family members who are getting under your skin about homeschooling are doing so because they want the best for you and your kids, and they simply don’t understand homeschooling.

Most of us had traditional school situations growing up. Doing something so different than the norm can be frightening. As the parent, you get to see homeschooling in action every day, and you’re privy to the amazing results. Your relatives don’t see that.

Recently I was having heart palpitations watching my 14-year-old pretend to almost drop, then catch, my 2-year-old niece – the same thing I had been doing and laughing about moments earlier. My daughter pointed out that it hadn’t scared me when I was doing it.

I then explained that watching someone else do something over which you have no control can be scary and is much like sitting in the passenger seat of a car. When you’re the driver, you know what you’re doing and you know you’re in control of the situation. As the passenger, you have no control and must put your faith and trust in the driver – and that can be scary.

Keeping in mind that most of the relatives we encounter over the holiday season are speaking out of love and concern for us and our children can help us to have much more patience with their questioning – and quizzing.

2. Model the behavior you want your kids to emulate. While it’s easy to get frustrated with the math-quizzing relatives – particularly the truly obnoxious ones – look at the situation as an opportunity to model the behavior you want your kids to display when dealing with frustrating people and difficult situations.

As they go through life, our kids are going to encounter all types of people and personality types. Model for them how to do so with kindness, grace, love, respect, dignity, and self-control – and, if you want to teach them how to put someone in their place with a well-placed snarky comment, well, that’s up to you. {grin}

And, if you do have one of those really nasty relatives who is just being belligerent, it’s okay to politely but unapologetically shut them down, or, if necessary, remove yourself from the situation.

It can be difficult to deal with family members who don’t support or don’t understand homeschooling and want to use family gatherings as an opportunity to force you to see the error of your ways. It helps to remember that you only have to endure the quizzing a couple of times a year and that these conversations with your kids may just be what helps them see the true benefits and blessings of homeschooling.

At the very least, you can smile over the fact that they don’t know why you’re giggling as your kid successfully rattles off all the U.S. states and capitals along with all the presidents while filling out a blank Periodic Table.

Kris-05.23.12-2Kris-05.23.12-2Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of 24+ years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she’s old and alone. You can connect with Kris at her blog or on Facebook or Twitter. You can read more from Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

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