If you have homeschooled for long, you know that your education seems to have suddenly become everyone else’s business. From relatives to strangers, everyone is curious, horrified or accusatory when they hear the seemingly magic h-word. One skill you need to possess is the ability to rationalize, explain, or defend your choice to homeschool yourself.

Parents and close family members will probably require the most care and attention when explaining your homeschooling practices. They are likely to be most concerned with the decision, and may have heard negative rumors about homeschooling before. You may want to sit them down and explain why you’re homeschooling, dispel any false rumors they have heard, and assure them that you know what you’re doing. Sometimes, no matter what you say, people won’t support you. When this happens, you may simply have to go ahead with homeschooling and support yourself through it until they see that they were wrong.

Friends are another tricky area to navigate. While your decision to homeschool yourself technically isn’t any of their business, they may be either concerned or nosy. Remember that some people may seem curious because it’s so novel and “weird” to them, perhaps a source of town gossip. If you sense this going on, assert your boundaries and let them know what is and isn’t appropriate.

Strangers are another source of tension when you homeschool yourself. If you are young (or look it), people might ask why you aren’t in school in an attempt to catch you cutting class, but hearing that you’re homeschooled isn’t likely to appease them. Choose your arguments wisely; if you try to educate everyone about the realities of homeschooling, you will only waste your time with some people who will never change their minds about the effectiveness or legality of homeschooling. Time has helped to change some of these rumors, but not all of them.

The law, school boards, and officials may have to be reminded of your right to homeschool yourself. The best way to ensure that legal action is not taken against you is to make sure before you even begin to homeschool yourself that you are compliant with all laws and regulations governing homeschooling. School boards, meanwhile, stand to lose enrollment fees if you aren’t in public school, so they may refuse to provide services. They may actually be required to, but you might choose not to fight that battle if they are unwilling and simply stay out of their way. In most cases, they are more concerned with the legal and bureaucratic aspects of your decision than how it actually affects you on a personal level.

When homeschooling yourself, you have to be prepared to face the reality of some individuals feeling they know what’s best for you. Think about who matters in your life when you decide whether or not to respond to negative comments. Always try to keep a thick skin, remember just what you are entitled to and don’t let people get to you!