Let it Snow

How to Talk to Homeschoolers


By: Anna Bailey, senior reporter

Photograph: Unsplash

January is the month when students pray for snow days. I hoped and prayed for one in my first year, but no such luck. I never got snow days in high school either, becausebrace yourselvesI was homeschooled.  

As a result, I can’t teach you snow day etiquette, but I can tell you how to talk to former homeschoolers. Actually, I can tell you how not to talk to them. I polled a few friends at the Homeschoolers Anonymous meetings and we came up with some particularly triggering phrases.

“Did you do school in your pajamas all the time?”

If we did, it’s a sore subject. There came a day when we realized we had to immediately develop a fashion sense.

If we didn’t, we’re either offended that mom made us wear clothes, or offended that you think we would wear pajamas all day.  

“So, your mom was your favourite teacher?”

Surprise: some of us left the house sometimes. Or took classes online. Or at co-op’s and community colleges. But mom, if you’re reading this, you are my favourite.  

“So, you never had exams?”

See above. While some homeschooling families are fairly casual, others get involved in many outside activities and learning communities. Assume most homeschooled kids you meet did as much or more school than younot lessand your chances of a long life will increase.

“How do you make friends?”

Who needs friends when you have seventeen siblings, twenty-five chickens, and a horse? Seriously though, after having to get through this awkward conversation each week, we were definitely capable of (trigger word alert) “socializing.”

“Did you just sleep all day?”

Has your mother ever let you sleep all day? That’s what I thought.

“So, is your mom your teacher, and your dad your principal? That’s hilarious!”

It was when we were five. We’re over it.

“Wait, what was lunch like?”

Well, sometimes when we couldn’t catch a deer, we just ate whatever was in the vegetable garden.

“You don’t look homeschooled at all!”

My jean skirt is in the laundry, sorry!

“I wish I was homeschooled!”

Sometimes flattering; usually to cover up one of the phrases above.   


This one seems innocent. It is, in my experience, usually polite and even genuine. But no one wants to explain this to a total stranger in the middle of a swimming lesson, or in a change-room, or in a check-out lineup. Usually, the answer involves factors such as faith, money, and how the student learns best. The easy answer is “My parents decided before I was born and I’m not too traumatized yet.” But saying this out loud sounds vaguely cultish. So we suffer and keep practicing those social skills.

“HA! Homeschooler.”

Can’t tell if the joke you’re making is original and funny? If it includes this phrase, we’ve heard it before. So if someone says to you this winter, “I’ve never had a snow day,” bite your tongue and pray for snow.