Homeschool Question#4 "Do you KNOW anything?"

Today is Memorial Day so I'd like to start off by saying thank you to all our military and their families and to honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free! The last Monday of the month is usually reserved for your comments and questions.  This Monday is a bit different in that I'm going to focus on the one question I have received over the years from homeschoolers.  It fits right in with my "A Question of Homeschooling" series of articles so this week I'd like to help homeschoolers answer the question, "Do you KNOW anything?" One of the issues homeschoolers have to deal with is the random quizzing of our children and the questions that reflect their 'concern' that our children aren't really learning anything.  I remember walking through the store or a park when someone found out we homeschooled.  Turning to my dd, they began asking her a series of questions... "What's 12 x 12?" "Name the capital of Venezuela?" "When did World War II begin?" "Explain the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?" "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" My dd was able to answer all of the questions folks flung at her, but she often felt like she was a contestant on Jeopardy!  It gave her some amount of stress, especially when she was young.  It can be a little unnerving for the parent as well.  You stand there wondering how long you should let this go on before you say something.  And what do you say?  "Stop quizzing my kid, she's not a performing monkey!" I usually would allow a question or two and then cut it short saying we had to go.  Sometimes the Quiz Master would make a comment to imply she wasn't able to handle the interrogation, er... I mean, conversation.   Then I felt it  appropriate (read that justified) to quip, "Well, if she'd known there was a test today, she would have studied." Once a man began quizzing my son in the same way.  He didn't want to let it go and made some comment which, in essence, spoke of my son's inferior education.  I explained to him that, though my son spoke quite well, he was only in the second grade! I have never understood the need to quiz my children. I doubt very much anyone has ever quizzed public schooled children this way!  Can you imagine the look on the parent's face if a man had said, "Oh, you're in public school?  What's the capital of Venezuela?"   When I run into someone who feels the need to do this and he is not satisfied with one of my previous answers, I have taken a few minutes to point this out along with the fact that studies show that homeschooled students consistently score higher academically than public or private schooled students. What's important is to try to do this with as little indignation as possible.  I know it's easier said than done when your children have been called ignorant to their face, but do try.  If you don't, you run the risk of appearing wounded and that gives him more ammunition for future homeschoolers he encounters. (He could take this as, "The truth hurts, eh, Mrs. Homeschooler!) Lastly, it is important to talk with your children about the encounter to assure they don't feel belittled by this man.  Their self-esteem is important and one little careless remark by a stranger can have a big impact on a child. Now, you may be wondering about the question which titles today's article and you can't believe anyone would say such a thing to a child.  I'll tell you the story as it was relayed to me by my dd's friend.  Apparently she was at a family event (I think she was about 13 at the time) when an older man (friend of a family member) started a conversation with her and found she was homeschooled all her life.  He looked at her and replied, "Well, do you KNOW anything?" When someone asks if my kids 'know anything' or imply that I am an easy teacher because I'm my kids' mom, I relate a story of my own.  My children are gifted.  When I brought my dd home from private school in the 5th grade, she was used to being the smartest one in the class. So much so that her teachers never made her prove it.  They often took less than her best work and praised her for it.  I made her do her best.  I insisted on it.  Though she read on an adult level by the 3rd grade and spoke like a 45 y/o when she was 6, she wrote like a first grader in the fifth grade!  I made her rewrite her papers...several times!!  In the first year of homeschool, my dd made up a chant for me called "Mean Mommy."  There was a clap and a dance that went with it.  She taught it to her brother and they'd both run around the house chanting, "Mean Mommy" (clap clap) "Mean Mommy!"  (clap clap). After my dd was accepted to Vanderbilt University, I asked her about Mean Mommy.  She said she was grateful for Mean Mommy today!  So I guess she does know something! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula, including Say What You Mean Defending the Faith.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and and hosting her weekly podcast, Communication Comedy Network.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit Stay tuned next Monday for more in my article series, “A Question of Homeschooling” when I will share another answer to a typical question homeschoolers are asked. If you have a question you are frequently asked and would like me to include it in my blog series, please post a comment here or email me at jojo @


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    […] covered this one here, but thought I’d bring it back as it really is a dumb question to ask of anyone.  Would […]

  • jojosblog

    You are welcome Mindy!

    Becky Joie, you have a very good point there! How about, “Would you be quizzing my kids if they went to public school and, if so, would a public schooled 2nd grader know what 6.57 × 1.63 is?”

  • BeckyJoie

    One could always have their children prepared with tough questions to ask back. The one asking the questions has the upper hand.

  • Mindy

    Thank you JoJo. This is exactly what my children go through. I am amazed that it is mostly children their age that bring on the ‘attacks’. They want to know “what is the Theory of Relativity” or “explain E-mc2” or “what is the square root of Pie”. My children are very smart, even if they don’t know the answer to every question on the SAT’s. Thank you for standing with “us” and always being an encouragement. Blessings!

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