To Call or Not to Call

A friend of mine wrote to me because she was concerned about a homeschooled family and their children. She was concerned because this family had a 9 year old who did not read very well. She thought the child could read small words, those of a 4or 5 year old. She wondered if she should say anything to the family or perhaps she should call someone about this. As a homeschooling mom, she did not want to start trouble but she felt as if this child really needs help. Should she call or not? That is a concern that some homeschooled moms face when meeting other homeschooled families who seem as if they are not teaching their children at the level they should be.

Where should the children be is the question one needs to ask themselves when it comes to homeschooling. I know it is hard to sit and watch others parent their children differently than we would. However, as we get older and wiser, we realize that we do not know everything either and we are not always “right”. Sometimes there is just no “right” way to school our children, just different.

Many homeschooled parents have received grief from family members because their children did not start reading or read at their peers’ levels. It can take a along time as a homeschool mom to realize that not all children learn at the same level. Many parents find out that when their children are behind in reading it is because they had dyslexia. Many children do not start reading well until 5th grade. Some families have children that could read at 5 with no help from parents because they are listening to Mom teach their older siblings. On the other hand, the family can have two other siblings that are much slower and are not reading fluently. Some children struggled with reading and are not fluent until about age 7-8 and become voracious readers after that. Studies have shown that children that learn to read later, age 8 or 9, actually do better than children that learn at age 5 or 6. Better Late Than Never by Raymond Moore is an excellent book on this subject. Not all children are at the same level in any subject which is one reason why we all homeschool.

You do not know the struggles this family has had financially, emotionally or physically to make a decision that they are just being neglectful. What if the parents lost their jobs and schoolbooks were hard to come by that year. What if the homeschool parent became ill that year and teaching was difficult. I know of a mother who came down with a heart condition and taught minimal school for an entire year. Should she have put her kids in school for that year? It is not for you or me to say. I do know this, the kids caught up the next year. What if the family in question had a death in the family? That could set someone back for a long time especially if the loss was a child. The whole family would need time to heal. I know my kids have been behind in the past and it has taken time to catch up to where we should be. If anyone had called the authorities, it would have been devastating to us as a family. I was not neglectful I was a bit behind.

Keep in mind; there are different learning and teaching styles that home school families use. Who are we to say what works for someone else? Some children are auditory learners and if parents do not pick that up right away, the children could easily get behind. Likewise, if a child is a visual leaner curriculum needs to be adjusted to fit their needs or they too will struggle and possibly get behind. My eldest son had a very difficult time with spelling and to ease the frustration we just stopped. In fact, we did no spelling for two years. When we picked it back up, it was easier for him. He was no longer frustrated by it. If you do not spend 24 hours a day with a family, you have no idea what goes on in their home.

Think about your children, family, and what you would do if someone called the authorities on you. Even though we may have good intent, it is not our place to say how others school their children. Instead, there are a few ways that you could be a help.

If the child is not reading because the parent is not taking the time to encourage them, maybe you could just sit down with the child, and read a fun book to them at their reading level. Sometimes it takes an outside person to spark their interest. My sons hated to read until the first Harry Potter book came out. Now, they read everything and anything. In fact, they rather read than watch T.V.

One grandparent I know sat down with their 4-year-old grandson and just played alphabet games with him. Grandma showed him how to blend letters together with lots of giggles and the next day we got out the beginner books. Now, he is off and reading. His Mom had not thought he was ready… It took a grandma!

Perhaps, you could start home schooling together. Team-teach! Perhaps they do not know how to effectively teach certain subjects like reading. The best thing you can do, IMO, is invite them for tea and discuss home schooling. Find out where they are and if they need help and then help them where you can. If it will work out for team teaching then schedule it for twice a week or so.

If you call the authorities on another family, you very well may put your family at risk of being looked at. You must ask yourself; what if it were you? What if someone thought you were being neglectful? What ramifications would it have on your family and children? Think about what it would do to you and imagine it happening to them. If you are in a position to influence another family, I think encouraging them would be the most beneficial. Ultimately, the children are their responsibility.


Lisa Dingman is a homeschool mom of four children and the founder of Success In Home Biz. With her business, Lisa focuses on helping people gain financial independence while still spending time with their spouses, homeschooling the children, or continuing to work at their present jobs while uncovering the road to financial freedom.

avatar Lisa Dingman (4 Posts)

Lisa Dingman is the founder of Success In Home Biz. The web source is designed to help stay at home moms, home schooling moms and parents in the work force make the transition from full time mom or employee to entrepreneur. While married for 23 years and home schooling four children ages 6 to 18, she has been helping people to success for the past 18 years. Lisa lives on a small farm in Littlerock, California where she enjoys spending time with friends and family. She is active with her home school group and all the children's activities. She enjoys spending time on vacation and playing with the kids on the farm which includes fun things like a pool a creek, a fort, dress up houses and so much more.


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