Dear Snarky – My Sister-in-Law Tells People Her Kid Is a Genius

Dear Snarkydear_snarky_logo,

Three sisters-in-laws are writing because we need help with our fourth sister-in-law. She homeschools her 8-year-old daughter and whenever we’re at a large family function or event invariably someone will ask what grade all of the kids are in.  My sister-in-law has started saying her 8-year-old is in the ninth grade! You can imagine how everyone oohs and aahs and talks about how she must be a genius. She’s not a genius. My sister-in-law is basing her daughter’s grade level on the random fact that she read a book that was supposedly on a ninth grade reading list.

All of us are tired of her measuring her daughter’s grade using “homeschool math” and would like your advice on how to get her to stop it.

Signed, 3 Moms 

Dear 3 Moms,

Simmer down sister-in-laws and let’s examine the problem from another angle. Has something happened in this mom’s life or homeschooling journey that has her rattled? I ask this because you shared that this is a relatively new occurrence. Maybe your sister-in-law is feeling needy or insecure about her teaching or needs some outside validation that she’s doing the right thing. 

I suggest you three take S.I.L. #4 out for lunch or coffee and ask if everything is okay. I would even share that you’re concerned because she’s saying your niece is in the ninth grade. This may help and if it doesn’t at least you’ve reached out in caring way and have let your relative know that the whole grade level leap-frog business is ridiculous.

8 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – My Sister-in-Law Tells People Her Kid Is a Genius

  1. Homeschool Mama says:

    I love this advice. I also homeschool and sometimes you do have moments of doubt that your kids are getting a good education. So maybe she does need to talk about it. 🙂

  2. Meghan Hamilton says:

    I’m a homeschooling mom. I know that I can feel very defensive of my choice to do this because a lot of people think that homeschooled kids don’t receive a good education. My guess is that this woman’s family has expressed dismay at her choice to follow this path and she feels she has something to prove. These sisters can help calm her down by expressing support and approval of her decision. They should do some research about the good that can come out of homeschooling so that they can defend their sister in rational way should the family tell her she made the wrong choice. Then maybe this homeschooling sister can feel safe to climb out of her tree.

  3. irreverendt says:

    I am always curious as to the motive/reason why someone is homeschooling. If it purely because the parent wants to “protect” their child from the evils of the world I think they are doing their child a disservice. On the other hand I am familiar with a number of instances where the public schools were so instructionally poor and in some cases physically dangerous that homeschooling was a wise choice. My grandson is in the 5th grade and his experience with students coming to public school after a start in homeschooling would indicate most homeschoolers are in fact behind rather than ahead of their public school classmates

  4. Normal Mom says:

    I’ve been in the education field a long time; I deal with adults who never finished high school. This is usually for a variety of reasons, but a reason that is currently rising in popularity is “attempted home schooling.” Parents who do a terrific job of homeschooling exist, truly, and they spend a great deal of time and effort making sure their kids receive appropriate and excellent educational experiences. Other parents really do no know what they are doing, and they do their children a terrible disservice. It is wonderful advice for the other women to be involved in this mom’s life– to offer encouragement to the mom so she continues to work hard at it, but more importantly to serve as a check that the child is getting a good experience. If mom is struggling, or is having mental health issues, things could go very wrong at home and no one might know. We had a huge scandal in my state a few years back, where home schooling was a cover for child abuse and neglect. Again, I do not mean to paint all homeschoolers in a negative light. But problems do exist, and adults in their lives should look out for those children.

  5. Homeschooled says:

    Normal Mom hit the nail on the head. I was homeschooled by a mother who had a very laid back view of learning. She thought as long as we knew how to read and do basic math we were just fine. Fast forward to me trying to get into college. I had to take remedial classes at a junior college for almost three years and then finally I got into a state university. It took me 6 years to graduate because I didn’t take more than 12 hours a semester because everything took me longer to understand. Just imagine if you never, ever had a science class. This why I call myself a recovering homeschooler.

  6. Rachel says:

    I and my brother were homeschooled k-12. Mom is a former teacher who always said she might not be the best teaching specific topics, but she did teach HOW to learn and to LOVE to learn. In high school we attended a co-op to supplement the subjects Mom and Dad were not able to teach. Fast forward, both my brother and I scored high on ACT’s, earned multiple scholarships for academics, made the Dean’s list numerous times, my brother is an attorney, and I am a realtor and owner of several start-ups. We are not the exception to the rule. Excuse me if I seem to brag or be irritated, but I am so sick of the public school superior attitude, that we homeschool because we couldn’t hack it in public school. To this day I don’t tell people I was homeschooled until they get to know me; when they learn of homeschool high the response is always “oh, but you’re so well adjusted.” Just consider this, there are maladjusted families in public school and private school, just as many homeschool families have very rich school experiences including sports, arts, and theatrics. Judge it by the individual family, not by the whole, there are many reasons for homeschooling. Also for the family in question it is entirely possible the little girl may be more advanced in one subject and struggle with another. Doesn’t make her stupid or her mother a bad teacher. Maturity levels, learning styles, and natural gifts all play a role. Using myself as an example I didn’t learn to read till I was almost ten, but once I did I was reading unabridged Shakespeare within the year for fun. My maturity level wasn’t ready until then, but once I decided I wanted to read, I did. Math is a different story. I’m visual so math doesn’t make sense to me, the numbers are too slick for my mind to hold or create images. My biggest peeve with the education system is the absolute adherence to standardized tests. In no other situation is anyone expected to be good at everything.
    I apologize for the rabbit trail, clearly this is a hot button topic for me 😉

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