Home Education worries : Will they learn how to queue?

In which I share the short answer… (spoiler alert) Yes. Home educated children can and do, queue. And then the long answer, delving into why this might be a worry at all?

“All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.”

Yoda. The Empire Strikes Back.

We’re trying to be more mindful in our family. Getting out of our heads and being more present in the moment. It’s a practice I’ve been seeking to improve for years, painfully aware of how short life can be, I don’t want to miss any of it.

My eldest daughters have both taken courses in mindfulness. And recently they were chatting about opportunities to practise the skills they were learning. They began comparing stories of how they had used waiting as a form of meditation. Being mindful of what they were feeling and how they could use this time wisely, to relax and slow down, to reach out to others and to reflect on the many reasons they had to be grateful.

They shared experiences of waiting in line at the shop and for their siblings and their parents, and how these had given them a chance to practise feeling grounded and accepting the moment. Said siblings and parents willingly offer them many opportunities for such practise, we’re useful like that 🙂  

Hearing them reflect on queuing as an opportunity to improve their emotional well-being, reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago. Almost ten years ago now, back when we were just thinking about home education.

Then and actually, ever since, many people have felt moved to tell us just what they thought about that idea, sharing their concerns and their fears, just in case we didn’t have enough of our own. And I kid you not, that day, the concern was…

But they won’t know how to queue.

Is that true? Will they never learn how to queue? Well, the short answer is… in my experience – almost 10 years home educating 4 children and meeting many other home educating families … I’d have to say, yes, or do I mean no? Tying myself up in double negatives 🙂

To clarify. Yes, I do believe that they will learn how to queue. My children certainly have.

Hang on, hold up. Those four children you mention, didn’t they go to school until they were 11, 9 and 5? Maybe they learnt it there – and probably everything else they know too 🙂

What if you’ve never been to school, maybe then you’d miss out on the vital skill of standing in line? So we had another baby just to make sure. A little experiment if you will. Don’t send her to school, we thought, and then we’ll know for sure. Darn it, she’s got those pesky 3 siblings who’ll probably teach her all they learnt in school – the experiment will be ruined, that can’t be a fair test, surely?

Doing my research.

So I called a friend who also has four children, but none of them have been to school.

‘Can they queue?’, I asked.

My friend replied, a little hesitantly ‘Are you okay?’

I pushed. ‘Do they know how to queue?’

‘Well,’ she began, ‘they might moan if it’s taking a long time. And then edge in and out trying to judge how much longer it might take. They’ll probably check their phones and sigh a lot. But yeah, I’d say they know how to queue.’

‘All that sounds like perfectly normal queuing to me’ I said. ‘And you’re sure they’ve never been to school?’

‘Definitely’, she confirmed.

And some direct observation.

Then I remembered, I’d actually seen it with my own eyes, queuing for turns at the park, for ice-creams, and in the post office, not all at the same time of course. But I’d seen it, and more than once, those guys could queue and queue good 🙂

Learning to queue without being taught?

Phew, so without any formal teaching and direct instruction, without endless repetition of shuffling in and out of school assembly, the playground and the lunch room, my friend’s children had learnt to queue, and almost effortlessly according to her.

There you go, nothing to worry about. My short answer is vindicated. Home educated children will, almost certainly, learn to queue.

But if you know me at all, then you know I couldn’t just give you the short answer. Besides, I am worried.

I’m worried we’re worrying about queuing!

Not that I’m against it, or anything. But I couldn’t believe this dear friend of mine was really that worried about queuing. Usually you’d never find a kinder, more thoughtful person, deeply respectful of children’s rights and one of my parenting heroes.

Admittedly, that day was somewhat of an off day. But to be fair, I had just dropped a bombshell, we’re thinking the kids might not go back to school after the summer. What the…?

Is there more to this, than just queuing?

Anyway, it got me thinking. What’s really going on here? Did she have other, deeper concerns? Was she really envisaging a whole swarm of home educated youngsters sparking an epidemic of queue jumping? Or was there more at stake?

Home education rocking the fabric of society? Again. Here’s an idea… Let’s register the lot of them and then we can make sure they all get adequate queuing instruction, that’ll keep them all in line, hee hee.

And just in case you’re wondering what I really think about a register for home educating families, I’ll share my thoughts on that soon. Hint : It’s not the best idea I’ve ever heard 🙂

The old socialisation chestnut.

Perhaps, subconsciously, her real concerns were broader than merely queuing. Maybe she was concerned they wouldn’t learn how to behave in a socially acceptable manner. Because, of course, home educated young people are sheltered. They don’t live in the real world. Although I’ve often wondered when it was that school became the real world 🙂

Maybe it’s the term home education. It is a little misleading. Learning doesn’t just happen at home, it happens anywhere, all the time. I guess that’s why I like the term unschooling. Although I might not use it in polite company, it has an unfortunate habit of triggering fearful shrieks… ‘neglectful and irresponsible parenting, free for alls and long haired lazy layabouts’, even amongst the most mild-mannered and usually reasonable souls 🙂

John Holt first used ‘unschooling’ simply to describe the act of not sending our children to school. And even now it’s come to mean so much more, the basic premise remains the same. Check out what kind of homeschoolers are we to find out more about what unschooling means to us.

We’ve opted out of schooling, not out of learning.

Although technically we haven’t opted out of school at all, we’ve chosen not to opt in. Schools are one option, available to support parents meet their responsibilities to educate their children. An opt-in service, one that you can reasonably, and lawfully, choose not to take advantage of. Of course regardless of whether you consider it an advantage or not, the responsibility for your child’s education remains with you, the parent.

Are schools the best place to learn socially acceptable behaviour?

It’s a tricky one this. What is socially acceptable? Our social norms and values differ and evolve over time and place. And what seems appropriate to you, might not be to me. Many of the expectations placed on children at school run counter to the qualities we might value in adults. Many school environments promote conflict, competition and conformity without question. They endorse and encourage segregation, punishment and manipulation as models for human interaction.

Although it cannot be denied. Schools do offer many and varied opportunities to practise queuing. But then again, so does life. And I know where I’d rather be 🙂

Home educated children visit busy places, use public transport and even have parents. Parents who are likely to have some queuing skills and knowledge of their own.

Are home educated children ‘too big for their boots’?

Maybe the concern lies more in the kind of attitude and self-image home educated children might possess. Are they more likely to be spoilt and see themselves as the centre of the universe? Developing a disproportionate sense of entitlement and getting a little too big for their boots? Who are they, and their parents, to think they’re so special they don’t have to go to school like the rest of us?

Firstly, I don’t believe we can spoil children. They’re people, not dessert 🙂

And secondly, I want my children to own the space they take up in the world, to feel comfortable in their own skin. They are free to make choices, encouraged to think for themselves and supported to face the challenges of life.

I am trying to be a kinder parent, each and every day. To offer my children an abundance of generosity, of kindness and of love. Hoping they’ll have all that they need, and plenty more to share.

Are home educated children heartless and uncaring?

And now, I think we’re getting closer to the heart of the matter, what was really concerning my friend that day. That perhaps home educated children might be unaware of others’ needs, disrespectful and inconsiderate. That without forced socialisation with their peers, they will struggle to form relationships and will be a risk to themselves and to others, unaware of how to interact in the real world.

This is not my experience. My children, like many other home educated young people I’ve met, have repeatedly shown themselves to be considerate, caring and capable. My children aren’t perfect, close as damn it mind 🙂 But none of us are perfect. Life is a continual learning process. Some of us are better at queuing. And some days it comes easier than others.

But to reassure you dear friend, they do learn to queue. Even the teddies know how to queue in this house. My home educated children, and many others like them, have learnt to queue, to respect others around them and so much more. They might even let you go ahead of them, they’re nice like that 🙂

Unless you try and cut in, of course, then they’ll stand their ground as passively aggressively as the next man, woman, child or teddy (meditation or no meditation, there are queuing standards that must be upheld).

I’d love to know if your children can queue, all in the name of research of course 🙂 And if you’ve come across any other interesting home ed worries, please share them in the comments below.

Happy week all, and may all your queues be short ones 🙂


  1. Beautiful and entertaining read. ❤️

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Sal, true story 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.