What’s Your Answer to the Inevitable Question?
Some people go out of their way to point out that they homeschool. Others try to keep a low profile and mention homeschooling only when pressed directly. (I overheard a conversation at the pool this summer between two acquaintances. One mother asked the other what grade her middle child would be in this fall. The second mom, whom I know teaches her children at home, replied to the question without mentioning homeschooling.) Regardless of how it comes up, there are a few statements and a couple of questions that come up time after time.
“I couldn’t do that.”
“My kids don’t listen to me.”
“My kids drive me crazy during the summer. I don’t know how you could have them around all year long.”
“What about sports?”
“How long are you planning on doing this?”
“What about socialization?”
“Why do you homeschool?”
I am only going to address the last question listed because I think it is a bit different than the others. Not only have I been asked this question by friends, relatives, and strangers, but fellow homeschoolers have also inquired as to our reasons.
Answering this question can be simple, complex, lengthy, positive, negative, or education. Your answer might be the same every time, depend on who asked the question, or it might vary based on your most recent experiences. While it didn’t impact my answer, I recently attended a catechist training session where several of the attendees complained of excessive Wednesday night homework that interferes with CCD and peers making fun of the Catholic kids who say grace at meals.
Sometimes the reasons you started to homeschool are not the same as why you continue. Within the last year, I read a blog entry by a homeschooler who used to insist she was ‘different’ than other homeschoolers because she ‘fell into’ homeschooling and didn’t plan to do it. She writes that now she has completely different reasons for continuing to homeschool her children.
When answering, I try to focus on the many positives of homeschooling and not as much on the negatives I am trying to avoid When I wish to give a simple and quick answer, I respond truthfully that we feel God has called us to this path.
For those who are searching out God’s Will in their own lives, I might start with the statement that each family has their own reasons for homeschooling and that we have many. Then, I might go into some of ours. For example, we want our children to learn about God everyday. We can tailor their education to encourage their interests while giving extra help in their weaker areas. Their learning happens at a pace they set – faster or slower depending on their needs. Sometimes, you may unknowingly be an answer to a prayer or an agent of the Holy Spirit. Being positive and cheerful in your answer keeps the path open to other questions and shows that you are a good ambassador for the homeschooling community.
When pressed, I do admit there are negative situations we wish to avoid. Unfortunately, there seem to always be reminders of these in the national news – school lock downs, violence, bullying, sexually explicit programs of one sort or another, hostile anti-Christian teachers, etc. I don’t bring these up myself. Others who bring them up are admitting that the path most traveled (public schooling) isn’t lacking its own set of dark shadows, brambles, and potholes.
My answer tends to be more complex and I end up in much more of a give-and-take discussion when I am talking to a fellow home educator. I admit to curiosity about why others take the road less traveled. Their reasons sometimes resonate with me and sometimes show me what a diverse group of people homeschoolers are. Once, at a meeting I attended, a fairly new homeschooling mother briefly outlined why she had removed her children from the public school system. I admired her strength in bucking the system because she wanted her children’s education to include God.