Part 2—How Can You Prepare Your Children to Answer Questions Well?
You will be doing your children and yourself a great service if you teach them how to handle questions in a graceful, confident, and knowledgeable way. And remember, many—if not most—of the questions will occur when you aren’t with them.
Later as I taught classes on public speaking and biblical worldview training in our local co-op, I started including one session on the apologetics of homeschooling. I would use this time to help prepare elementary-aged kids through teenagers to respond to questions about homeschooling in a formal interview situation, as well as in informal conversations.
This is how I prepare students to answer the questions they will be relentlessly asked.
I begin each discussion (this can be at home or in a co-op) by drawing a line down the middle of a large whiteboard. The left side of the board, I label “Private Reasons”: the right side, “Public Reasons.” Then I ask them questions about homeschooling, like these:
- What about socialization?
- Do you like homeschooling?
- Do you have any friends?
- Do you feel like you are missing anything?
- Why does your family homeschool?
- Can you play sports?
- Will you ever be able to go to prom?
- Where do you want to go to college? Do you think you will be able to get in?
- Are you really learning anything?
- What did you learn this week?
As students respond to the various questions, I write the answer down on the right side of the board if they are suitable for public discussions. But if a child answers she likes homeschooling because she can stay in her pajamas all day, I write the answer on the left side under “Private Reasons.” I take the time to explain that while certain answers—like wearing pajamas all day—may be true and meaningful to them, these are not the answers we want to discuss in public.
At the end of the brainstorming discussion, I want to make sure every child can tell me five reasons why their parents homeschool them and/or five reasons why they enjoy being homeschooled.
Tweaking and polishing
At the end of that brainstorming exercise, we look at the answers on the right side of the board and began to tweak and polish them a bit.
Role-playing and ask the kids questions
Then we switch roles, and they ask the questions and I answer. It gives them a chance to hear my responses. We continue until they are too tired to be productive, or we have an answer relatively down pat.
Once we have gone through the role-playing exercise, we practice—sometimes formally, sometimes informally. With my own children, if we were in the car, I would throw out one question and have them answer it. If a new question arose, we would go through the process of brainstorming, tweaking, and polishing.
The point is this: begin the discussion. Prepare your children well to answer the questions that will arise almost daily in their lives concerning homeschooling. As your children get older, help them understand why people ask them so many questions about homeschooling and why their answers matter. They are truly some of the greatest ambassadors homeschooling has.
You can transfer this process to other areas
Your children will be questioned about their Christianity as they grow up seeking the Lord. Use this same process to teach them how to answer questions about their faith.
As they prepare for job and/or college interviews, they will benefit greatly from these same interview skills you have instilled in them as children.
And through this process of questioning and answering, you are helping them develop powerful critical thinking skills.
Read the first part of this blog series: PART 1: CAN YOUR CHILDREN EXPLAIN WHY YOU HOMESCHOOL THEM?