Part 1—Ten Questions Homeschoolers Get Asked and Should Be Able to Answer.
From their early years, my children grew up with television cameras in the living room and our schoolroom. We began homeschooling in 1984, and it was a controversial decision to say the least. As we marched through the process as a family of lobbying for homeschooling legislation and working for a better climate in general for homeschoolers, my children were asked at least a thousand questions. Here are ten of the most common:
- What about socialization?
- Do you like homeschooling?
- Do you have any friends?
- Do you feel like you are missing anything by not being in real school?
- Why does your family homeschool?
- Can you play sports?
- Will you ever be able to go to the 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?
These are ten questions we all need to prepare our children to answer effortlessly. Preparing your children to answer questions homeschoolers get asked will take time and intentionality on your part.
Why not spontaneity?
I will never forget the first time the camera crew came to our home. The boys were seven and five. They were well-prepared to meet the crew socially. They interacted well and were not intimidated, even at such a young age. And then the official interview began those questions homeschoolers get asked. I had not prepped them for it, because I wanted their answers to be sincere, spontaneous, and genuine. The reporter asked my totally endearing five-year-old, “So, tell me, son, why do you like homeschooling?” He looked the reporter straight in the eye and said, “Because I can get a snack and go to the bathroom anytime I want to.”
I cringed. From my son’s perspective, his answer was absolutely true and important to him. He had been in preschool before we started homeschooling where he couldn’t do those things whenever he wanted to. But that’s not what I wanted being discussed on the nightly news.
It was my fault. I failed to realize that lawyers prepare their witnesses to be interrogated for a reason. It doesn’t mean their answers aren’t sincere and genuine, but they are thought-through as opposed to spontaneous. Sometimes spontaneity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Adults prepare for job interviews, so they are able to put their best foot forward for the potential employer. If adults need to prepare for interviews and interrogations in the real world, how much more does a child need to prepare and rehearse? I set to work, and from that point on my children gave well-thought-out answers to the litany of questions I thought they would encounter as homeschooled kids. Remember, no age is too young for preparation!
All of life is an interview
Every child is asked a myriad of questions in his growing-up years. If that child happens to be homeschooled the tally rises to a million fairly quickly! You know how it is. You can’t go through the checkout line in the grocery store without you and your children being riddled with questions. Homeschooled children are questioned by friends, by relatives, by people at church, by strangers, and occasionally by a TV reporter or a legislator. And sometimes well-meaning friends and relatives can’t wait to get your children alone so they can find out what they really think and feel.
I was really shocked when, one day, my teen-age sons started sharing with me just how many times our friends and family members had interrogated them these questions homeschoolers get asked when Joe and I weren’t there. The questions ranged from “Do you really like homeschooling?” to “Do you feel gypped by not being in real school” to “What have you learned this week?”
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.
Read the second part of this blog series: PART 2: CAN YOUR CHILDREN EXPLAIN WHY YOU HOMESCHOOL THEM?