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« Our Classical Curriculum - The ABC's of Homeschooling | Main | Curiosity Files - Red Tide / The Old Schoolhouse Review »
Saturday
Apr232011

Are You A Homeschool Ambassador?

Ambassador:
An authorized representative or messenger
(definition courtesy of Mirriam-Wester)

Part of my job as a homeschooling parent is to lend credibility to what we do. Yes, I know I don't have to "answer" to anyone, but it sure is nice to show non homeschooling parents that we are intentional, intelligent, and successful. After a long conversation with a public school teacher last week, I came away feeling like I had furthered the cause of home education, and that just maybe I had encouraged a deep rooted interest in home education in the woman I was talking with.

This woman and I have been sitting together at the tennis courts for the past several months. We always exchange pleasantries (normally I'm busy knitting); I know her children attend the public school where she is a teacher. Last week, she struck up a conversation about homeschooling, and expressed to me her worries about middle school, and how she felt the public schools limited her daughters from achieving their potential. As I listened, I saw SO MUCH of myself in this woman ~ so much of the uncertainty and concern about her children's education, and her longing to try something different, but at the same time being worried about trying something different.

As we were talking, another parent from the class approached me and said, "Excuse me - I don't mean to interrupt, but do you mind if I listen while you talk about homeschooling?" Right then I put down my knitting and gave them my full attention. Each of them had daughters approaching middle school, and each of them longed for more freedom, creativity, and control in their children's education.

We had a wonderful conversation about homeschooling, and I feel perhaps I made a difference in both of their decisions - at least I hope I did. Driving home, I began to think about WHY it is so important that we, as homeschooling parents, can articulate our viewpoints and the importance of what we do. This led me to some personal questions, which I thought I would share with readers of my blog - maybe it will give us all something to think about.

  • Can you clearly state WHY you homeschool your children? When people ask why we homeschool I simply state, "We tried the public schools and after several years I just realized we could do it better at home. We have the resources and the time and think they will get the best possible education on our watch."

  • Can you clearly articulate your educational philosophy and what your children are learning? People inevitably ask how you decide what they will learn and if they will go to "regular" high school and how will they get in college? I have researched all of this thoroughly and once I start talking about the four year cycle of history in the classical education model their eyes start to glaze over - ha! But seriously, I make a point of telling them the major things my children are learning and usually my oldest chimes in because she's excited to share about our homeschool.

  • Are you able to relate to parents with children in traditional school, and affirm their worries about homeschooling? In the conversation I had at the tennis court I made sure to mention that I had worried about how I would "get it all done", and "would my children really listen to me?". Moms contemplating homeschooling worry about the death of their "me time" and think they might be very isolated homeschooling . I share my fears and how I dealt with them, and also tell them all about our co-op and local homeschool association.

  • Are you really honest about the toll homeschooling can take on you at certain points in time? I have to confess and tell people it isn't always easy and the first year was ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT! It does, however, get easier - and through our struggles my children and I grew closer. I would say the good days outnumber the bad, hands down.

  • Do you show a genuine love for being with your children each day, or do you see them as your "educational burden"? I have to be careful sometimes (especially with my closest friends) not to complain when I'm tired and run down. I have days when I could fill a whole conversation with complaints, but then I have to stop myself and realize how blessed my family is to be in each other company each day. I love watching my children learn and I love learning with them. Does this radiate through in a happy, loving spirit?

I'm finally getting to a point (now that we've been homeschooling a couple years) to where I feel as if I can encourage others, and I feel it is my responsibility to further the cause of home education. God placed it on my heart to bring my children home, and now He has placed it on my heart to share that good news, if you will, with others.

Have you found yourself in a situation like the one I described recently? What did you do? I'd love to hear from you!
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Reader Comments (13)

yes, I do see myself as a homeschooling ambassador, this is the most true, I think on my blog. I try to not complain much- but still be real about my struggles. I try to show the good times, the explorations and the joy in homeschooling. It does make it hard sometimes, though to be totally real there.

In my off-line life- yes I do try, but it seems more often then not, people comment but are not really interested beyond a small sound-bite. I did have the experience of talking with my neighbor, who would bring it up then immediately declare boldly that she "could never homeschool, they'd drive me crazy" or "I could never homeschool, your much more patient, my-dear!" I was kind of baffled at first, but it kept happening even after I made sure not to bring it up..I was worried I was making her feel guilty. Then I realized that she was bringing it up because she was wrestling with it inside. We had some nice talks and she did end up homeschooling for 2 years, and her kids really blossomed.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHen Jen

I don't really see myself as an ambassador. I doubt I can be considered an 'authorized representative'

I answer questions when I can. but often our 'unschool ways' are a bit too far removed for the public school parent.

I try to be more of 'support for those already homeschooling'

http://kabersblog.blogspot.com

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I suppose this comes natural for me, since I homeschooled my older children. It was a hard sell back then to explain why one was homeschooling, and we homeschool mom's learned very fast the art of being an ambassador, as the more we opened up the more we discovered how many were out there just getting by with their children in the public school system, not fully knowing all the alternatives and support with in the homeschool community.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

What a GREAT post!! Thanks so much for sharing it! I've written much about this very topic over the years...I try hard to be an Ambassador too!! I love the positive slant you put on your questions. It can be very easy to be more negative (why I hate public school, etc), and that can, at times, be counterproductive. Over the years I've had MANY conversations...some good, some not so good. In some, I've been offended. In others, I've offended...though I try very hard NOT to offend!! You might be interested to http://thehomeschoolapologist.blogspot.com/2010/09/oh-reallyhow-i-became-apologist.html" rel="nofollow">read the post that explains how I first became an "apologist"!

Thanks so much for sharing this!! GREAT post!

Linda
http://joysandrewards.wordpress.com/" rel="nofollow">The Joyful Journey
http://thehomeschoolapologist.blogspot.com/" rel="nofollow">The Homeschool Apologist

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

We actually had friends over for dinner during Spring Break that were interested in home schooling. They were pretty easy to talk to as the mom is already a teacher, but they were amazed at the amount of curriculum choices and outside opportunities there are for home schoolers. I sent them home with my well worn copy of TWTM.

One thing I emphasize when talking to would be home schoolers is that they do not have to reinvent the wheel. The wheel has been much refined for home schoolers. You just have to pick the wheel that is right for you.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Wonderful post! I am just beginning the will we/won't we questions and those are my biggest fears! Thank you for writing this-I needed this encouragement :)

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAurie

I try. I fail sometimes. One of the things I try to do is be willing to listen to a public school mom's worries and troubles and instead of offering homeschooling as a solution I share that we really have not had that problem BECAUSE we homeschool, but is there anything I can do to help her. That often opens the door to a conversation about homeschooling.

I also try to be a resource for those who have questions and need help getting started or working out the kinks in their homeschool journey. For example, this Friday I have a mom coming over to my house who needs help figuring out the details for homeschooling high school. Her 6th and 8th graders are coming home next year to homeschool by their request. Now, I've never homeschooled a high schooler, but I have been using my resources to find out what she needs to know and put it in a "newbie friendly" format.

Another mom calls me regularly to remind her that even through her oldest is advanced, it's okay that the following siblings are going at a slower pace. :)

One other had me discuss homeschooling and our experiences (challenges and good things) with her husband, who knew our children and family already. They were considering homeschooling and he had reservations. He asked all sorts of questions and I told him that I would answer any he had - so he asked a ton.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

Mary, hope your Easter was FABULOUS!

Now on to your post today! It's great! It's right on and such a blessing to others!

Since I had a child who went through the private and public school system and now homeschool 3 who never went anywhere but home, I can certainly walk the talk and talk the walk.

I love sharing our lives with others who are "on the fence" or simply want to know more about homeschooling.

While my husband and I are not "anti-public school" we are certainly "pro-homeschool".

I have to admit, when I hear other moms and dads say they can't wait until Spring break was over so their kids to back to school and they have "their" time back, it makes me frown a little. 8(

Keep on keepin on momma! YOU ROCK!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermelismama

As a veteran homeschooling mom, I've held this position for many years!

As a homeschooling mom with a child with significant special needs, I am often a "target" - especially by professionals/teachers.

I've got all the arguments down and give solid answers that seem to ease their fears. Yes, I can do this. Yes, I can do it better than the system. I offer them the link to my e-book where I hope they learn a great deal.

The sad thing is that I have to be an ambassador in the homeschooling community too. I went to our local homeschooling convention recently where I was tucked in a nice little corner since they wouldn't give me any space to share my ministry with others who homeschool children with special needs.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Great post!

I definitely would consider myself, and my husband, homeschooling ambassadors. I know I am always open to answering questions, especially from people who have a genuine interest in hearing the answer.

Honestly, though, I do have to work on the fact that I feel defensive with the way some people ask their questions, and the completely inappropriate things they find to ask about...for instance, quizzing my daughters on what they "did for homeschooling today". Since we natural learners than anything else, this can really throw people for a loop! But, I do have well practiced answers to most questions we get.

Thanks for sharing your post!

Also, many people consider us a total oddity because we live in a small rural community, with a small (but growing) group of homeschoolers. Our girls were in the public school for two and three years, but then we pulled them out...folks just don't know what to make of it!
Working in our local public library myself, and having my daughters with me often, has lead to me embracing the role of being an ambassador!

This is an excellent post.

We are just getting to the end of our first year. I tried to share both the hard times and the good times on my blog, so that others would understand that I do have those concerns, it's not a bed of roses, but that the pros outweigh the cons. After every bad day, there are many good days. I feel like I am slowly relaxing and I was so happy to hear you say that the first year was the hardest. I feel like we will be much more relaxed next year.

I am open at work (the library) that we homeschool and I often get all of the questions that you asked, along with questions about our state laws. I tell anyone considering it that I will help them in any way that I can (it is, after all, my job to answer questions-ha!).

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

I am looking forward to reading your other posts soon.

http://www.dissertationproposal.info/

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdissertation template

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