I've been thinking A LOT the past week or so about being a homeschool ambassador and how I articulate my values to others.
Maybe it's a couple of conversations I've had with "potential" homeschool moms, or maybe it is the conversation I just had this past weekend with a homeschool skeptic.
Then again, maybe it was that compliment I received at church from someone who said they WISHED they had had the courage to homeschool when their children were school age.
Or, maybe you're the ones I'm looking to for encouragement?
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!
*photo credit - Phae