Sharing Those Big Reasons
- 2007 18 Jul
Sometimes we see it coming. Other times it crops up out of nowhere, catching us off guard and unprepared. It's the big question "So, what made you decide to homeschool?" Whether this query stirs up anxiety or excitement, most homeschool parents have heard it more times than they can recall. Let's face it--homeschooling families, while finding themselves in growing company each year, are still part of a group considered to be, well, different. Many people who ask about our decision to home educate are merely curious about this unconventional approach. Others may even be window-shopping for their own family's educational options. Homeschoolers often find themselves in the position of explaining their choice, but how many of us have walked away from a homeschool evangelism opportunity after giving a wimpy answer? I know I have.
What do I mean by "wimpy answer"? Let me share one of my own conversations years ago with a young mom at my church who had made the choice to send her children to daycare and public schools from infancy on:
Friend: So, why did you choose to homeschool?
Me: Oh, we met other families who did and thought it was a great idea. We love it.
Friend: Uh-huh. What sold you on the idea?
Me: Wellll... I guess it just looked like a really neat lifestyle that we wanted for our family. We really love it.
Friend: (nods) I suppose you're really cut out for that, being a former teacher and all.
Me: Actually, it's a lot different than classroom teaching. Ummm ...I love it.
Friend:Hmm. I'm glad you guys love it.
Well now, that was politically correct, wasn't it? My timid responses were kept on the surface, I didn't have to worry about possibly offending my friend, and as a result, I weaseled out of an opportunity to strike up some really thought-provoking conversation about our real reasons, our BIG reasons for choosing to homeschool. I missed the chance to plant seeds that might have sprouted into another family's decision to take the biblically sound path of training up their children at home.
As I reflect on our pre-homeschooling days over eight years ago when I was the one asking the same questions of a veteran homeschooler, I realize that the reasons she shared in favor of homeschooling were much more solid. Jane, this mother of five who had been one of those pioneers in the modern homeschool movement, didn't beat around the bush. She answered my questions with grace and wisdom, using the Bible as her source of inspiration. Her straightforwardness inspired me to think seriously about our children's future. I was convicted. God's Word does that. And my husband and I realized that homeschooling isn't just a "nice thing" for some families, it's a calling that Christian parents must take seriously.
I wish I could recall Jane's words verbatim. One of our conversations may have sounded something like this:
Me: So, what made you decide to homeschool?
Jane: Well, Kim, as Christian parents, my husband and I realized that public schools didn't line up with our vision for raising our children according to God's plan.
Me: Well, what about Christian schools? (Our oldest daughter, then a kindergartener, was enrolled in a Christian school at that time.)
Jane: They're a better alternative to public education, but there are still many advantages of homeschooling that outweigh that of the traditional classroom setting.
Me: Like what?
Jane: Academically, socially, and spiritually, the Christian family is better equipped to train up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. More and more today, we are seeing how schools, public and private, are falling short in these areas. And God is truly blessing the homeschool movement with many strong families whose children are firmly rooted in the faith.
Me: Wow. You've really given me something to think about.
Jane: Would you like to pray? (And that's what we did.)
I am so thankful for my mentor-friend's forthrightness on such an important issue. I came back to her craving more and more of the spiritual meat of this matter. More than just "loving it," Jane and her husband believed in it. Had she given me the fluff instead of the fortitude, I might have passed homeschooling off as just another way to teach children reading, writing, and arithmetic--something a few scattered families did, not us.
Why homeschool? It's not always an easy question to answer. We don't want to offend others who have chosen another path, but along with grace we should know how to season our conversation with a little salt. God may be using us as messengers with the good news that there is a better way to carry out His plan for raising the next generation. So what are some dos and don'ts for sharing your "big reasons" to homeschool?
- Do recognize an opportunity to share your homeschooling perspective with others, and make yourself available for those whose interest is piqued.
- Do remember that this is a new concept to many people, and recall some of the questions and doubts you may have had when you were seeking.
- Do focus on the biblical reasons, especially when speaking with fellow Christians. And share your family's own personal homeschool testimony.
- Do state the advantages of homeschooling in a humble way, giving glory to God for the blessings He's bestowed upon the homeschool movement.
- Do pray for friends who are contemplating this path, remembering it's not always an easy decision to make.
- Do invite interested friends to meet other homeschool families, perhaps at a social event, a support group meeting, or state convention.
- Do share resources such as magazines, websites, and books, like The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool, which we wrote for this very purpose.
- Don't give too much information at once. No one wants to drink from a fire hose.
- Don't offend parents whose children may already be enrolled in public or private schools by being overly critical of the system. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
- Don't become defensive or feel you must win everyone's approval. Ultimately, it's God's approval we should seek.
- Don't assume it's your job to convert every parent who inquires about homeschooling.
In homeschool evangelizing, we can only sow seeds through our words and example. While we should always be prepared to explain our reasons effectively, ultimately the Holy Spirit will be the One to inspire parents to faithfully nurture the minds, bodies, and souls of their children at home.
Kim has been the happy wife of her college sweetheart, David d'Escoto, for 17 years. Together they co-authored The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool (Broadman & Holman) and its companion Bible study/discussion guide. They also volunteer as state representatives for Homeschooling Family to Family. The d'Escotos live in Illinois, where they homeschool their five children. Visit their website at www.dexios.info.
Copyright 2007. Originally appeared in Spring 2007. Used with permission. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Right now, 19 free gifts when you subscribe. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com