If you’re like me, you probably love those funny yet poignant memes and gifs that inundate an active homeschool social media feed. Do you appreciate the passive-aggressive subtlety of a well-worded meme? You know, the kind that tells the world why you homeschool in five words or less. You enjoy reading them. But you also know, with great certainty, that you would never utter the truth of those pithy morsels to those who might benefit from hearing them.
So what are we talking about? And why is it hard to be as articulate, concise, and clear with our messaging as the “meme makers”? Well, that may be more than I can answer here. In short, however, maybe it’s because we are different. Homeschooling is different for every family. Explaining differences has always been a hurdle, and understanding them even more so. The current norm for education in America is to send students to government schools. Most parents have been educated likewise, so there’s no need to explain what that looks like.
Homeschooling, on the other hand, does not benefit from a popular understanding of its methods and successes. There are extensive reasons to home educate but they aren’t common knowledge. One area where we can especially improve this lack of understanding is in our own communication of why we choose to educate differently. That’s not to say we don’t ever communicate why we homeschool. But, we can do better.
When I was in college I was challenged to practice sharing my testimony. Several of us would get together and practice sharing different versions of our story based on time constraints. My favorite, of course, is the long storytelling version. It leaves plenty of room for colorful side notes. But the more practical version is really the “elevator pitch.” The one-minute version you can share with almost anyone, at any time, and in any situation. Personally, I love this approach because of how it can be tailored to any audience, in a way that, when done well, leads the listener to long for more. I also appreciate the “shock and awe” aspect of a well-worded teaser.
So, let’s all work on doing better with our short testimony of why we choose to educate differently. Knowing your “why” is always important and can certainly be winsome. But it’s also an excellent apologia to persistent naysayers who need to be silenced in front of your prodigies. Nobody wants to go home from a holiday gathering and have to re-win their kids over to homeschooling because someone doesn’t agree with your methodology.
Equipping yourself with the reason “why” you homeschool can even be “untouchable.” For example, I have shared that “I started homeschooling because we lived in a bad school system.” That one is hard to argue with especially if it's well-known that said school system is subpar. I have even shared that “I homeschool because my mom died and I realized I wanted my children close to me.” No one ever touches that one! And, it’s the truth. We can look at Jesus for the ideal reply to every situation. He spoke to people in the context of who they are. He didn’t simply defend who He is. He responded differently to their questions, doubts, and fears. He spoke what they needed to hear even when there was so much more that He could have said. Sometimes, people just need to hear that you homeschool because your mom died. And that’s enough to get through the holiday gatherings. Not every moment deserves a full explanation. But let’s not fail to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you...with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Finally, a winsome and brief testimony can be a defense that your children can eventually acquire. How lovely to witness them put it to use on their own, winning friends along the way! I homeschool because I love my kids and no one in the world can love them better than me. That means I give them grace and instruction in doses that they cannot get anywhere else in life. And that equips them to be amazing citizens for Christ and our country. No government school can achieve these goals better than a parent. So, why do you homeschool?
Stacey Ann Smith Fischer loves limericks, her husband Larry, home educating her 5 children, and Jesus.
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