Well, the end of another school year is in sight and, as always, it makes me feel a bit nostalgic and contemplative. I find myself evaluating our curriculum choices, activities from the year, and in general assessing the heart and processes of our homeschool. This year has been unique for our family in many ways. We are on the road frequently with our ministry, which has provided many new and wonderful experiences for our children (sightseeing, meeting new people, lots of family time…), but it has also changed how our school time looks. Flexibility has been a key factor for this “stay at home mom,” who no longer stays at home all of the time.
As I have been thinking over this past school year, I have found myself asking several questions: What worked well for us? What areas would I like to change or improve? What do my children need from me as their mama and as their teacher? How do I stay focused on the why’s of my homeschool heart and not just the how’s?
I would like to share some thoughts and ideas with you over the next few weeks in a series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym. I hope this will be an encouragement to you in your own homeschool journey. Starting with H, then….
Honesty Is Still the Best Policy
How many times has someone asked you a question and multiple answers run through your mind. This happens with our children all the time. “Mom, where did you put my big paper star with the glitter on it?” Oh, no! Your mind whirls with what to say. The truth? (“I threw it in the trash.”) The brush off? (“I’m not sure.”) A lie? (It must be somewhere in your room.”)
We often find ourselves in these moments with other people; they invite us over, ask if we will be going on vacation, comment on a recent purchase…the list goes on. Questions can easily put us in a defensive mode or tempt us to take the “easy” way out by answering with a lie or giving them the brush off.
The hardest moments come when we are asked about something that is close to our hearts. “Mom, why did we have to move away?” “Why do you homeschool your kids?” “You only have two children?” (or “You have how many children?!?”)
As uncomfortable as it may be, I have found that the honest answer is still the best one we can give. On so many levels, honesty is a win-win. Not only do we want to be known as a person of integrity, we would like others to be honest with us. This is especially crucial with our children. I need to be willing to answer them in an honest way so that they can trust me with their hard questions. Sometimes this can be humbling. Sometimes it means that I will have to own up to a mistake. Sometimes the honest response will lead to more questions, or possibly even criticism.
Being honest in our answers may not be easy, but it can have long lasting value. Your children will know that they can trust your words and believe what you tell them. You will be modeling a lifestyle of genuineness in front of them—and can then ask that they be open and sincere with you.
Here are a few ideas to help when you are faced with one of those kinds of questions:
- Have an answer prepared ahead of time.
Even when our son was quite young, he was tall for his age. (His daddy is 6’5”.) People would make the strangest comments about his height, and I began to notice that he was getting embarrassed whenever that would happen. I did not want him to feel insecure about this, so I came up with a way to respond every time someone would say something to him about his size. “Yep,” I would say, “tall and strong, just like his daddy.” My little guy would throw back his shoulders, puff out his chest and grin. (He wanted to be like his daddy!) The person would smile and walk away laughing a little. Whew! Awkward moment instantly neutralized.
Think of the questions you get asked a lot. Are they about homeschooling? Are they about your children’s abilities? Are they about where you live or how you spend your time? Come up with responses that are kind, but also honest, and have them tucked away ready to use at a moment’s notice.
- Be discerning about how much information you give, and to whom you give it.
- Ask questions.
You can be honest and forthright without disclosing all of your reasons or sharing everything. Sometimes we feel like we need to defend our actions or convince others to agree with us and this causes us to say too much. Sometimes our children are not ready for all the details or will not understand the full answer. Think through what you should say and how much you should say. Speaking less is often better—especially in controversial conversations.
One way I have found to respond to a question is with another question. This is especially useful if the person you are talking with is engaged in a similar activity. For instance, if someone asks you, “What type of curriculum do you use in your homeschool?” and they also homeschool their children, you could say, “Oh, a variety of things. What curriculum do you use?” Asking questions allows you to be on the guiding side of the conversation and can help keep a potentially uncomfortable situation from becoming downright awkward.