You can take control of an interview by watching your vocabulary and speaking with confidence and enthusiasm. Here are several tips to remember as you talk with the media:
- Be positive about your decision to homeschool. Talk with conviction and energy, but be careful not to bowl the reporter over with statistics. S/he might read your attitude as nervous or over-eager. Relax.
- Listen carefully to the reporter’s questions. If s/he words something negatively, turn the question around and address it from a positive angle.
- Choose your own words with care. Avoid buzzwords that stereotype. Make sure the reporter is aware of how truly eclectic the homeschooling movement is. Offer to refer him or her to homeschool organizations or to another family with a background different from yours.
- Don’t be quick to criticize public schools. Be the first to point out the many fine teachers in the public school system. If the reporter presses for your concerns about Conventional schools, talk about the red tape that ties up teachers and removes local control of local schools. These are points on which almost everyone will agree. If you do want to point out the increasing public school ills, do so in a non-threatening manner.
- Remember that you’ve been asked to discuss home education, not your family’s church life, your beliefs on evolution vs. creationism, or your political leanings. Each of those topics could take up another interview entirely. Remind the reporter that not all homeschooling parents share your particular religious beliefs or political ideals, but all are committed to quality education and involvement in their children’s lives.
- Use the “Golden Rule” when dealing with all media representatives. Be fair and kind, and respond as soon as possible to requests for information. Be willing to help reporters meet deadlines by returning calls quickly, answering questions succinctly, and providing background information (statistics, studies, etc.) when appropriate.
- Be gracious. Write a note to thank the reporter for his or her time. Keep a pleasant tone of voice and a smile on your face, and enjoy the chance to share your experience!
From HSLDA’s Court Report, Winter 1994/1995, Volume 10, Number 6