We live in a society where the attainment of higher levels of education is often a gauge of a persons level of success and/or social status. In this society where education and degrees are so highly valued, how can some parents think they are qualified to homeschool?
Our family has been visiting a new church for the last few weeks. Being new to a community, we are getting to know the local churches while on our search for a home fellowship. Recently I picked up my son from his class, and the teacher quietly commented on how smart he was. I beamed with pride. The teacher went on about my son’s knowledge of the lesson topic as well as other subjects discussed. When asked what school he attended, I explained we homeschool.
With the knowledge we homeschool, the Sunday school teacher announced they were a retired public school employee. I was systematically informed of what all homeschool moms do wrong. Math was an especial bur in the educators’ side. Apparently all us homeschool moms primarily focus on reading and social studies. I was further informed that dads should be more involved in homeschooling, as it was perceived they were participating too little or not at all. I was eventually saved by the presence of other parents picking up their children, and I left not wanting to ever return. Although we did visit the church again, I had my husband take our son to class.
As I considered the words of the retired educator, I thought of the many times I’ve questioned my qualifications to teach my children. It usually occurs when I look back on my own childhood education experience in the public school system, as compared to my efforts as a home educator. I feel I fail to measure up, and with good cause. The fact is, homeschooling and conventional schooling look nothing alike. Furthermore, I believe we have an incorrect view of public school teachers.
I personally know a number of public and private school teachers. There are some amazing teachers out there. A friend of mine once vented how annoyed she was with her family. They kept asking her crazy trivia questions, and were shocked when she didn’t know the answers. After all, she was a teacher so she should know everything. She would roll her eyes and tell me how she taught the same high school classes each year, on the same subjects. Teachers don’t know everything. They are trained to educate children with curricula for a conventional school setting.
I believe parents are qualified to teach their children. Parents who love their children are invested in their growth, development, and the outcome of their education. When I first began homeschooling, I felt lost and overwhelmed to know what “school” was supposed to look like. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a few things.
Every state has laws regarding homeschooling. A basic overview of requirements in my state includes declaring my intent to homeschool through my local school district. I have education requirements that I must meet. There are a set number of days per year that my children must be taught, required subjects they must learn, and they must take yearly tests.
Laws for each state are available through HSLDA.
When I first began homeschooling I had no idea there were different “styles.” I wish I had known about them sooner as finding my own style helped me to see beyond the picture of a conventional education classroom.
- School-at-home or Traditional looks a lot like a public school classroom. Kids work at the kitchen table or desks and follow a scheduled day.
- The classical approach is based on a three-stage process of training the mind. A grammar phase in early academic years focuses on absorbing facts, while laying a foundation for advanced study. During the logic phase, middle school students learn to think through facts previously learned. In the high school rhetoric phase, they learn to express themselves.
- Charlotte Mason believed we must educate the whole child through the atmosphere, cultivating good habits and real-life situations. The families at Simply Charlotte Mason share their years of experience and knowledge.
- Unschooling is child-led learning that follows the interests of the child. A mom shares her experience at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
- The eclectic or Relaxed approach is a combination of several methods. It is more individualized to a student’s strengths, learning style, and interests.
There are many homeschool curriculum choices. I learned quickly to consider my own learning style, as much as my children’s, when making choices.
Sonlight was the first curriculum I used that worked. It gave me a clear schedule and helped me to see and experience what homeschooling could look like. As I began to find my own eclectic style, and prayerfully considered the individual needs and learning styles of each of my children, I began to build my own unique lesson plans.
The Old Schoolhouse puts out a magazine specifically to support home educators, and it contains a number of resources for quality curricula.
The Homeschool Review Crew offers helpful curriculum reviews.
The Chee Bee offers reviews of favorite and recommended curricula.
Christian Books.com has an entire section dedicated to homeschool curriculum.
My husband is my most important resource. I believe it’s a misconception that dads are not involved. Sure I have moments when I’m overwhelmed and grumble, but then I am reminded my husband goes to work every day and works hard to support his family. He listens to me struggle through the planning of curricula and prays for me. He’s my backup teacher if anyone struggles with a challenging math or science concept. He’s involved in evening read-alouds, introduces the kids to Star Wars movies, and even annoying old ’80’s music videos on YouTube. He’s a great dad, and definitely makes an impact on our children.
Homeschool co-operative classes can be a great way to connect with other homeschooling families. Co-ops often offer classes that seem challenging to teach, or offer electives that can introduce kids to new talents. Co-ops usually involve a regular time commitment, so may not be for everyone.
Regardless of where I live, the local library has been a major resource. Not only for the obvious books and movies I can check out, but also the community activities. Many libraries have regular classes and programs for both children and adults.
I could go on in great length of resources available to homeschooling families. The fact is, nobody will be more invested in the education of a child than their parents. Parents have an amazing amount of resources and support available to teach and train their children in a loving and nurturing home environment. Parents are qualified to teach their children!