CAN I REALLY HOMESCHOOL MY KIDS? AFTER ALL, I’M NOT A TEACHER
If you are considering homeschooling, or are already venturing down that road, you may be wrestling with self-doubt, or even with skepticism from family and friends. After all, the argument goes, certified teachers have years of training in teaching a specific grade, they have spent considerable time learning about the subjects they will teach, and they have the support of other teachers and their school principal when it comes to various challenges and discipline issues. I would counter those doubts by asserting that YOU are capable of providing a high quality, stimulating education for your children using thoughtfully designed homeschool curricula and by surrounding yourself with a support network that will get you through the difficult days (and there WILL be a few of those!).
While it is true that teachers have no small amount of training, and that good teachers understand the subject matter they are teaching in order to pass that knowledge on to their students, homeschool curricula has been designed for use by the average parent to effectively teach their children at home. Extensive work has gone into crafting engaging texts, interactive workbooks, teaching aids such as flash cards, manipulatives, hands-on activities, and even fun and games that teach concepts and skills. For example, Saxon Math is renowned for its easy to use, scripted lessons, taking the guesswork out of how to present math concepts to young learners. The Logic of English and All About Reading programs utilize stories, flash cards, and games to engage children and make learning English skills easy and enjoyable. Apologia science programs are well-known for the way the text is written directly to the student, in a conversational tone, while also providing top-notch scientific instruction, including hands-on lab assignments for budding scientists to implement at home. Math manipulatives and math games take abstract concepts and make them concrete for children. Beautifully illustrated story books and riveting novels provide captivating pathways for children to learn the art of language. These are only a few examples of how a quality curriculum can take the guesswork out of teaching and help to create a learning environment in which children can thrive.
As for a support network, many homeschool families have found tremendous resources through their homeschool boards, churches, communities, friends, and families. Facilitators are there to answer questions about curriculum and meeting learning objectives and the individual needs of each child. Look into joining a community support group meeting where parents can discuss common challenges and encourage one another, or an online forum for families to share ideas and questions. Field trips with other homeschooling families can be organized, or shared gym time where the children can try different physical activities and make friends. Families can arrange learning co-ops, where parents share responsibility for teaching different subjects, providing the opportunity for each mom or dad to teach about an area they excel in or are passionate about, and children have the opportunity to learn from someone else. Look for other homeschool families to connect with and learn from within your community, church, and even extended family and friends. There are probably more people on this adventure than you realize!
There are so many different ways to homeschool - maybe as many as there are unique families, with unique children who have unique interests and needs. And as a parent, YOU are in the unique position of knowing how your children learn best, what their interests are, their strengths, weaknesses, and what they already know, as well as what they don’t. You also love your children, which is an advantage even the best teachers don’t have. So trust the curriculum. It is a tool that is there to make your job easier. Trust your instincts about your children. You have the freedom to explore the areas your child has a natural curiosity about, and to make learning a life-long joy. Surround yourself with people who recognize the potential in your kids, and the unlimited possibilities that homeschooling can offer. And above all, enjoy the journey. You can do this!!
Wendy W is a homeschool veteran mom of 3, who keeps chickens and bees and loves to cuddle her grandbabies and bake.