If I had a dollar for every time I heard people tell me they would like to homeschool, but they don’t think they’re capable of teaching their children…
I was a classroom teacher for about 5 years and spent the past 3 years working at a university teaching teachers how to teach. We’ve been homeschooling our children for the past few years, they’ve never been to school and only one briefly went to day care. I feel like I’m in a unique position to say this, because I’ve seen so many aspects of the teaching and learning spectrum, and I can honestly tell you that most people are way more qualified than they think they are to homeschool their children. I used to be home schooled and initially I did find it to be a weird experience. But as time went on, I did understand why my parents opted for this, rather than keep me in school. One thing I remember thinking was what I was going to do if I was behind on work. As I had a personal tutor, there was no hiding it. But there was an online solution which meant that experts were able to write my book report for me to make it look like my own. Of course I changed a few things, but the final report was ready to hand in. Come to think of it, I did get a really good grade for that. With this in mind, deadlines are really important to work towards. But if for whatever reason you are running out of time, there is always a solution.
You learn while they learn.
I do have a masters in education, but I was trained to teach high school! So, while I knew how to teach writing a chemical equation, I had no idea how kids learned to read and write. So… when my oldest was about 5, I researched all the methods of reading and writing. And, I researched how home educated kids learn to read and write. It only took an hour or so to wrap my head around the theories and now I can read a bit here and there about it and just sit and watch how it all unfolds.
Seriously… the world wide web. If you have Siri, or you have Google, anything you don’t know how to do, you can look it up or ask. For example, my 5 year old dragged home a whole pile of vines from the beach and she asked me to make a basket. What the hell… I’ve never made a basket! So, I found a quick tutorial on youtube on how to weave a basket, and voila! We made a basket.
You have more time than schools do.
I know, I know… you may feel like you have zero time. But, trust me, cut out the morning and afternoon school run, and you have way more time than a teacher who sees anywhere between 20 and 100 students per day, who also has to fill out paper work and do administration roles. Even if you give your child less than 10 minutes per day of one-on-one instructions/help/attention, that still could be more one-on-one instruction time than a child gets in school on an average day.
You know your child better than anybody.
This doesn’t need much explanation… you know when they’re over something. You know when they get it. You know when they’re ready to move on. You know when they’re hungry, tired, upset… all their little nuances.
You have the ability to truly make learning authentic.
Teachers in training learn all this stuff about making learning ‘authentic‘ and ‘meaningful‘. In other words, teachers are taught to try and make the day-to-day topics relevant to a child’s interests, hobbies and life. But, teachers are bound by time and the ‘lesson‘ topic, and it’s literally impossible to make a lesson authentic to 25 students all at the same time. If you’re teaching about floods on Tuesday… perhaps little Johnny doesn’t want to learn about floods on Tuesday, even though he was interested in floods the day before… it’s difficult!
If you do decide to homeschool your children, you might find it useful to set up a section of your home as a ‘classroom’. This can be achieved relatively easily if you already have a home office. If you do not have an office in your home, then you can create one by purchasing some basic office furniture such as a desk and some chairs. You could even buy a cabinet to store all of your homeschooling supplies. Above all, investing in the best office furniture can make homeschooling an exciting, realistic, and comfortable prospect for your child.
On, the other hand, homeschooling ‘lessons‘ can stem from every day life and often lead you off on a tangent (I say lesson, but we do natural learning, so the topic comes up in the form of natural curiosity and life experience).
For example, the other day, we started off on a conversation about my 7 year old’s undies, which had a 4 leaf clover printed on them. Half an hour later, we were watching youtube videos on the Roman Empire. 4 leaf clovers –> St. Patrick’s Day –> Ides of March –> Julius Cesar –> Roman Empire. Like that… This stuff happens in the classroom too, but there’s less room for spontaneity. Imagine 25 kids going off on their own tangent… not gonna happen. Home education can truly be authentic because the learning revolves around every day living, and the topics don’t need to be fabricated, like they often are in school.
You have your own interesting background to bring to the table
What school teachers bring to the classroom, are their own set of beliefs, experiences and attitudes. You also have those! Every parent has something enriching to contribute to a child’s education.
It’s not hard to be trained as a teacher, you’re not missing much.
After working for three years with teachers in training, and teaching their courses, marking their papers, I can honestly tell you that it’s not that tough to become a teacher. Depending where you live, getting into teaching programs is not that difficult, and they often only take a year or so to complete. Part of the application for an education degree is not that you need to have an amazing personality or genius practical skills. Even when we teach students at uni new and interesting ways of teaching, they can still walk away from the programs closed minded and doing things the old way. And, anyway, most teaching skills that teachers in training learn, are about classroom management and getting kids to learn in large groups, which is something a homeschooling parent does not have to worry about!
That’s not to say that there aren’t amazing and super talented teachers out there!! There are many!! But, there are also many average teachers. Teachers are just regular old people, with a little bit of experience. If you want to learn about different types of pedagogy, and how children learn, there are plenty of resources on the internet. Otherwise, your good old observation can work pretty well to see what works and what doesn’t. Actually, many home educators, myself included, would say that there is very little, or even nothing, that you actually need to ‘teach‘! Learning will happen effortlessly in an environment where children are supported and encouraged to pursue their interests. There are many education theorists out there who believe that maybe even one day we’ll make the role of a teacher redundant.
Believe in Yourself
If you really want to homeschool, and the thing that’s holding you back is that you think you’re not qualified, think again! You’re probably way more qualified than you think!