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If you’ve been wondering “can I homeschool my child?” the answer is “yes”. You are absolutely qualified. Read on to find out why you’re your child’s best teacher.
I was on a Zoom call recently with a local mom’s group to chat about homeschooling. Now that coronavirus is a part of our reality, this group of moms was struggling. Struggling with ‘distance learning’. Worrying about keeping their kids safe in a school environment next fall. Considering homeschooling when it previously had seemed unthinkable because sending their babies to school all of a sudden seemed…scary.
A comment by one mom in particular really got me.
Everything about homeschooling makes me anxious,” she said. “I’m worried that we’ll drive each other crazy. I’m afraid I just won’t be able to do it time-wise–I mean, being a SAHM is already a full-time job. I’m afraid I won’t follow the rules properly, and I’ll get my kid in trouble. And how am I supposed to know what my child will need to know in the future? I’m afraid I’m just not qualified to do this.
Are you qualified to homeschool your kids?
I don’t know this woman at all, but I am certain she is qualified to educate her children. Even though I have days where I explain a math concept awkwardly, give the kids too much iPad time, or threaten to send my boys to the local public school if their attitudes don’t turn around, I am certain I’m the best teacher for the Orsino kids. And even though I’ve probably never met you, Mama, if you’re wondering, “can I homeschool my child” the answer is “Yes, of course.”
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You know your children better than anyone
You are an expert on your own children. You know their best times of day, personality quirks, and favorite things. You already have instincts and ideas about what toys, trips, and activities they’ll respond to best.
You can use these instincts to pursue educational opportunities that will really light a fire under them. And when they encounter challenges? You’ll use these same Supermama instincts to help your kiddos overcome those challenges.
My older son refused to write on paper until the middle of first grade because he was afraid to make a mistake. We wrote in salt trays, with dry erase markers, or with a paintbrush dipped in water while we talked about growth mindset. Now in second grade, he loves to write for fun and looks forward to our spelling and dictation time.
When teachers are working with a room full of students, they must use best practices to make sure they serve every kid. When you’re the teacher, you choose the resources that will work for your kid.
And if you choose the wrong one? You pick something else. Someone will probably even buy that curriculum you guys hated secondhand. (We homeschool moms love a deal!) There’s no shame in admitting something didn’t work for you and starting again.
You have no cracks for your children to fall through
When you’re working through concepts with your children alone, you see immediately in the moment whether or not they understand the material. You don’t wait for an assessment test or a failed homework assignment to learn that the information didn’t ‘stick’. And if a concept is giving them trouble, you can work on it together for as long as it takes.
Managing my classroom of two eliminates a lot of the issues in a large classroom. We move quickly through many, many subjects that my boys either intuitively understand or have zero interest in beyond the surface level.
We dig in and go down rabbit holes when they discover an interest in something fascinating. Best of all, I can easily work one-on-one with each boy when he needs more help.
You are uniquely invested in their success
I am certain that the vast majority of professional educators care a great deal about our children. However, it would be impossible for teachers to care as much about our kids as we do.
Who cares more than you do if your kids are kind, creative, and able to manage their emotions successfully? Who cares more than I do if my kids are discovering their passions?
We are committed to the long-term vision of who our kids will become much more than any teacher could be, and as homeschoolers, we have the luxury of time during the school day to help our kids develop their future selves.
Any lesson you like can be an opportunity to reinforce the values and attributes that you want to foster in your family. Your children can work on their passions during the day when they are feeling fresh, rather than squashing these activities into their evenings and weekends. And you can weave these passions in as they work on other subjects.
Oh, and I’ll talk about help in a minute, but you don’t have to be an expert on any of this stuff yourself. There are resources all over the place to assist you.
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You are surrounded by help
We live in a time when we can learn almost anything with the help of a computer and an internet connection. Many of these resources are available for free. Others are available for a modest fee. Some are simple written or pre-recorded resources. Others are live interactions with expert teachers.
Although I feel pretty confident leading my children through kindergarten and second grade, I frequently seek out information for the answers I don’t know. Heck, I celebrate the fact that I don’t know.
My kids hear me say “I don’t know. Let’s find out.” all the time! They know that I enjoy learning along with them, and I show them through my example that learning is a lifelong process and satisfying curiosity is fun.
As my children get bigger, specialize in certain subjects, and move beyond me, I’m confident I can connect with experts no matter where we are in the world, thanks to the Internet.
If you are feeling nervous about handling 100% of your child’s educational needs, seek out homeschooling co-ops, library classes, or private tutors. Purchase one of the complete curricula that is available online. Remember, you are the facilitator of learning, not the teacher. And that’s not even your main job.
Your main job is still Mama.
You are able to ‘school’ 24 hours a day, and your classroom can be wherever you want
Home educating has allowed my family to become citizens of the world. Depending on where we are at the moment, school might consist of learning about the rocks we found on the beach, touring a 10th-century Moorish castle, or practicing Spanish together to speak to our new friends.
While we try to make time most days to follow some elements of a prescribed curriculum, homeschooling affords us the freedom and flexibility to travel and to experience the world on our own schedule.
Similarly, you might find that your son’s interest in fish is best supported with weekly trips to the aquarium. Perhaps your daughter’s passion for dance requires many hours of rehearsal each week, and school works best using audiobooks in the car on the way to the studio.
Breaking out of the typical 9 a.m.-3 p.m. school schedule opens up a world where any educational opportunity is possible. (As a side note, this means that you can all sleep in if you want to, do school on Saturday, or take a week off in September just because you feel like it.)
You’re already doing it
Ok, I know a lot of parents of traditionally-schooled kids get a little twitchy thinking about homeschooling now that they’ve had to try to coordinate distance learning.
From what I observed of my friends’ experiences this spring, though, coordinating distance learning didn’t look anything like being a homeschooler. It didn’t look much like being a teacher or even a facilitator. It looked like being a secretary–coordinating schedules, arranging meetings, and printing files.
Every parent already has years of experience as a home educator, though. People who choose to “homeschool” just take things a step farther. Think of all the things you’ve already taught your child or helped him to discover.
You’ve given lessons on basic life skills like eating, dressing, and talking. You work on sharing, keeping your hands to yourself, and being a good friend. You’ve shown her the rules for Go Fish, studied the instructions for building that Lego plane together, and stood by yelling encouragement while he wobbled on his first bike ride without training wheels.
When you weren’t sure about how to teach him to use the potty, how to help him sleep through the night, or how to introduce her to solid foods, you did what you knew how to do on your own. Then, you collected more information or hired an expert. You can do the same thing with algebra, physics, or Keynesian economics.
Remember, you don’t need to know everything about a subject in order to teach it. Our teachers didn’t know everything either.
Do I need any special qualifications to homeschool?
I truly believe that any of us who are conscientious enough to worry that we might not be qualified to homeschool are, in fact, more than qualified to do it. All you truly need is a willingness to do it and a respect for learning and education.
I should add that certain states in the US also require a high school diploma/GED or a course in home education. Check the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website for the laws in your state. If you’re in another country, a simple Google search should bring you to your local laws.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers right now—you and your child can learn together. And I’m willing to bet all of us have days where we feel we lack the knowledge or the patience to walk this path. We all fear we’re shortchanging our kids.
When you have those moments, here’s what you’ll do. You’ll think back to why you chose to homeschool in the first place. Maybe you were hoping to simplify the family schedule, work with your child’s unique learning style, or protect your kids from bullies, school shootings, or deadly viruses.
Whatever your reason, let your “why” give you confidence, compassion, and composure on the days when you need it most. I’ll say to you what I said to that nervous mom on the Zoom call the other day.
You’ve got this mama.
Thinking you’d like to homeschool? Do this now:
- Craft your “why”. Why are you considering homeschooling in the first place?
- Check out the homeschool laws in your state to see what’s required of kids and parents.
- Check Facebook for local homeschool groups in your area. Most will let you join before you’re ‘officially’ a homeschooler to ask questions or just lurk.
- Do some beginning research into curricula your family might like I love this quiz and these reviews for ideas.
- Repeat this mantra if you start to feel insecure, “I am my child’s lifelong teacher.”
Mama Goes Beyond is not a Homeschool blog.
But I have homeschooled my two boys for the last five years. And I have all sorts of ideas for ways we can make homeschooling easier, organize our homeschool days better, and have a lot more fun in the process. Click the button below to access all of my homeschooling resources.