Monday, October 1, 2007

I'm Not Smart Enough To Homeschool My Kids?

This set of questions come from Michelle. Common thoughts from those that have maybe thought about homeschooling but don't feel adequate to do the job "right".
  1. I don't have a college degree
  2. I'm not comfortable teaching _____________(fill in the blank)
  3. I'm afraid I will forget to teach something and leave a gap in their education

Let's look at this logically for just a moment -

1. I don't have a college degree

How many people do you know that are using the degree that they graduated with. Not very many. Most people will have 7 different job changes in their lives, most of those will not be in their field of degree. Having a college degree does not make you better at knowing your children. It doesn't make you understand them any better, love them any more, learn their personalities, love languages, learning styles and challenges any more. No one knows their child like you do and that makes you the best teacher for them. (Notice that I did not say the "perfect teacher", I said the "best teacher" - there is a difference!) You also don't have to have a college degree to read books that can help you understand your children even better. I'm a big fan of books such as -

  1. Personality Plus - Florence Littauer
  2. The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman
  3. The Way They Learn - Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
  4. The Birth Order Book - Kevin Leman

Books such as these just give you insight into way your kids may do the things they do and act the way they do. When you understand stuff like that, you can understand them better and how to help them understand things (like school) better.

I'm going to approach #2 and #3 at the same time because I consider them to be along the same thread.

2. I'm not comfortable teaching ________(fill in the blank)

3. I'm afraid I will forget to teach something and leave a gap in their education.

Do you realize what a wealth of knowledge is available in curriculum and supplements nowadays? It is almost mindboggling and overwhelming to most homeschoolers out there (we'll talk about that at a later date). But if there is a subject you are not comfortable with there is most surely a dvd curriculum, supplemental books, hands on materials or misc items available on the subject. And don't forget one of the most valuable resources around - someone you know that is quite adept on the matter. I hear about multitudes of instances where a mom has a friend or relative that is an expert on the subject in question tutor their child on the that. And most people love to help if they are only asked. My mom tells about the flip side of all this. When we started homeschooling it was when it first became legal in Nebraska and the only place you could get curriculum was from a Christian school if they would take pity on you and order it when they ordered theirs. You could not buy directly from the publishers. Boy have times changed, there is now every resource imaginable coming to your door in full color, print catalogs for you to flip through to your heart's content!

And as far as leaving gaps in their education... have you ever met a child coming out of public school that did not have gaps in their education? Unlikely. I view homeschooling as a way to pick and choose my children's gaps :-) I choose to focus on a few things in particular -

  1. Bible
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Math

And I figure if they can get a really good handle on those - then they can fill in any gaps they discover later. Oh did I mention that when working on reading they accomplish that by reading history, science and other special interests. And when writing it is usually letters, reports, stories they create themselves and very rarely a workbook. And math, well it may not be my favorite subject but I will take them as high in math as they wish to go (calculus anyone?) but will be quite satisfied if they can balance a checkbook, shop at the grocery store on a budget, calculate the percentage on a credit card (yuck) and count back change (do you realize most public school graduates can not do this? I should know, I've trained a lot of them to do that very thing because they couldn't!) Above all, if they have a solid foundation in who they are in Christ and how much He loves them - they will remain firmly grounded and have a great future ahead of them.

So I may choose to leave certain gaps on purpose -

  • Sex ed as taught by a teacher with bananas
  • Humanism
  • Evolution
  • School of hard knocks classes on the playground (bullying, name calling, teasing, groping, etc)

And will leave certain gaps up to my children's discretion -

  • Calculus - only if they have a desire to take math to a much higher level
  • Russian, French, German or Latin - if that is intriguing to them
  • Underwater Basket Weaving 101 - if that lights their fire, then I'll find a way to make it happen :-)
  • Insert elective of your choice here _____________________ - if they have an interest then it's important to me too :-)

Don't put so much pressure on yourself, it's only your child's future at stake (just kidding!). Just because you are a homeschool parent does not mean you have to be perfect for everyone, it just means you're already perfect for your kids!


M. C. Pearson said...

Great post...I love homeschooling. Even if my kids drive me to distraction more often than I care to admit. LOL.

I'm putting up your link on FIRST now! ;-)

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Okay, uh, Janna, were you talking to me? LOL. Seriously, I've said all those things. I think I mentioned it to Cara even that I don't feel qualified to teach my son. Sigh. He has actually asked me to home school him but at this time I feel he's better served in our little public school. It's a very conservative school that so far hasn't pushed any of my convictions as a Christian. But all that to say, I admire those of you that homeschool and do it well! :)

Michelle said...

I love what you're doing here! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

That is just what I needed to hear today, thank you.