I remember when my husband and I left the hospital with our firstborn daughter. We kept looking over our shoulders expecting someone to come running after us demanding our credentials to be parents. We looked through our discharge paperwork for instructions on how to be parents. Nothing there. So, we just kind of jumped in. When she cried we fed her, clumsily changed her diaper, and held her. That was about it for a few weeks.
But then, things got interesting. Still no instruction manual, but somehow we muddled through. And now, 21 years and four more daughters later, we know one thing for sure. We will never have all the answers on being parents.
Our homeschooling experience hasn’t been much different. We jumped in when our oldest started kindergarten. How hard could it be? We read and colored and played games. I might have tried to do too much with worksheets and make it look like a traditional school with a desk and a chair. But we muddled our way through this, too. And things changed as we went. Our curriculum changed. Our schedules changed. We did school at the kitchen table, the couch, in bed, on the porch, at the park, and even in the car.
And now, 16 years later, she survived. She has graduated and is working full time. Four more are following closely behind. This we know about homeschooling, we will never have all the homeschool answers.
Homeschool Myth #3: You must have all the answers.
How many times have I never started something because I thought I needed all the answers? About 5,239,419, give or take a million. I know I’m not the only one who thinks I need to know all the angles, all the details, all the possible combinations of circumstances, and all the eventualities BEFORE I commit to a plan. I take the “count the cost” admonition in Luke 14:28 to extremes. While it’s prudent to have a game plan, don’t let the not knowing stop you from starting.
Many parents feel they can never homeschool because they aren’t educationally qualified. Sure, teachers have college degrees and sometimes special certifications, but those credentials are not the only qualifications required for someone to teach. In fact, I am of the opinion they are not the most important qualifications at all. Far more important than the pedagogy of teaching is the passion to teach, the desire to learn, and the care for the student.
A parent can possess these qualities in abundance without so much as a high school degree. Yes, I said it. A parent who deeply desires to homeschool her child is not disqualified based solely on her own education.
There are so many options for homeschooling that a parent with limited education and resources still has the ability to homeschool her (or his) child every bit as well as the traditional school teacher.
First, a homeschooling parent does not have to do ALL of the teaching. As I said in Homeschooling Myth #2, the best part about homeschooling is picking the best option for the child, which is rarely sitting in a classroom with thirty other students.
Homeschooling is so popular today that most any community has a group of homeschooling families. These families often form organized groups for socialization (the “S” word), field trips, activities, classes, and even sports. If you network through these groups, you may find a mom who can help you teach a tough subject or a high schooler who can tutor your child.
And who says all teachers and tutors have to show up in person? Online classes are exploding the traditional educational experience. Many curriculum companies offer online classes. Universities are ramping up their online dual credit offerings. (A dual credit class is one taught at a university of community college which can be used for both high school and college credit. A two-for-one deal, you might say.) There are also a number of online schools which offer courses in a wide range of subjects. And never discount YouTube. I would highly recommend reviewing YouTube videos beforehand, however, there is some useful content there for many subjects.
Second, a parent can learn while teaching. No teacher in the history of the world has known every single detail about the subject he or she teaches. If you have hit a dead end with finding a tutor or online class for a subject, you only have to stay a step or two ahead of your child while you’re teaching. All curriculum comes with a teacher’s manual, usually purchased separately. These manuals are helpful for explaining concepts and projects and checking work. There is a lot to be said for having the answer key, no matter the subject.
Regardless of the complexity of a subject, you and your child can learn it together. Your desire to learn so you can teach sets an inspiring example for your child that no other teacher could impart.
Third, some subjects don’t need a book, a classroom, or even a traditional teacher. Experimentation and discovery, better known as play, is its own teacher. Provide your child with resources to learn on her own: common household items, tools, broken appliances, a box of spare parts. Let them tear apart, reassemble, fail, and learn while doing it all.
Outdoor discovery offers up-close, and personal experience with nature, science, art, health, and history. Besides playing in your backyard, you can find animal tracks while hiking, experience physics while swinging, observe the changing colors of nature in different seasons, identify safe and poisonous plants, and explore building remnants from bygone days.
Finally, crafts, hobbies, and sports are important to the personal development of children. Help your child identify some interests and give her the time, resources, and space to pursue different options. Encourage her to think outside the box and experiment with art, sewing, cooking, computers, small engine repairs, bicycling, tennis, photography, dancing, and the list goes on. These activities build confidence and spark creativity, something no teacher will ever teach.
I hope you have busted this myth that you must have all the homeschool answers before you begin your homeschool journey. Don’t let the unknown hold you back because the unknown may be where you experience the greatest blessings.