The first time we hit advanced high school math I decided I wasn’t qualified to teach homeschool anymore and I sent my son to school. Now my fourth child is doing algebraic quadratic equations. It’s clear to me that I’m not qualified to teach her this subject but it doesn’t mean I’m not qualified to homeschool!
There are those about who think homeschooling parents don’t have the qualifications to teach. They may say:
- Parents don’t understand teaching methods that help children learn
- Parents lack the ability to teach complex subjects
- Children won’t learn properly at home
Are these criticism based on evidence or are they just objections from those who don’t like homeschooling. Here is my response to these allegations put forward in protest of homeschooling.
Parents Don’t Understand Teaching Methods
“You parents naturally know how to relate to each of your children and help them learn. Your biggest problem is that so many of you are afraid that teachers or society or somebody out there will frown on your way of teaching.” Ruth Beechick
It is true that many homeschoolers are not trained school teachers but they do want to understand their children and want to learn how to teach them. It is also true that schools have good and bad teachers and it is often not their training that makes them good at their job but rather their natural ability. Teaching at home and school are poles apart and the home teacher usually finds what works in the classroom won’t work at home anyway.
There is a steep learning curve for new teaching parents but there are many ways in which parents can teach themselves how to teach. There is a great deal of information to help homeschool parents learn how to teach. Much of it is common-sense and assessing your child’s progress. For books on How to Homeschool look here
Homeschool Teachers Don’t Know It All
“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.” Charlotte Mason
There is a pedagogical educational model based on the idea that a teacher is the matter expert who directs all of the learning. In the early years of homeschooling primary aged children this model can work because most parents would be confident to teach from their own knowledge up to about 4th grade. There are also plenty of resources that use this method. The homeschool teacher need only find the resources and books and they can happily help their children along.
However there does come a time when you can no longer claim expert knowledge on topics. And this is when homeschooling parents learn to lean on the experts. Resources that teach areas of weakness can be used and the teacher and student can learn together. The parent is not the fountain of knowledge to all things but they can usually become good researchers and find out good resources and living books by experts who can teach it to their children. This method allows children to be put in touch with great ideas from people who understand topics.
And as the child matures into the high school years, they can steer their educational ship along a much more individualized route. The parents become facilitators to their child’s self directed and critical thinking approach to education. This is called the andragogy model and home educators often adopt this model even if they don’t know the name for it. During these years the parent becomes the coach rather than an encyclopaedia.
In specialty subjects like chemistry, physics, music and drama education can be outsourced when necessary.
Your Children’s Education Will Sufferer When You Homeschool
“Children who are taught at home benefit from smaller class sizes more individualized attention, and the flexibility to work on their academic activities as their abilities and interests dictate. In addition, experts believe homeschooled children are able to spend more time working on their studies—not only quality of time, but quantity of time.” Bryers & Bryers
Homeschoolers tend to do well academically. Various studies have shown this. Probably the most well-known one is the American based Hewitt Research Study which demonstrated that homeschoolers scored 80% on standardized tests compared to the national norm of 50%. (cited Byers & Byers).
Now I don’t want to put my head in the sand here. It is true that some homeschooled children don’t get a good education but it is equally true that many public schooled children don’t get a good one either. But in my experience most home educating parents take their role seriously and apply themselves diligently to their child’s education and the children do well academically. In cases when they don’t do well, would school have made a difference!
“I meet teaching parents all around the country and find them to be intelligent, enthusiastic, creative people doing a marvellous job of teaching their children. But, sad to say, most of them do not know what a great job they are doing. Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else’s house but theirs is the only place that has problems.” Ruth Beechick
We May Not Be School Teachers But It Doesn’t Matter
Parents who homeschool are not disadvantaging their children as the critics suggest! And parents can have confidence that they are capable of teaching at home.
Let me finish with these encouraging words from Ruth Beechick.
“I meet teaching parents all around the country and find them to be intelligent, enthusiastic, creative people doing a marvellous job of teaching their children. But, sad to say, most of them do not know what a great job they are doing. Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else’s house but theirs is the only place that has problems. I’ll let you in on a secret about teaching: there is no place in the world where it rolls along smoothly without problems. Only in articles and books can that happen.” Ruth Beechick
So next time you are asked if you are qualified to teach your children you’ll know how to answer.