Yes, Parents Can Be Teachers

An ABC match up worksheet put
 together for my son in about 3 minutes.
Pardon the unprofessional drawing-
 I only wanted to make sure that Lee
could identify the pictures on my own-
 I wasn't aiming for a work of art
A few times recently I've been noticed by strangers. Noticed for having my 3.5 year old son, Lee, with me during school hours. Where I live, keeping a kid above the age of 3 at home is all but unheard of; people immediately begin to question my reasoning. Was it just that his birthday was past the cut off date to be able to make it into pre-school? Next year, obviously, he's going to school?

People are truly befuddled when I tell them that no, I have no plans on sending him out to preschool when he turns 4. Or to kindergarten when he turns 5. Or even to first grade once he turns 6.

When it finally dawns on people that I plan on homeschooling my children long term, immediately a wave of recognition passes over their face.
"Oh, you're a professional teacher! Why didn't you tell me that?"

Me? I'm not a professional teacher. I'm just a high school graduate with some college under my belt, but I'm more than capable of teaching my children everything they need to know until they'd go to college. Ok, maybe not everything, but for the rest, there are resources to teach my children what I cannot.

The average mainstream parent, from what I've seen, is convinced that in order to successfully homeschool a child, you need to be able to replicate a school day for your child at home, entailing all the details, from official desks, professional licensed educators, hours of instructional time, homework assignments, tests, etc.
If I wanted my child to have exactly what he could get at school, what would be the purpose of teaching him at home?

I don't buy into the "make a little school at home" theory. I think it stops parents from feeling empowered, because if they can't do exactly what a teacher would do at school, they're not suitable to teach their child.

For now, my attitude with my children is pretty laid back. I'm teaching my son the basics of reading (in two languages), basics of arithmetic, basic art, some botany, zoology, history, and religious instruction. At his age, we keep it fairly simple, but still manage to cover a lot of ground.
And so far, I have barely spent a thing on homeschooling material.
Even workbooks, which I purchased (on sale) at first, have fallen by the wayside in lieu of my own, homemade "workbook pages".

I've made simple addition worksheets for Lee.

I've made letter worksheets, where he matches up lower case and capital letters.

I've made other letter worksheets, where he matches up letters with pictures that start with that letter.

I've made worksheets of similar looking shapes that differ slightly, where he has to copy the different shapes with their slight nuances.

We get hands on experience learning botany on our foraging trips and zoology on our other outings, like our trips to the zoo.

We sing songs that teach sequencing, left and right, cause and effect, simple mathematics, etc...

My son is learning a lot, but I'm not an official teacher.

Parents don't need to have spent years in college getting a degree in education in order to educate their children.

Parents just need to be reasonably educated themselves (a high school drop out might have a really hard time teaching her kids materials she's never learned in her life), be motivated, and believe in themselves that they have something valuable to impart to their kids.

I'll let you in on a little secret- when my mom homeschooled me (in 9th grade), she didn't remember a large amount of the math that she was teaching me. She just took out the text book, reviewed the instructions, and taught it to me.
And for subjects she hadn't learned previously, she just read about it and then taught it.
And if there are any subjects that someone is completely incapable of teaching, perhaps because a learning disability prevents the parent from understanding the subject fully, homeschooling coops offer valuable resources.
If you're aware that a certain area isn't your strong point (like if you're a terrible speller), first try to see if you can work on improving your grasp of that subject, and if you still feel like you can't, ask your spouse to teach that subject to your children, and if you still can't, then ask another person for help in that area.
When I was part of the homeschooling coop, my mom taught math to another homeschooling family, including the high school drop out mom. She may not have known the math to begin with, but by homeschooling her family, despite her educational deficits, she ended up learning a lot of the information that she had missed out on when she ended her education too early.
Barter is a good tool for things like this- ask someone to teach your children what you can't, and then you either teach their children a subject that is your strong suit, or pay them back some other way, perhaps with some canned vegetables from your homegrown garden, free babysitting, or whatever.

To be a homeschooling parent, you don't need to be a genius. You don't need a teaching degree. You just need to put in a little effort, believe in your capabilities, and believe in your child.
From there, the rest will hopefully fall into place.
And for those that really need some extra help, for some subjects that are harder to grasp, like math, there are online resources to teach math well, as well as videos put out that explain even complex math in ways that are easy to understand.

Do you think you'd be able to teach your children all they need to know, from preschool until graduating high school? If so, why? If not, why not? Which areas do you think would be most challenging to teach your kids? What areas do you think you'd have the easiest time with?
Do you think most parents can successfully educate their children, or do you think a parent needs to be a professional educator to be able to do a good job of homeschooling?

(P.S. This post was all written up and ready to post on Thursday, but blogger was down for an incredibly long time and I couldn't post anything!) 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I always find it very surprising to see '0 comments' on the bottom of your posts. Am I missing something?

    Not everyone can homeschool. For some of us, teaching is not our strength, and I believe we should really play to our strengths in life. I am someone who loves to teach things I already know in detail, but have zero desire to teach a broad range of skills or across the age spectrum. My husband on the other hand has an excellent personality for teaching kids. He loves learning new things and sharing knowledge, he is creative and constantly seeking new experiences and knowledge to share. If he chose to homeschool, excellent. If I chose to homeschool, my kids would end up with random gaps in their learning. In fact I have just remembered that my homeschooled nieces & nephews don't know how to read or create or understand statistics and graphs. Oops.

    1. You are so right! A lot of homeschoolers get very preachy about homeschooling and the truth is, just like school, it's not for everyone.

  2. I am homeschooling our boys! I am no means a professional teacher. I graduated highschool so I know that I can teach them what they need to know. If there is anything I am having problems with there are so many resources out now to help bridge any gap there may be. Academics is only one part of schooling your child, it is not the main goal like society teaches. I want my children to grow up happy, confident, God fearing men,with good character that make a difference in others lives.That is most important to me. If they can read- necessary life skills, can do math - to balance their bank account and pay bills and buy groceries, and know how to interact well with others my job will have been a success. All other things, God will give me the help and resources I need.

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