You’ve been reading and have been learning a little bit about homeschooling. You’ve learned how to find your state’s laws regarding homeschooling, which, in turn, has given you a basic idea of your options. You’ve also learned some lingo, which is important as you begin to weigh the variables in approaching homeschooling. For example, now that you know what your state requires and you have a better understanding of the language, you are better equipped to research the answers to some of those lingering questions.
The particulars of some of these questions we’ll address in the future posts. Today, though, we’re going to tackle one of the first questions a parent asks him/herself when the issue of homeschooling enters his/her minds: Am I qualified to teach my child?
One comment I hear frequently (this is actually one of the most common comments I hear) is, “Oh wow. I could never teach my kids.” There are lots of ways to respond to this statement. Here are some of my more routine answers:
“Why do you say that?” (I only go here if I have time to talk and have a conversation about this topic.)
“You might be surprised!” (This is another response that is saved for situations when I have time for a conversation.)
“Ya, me neither.” 😆 This is my typical answer, and it usually leaves people wondering.
The short answer to this question is: Children are going to learn, despite our best efforts. 🙂 Our jobs as parents is to provide the right material to learn, because they are going to absorb what is around them.
Have you ever wondered why it is that a child can hear a swear word once and then start repeating it? 😆 This is part of that rule: They are going to absorb what is around them. If we offer them the opportunities to learn, they are GOING to (learn).
I admit to being jaded. There are few situations, I’ve found, where people are genuinely interested in learning about homeschooling. Usually, they already have formed opinions, and nothing I can say (believe me, I have tried, to no avail) is going to change their minds. It is usually easier for me to make a statement that doesn’t leave the door open to conversation unless they want to walk through it, and one that doesn’t open the door (although it sometimes does anyhow) to people making judgments.
As I have gotten older, I have gotten better with not feeling the need to explain or defend our decision to homeschool. In many ways, this approach is an extension of breastfeeding and other parenting decisions.
I just didn’t know that when we started homeschooling. 🙂
The first two years, we paid to enroll the kids in Clonlara. We were provided a contact teacher and a Comprehensive Skills Guidebook. In those days, I don’t remember being required to submit progress reports, but it’s possible I did in the form of emails to our contact teacher, who was a friend of the family.
My biggest fear, of course, was teaching the kids and doing what I could to ensure that they didn’t get “behind.” I chuckle now, because, of course, as part of our overall parenting philosophy, there really is no such term as it applies to productivity and actual well-being of a child.
Without going down the whole rabbit trail, let me just summarize my feelings on the topic: Children (and people, too) learn and grow at their own pace, in what is the biological norm for the individual. Yes, sometimes kids are ahead of the curve; sometimes they’re not. Sometimes there are issues of actual developmental delays, but I believe, by-in-large, MOST of what gets labeled by others are really just variations of the biological norm. BUT, because we as a society are eager to get all those round pegs into square holes, we label kids (and adults, too) as a means of quantifying them.
With my own kids, crawling and walking was an issue for others. Only one of my kids actually crawled, and hers was more of a commando crawl than actual crawl, which she did for about a week before she started creeping 90% of the time. The other 3 all scooted, like I had done. I, myself, was a “late” walker, scooting, never crawling, and then finally walking when I was around 2.
For those of you with kids, you know how this goes: when you take your baby into the doctor’s office for all those well-baby visit, you are bombarded with questions. “Is your baby doing “x, y, z?” Even if your baby is “on track” according to the checklist, parents come away with a heightened sense of fear that their child may not be doing”x” when “they are supposed to.”
Even as an experienced parent, I dreaded those visits. Finally, with my last 2 kids (although earlier on with the youngest) I put my foot down and refused to answer the questions. Why? As a mother who went to those visits with all the other children in tow, they could see that they were alive and obviously not maltreated.
I mean, really? How many times do I have to answer, “Yes, I have a smoke detector. Yes, we have door locks on the cabinets. Yes, we have a toilet lid locks. Yes, we would have a baby gate for stairs, if we had them. No, I do not chart and keep track of every morsel that passes her lips.” With the last one, it was only a few visits in when I told the nurse, “I will NOT answer any more of these questions. It is none of your business. You can see with your own eyes that there is nothing wrong with any of my four children, and I’ll not allow you the opportunity to label any one them as being *anything.*”
While that didn’t score me any points at the time, things being as they are, my ped’s office doesn’t even have records on-site for any of my kids, because they haven’t been there in the last 5 years. Yes, really. I don’t need to pay money to have a stranger tell me my kids are healthy and “normal.”
So what does this have to do with teaching your kids at home?
People are afraid they are going to mess up their kids by having them home and schooling. We are taught early on, from the time we are in labor and enter the hospital (unless you are lucky enough to have other options) that we need the “help” of professionals; that we are somehow incapable of doing anything right without their direction.
I cry foul.
We’ll talk more about learning styles later, but how many children have been labeled as ADD/ADHD because they don’t want to sit still in class? Could it be that the child is a kinesthetic learner? What about a child who is a reluctant reader? Could it be that this child is an auditory learner?
Why are we trying to force children into set- and often unnatural- learning parameters?
The short and easy answer is, of course, that the system (formal school) doesn’t have the means to allow for a variety of learning styles. There is a method that is applied to all children, and if your child doesn’t fit into that mold, the child is labeled. One thing to understand is that this really is a logistical necessity for formal educational settings, based primarily on class size and student to teacher ratio.
If left to their own devices, children are going to learn from their environment. Instead of wondering “Am I qualified to teach my child?” and “Can I teach my child?” we should be asking, “What kind of learning environment is best for my child?”
This question leads naturally to, “Can I provide that learning environment at home?” In case if you have any doubt, let me just say it out loud: Yes, you can! 😀
Before moving on to learning styles (which will help you identify your child’s learning style), we’re going to answer more of the questions from the Why Homeschool? post.
Do you have a question you want to me write about? Please leave me a comment!