Once upon a time I remember discussing a friend of a friend that was a homeschooler. How presumptuous that they think they know everything their children need to be taught. They know ALL the math, science, reading etc.? They can give their child every experience they need to become a successful adult? No one person can know it all.
That’s why I went to school for five years. I have my Masters degree in education. It took me five years of college to be qualified to teach just one subject (art.) Even after all that education (or perhaps because of it) I didn’t feel like I could ever provide a well rounded education for my four kids. Am I smart enough to homeschool my own kids?
Since we took the semi-rebellious leap of removing our family from the public school system I still hear those comments. Now they aren’t coming out of my own mouth but I do occasionally field them from other, generally well meaning people. The most common ones sound something like this.
“I have trouble helping my child with their homework. We couldn’t struggle like that all day!”
“I’m terrible at math. I could never teach it!”
“I don’t remember anything about history!”
“I’m not smart enough to homeschool!”
“Certainly you will re-enroll when it comes time for high school?!? How could one person know everything that needs to be taught?”
“I wouldn’t trust myself to be able to teach them everything they need to know.”
I Can Learn Beside My Children
Knowing everything about everything is not a requirement. Whaaat? I can learn right along with my kids. Life changing, right? Okay, maybe not quite. But I started teaching my kids with this thought as a little seed in the back of my mind. I told my kids out loud and often.
“I don’t know the answer to that.”
“Let’s look it up. How can we find out more about that?”
“Let’s find someone else that would know a lot about that.”
“I am learning so much with you that I didn’t know before!”
As I teach, I learn. And I want my kids to know that. After a year and half of homeschooling I am confident that I know more than I ever have in my life. I always did well in school because I can memorize easily. But I am baffled at the things I either remember in a fuzzy way or have no recollection of at all. They didn’t sink in. But this time around, as a teacher, I get it. And I see my kids getting it too.
Learning Together; A Homeschool Mantra
This little thought of learning right alongside my kids has since turned into a bit of mantra for our schooling. Learning together. It’s awesome. The pressure is off me. Instead of relaying all the information directly to them I get to teach my people how to find out what they want to know.
By nature I am a researcher. I love finding out about all the different perspectives of something that interests me. The non fiction section of the library is my friend. It’s weird, I know. And I don’t necessarily expect my kiddos to learn to love research. But, I do find huge value in teaching them that they can learn anything, at anytime. It doesn’t matter if I’m 7 or 40; I can learn!
There happen to be a couple of little perfectionists floating around my house. Kids that really, really don’t like to get things wrong. Sometimes there might even be a kid that will try to quit something, simply because he or she isn’t good at it the very first time they attempt it. The idea of a growth mindset is particularly helpful to that kid (and, ahem, perhaps even an adult.) Just because you can’t do it today doesn’t mean you can’t learn it tomorrow!
Just Because You Can’t Do It Today Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Learn
I am all out honest with my kids. I don’t know everything and I don’t pretend to know everything. But you better believe I am smart enough to figure it out. And if I can’t I will help you hunt down the person or the resources that can help you! Because, lets face it, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Let’s cash in on what we are good at and help one another out! Isn’t that how people learned everything way back when?
I like to think that my kids won’t be hindered by my lack of knowledge on a specific subject. But that they will remember that they watched their old mom figure out hard stuff. They learned how to look for answers. They had time to put those answers into some perspective and see what they really mean in the real world.
I have no idea if we will continue to homeschool on through the high school years, although I hope we do. I am confident that if we do choose to I am “smart” enough to facilitate that level of education.
Do I remember everything I learned in high school? Not even close! That’s exactly why I am so excited about teaching my own kids how to learn and not necessarily just how to memorize facts! Maybe every fact learned isn’t as important as the learning how to learn.
You ARE Smart Enough to Homeschool and So Are Your Kids
I want to give my kids the tools that they need to do anything they choose. One of those tools is a base of knowledge. I want my kids to have a solid foundation. But the bigger idea, the more important theme is the understanding that they believe they are capable.
Traditional schooling doesn’t cater to the kid that sees things differently. Thinking outside the box is not rewarded.
My education to be a teacher is not what gives me the skills to teach my kids. My own schooling taught me classroom management.
Knowing my kids is what makes me a good teacher for my own kids.
As a parent it is hard to see that the system is not our only choice. Parents are made to feel as if the traditional educational system offers something with which we cannot possibly compete. Do your own research. Include your kiddos in your investigation. Educational choices do exist. And, you are, without a doubt, smart enough to homeschool.