One of the most important themes of the encouragement that homeschool parents want to pass along to others just starting out, or wondering if they should get started homeschooling, it's this: You can do this! Undoubtedly, it's hard work and a big commitment, but I believe that every parent that feels the call to take charge of their own children's education is uniquely qualified and able to do the job.
Join me for a cup of coffee and let's talk a little about why you are your child's best teacher, and how you can be confident in your homeschool.
The first thing I do need to tell you is that it's probably universal for homeschool moms (and dads) to doubt themselves at some point. Am I doing a good enough job? How will I teach algebra (or whatever subject) when I never really understood it myself? Will my kid be able to get into college? Is my kid missing out on important experiences like band or sports? Am I covering everything I need to? Will my kid wind up being socially awkward? Will I ever have time to myself again? These questions and lots like them - some weighty and some that might seem trivial - can haunt us as homeschoolers. So if you feel a little bit out of your depth from time to time, that's normal and not necessarily a bad thing. After all, taking full responsibility for your child's education alongside the responsibility of parenting is a big deal and a big commitment. Don't take it lightly - rely on God for wisdom; be open to support and help; and do your own homework to prepare. And then take it one step at a time.
Be confident that you are qualified to teach your child.
You know their interests, their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions, and their challenges. And you love them and are committed to their success in life to a degree that no other teacher can come close to. Also, you're already a teacher. Goodness, if you can teach your baby to talk, use the potty, and eat with a spoon, you can teach her how to read.
When you come up against an education challenge that you're not specifically equipped for, there are lots of options for getting help. I'm talking about the high school chemistry and algebra concerns here, because that's a common worry for parents that didn't excel in those subjects. You don't always need to be the teacher in the sense of being the expert that lectures the student. Be the facilitator that finds the resource that suits the child's learning style, and helps talk through the lesson material; or that finds a like-minded co-op or tutor that can provide the expertise needed in specific areas.
Be confident in your decisions.
If you've decided to homeschool, you have probably done a LOT of thinking and praying about it, have weighed your options, and have made the choice you feel is best for your family. So don't let the naysayers bring you down. You may have family members that disagree with your choice, but remember that is is YOUR choice, not theirs. In general, thank them for their concern and either calmly address the concern (if it's a valid question) or politely ignore and change the subject.
What if it's your kid that challenges your decision to homeschool? That is actually pretty common among homeschooled teens. They think they might be missing out on something cool or they might be getting pressure from their public school friends; and their reaction is to tell you how much they hate being homeschooled and so on. I got it from one of my kids, and a lot of the homeschooling families I know have had at least one kid (almost always a teen) try this. May I remind you again that you are the parent and it is your responsibility and privilege to make this decision? You should listen compassionately to your child's complaint, and try to address the root of it, but at the end of the conversation, you will need to stick to your conviction, because you are the adult in charge.
Be confident in the nitty-gritty details.
Sure, we're flexible. But that does not mean we're pushovers, or that we let our children manipulate us in our 'classroom'. If you have set a standard for an assignment or a deadline for something to be done, stick to it. This is part of parenting and it should be a part of educating as well. Establish your school rules as you do your house rules and be clear about your expectations and about the consequences if the expectations are not met. If your kids are old enough, get them involved in deciding what reasonable expectation and consequences should look like. (Remember that you're in charge, but teens can have valuable and reasonable input on some of the rules, plus if they feel like they've had their say and their opinion has been respected, they are more likely to be co-operative.) You may need to set a standard for bedtime, for how much time is to spent on schoolwork each day, or for when screen time is allowed, even if your homeschool is very relaxed. Kids, especially teens, do still need boundaries! Make sure everyone knows the rules and what the consequences will be, and then stick to them. If you've already established that kids can't hang out with their friends on Friday night unless all their schoolwork is done, then you won't have to scramble to think of a punishment when Junior admits that he did not write the History paper he was supposed to. You - and Junior - already know what will happen: he can't go out with his friends. End of story. From experience, I can tell you that you'll probably only have to play the card once or twice and they'll know you mean business and the work will get done. If your students are working independently - trust me on this, because I've learned the hard way! - check their work often!
Gain more confidence from the helpful tips other homeschool parents are offering up this week! Head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog hop to read more!
Or start with these participating bloggers,Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to Homeschool Coffee Break by Email!
Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
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