At one time or another, most budding homeschool parents experience fear, anxiety, and doubt in their abilities to successfully guide their children through their education. They worry they don’t have the training, the know-how, the resources, the patience, the intelligence, and even the energy to homeschool their kids. They think other homeschool parents must be more creative, more organized, and more knowledgeable about curriculum, education, and learning in general.
The truth is, parents are innately qualified to teach their children, regardless of their own educational accomplishments or professional experience. No one knows their children better—their interests, learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. And no one has their children’s backs like they do.
Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you feel your confidence as a homeschool mom or dad waning.
Homeschooling Is Parenting
Homeschooling is not replicating school at home. Learning at home is vastly different from the activities (and mindset) of school. Sometimes parents hold onto their ideas about what school is and will try to set up their home and daily schedule in a similar way as their local school. This is usually tossed out pretty quickly, however, in favor of methods and approaches that come more naturally and bear more fruit.
Homeschooling is like advanced parenting. In the same way that you coordinate after-school activities, meals, sleep schedules, household matters, and more, you manage learning. You find the methods that work best for you and your kids and run with them. No two homeschools are exactly alike, and that is one of the best things about homeschooling. It can be tailored to your individual children’s needs.
Every Parent Is a Teacher
Parents doubting their ability to teach should recognize that every parent is a teacher. You’ve been teaching your children all along, and you’ll continue to do so no matter where they go to school. What teachers are trained in is mostly classroom management and teaching philosophies for a collective. You don’t need any formal training to teach your children and provide them an education that far surpasses anything the public school system could deliver. You need only be resourceful, available, curious, and loving.
Kids Are Always Learning
Children can’t help but learn. If you can discourage addictions to video games and digital screens (for they steal the energy to learn and the space to be curious), in time you’ll find your kids diving into subjects of all sorts. They’ll build large LEGO structures, ask questions about marine life, wonder how earthquakes happen, and try to build a motor from scratch. They’ll dive deep, and you can encourage and assist that fire to burn until they’ve exhausted their interest—and likely found another.
Curate Your Environment
Your home environment will play a significant role in your child’s education. Hang maps, play classical music, surround yourself with excellent books, stock up on art supplies, strew interesting objects strategically, reduce clutter, and invite creativity and exploration. Consider the available workspaces in your home. Allow space to hide away and think something through in solitude as well as to gather together and collaborate on projects or games.
Every corner of your home has the potential to be a learning space. The kitchen’s a laboratory, the dining room is a workshop, the yard is a fantastic place to make a mess. Rather than the next cover of your favorite home decor magazine, see your home as a space to learn, create, and explore. Use your creativity to make it as inviting and inspiring as possible.
Use Their Interests
If you find motivating your children to do school work challenging, use their interests. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, you can do the math to calculate how long ago different ones lived, practice geography to map where they are believed to have lived, learn Latin in memorizing their scientific names, practice spelling the complicated names of dinosaurs, make art projects about dinosaurs, research theories of their extinction in science, and learn about how they lived, ate, nested, and behaved. You could plot their existence and extinction on a timeline. You can learn about the characteristics of the Earth when they lived. There are countless “school” subjects that can be touched upon by simply diving deep into the world of dinosaurs.
This exercise works for any subject. Want to make school fun? This is the way. Give it a try.
Make It Easy
Homeschooling is easy, if you choose to make it so. Have activities on hand for the days the furnace needs repair or you have a headache. When things break down, cancel the work for the day and let everyone read independently. See your curriculum as a tool you use, not a tyrant that rules over you. Skip lessons you deem unimportant. If your child understands the circumference of a circle after two examples, move on, don’t force her to complete an entire page of monotonous problems. Homeschool provides your family the freedom to bask in the wonders of the world. If you keep it simple, that wonder will continue to thrive.
Outsourcing education should be a part of your homeschool plan. Music lessons, art lessons, clubs, sports, dance—any specialized interest or activity that you either don’t want to teach or feel your child needs specialized training in should be outsourced. Just because you’re a homeschooler doesn’t mean you have to teach everything yourself.
If you really want to feel confident in your decision to homeschool, look into what today’s schools are actually teaching, their standards, and the academic results they’re achieving. This research, coupled with a deep dive into the true history of public education, will cure any homeschooler’s doubts about their choice to homeschool.
If you’re embarking on this journey for the very first time, enjoy it. This precious time with your children won’t last forever. It won’t be perfect and it won’t always be easy, but, like so many before you, you may look back on your time homeschooling as the very best parenting decision you ever made.