Be honest, now. Does the word homeschooling conjure up images in your mind of denim jumpers and socially awkward kids who aren’t allowed to watch anything other than Little House on the Prairie (if their family even owns a television, that is!)? Have you always wondered what it’s really like for families who homeschool? Well, you’ve come to the right place. As part of a series of posts about homeschooling, I’d like to take this space to answer 3 of the questions I’m asked most often.
Oh, you homeschool? Well, you must have a degree in education. But I don’t have the faintest idea how to go about teaching kids.
Yes, I do have an Elementary Education degree. However, my degree is not what qualifies me to teach my kids. And your not having an education degree won’t be what disqualifies you. I know homeschooling moms who hold degrees in Graphic Design, Architecture, English, Music, and Dietetics and Nutrition. None of them were “trained” to teach their children. Also, almost every curriculum comes with a scripted teacher’s manual. You can literally open it and read the bold print, if that’s what makes you comfortable. In fact, that’s what I do, even though I “have a degree in education”! Why reinvent the wheel? If I’ve chosen a particular curriculum, I’ve decided the authors know what they’re talking about, so why not follow their guidelines? On the other hand, I have many friends who prefer to use the manual as a guide and create their own lessons. The beauty of schooling at home is that you can adapt the work to your ability and comfort level. So, to answer your question, you absolutely do not need a degree in education to homeschool your child.
What about socialization? How do you make sure they don’t turn out weird?
If you’ve read my other posts, you know we’re involved in soccer, swim, dance, and music. My older kids attend youth group, we participate in two homeschool co-ops, and we have great neighbors for them to play with. They’re not lacking in opportunities to be around kids their ages. More importantly, homeschooling allows my kids the chance to be around kids of different ages. The older kids learn how to treat the younger kids with kindness and patience. The younger kids learn to toughen up a bit if they want to keep up with the big kids. They also have opportunities to be around adults and have conversations with people other than Mom. This develops a maturity in them that surprises many people. As for the weird part? Well, sleeping until 8, playing with baby sister between lessons, and creating a Lego city while listening to Harry Potter on CD doesn’t sound like a recipe for weirdness to me.
Where do you get your curriculum? Don’t you have to test them to make sure they’re learning?
Technically these are two questions, but I hear them together frequently. Curriculum is available anywhere. Thanks to the world wide web, you can obtain almost any book you need, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, that book can be on your doorstep in two days or less. When people ask where I find curriculum, I think they’re really asking how I know what to teach. Once I decided which method of homeschooling I wanted to follow (a whole post in and of itself!), I just had to choose the curriculum that worked best with our time, budget, and capabilities. As for testing, our curriculum includes regular tests to see that the kids are retaining what they’ve learned. Also, since they’re basically receiving one-on-one tutoring from me, I know when they understand a concept and are ready to move on, or when we need to spend a little more time on a certain topic. I have not chosen to test my kids formally yet, because Mississippi does not require me to do so. Each state has its own guidelines, so if you live elsewhere and are interested in homeschooling your kids, you’ll want to research the laws of your own state.
Although homeschooling is more common today than it was when I was younger, there are still people who have questions about it and are intimidated by the thought of having their kids depend on them for an education. Hopefully I’ve been able to answer a few of your questions. If you have any others, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Next month’s post will cover how to get started and what to expect if you choose to home school.