I think homeschooling would be great for our family but…
I’m not a homeschooler…yet. As I started getting everything ready to enroll my oldest in kindergarten in the fall, I started thinking more and more that I want to homeschool my kids. I found your website while doing some research on what that would require, and I really think homeschooling would be great for our family, but I am also really worried about failing my kids. It is very important to us that all kids get a quality education. I am not a teacher. I know how to read, but I don’t really remember how I learned to read, and I don’t know how to teach someone to read. Same with math and science and, well, everything.
I am able to read about things to learn about topics that interest me or subjects I need to know more about or things I need to know how to do, but I certainly don’t know everything about everything they need to learn. Do I need to learn it all myself before I can teach them? Teachers go to college to learn how to teach, they train with other experienced teachers. How do I learn how to teach my kids? How do I make sure they learn everything they need to learn to be well educated adults that contribute positively to the world? How do I homeschool and not fail them?
Homeschooling: Not started yet
Kids ages 3 and 5
“I think homeschooling would be great for our family but…”
A whole lot of homeschoolers, me included, who care about kids getting a quality education, know exactly how you feel about this. 😊
START WITH A DREAM.
Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People has as his second habit “Begin with the End in Mind.” According to Covey, all things are created twice – there is the mental creation and the physical creation. Your homeschooling is much more likely to be successful if you have a dream, a mental creation. The dream should focus on what homeschooling will mean to your children and your family. Have conversations with your partner when you do this. Don’t let any doubts seep in when you do this. Once you have that, work on the physical creation by getting started trying to make the mental creation a reality.
RECOGNIZE LEARNING IS A JOURNEY.
“How do I learn how to teach my kids?” The short answer to this question is one step at a time.
Yes, that does mean you will be learning along with your children, and it is important to understand that as you oversee your children’s education. You are the primary model for your children as they grow. By modeling the traits and process of someone who is a lifelong learner, you are helping your children become lifelong learners.
As you start planning for the physical creation, work to think of learning as a journey. A journey-centered approach is holistic. Too often learning is viewed as a destination, a ticket. For example, high school is a ticket to college or a job. This is opposed to a journey-centered approach where the emphasis is on the acquisition of knowledge, information, and skills in a way that is personally meaningful and that honors the natural progression for how learning happens.
A journey centered approach incorporates a growth mindset, which is a significant benefit. People with a growth mindset understand that if there are new skills to learn, they can learn them. You are already in a good place by recognizing that there are things you do not know. By showing up, putting one foot in front of the other, and learning as you go along, you will learn how to teach your kids.
LEARN HOW YOUR CHILDREN LEARN.
In answer to the question “How do I homeschool and not fail them?” you start by getting to know how your children access and process information. A significant benefit of homeschooling is that it provides an individual “handcrafted” education. On that meets the unique strengths, challenges, and passions of the child. By making thoughtful observations about how your children learn, you can help strengthen those academic, vocational, and learning skills where they are challenged and channel those where they are strong. Your children will not receive an education that does this in any setting outside of homeschooling.
WEAVE IN LEARNING SKILLS.
“How do I make sure they learn everything they need to learn to be well educated adults that contribute positively to the world?”
I have three different answers for this.
- In a world that is changing as fast as ours is, the answer is you can’t and neither can anyone else. That doesn’t mean you cannot help make it likely they will grow to be adults that contribute positively to the world. The best way to approach this is to work on learning skills so your children will be adept at learning. In this way, they have the skills they need to learn anything.
- Teach your children honest history and civics. Make sure you use inclusive educational resources that adequately and accurately reflect the diversity in the world. This is an area, with thought and good resources, where secular academic homeschoolers do a better job of teaching than any other that I have seen.
- A practical answer is testing. Many homeschoolers have their children take a diagnostic test. Some have their children test annually. Some have their children test at the end of fourth and eighth grade. The test will pick up any areas where a child needs more work. This type of testing should be done in a way that is not stressful. When learning is approached using a growth mindset, areas where a child needs more work are areas that need more nurturing to promote growth.
FIND GOOD RESOURCES AND PROGRAMS.
No, you do not need to learn it all yourself before you can teach them. Even the most experienced teachers use resources and programs. The SEA Homeschoolers Main Facebook group and the SEA Preschool/Kinder Facebook group are great places to get help finding these. As someone who cares about kids getting a quality education, I recommend you choose materials and programs developed by experienced educators. Look for those that fit well with how your child learns. There are also many excellent options for outsourcing some learning by having your child take online classes run by someone else.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Give yourself the same space and respect you would give others who were trying to gift their child with an education that honors who they are. I urge you to find a support community. You need a group of people, even if it is online, to support you on this journey.
Much Love, Blair
Do you have a question for the fan-favorite column “Ask Blair” found in The SEA Homeschoolers Magazine? Please use this form to submit your homeschooling questions. The SEA team will select a few questions to be answered by SEA Homeschoolers Founder & Magazine Editor, Blair Lee, in each quarterly issue. Due to space, not all questions will be published in the magazine. Those that come in shortly after a magazine issue has been published will go on this page. These are important questions and we want to answer them for you in a timely way. Please be sure to include all pertinent information relevant to your question – examples: learner ages, grade levels, preferred resource format, topics of interest, preferred homeschool methodologies, state requirements you’re trying to meet, learning challenges, etc.
Submit your homeschooling question through this link.