Congratulations to you for exploring the idea of homeschooling! It is a rewarding lifestyle! But even if you can clearly imagine the future rewards, you may still feel unsure about your qualifications to homeschool your kids. If you're not a teacher yourself, do you have what it takes to homeschool?
The truth is, there are only two necessary requirements for you to homeschool your kids: curiosity and connection. If you are willing to ask questions and are connected with your kids, the rest will flow into place. Sure, there will be ups and downs, but every worthwhile venture is filled with them.
I was a public school teacher until my oldest turned two. But as my husband and I searched for preschools and kindergartens, we had a hunch that none of them were the right fit. Thankfully, we trusted ourselves. We knew our son and knew that there must be an alternative. Maybe you’re in the same boat. School isn’t working for your child or your gut is telling you that your child is missing out on the joy of learning. You’re already on the right path to consider homeschooling.
Before I send you on your way with a little nod of reassurance, let me tell you why am so sure you can homeschool your kids without a teaching degree. I've got three big reasons.
1. You Can Homeschool Because You Know Your Kids
You know your kids with a depth that no school teacher ever can. When I was faced with a classroom of 25 shining faces at the beginning of each school year, I hoped that I would get to know each of them well enough to guide them in their learning. I'm not talking about laying out a lesson plan in front of them and checking off items from the scope and sequence. I'm talking about truly knowing each of my students enough to understand what ignites their learning. Are they interested in historical figures, machines, reading for long stretches?
As much as I could, I tried to learn about every child and attempted incorporate at least some of their interests into our days. As you can imagine, this was incredibly challenging with 25 diverse learners and state standards to account for. The good news is homeschooling makes space for diverse interests, and our children flourish because of it.
This space is made because you know your kids! You know
- their moods and quirks
- when they need to trade the math book for a read aloud on the couch
- if they prefer illustrated science books, historical fiction, or poetry
- when their preferences change
- if they learn better with hands-on projects or through reading
Homeschooling allows us the privilege to tailor curriculum choices year by year, week by week, and day by day!
When challenging times arise, your connection with your kids will guide you through the murkiest of waters. A wise friend once told me, when I was faced with a difficult time in our homeschool, "Just love them."
And you know what? She was right! My love for my children allowed me to look into their eyes and see the next step.
2. You Can Homeschool Because You Know What Your Kids Need
After eleven years of homeschooling, I can see where my public school teacher background was a hindrance rather than a help in our journey.
In the early years, I attempted to recreate school at home. My little guy wanted nothing to do with it!
He missed our long days playing outside and walking to the library—days of reading aloud and playing games. My agenda of schoolish learning encroached on his natural curiosity. So I made changes! We kicked the school-at-home dust from our feet and dove head first into the homeschooling lifestyle my son needed:
- We halted our lessons at the kitchen table in favor of more read alouds and exploring the creek.
- We ditched textbooks for engaging fiction
- We baked brownies and read poetry and played with math concepts.
I wish I could go back and give my younger self some encouraging advice to forget what the school is doing and trust my gut and my child.
3. You Can Homeschool Because You Are Curious
You may be saying, “That’s fine for the earliest years, but what about learning to read or mastering math concepts?” There are two things I want to point out about this question.
There are so many tools available for homeschoolers—many more than the limited curriculum provided by school districts. You will find what you need.
Perhaps the most important point: You asked the question! Woohoo! Your curiosity and love will guide you to the answer! When you decide to embark on the journey of homeschooling, you’re not going to sit back and let someone else guide the canoe. You’re going to grab the oars and steer your family through every kind of water you encounter. You can do it because you want to!
I thought for sure that my kids would read early and without hesitation. I’m a reading teacher for goodness sake! Ha! The truth is each of my six children have learned to read in their own time with the support that they needed. For a few, this meant a simple introduction to letter sounds and they were off and running. For a few others, it meant a choreographed dance of focused learning with a curriculum and open space for growth, with me backing off a bit to allow the newly introduced skills percolate for a while. No two kids of mine took the same path to reading, but like every homeschooling parent, I asked questions and looked at our options. Eventually, they all learned (or are currently learning) how to read.
Chances are, when you begin homeschooling, you will try on different styles, like I did. Some will feel scratchy and awkward like the wool sweater I accidentally sent through the dryer. Others will fit like your favorite sweatshirt, cozy and comforting, allowing you and your children to relax into the homeschool lifestyle.
As your homeschool grows and changes, so will the day-to-day happenings of your homeschool. The common thread, however, is your connection with your children! You know your kids and that is your guiding beacon. You have all the tools you need for homeschooling: curiosity and connection!
About the Author
Angela Awald is a homeschooling mama to 6, certified teacher, writer, and doula. Her days brim full of learning, loving, and laundry (lots and lots of laundry)!! She believes that nurturing children (and ourselves) means helping them to see that all of life is about learning – from our mistakes, from each other, and from great books! Angela blogs at nurturedroots.net where she shares the ways she is nurturing her family and inspiration for nurturing your own.