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Are You Qualified to Teach Your Child at Home?

Are you qualified picRecently, I heard a teacher compare homeschooling your children with choosing not to take them to the doctor and (her words) “doctoring them” at home. Her point was of course that in order to teach one must have teaching credentials. I love teachers and have many teacher friends. I truly believe teaching today has to be one of the toughest and important jobs there is. NOT everyone could teach a room of first graders how to read – that is what teachers are trained to do.  But can anyone with the means and the will teach their own child academics? Can anyone can teach their own child at home?

Currently, the laws in most states say that you can. Many states only require that you state your intention to homeschool, some require some test scores and/or a professional evaluation of student progress, but only a tiny few require any kind of qualification of parents. So for most Americans, if you have the means and the will, you can legally homeschool your children.

The means and the will.

What does it take to satisfy the ‘means’ of this equation?

There is a commonly held belief out there suggesting that you need to have a two parent intact family where only one parent works. However, there is a ton of information out there showing that this simply isn’t the case (see Pamela Price’s book How to Work and Homeschool). Single parents who work while homeschooling? It can be done. There are also a ton of free or very cheap resources out there for homeschoolers, so satisfying the financial means does not require a six figure income.

But what about the intellectual means?

I don’t think there are a ton of people out there who would agree with our teacher friend from the beginning of this post. First of all, the comparison between teaching and medicine is ludicrous.

And secondly, as I mentioned before, teacher training would be a necessity in a classroom setting, but at home with your own children? No, I don’t think most people would say that there is a need for that.

But should we hold homeschooling parents to a certain standard before allowing them to school their own children at home? Can someone with, say, a GED, teach advanced chemistry? Can a high school dropout teach foreign languages? Can someone without a college degree teach advanced high school mathematics? Can someone with a college degree in English Literature teach advanced chemistry? The list is endless and clearly parents can’t be all things to all subjects.

The internet has become such an amazing resource for homeschoolers that they literally can find anything they need with the click of a mouse. And you can purchase curriculum in nearly every subject. There are free online courses in many subjects and public online high schools abound. So would teaching an advanced subject be problematic for a homeschool parent who doesn’t understand it themselves? I don’t think it would for a parent who places a high value on such study, assuming they have the ability to seek out and utilize the tools necessary.

But what if one is not motivated enough, or does not place a high enough value on a high school education to get one themselves? Are they going to impart to their children the view that education is not important? What about the parent who does not have the capacity to seek out the information they need to teach, or the ability to teach it?

I guess I would argue that the parent who does not place a high value on education is going to affect their children regardless of whether they send them to school or not. And anyone who does not have the capacity to seek out the information needed to homeschool would be unlikely to undertake homeschooling in the first place.

So are you qualified to teach your child at home? I believe that you are, but I would love to hear what others have to say.

Are we being judged or passing judgement?

I read a blog post yesterday by a mom who sends her kids to public school. (Here is the link It was titled “Why I don’t Homeschool”.

Comments were already closed on this blog or I would have commented on it directly, but it was an eye opener. Rachel has a sister in law who homeschools. This has caused Rachel to feel guilty for not homeschooling. Something I have not considered – that people who choose not to homeschool go through the same self-doubt as those of us who choose to homeschool.

As a relatively new homeschool mom, I have already learned to spin our decision to make it more palatable to people who I can sense aren’t going to agree with it. Right now I say that, since my youngest has another year before she starts kindergarten we are taking the other two out to just enjoy the year, spend more time with grandparents and do a little extra traveling. It sounds reasonable, and who is going to say that spending more time with family is a bad idea?

But the truth is, I’m doing it because I feel its the best place for them right now. If public school was where I felt my kiddos would fare the best I’d send them there. I don’t understand why I should feel judged about my decision or why Rachel should feel that way about hers. I definitely don’t think that people who are sending their kids to public school or private school are doing anything wrong, and there are many days I wish that I was in their shoes! When it comes down to it, I suspect it helps people to feel better about their own decision if they can strongly oppose someone who has made a different one.

I truly believe that as a parent you know what’s best for your kids better than anyone else in the world. Whatever you choose for your children you do not have to justify to me.

I also think that homeschooling has changed so much in recent years that it is barely recognizable. In my book Modern Homeschooling, I try to give an honest account of what homeschooling is like today, and how it is becoming more mainstream everyday. Homeschooling really looks more normal today than it ever has. Maybe, just maybe if we can all see that we have more similarities than differences, we can all stop worrying about what other people think and just get on with being the best parents we can be for our children.

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