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Homeschooling Doubts: Parents as Teachers

homeschooling doubts

homeschooling doubts

I never doubted that homeschooling was a great educational option.  By the time we were ready to homeschool I had done extensive research and was convinced that it was the best option for my daughter and the perfect option for our family.  What I experienced just before the school year began was a brief spell of self doubt.  This is perfectly normal (at least for me anyway) and within two or three weeks all of my doubts were completely gone.  If you too are experiencing doubts, hang tight and don’t lose hope, just know that you can homeschool your child. 

It is only human to have doubts, especially when one is venturing into unknown territory.  When I took my first real programming class and had to program in C, I had doubts as to whether it would compile, let alone even run.  When I trained for my first marathon, I had doubts whether I’d ever be able to complete 26 miles (the mere thought of it make my knees weak).  When I baked my first loaf of gluten free bread, I had doubts as to whether it would be edible (it was… just barely).  I have had doubts about completing my first mural, taking my first “real” job, highlighting my hair blond, etc..  Of course my first computer program did run.  I did complete my first marathon (and went on to run two more).  I was able to (eventually) bake a delicious loaf of gluten-free bread.  My first mural came out beautifully.  My first “real” job turned out to be great and the blond highlights, well that was a mistake, but one haircut later (and a box of hair color) remedied the mistake instantly.

Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when I started doubting whether or not I could successfully homeschool my daughter. My daughter was four years old and my husband and I had just decided that we would teach her preschool at home.  I didn’t worry about socialization.  My daughter was involved in more than enough activities and had plenty of playmates.  I didn’t worry about support. My husband, family and friends were all very supportive.  I didn’t worry about curriculum.  I had already done plenty of research on the topic and I was more than confident that I could put together, both a highly educational yet fun curriculum (which I did).

What I doubted was whether I could be both, a good parent and a good teacher.

  • Could I effectively teach my own daughter?
  • Did I want to homeschool?



Making Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Making Homemade Christmas Ornaments


PreK Activity: Making Homemade Christmas Ornaments

PreK Activity: Making Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Would I be a good teacher and more importantly would she learn from me?

I do not hold any teaching degrees.  I have a B.S. in computer science and mathematics.  I have a minor in art.  I have a master’s degree in library and information science.  I can track down a rare manuscript, write a small java program or paint a mural, but could I teach my own child?  As I sit here now, almost four years later, I can tell you most definitely YES!  Yes, I can teach my child.  However, four years ago, I wasn’t so sure.  After all, I wasn’t a board certified teacher.

Yet the more I thought about it, the more I was certain that I could homeschool my daughter successfully.  After all, wasn’t I the one who had taught her how to brush her teeth, wash her hands, eat using utensils, ride a bike, catch a ball, follow rules, play games, and interact with others.  I had already taught her how to identify letter names, letter sounds, patterns, colors, and numbers.   She knew how to write.  We had learned about plants, animals, life cycles and the about the earth.  She knew about holidays and how they were celebrated.  She had already explored different art mediums, such as watercolor paint, tempera paint, acrylic paint, drawing, and modeling clay. Without even realizing it, we had already started on our education path and so far it was going very well.

Did I want to homeschool?

After coming to this realization and accepting the fact that I could teach my daughter without any formal degree, the question then became, did I want to?  Ever since my daughter was young, I had fantasized about the day when my kids would leave my side and go off to school.  I love my kids, but I wanted some time to myself.  I wanted a few hours a day when I didn’t have to be “mom”.  The idea of running errands by myself, going to a doctors appointment by myself or even taking in a movie by myself was a fantasy I had lived with for many years.  Was I ready to give that all up?

Yes, of course I was.  I have and always will put my family’s needs and their best interests before my own.  If homeschooling was the best option for my daughter, I could certainly sacrifice my time for her.  After all, I wasn’t a stranger to sacrifice.  I had already walked away from my career, moved several times (across state borders) for my husband’s career and had traded city outings (museums, plays, operas, concerts, musicals, etc.) for playgrounds and visits with grandparents.  After two children I had already lived through eighteen months of pregnancy, 19 hours of labor (the second one being a very painful natural labor), a few years of midnight feedings and countless sleepless nights.   To me homeschooling was just another small sacrifice to add to the list and one that I would gladly do for my daughter.


PreK Field Trip: Easter egg hunt

PreK Field Trip: Easter egg hunt

A Successful Year

Three or four weeks into the school year, all of my doubts and fears regarding my ability to teach and my daughter’s ability to learn were gone.  My daughter flourished under my direction. It was not only reassuring, but highly encouraging.  The more she succeeded, the more I wanted to teach her.  Of course not every day was perfect or ideal, but that was to be expected.  On those imperfect days we played educational games or took an impromptu field trip. Instead of feeling resentment or bitterness over the lack of “me time” I had, I felt pride and reassurance that my daughter was doing so well academically. In the end, it was a great experience for both of us and when our year was finished, she couldn’t wait for kindergarten to begin (with me as her teacher) and I was delighted to have her as a student.






Parents As Teacher

The Good:  You do not need to hold a teaching degree to teach your child.  Any parent who really wants to homeschool can.  I have met single parent homeschoolers, military homeschoolers, parents of special needs children who homeschool, and parents of gifted and talented children who homeschool.   I’ve met parents who homeschool only one child and other parents who homeschool seven.

The Hurdle:  Some states, like Washington State, do stipulate that you need certain parent qualifications in order to homeschool (parents who do not meet state qualifications can consult HSLDA for guidance).  Homeschooling takes sacrifice on the part of the parent/teacher (mainly time and money).  Homeschooling, in addition to other parental responsibilities, can be overwhelming.

The Bottom Line:  No one knows your child better than you do and therefore no one knows what they need better than you.  The beauty of homeschooling is that you can homeschool at your own pace and choose curriculum that suits your child’s needs.  If your curriculum doesn’t work, change it.  If you or your child becomes burned out, take a few days off.  Homeschooling is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Set long term goals and always keep your eye on the prize.

Always remember, there is a lot of support out there for homeschooling parents.  HSLDA, state homeschooling organizations, local homeschooling organizations, homeschooling bloggers, Facebook support groups, Yahoo support groups, groups and fellow homeschooling parents (both current homeschoolers and veteran homeschoolers) are all available to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.   Attending homeschooling conferences (small and local or huge and national) are a great way to meet other homeschooling families, talk to the experts, browse curriculum and buy used curriculum.

Here are just a few of the homeschooling resources that I have found very encouraging and helpful over the years.

  • Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufeld (2001).  Although this resource was published over a decade ago, it is one of the most valuable homeschooling books that I own.   Kaufeld gives a great overview of the homeschooling basics.  Some of the topics included are:  getting started, the elementary years, the middle school years, the high school years, high school transcripts, different learning philosophies (classical, Charlotte Mason, unschooling and school at home) , curriculum, socialization, special needs children, cost and setting up a classroom. 
  • When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper (2004):  This book brings Charlotte’s philosophy on teaching to life.  It is easy to read and easy to follow.  If you are at all interested in the Charlotte Mason method I strongly suggest that you get your hands on a copy of this book.
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (2009):  Not only does this mother and daughter team explain what classical education is and how to teach it, they also provide you with curriculum suggestions, suggested schedules to follow and practical advice.  This is classical education made easy.  They also have a section for parents of special needs who are interested in providing their children with a classical educational.
  • HSLDA: Struggling Learners:  HSLDA provides this resource for parents of children who struggle with learning disabilities. Free information is listed on their webpage.  This information includes:  checklists for identifying why your child struggles,  articles, links to national organizations, testing information, legal considerations and more.  For HSLDA members, the HSLDA special needs consultant team is available for phone consultations, assistance via e-mail, prayer support, and encouragement.
  • HSLDA Teaching Tips :  HSLDA’s homeschooling
  • Seton Magazine:  An online catholic homeschooling magazine.
  • The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: A family educational magazine.
PreK Activity: Apple Picking

PreK Activity: Apple Picking

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