I try hard not to be the oversensitive homeschooling mom. Really. People are naturally skeptical of what is unfamiliar to them and a few dubious questions about homeschooling are usually no cause for alarm. Then again, when I feel like I am being interrogated, that whether or not I am qualified to teach my kids is being brought into question, it’s hard not to get a little riled.
We were visiting a relative in the hospital just recently when a nurse, who seemed delightful and competent in every other way, discovered that my daughter was in high school. She asked her what college she was planning to attend.
Now I have to confess that I wanted to interject right there. She posed the question as if college was the one and only option, when I absolutely buck against that trend. My daughter hasn’t decided what she wants to do after high school just yet and I’m okay with that. It may be college, but I don’t believe for a moment she is destined to failure in life should she decide instead to get a job, learn a trade, or pursue some entrepreneurial interests.
But the nurse was talking to my daughter, not me, and my 16-year-old is intelligent and articulate. I let her answer for herself.
And then it came up that we are homeschoolers.
Perhaps it was the look the nurse shot at me that offended me most, like I did not look to her like a person capable of teaching my children. I wonder what she was expecting. Nerd glasses and a lab coat?
But her tone was almost accusing. “How can you do that?” she asked me. “Are you a former teacher or something?”
Now, believe me, since then I have thought of at least a dozen very clever and witty ways I could have responded to that question, but none of them came to me at that moment. I was just proud of myself for not reacting the way I wanted to react. Instead I was very calm and tried to answer her clearly. I told her a little bit about homeschooling, the wealth of resources available, and the support systems out there for homeschooling families.
I’ve thought about it a lot since that moment, however. As true and as wonderful as those things are, they really are not what makes me most qualified to homeschool my children. Some of you probably have your qualifications questioned over and over again by skeptical family or friends, and I can only imagine how wearying it must become.
You are uniquely qualified to teach your child!
Are you really qualified to teach your children? If you don’t have a teaching degree, (or, Lord forbid, you don’t have any degree at all!) how on earth can you possibly be capable of homeschooling your child? Let me give you three reasons.
At the start of kindergarten you will already have five to six years of experience teaching your child.
Who teaches your children to walk and talk and feed themselves? And kids don’t accidentally learn how to use manners or clean up after themselves or do basic household chores. It takes training, and moms step into that teaching role early on, and they do so very naturally and effectively. They are a child’s first teacher, and usually their most influential.
Yes, it’s true that some of the things we have to teach our children grow more complicated as they age, but it’s also true that you and I grow as well. Fortunately for us all, the natural course of things doesn’t generally require moms to teach the ABC’s one year and algebra the next! We have the opportunity to grow in our own knowledge and teaching experience as our children progress to more difficult subjects.
No one knows your child better than you do.
Moms have a significant advantage when it comes to teaching their children simply because they know them so well. Moms know not only the best learning style for their children, but also their personality quirks, both of which can be tremendously beneficial when it comes to tailoring an education to suit the child and maximize learning potential.
Nothing makes for better learning than clear understanding of the student. Moms know the strengths and weaknesses of their children better than anyone. They also know that child #1 needs to do his math standing up, that child #2 seems to focus better if she can listen to music as she works, and that child #3 retains information better if he can listen and take notes rather than read the material on his own. And a homeschooling mom can better accommodate those differences in her children than a classroom teacher ever could.
No one can love your child like you do.
There’s no question — this is the most important qualification of all.
Yes, there are many amazing traditional school teachers who truly love their students, but let’s be honest – most of us have more tolerance for our own children than we do for anyone’s else’s, simply because we love them better. They are ours, after all.
Even on those tough days when we struggle to like our children, we never stop loving them, and that love can drive a mom to unbelievable lengths and even great self-sacrifice to ensure that her children are learning and growing as they should. It stands to reason then that a mother is at a distinct advantage when it comes to teaching her children, simply because of her love for them.
How are you qualified to teach your kids? You’re qualified because of who you are and because of the unique gifts only a mom can offer when it comes to the education of her children.
How do you consider yourself uniquely qualified to teach your children? In what ways has this been made real to you in your homeschooling experience?