People new to or considering homeschooling often wonder what it takes to become a homeschool teacher—what makes a mom or dad qualified to teach their children? I believe any parent willing to invest their time and energy into their children’s education can successfully homeschool, but are there traits or actions that set successful homeschooling parents apart? Perhaps.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting a hierarchy of homeschools where one is better than another. For the sake of this article, let’s define successful as confident and content. What do successful homeschooling parents do differently?
They Don’t Fall into the Comparison Trap
Homeschooling is completely different from the educational model most of us experienced. Combine that with the fact that the rest of the world seems to think we’re ruining our kids and it is understandable that we homeschooling parents look for ways to ensure that we’re doing it right.
Comparison of Homeschools with a Traditional Educational Setting
If we’re comparing our homeschools to a traditional educational setting, we may be causing our families to miss out on the freedoms that homeschooling offers, such as a customized education, a flexible schedule, and the ability to capitalize on our children’s unique interests and talents.
From my own experience, I know how easy it is to get so caught up in transcripts and test scores that you miss the opportunity to create a high school experience that prepares your teen to do the work that she is uniquely gifted to do.
Consider the reasons that you choose homeschooling over public or private school. Your reasons will probably leave you wondering why you’re still trying to emulate that model of education or using it as the plumb line for how your homeschool should operate.
If we’re comparing our homeschools to that of other homeschooling families, we are also missing out on creating our own unique homeschool setting. Different families have different needs and children with a variety of talents and academic strengths and weaknesses.
One mom may be lamenting over the fact that her 10-year-old is still a struggling reader. While she’s comparing him to her friend’s 7-year-old who just finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy, she’s losing focus of the fact that her son computes complicated math problems in his head.
Successful homeschooling parents don’t fall into the trap of comparing their homeschool to public or private school or to another family’s homeschool. They don’t compare their kids’ academic success to their homeschooled or public schooled peers. Instead, they are content with being unique. They capitalize on their children’s strengths and interests and on their particular family’s dynamics. They work to shore up their children’s areas of weakness, but they don’t dwell on them. They’re content to be the unschooling family in a sea of school-at-home folks or vice versa.
That doesn’t mean that these parents never have their moments of doubt, but they don’t live them. Instead, they trust the process and embrace it.
They Demonstrate a Love of Learning
You hear a lot about the love of learning in homeschooling circles. Successful homeschooling parents demonstrate that on a daily basis. Some of the ways they do so include:
1. Learning alongside Their Kids
So often homeschooling parents stress over how they’ll teach the subjects they struggled with in school. However, successful parents are willing to put aside their fears (and, perhaps, pride) and learn alongside their kids. I’ve heard of many parents taking algebra with their kids – doing the lessons and working the problems themselves so that they are prepared to help their teens work through the difficult concepts.
Even with younger children, it’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers. No one knows everything there is to know about every subject. I’m reminded of a popular television commercial for a set of encyclopedias from when I was a kid. Every time the boy in the commercial would ask his mom something, she’d reply with, “Look it up, dear.”
Successful homeschooling parents know that it’s okay to look it up and find the answers together. That’s part of teaching your kids how to learn.
2. Continuing Their Own Education
So many kids think in terms of what they’ll do when they don’t have to do school anymore. It’s important for homeschooling moms and dads to demonstrate that learning never stops. Take that class at the community college. Go for that degree that you put on hold to start a family. Take those courses that your employer is offering to get certified for the training that will help you do your job more effectively.
It can be hard to find the time for those things when you’re busy raising a family and running them to and fro, cheering them on at their extracurricular activities, but they are watching. They’ll see that hard work and perseverance pay off and that learning is a worthy endeavor.
3. Pursuing Their Own Hobbies
A love of learning isn’t applicable only to academics. Let your children see you pursuing your hobbies. Learn to play an instrument. Take a cake-decorating class. Make time for the art class at the local hobby shop.
If we think of learning only in an academic sense, it is likely to lose its appeal. Hobbies and life skills require continually educating ourselves, too, and our kids need to see that. Let them see you watching the YouTube video to learn to replace your cracked computer screen or learning sign language so that you can communicate with your new neighbor.
4. Encouraging Their Kids to Follow Rabbit Trails
Rather than becoming irritated that their kids have gotten so off-track from the lesson plans, successful homeschooling parents share the excitement when their students take a topic – or even a small portion of a topic – and run with it. They embrace the opportunity for their kids to put into practice the skill of how to learn, rather than trying to rein them in on what to learn.
That’s because they know that engaged, enthusiastic students have captured that often elusive concept called love of learning. That’s not to say that we don’t ever try to bring everyone back on topic – because there are some things that kids need to learn that may not always be the most exciting – but we’re not afraid to let our students follow their passions.
They Become Students of Their Students
One of the most important things that successful homeschooling parents do is become students of their students. That means they actively seek to learn what makes their children tick. They notice:
- What subjects or topics get their kids excited
- What their kids like to do in their free time
- What school tasks their children find easy and what they find challenging
- Their kids’ personalities
- What types of learning activities do their children seem to prefer: hands-on hands-on projects? Science experiments? Reading?
- What extracurricular activities do their children enjoy – painting pictures? Putting on plays? Playing an instrument?
Being fully aware of your child’s personality, interests, and academic inclinations help you to tailor his education to his specific needs. It’s part of what sets homeschooling teachers apart from classroom teachers. We may not have the skills required to teach a classroom full of 20-30 students, but we do know our children better than anyone else and that is the basis for successful homeschool.
You have what it takes to be a successful homeschooling parent. Be confident in how your unique school operates, share a love of learning with your children, and know your children.
Diane H. Wong is a search engine optimization specialist and business coach. Besides, she is a research paper writer at the service where everyone can ask to “write my essay for me” so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.