Am I qualified to teach my child? This is yet another question homeschool parents hear regularly. The question is asked many ways, with genuine curiosity, absolute skepticism, or eager hope. Either way, the answer is the same, and it is yes.
Part of teaching is the passion for guiding and spending time with children. Part of teaching is the fun and creativity and imagination we get to express. Part of teaching is class management, plain and simple. Part of teaching is having the knowledge to impart onto our children. Without over simplifying a noble career choice held by so many amazing men and women who selflessly shape the future though, yes, many of us are, in fact, also qualified to teach our children. Let me explain.
I’m not suggesting any ole’ anybody could possibly fill the enormous shoes of our nation’s classroom teachers. What I am suggesting is that teaching one student is different than teaching 30. I am suggesting that the resources and expenses involved in being able to maximize the opportunities available to one single student are a lot more accessible to a family than to a classroom of 30 students under one teacher.
Spending time with children, creativity, having fun, imagination – these things don’t come from a college education or a teaching certification. Class management techniques are substantially less relevant when you have only one student sitting in front of you.
But knowledge, that’s the big one, right?
A story…I am the primary teacher in our household. Two years ago, I was working through a space unit with my daughter. We were also studying maps, had just finished anatomy, and were breaking phonograms down into bite-sized pieces and rules. Nothing out of the ordinary, but after months of listening to my daughter asking simple, yet specific questions on a variety, and my always being ready with an answer, their father asked why I happen to know so much about everything. As much as I’d have loved to say I just know all the stuff about all the stuff, miraculously retaining every detail from elementary school, the truth is that I simply read faster than a first grader. I plan outlines and activities in advance with the help of Google, and friends. I skim materials ahead of time, usually briefly, and when we’re reading books, I read ahead. As it happens, now I’m retaining much more than I did as a child, so I’m constantly building on my own knowledge base, growing with them.
There will come a time when their knowledge will eclipse mine, especially when they start to hone their personal interests, but at that point they’ll be capable of doing research and independent work. College professors, they aren’t expected to know every fact represented in every paper they read. They are expected to teach students how to research, analyze, evaluate information critically, and communicate, while having a framework of relevant knowledge and ideas around which to frame discussions. My job is to guide my children, expose them to new information, and show them what can be done with it. My job is to shape them into good, compassionate, wise, kind, thoughtful humans. My job is to impart onto them a wide base of knowledge, which I do admit, graduate degree or not, much of which I need a refresher on. At the end of the day though, at least for my elementary kids, at a bare minimum, I need to read faster than them, and I need to have a passion for guiding them.
My kids have a private tutor who is intimately aware of their learning styles and frustration points. They have the total attention of someone to answer every question, follow their tangents, cater to moments where they get stuck. They have a teacher who has the luxury of taking a break and returning later if a subject gets frustrating. We have the resources to dissect an organ for every single unit in anatomy because buying dissection kits for one student is a lot cheaper than buying them for 30. So, yes, I am qualified to teach my children, and if you have the interest, willingness, patience, and time to admit what you don’t know, find the answers, and model perfect handwriting, so are you.
Seriously though, writing in giant, perfect, model penmanship is so tedious!