How Are You Qualified to Be a Homeschool Teacher?

This highly educated man looked me straight in the face and asked his pointed question. His rimmed glasses balanced just slightly down on his nose.

“How are you qualified to be a homeschool teacher?” he asked.

Immediately my defensiveness swelled. The protective mother and ‘how dare you’ side of me. He must have seen this flash of feeling in me because he quickly added, “I’m honestly curious – I just want to know. This is very interesting.”

He asked this question because he had looked at the paper on the clip board in his lap. I had written ‘homeschool teacher’ on the  line for occupation. More and more these days I find I must be prepared to answer the curious. Even at routine check up visits. Even in the elevator. Even at church, the local grocery.

“I’m especially interested in how you teach high level math,” he said. This is why I ask…”

…and he went on to describe his experience. How we went back to school to change the way things were going. He said at that time he felt like he was riding the back of the bus – neither he nor his patients had any say in the medical decision making process. He determined to get back in the driver’s seat. And he did that. He took statistics and all those college level mathematics classes needed for an MBA. He took charge and changed the course – both for himself and his patients.

I’ll admit I’m not particularly gifted in the math area. But we are blessed with many resources for homeschool curriculum. My older three children learn the majority of their math with Teaching Textbooks. This curriculum presents the lecture, problems and tests. It also grades for me! There are times that my husband spends extra hours in the evenings when my older children need help. And we can seek out a math tutor if needed. There’s also the every day, living math. Saturday morning mathematics with my husband.

After hearing the doctor’s description of wanting to steer the course, I believe we have many things in common. I too aim to be the driver. To be in charge, with God’s direction, of my children’s education. To pour into their hearts and change. He then asked another question…

“What about college? How will your children get into college?”

Well, sir, I’m still learning about all of that. I have one in her first year of high school. Another the year behind her – he’s already doing much of what she is. But I understand from those homeschoolers who have gone before us that certain colleges want homeschoolers. Homeschool students are usually independent learners. They know how to research. They often realize the big picture of education and feel a calling on their lives. But I’ve also learned that we must school well. We must commit to do this homeschooling the very best we can.

We should make plans counting on God to direct us. Proverbs 16:9

So far, if I lean into the Lord, then step back out of the way a bit, I find I’m amazed at how our days are designed. Oh sure, we have our portion, our share of bad days. Those days that character training take precedent. But teaching all these ages together – this history learning complements that science lesson and that verse we read this morning…

My college diploma and the more-highly treasured ‘Teacher of the Year’ certificate my son awarded me hang outside the laundry room door – mingled with the day’s laundry.

How am I qualified?

Well, I guess you could look at my credentials because that is what the world would measure. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism – a magazines degree. A political science minor. I feel pretty confident about English, grammar, writing, history. I love science. Particularly biology. The outdoors? Oh I work to frame our days with nature study. I’m pretty tech savvy. And I am a big proponent of continuing education. My husband is hugely qualified as our homeschool principal. Especially in the areas I am weak in like physics, math…

But ultimately, dear doctor of mine, I am qualified because the Lord qualifies me. No degree. He gives me what I need to be a homeschool teacher. One day at a time, just when I need it. He gave me this amazing privilege of parenting five children. Never, in any job I’ve held, no degree, have I found such satisfaction, joy and challenge.

We shall wait, pray and look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for each of our children. For I know He has plans for them.

 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10

~ I’m determined to write about these regular sorts of encounters. Because if those I come in contact with are curious, there must be others as well. You may be interested in my answer to another who was curious about homeschooling: Are Your Children Socialized? Wondering how to start? My friend, Kim, has an excellent post on How to Start Homeschooling: 10 Steps to Success.

How about you: Are you questioned by the curious about this homeschool journey?

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About Hodgepodgemom

Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos homeschooling five children – preschoolers to high schoolers. The biggest lesson she’s learned? At the end of the day – when the dishes are put away and the children are tucked in bed – truly what matters is each child’s relationship with the Lord. Raising children is a God-given privilege and, folks, the time is short.

Comments

  1. I’m fortunate to have “actual qualifications”–a master’s degree in education, which has served me well when people here in China raise an eyebrow at the notion of schooling one’s own children. But truly, every child is different, and I think our best preparation is being their mother (surely no one could care more about their education) and as you say, wisdom from God. Sometimes the challenge is remembering to ask for it!
    Carey Jane Clark recently posted..The TalkMy Profile

    • Most definitely! I have so enjoyed tailoring each child’s education according to their learning styles as well. And these questions are from those that just truly curious. We homeschoolers are a curious bunch :)

  2. I love your response. It’s not us who do this thing called homeschooling in our home. It’s God’s plan or else it wouldn’t succeed.

    I worried about math. My two older kids took courses through the local community college – dual enrollment. It was a blessing for me. My daughter now has a BSN and my son is in his senior year of college majoring in computer science engineering…talk about math!!! Now he did go to public school his senior year so he could take Honors Physics (with my blessings and thanks to God!) and play soccer and run cross country. The Lord provides the way. We just have to walk in it. Now I’m in my 19th year of homeschooling with a 5th grader still at home and I still have those days where I wonder what in the world I’m doing.
    Southern Gal recently posted..Day 8 of ThankfulnessMy Profile

  3. Someone whom I’d just met asked me (last week), “So you think you’re smart enough to teach your own kids?” Inwardly, I was taken aback, but I didn’t blink an eye when I smiled and replied, “Yes. Until calculus. We might need a tutor then.” She laughed good-naturedly, and then I was able to mention the wealth of homeschooling resources we have available to us in our area.

    People rarely challenge me that way, but there are quite a few who shake their heads and woefully bemoan how they could never reach their own children. I want to make two points (but of course I never do): 1) I can read. 2) I actually LIKE my children and enjoy their company. Ergo, I can and do teach my own kids. If you can answer yes to those two questions, then you, too, can homeschool your children. The fact that I’m a fairly well-educated person helps but is not critical.

    I suppose another good quality to have is that I am a lifelong learner; I love to learn. If one has no natural curiosity, no desire to learn new things or deepen one’s understanding of things one already knows a bit about, then one would not be a very good homeschooling parent. :-)
    Ellen, the Bluestocking Belle recently posted..And the Wall Comes Tumbling DownMy Profile

    • I totally agree Ellen! Great points. It is so very basic isn’t it? This dear doctor was coming at me with all academic questions – so that is how I answered his curiosity. Yes, yes to your 1) 2) and being a lifelong learner!

    • I agree, if you can read and if you care enough about your kids to make the effort then anyone can homeschool. I’m the rare one that actually likes math. I tutor other peoples kids, usually public schoolers. It’s art that I’m weak in. ;)

      I’m sharing this article, I love it!

  4. I often feel unqualified. I really only know up through about 5th grade level math because I did so poorly the years afterwards and failed math classes and had to retake two math courses two years in a row in high school (no summer school). My husband graduated high school by 4 credits and I only made the high honor roll once because I didn’t have college stress or parents pushing me around, plus I had no homework that year. I was close to being left back if I didn’t get a final grade of B in math senior year. That would have been terrible. Anyway, I never went to college (wasn’t interested, still don’t know what I’d go for, since I wanted to marry and have kids, which is what I did). I think in reading this post I see how you are extremely qualified while I fear I am under qualified other than that I am chosen to be a parent to teach my children as God wants me to. I get extremely frustrated though and don’t believe I do a great job, though I adore what is accomplished and I see how well my children are learning. . .but they are only in preschool and first grade (this is my third year homeschooling). With your degrees, that is really impressive. I hope my confidence in teaching goes up, because I am nervous about second grade next year, because that is when things get more advanced and the day will be longer.
    Victoria / Justice Pirate recently posted..In Which My Son Gets Temporarily TradedMy Profile

    • Victoria – that was never my intention – to make anyone feel as though they have to have a certain educational level to be qualified to be a homeschool teacher. As I was telling Ellen, I was questioned by a highly educated man with multiple degrees. And I surely have a weakness in math (very thankful for all the resources we have available to us – what freedom!)

      For you – you testified to the joy you have found on this homeschool road. I often have doubts – but He equips me daily. I ask for wisdom – daily! I know that you will gain confidence. I encourage you to go ahead and research about next year. See what resources might work best for your children. Then you can win over that fear of the unknown. You are qualified multiple times over and over to teach your children.

  5. Just popping in to say that in my experience, with the modern world of technology and really good public libraries, there is no reason that an involved parent can’t provide a superior education. On top of that, the other skills and habits we inculcate in our high schoolers is invaluable and it would be far more difficult if they were in school each day. Academics is not everything.

    College is not always the end to the means either as I am finding out. I prepare them well and then pray that they find their path with God’s helping hand. It takes a lot of pressure off.

    I have not finished college yet and it has not held me or my children back at all.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom recently posted..Art Lab for Kids – Scribble DrawingsMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for mentioning those points Barb! My feelings exactly. We still have a few, short years to see if college is the way for each of ours. And, like you, ultimately we pray for our children to follow the path the Lord leads them on. (maybe this post should be a series because there are so many things to talk about – the doctor asked me about college so I merely pointed out the positives of that route in as much time as a doctor spends with you). I look forward to seeing the plans He has unfold for each of my children :)

  6. Even after 9+ years I sort of want to run and hide when the questions come up. I never know how much information to give – what their real question is . . . The math one is easy – Video Tutors. College is easy – we have so many friends being asked to attend great schools. Qualification? The Lord, as you said – and 9 years of constant research development and experience!!!
    Angie Wright recently posted..Are your Concerns Chimerical?My Profile

  7. I just wish that sometimes when we are out in the middle of the day that people would ask, do you homeschool? Instead of always assuming school let out early or there must be a sick child. I find that lots of educated people just don’t know what to say so they blow it. One lady even told my husband that you don’t get a homeschool degree, in other words she was not a fan of it.

  8. I wanted to leave a comment for Victoria that I’ve seen some powerful teaching from moms who care deeply about their children! Also, it’s never too late to tackle your own education and I don’t mean college classes, etc. Just choose something to learn now and pursue it yourself!

    I’d also like to add that as a person with a masters degree in curriculum and instruction secondary ed and who taught in a public school classroom for years, that is not always and advantage! To homeschool we have to unlearn a lot of conventions so we can relax!

    I do highly value my bachelor of science in biological sciences. Gives me a strong confidence with teaching science at home and that combined with my master of science in secondary ed means I don’t buy science curriculum!

    Great post Tricia! Lovely degree…mine are above my desk in that latest post of mine. : )

    Heather
    Heather recently posted..Our Learning Spaces- A TourMy Profile

  9. I love Barb’s comment! Thanks Barb for always sharing with us your experience and wisdom. High school homeschool is the best!
    Heather recently posted..Our Learning Spaces- A TourMy Profile

  10. Dear friends, I so appreciate the discussion and insight from each of you! I have discovered, the more that I am questioned about homeschooling, that those asking the questions are just truly curious. And that we have to be gentle and careful with our words. This doctor only knew education as the solution – holding degrees and being credentialed. So that is why I answered him in the way he did – explaining the educational aspect.

    I wondered if I should even mention my degree but knew it to be a part of the whole story. There I pursued that degree and yes, as Heather said, it has served me well. But being a parent is the best. It’s the Teacher of the Year from my son that holds the most value. I do hope that shines through in this post :)

  11. I think sometimes I even wonder if I’m qualified to teach my own children, and then I read a post like yours and it reassures me. Thank you, Tricia…. if we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, the rest falls into place.
    Mary recently posted..How to Stand On Your LEGO CreationMy Profile

  12. Wonderful post!
    I wanted to let you know that the History and Geography Meme featuring you and Hodgepodge is up today.
    All Things Beautiful recently posted..History and Geography Meme #50 featuring Tricia at HodgepodgeMy Profile

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