How to Homeschool When You’re Not a Teacher
by Kristi Crosson
This past year many parents got thrust into the position of homeschooling their children. Some parents started with distance-schooling and quit after many tearful pleas from stressed and overwhelmed children. So often parents think they cannot homeschool because they are not a teacher. Let me assure you that the role of home educating your children should resemble less of a standard classroom and more of a home where learning also happens.
What does this mean? It means you can throw away your preconceived idea of standing in front of your child lecturing them for an hour per subject and then expecting them to regurgitate facts for testing all day long. It means that your role as parent is MORE important than that of teacher.
Let me say that again, your role as a parent is far more important than that of a teacher.
Parenting is about nurturing, raising children to understand right from wrong, raising them up in the way that they should go (as the Bible tells us), creating an environment that cultivates their God-given gifts, and even leveraging curriculum that helps draw those out. As a homeschooling parent, I get the joy of teaching subjects that my children are actually interested in, instead of simply teaching them what everyone else is learning.
So how can you homeschool your kids even if you feel completely ill-equipped?
You’re not a schoolteacher.
Don’t try to be one. Don’t create an environment that looks like a public-school classroom. Create an environment that looks like home. Make your home warm, inviting, with comfy spaces to learn and do “school” work. Maybe a couch, chair, or even a ball to sit on for those wiggly kids. Maybe it’s a picnic table outside or a spot at the kitchen table.
Start by de-schooling.
This is simply a process where you take time away from formal learning to explore fun and interesting subjects. You spend time reading books your child is interested in. You go out for walks and explore the world around you. Many new homeschoolers need a good month or so of this to get into a new groove.
Create routines, not schedules.
Each minute of the day is scheduled when kids are in school. They are told when to eat, when to play, when to sit still, and sometimes even when to pee. Routines are less rigid. They are about creating a rhythm to your day. Maybe you start with prayer and a quick devotional from the Bible. Maybe you start the day with playtime and breakfast. If you notice your child is having a tough time focusing on “bookwork”, maybe it’s time to pause on that subject and do something else. You’ll change and flex as you go.
Find a curriculum that works for the way your child learns.
I picked up a great new math curriculum this year. I thought about how amazing it would be to start my middle child on it, and then even leverage it for my oldest. You know what happened? We hate this curriculum. It feels like it’s all math drills with little real-world application. My kids learn best when they can see how what they are learning connects with their world, and this curriculum is not it. So, we scrapped it and use the math drills for extra practice.
Don’t go too fast. And don’t go too slow.
It’s not a race to see which homeschooling parent gets their curriculum done first. But also, don’t hold your child back from moving ahead if they are ready. The beauty of homeschooling is you get to go at just the right pace for your child. I can always tell when my kids are struggling with a concept and we need to practice it some more. I can always tell when they are getting bored and are ready to move on to the next. It’s okay to challenge your kids a bit, but be careful not to rush through a topic if it’s clear your child is having a hard time.
I believe that parents are the most qualified to educate their children. Why? Because any good parent will do whatever they need to do to help their child learn, grow, and become capable adults. If you’re not a school-teacher and you want to homeschool, you can. Maybe you need to get a good curriculum to help you help your child learn. Maybe you need to get them involved with a tutor for a particular subject. But in the end, you get to make those choices.
Let me pray for you:
Lord, thank you for these parents who homeschool and are considering it. I know it feels overwhelming to try something so new and so important. Lord Jesus, I pray that each parent who reads this would feel emboldened to do what they know is best for their child. Homeschooling is simply an extension of parenting and I pray that each parent would feel a sense of peace that with YOU all things are possible. Give them the knowledge and courage they need to take the next step. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
About the Author
Kristi Crosson is a writer and photographer and homeschools her three children, ages 8, 4, and 2. She is in the process of writing her first book, a personal story about God’s goodness in the midst of heartache and impossible situations.
Her background includes work in communications for a large Christian non-profit and freelance writing for hundreds of businesses on social media and blogs.
She has more than 15 years of ministry experience serving in the church and learned valuable leadership skills that she applies to her life and businesses. Kristi has a huge heart to fight human trafficking and see women experience God’s love in powerful ways.
When she is not busy with her businesses or her family, she enjoys creating art, playing music, singing, and hiking. And somehow manages to "do it all". Don't be fooled. In getting real, she'll share about how she manages her day to day work in business and homeschool.
You can read Kristi’s column, Getting Real with Kristi on the 3rd Tuesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.