I know what some of you are thinking, so let me reassure you right off the bat –
No, I haven’t given up on homeschooling.
Perish the thought!
In fact, as we come to the close of our 9th year of homeschooling, I am more confident in our decision now more than ever. So…..you might be wondering what this is all about then.
Where should I begin?
Let’s talk about labels for a moment. At first glance, they can be a good thing. They can help to clarify the what, when, and how you plan on doing a specific undertaking. The problem is when that label becomes so important to you that you let it overtake you.
Having been an exceptional student, when I began homeschooling my children, I had no qualms about taking on the role of “teacher.” School was something I was comfortable with. It was something I was good at, so the thought of bringing school home and assuming a new role as instructor, instead of student, had me pretty hyped up.
Until I went completely overboard, and, believe me, it didn’t take long.
Let’s think about this for a moment. When you hear the word “teacher,” what do you think of?
I picture someone standing in front of a chalkboard, pointer in hand. I picture bathroom passes, lectures, power points, and homework. Nothing outlandish; just your typical school teacher.
Unfortunately, though, because of my determination to be a “teacher,” I soon began to push my role of “mom” aside and instead began to utilize many of these school strategies in our homeschool.
- My kids had to raise their hands to go to the bathroom and ask questions.
- All school work had to be completed or we would do school on the weekends.
- I would stand in front of our giant chalkboard and lecture my kids to death on whatever lesson we were working on.
- I would even read my high schooler’s textbooks every night so that I could write up all my own notes to write on the board the next day for him to copy. (Did I mention I would be lecturing him as he copied a board full of notes?)
Yeah, I was pretty brutal.
Needless to say, I burned out, and eventually we ended up where we are today as relaxed homeschoolers.
So why am I talking about this today?
Glad you asked. 😉
Lately I’ve been noticing so many prospective and new homeschoolers either doubting their ability to homeschool or assuming they won’t have time to do it, and all of their comments have a common thread:
They’re viewing the role of a homeschool mom as that of a school teacher, and I cannot express to you enough that they are not the same thing. At all.
The two concerns I’ve seen the most are that:
- They don’t feel smart enough to be their child’s teacher, and
- They don’t think they’d have the time to teach their kids for six hours a day.
Who can blame them??
The fact is, though, that you don’t have to assume the role of “teacher” to homeschool your kids, because it’s not about teaching, it’s about facilitating.
To facilitate means “to make things easier,” so to facilitate learning means to make learning easier. Does this mean that you should only give your children easy work?
What this means is you make the act of learning easier for your child by supporting them in their education. This can include a variety of things, such as:
- Taking them to the library
- Answering their questions and looking them up together, if necessary
- Providing the materials necessary to pursue a particular topic
- Giving them the opportunity to learn daily life skills, something rarely taught in schools anymore
- Teaching, yes, teaching, them to read and do math – not in a formal way, but in an intimate and relaxing way.
These are just some ways to facilitate learning, but, as you can see, these are things that are manageable and can seamlessly fit into family life.
They don’t require standing in front of a chalkboard teaching lessons for half the day, and you don’t have to be a genius.
That’s why I’m extremely wary about labeling myself as a “teacher” these days. I don’t want to deceive myself into pulling schoolish techniques into our home, where I truly believe they have no business being.
So if anyone ever asks me if I’m a teacher, I’m going to say no. I’m a woman who homeschools her kids. Because, when it comes down to it, there are millions upon millions of teachers, but my kids only have one mom.
And that’s who I intend to be.