Why I Will Never Call Myself a Homeschool Teacher Again

Teaching vs Facilitating

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?

Homeschooling is not about being a teacher.

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.

This was me when I was a homeschool “teacher.”

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.

Homeschool mom, not teacher

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.

Praise Jesus.

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:

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?

No way!

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.


Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

23 thoughts on “Why I Will Never Call Myself a Homeschool Teacher Again”

  1. I love this!! I have a couple of friends who are thinking of homeschooling and talking curriculum. I am sharing this blog with them. I am a mother who teaches her children at home!! So empowering!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I definitely think of myself as a mom first and a facilitator/ teacher second. There are times (rare ones!) when I teach an actual lesson but mostly I just sit with or near my boys while they work on a bit of schoolwork in case they have questions and then we find things to do; crafts, reading, play games…. It’s a far cry from where I started out homeschooling!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Brilliant! My only qualm is where you say, “I am just a homeschool mom…” I would say to take out that word “just,” as it minimizes the importance of the noun it modifies (mom). Without it, we hear, “I am mom; hear me roar!” and that’s where I think you want to be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel the same way. I’m a facilitator and/or human content aggregator. By which I mean I provide the materials and daily structure for my kids to work with. I have heard the “I’m not smart enough” answer. I’ve explained how our day works and that I do not just teach out of my head, there’s a whole world of resources to choose from, and many are student-lead. And after I was done, I heard again “no, I couldn’t do that, I’m not smart enough.”. It was frustrating, but I think sometimes a person’s perception of self overrides external input.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the concise answer to a question that I’ve seen more frequently as well. We unschool, so pointing out what works for us is a pretty large departure for people who are just considering homeschooling for the first time. It’s awesome to have your description to point them too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shelly,

    Great blog! I just shared it on 10 Facebook pages and on our WordPress page.


    Lawrie Sikkema, Office Manager Exodus Mandate Project

    On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 10:55 PM, There’s No Place Like Home wrote:

    > Shelly Sangrey posted: “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” >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so true! I only wish I had realized the difference between homeschool “teacher” and homeschool “Mom” years ago. I think it was more – learn by experience for me. I started out in that “Teacher” mode in the beginning, as well. This was a great post, Shelly! Relaxed homeschool seems to be the perfect balance between the structured homeschool and unschool. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Shelly! Been watching some of your YouTube videos for months. Finally getting around to commenting on a post. Love this article. I love your tenacity, your willingness to stand up to the status quo, and to forge your own way. I’m a former school teacher and this school we deschooled. I am doing “child-led”, so technically unschooling, but it is guided by collaborative family vision and individual hopes and dreams. I DO parent and my kids with positive and connected parenting- like a life coach. So not radical at all. Just wanted to reach out, commend you on your authentic style and hard work and encourage you to keep working. Tatyana at http://www.mamaduckschool.com

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: