Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
The start of the traditional school year is nearly upon us, a fact that probably fills each of us with a variety of emotions. Some of you feel the excitement of anticipation, as curriculum boxes and supplies arrive at your home via the FedEx truck. You’re looking forward to getting back to the routine of homeschooling life.
For others, though, the countdown might not feel quite so uplifting. Maybe you’re wondering if you can make it through another year of homeschooling. If you’re like me, maybe the bickering level has been so high in your home during recent days that you question if it’s even worth it.
Maybe you’re just struggling to make it through each day.
Feelings of insecurity can really add up in the life of a homeschooling mom or dad. We want the best for our children, of course. But some days we question if the best–is us.
How can you know if you are a good enough teacher? Ask yourself the following questions.
1. Are you qualified?
Photo by Claire Powers
Back when I didn’t know anything about homeschooling or educational philosophies, I couldn’t have ever envisioned myself as a homeschooling parent. I’m not a certified teacher, after all! Our Western lives are full of experts and we’re conditioned by our society to look for a piece of framed paper on a wall to signify that we have what it takes.
But consider this study, which looked at homeschooled versus public schooled students at a variety of grade levels. It found that children of homeschooling parents who were certified teachers scored in the 82nd percentile on standardized tests (on average), compared to the national average score for public schooled students, which was in the 50th percentile.
Pretty good, right?
But wait! Children of homeschooling parents who had a college degree, but were not necessarily certified teachers, scored in the 87th percentile. Those whose parents only had a high school diploma scored in the 81st percentile. And those whose parents did not even have a high school diploma? They also had an average score in the 81st percentile.
Hmmm, maybe “being qualified” isn’t the most important factor after all. Which leads me to our second point.
2. Are you committed?
How could the above test results be accurate? I believe the study shows that homeschooling parents above all else are committed. The commitment to our children, above any type of qualification, is what makes the difference.
Traditional schools are filled with hardworking teachers, most of whom earnestly love children and hope to help them learn. But no teacher, not even the best, could possibly ever be as committed to my child’s success as I am. That means that even in situations when my expertise fails me, I will work with all my might to locate the resources my child needs to thrive.
Consider the story of Kerry Anderson, who was homeschooled with her brother in the back of her truck driver mother’s big rig while driving cross-country. Doesn’t exactly sound like the typical school environment, does it? Recruiters from Harvard disagreed, pursuing Kerry at her community college with an offer to transfer.
Increasingly high profile universities are actively recruiting homeschooling graduates because they recognize traits they believe will make successful students–highly motivated, self-starters, determined, and with a strong, supportive family backing.
3. Are you out of your comfort zone?
Photo by Wonderlane
If you answer yes, then you are in good company! I don’t know any homeschooling parent who doesn’t question themselves from time to time.
Living out of our comfort zones is one of the best places to be. Isn’t that one of the things we hope to teach our children–to dare to be different, to follow their dreams, to go beyond societal expectations?
Writer Joyce Maynard said, “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children will do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”
When we make the choice to home educate, we are daring to reach for the sun–in spite of our own inadequacies. Our passion for our children, our commitment, and our courage add a depth to our family that a framed piece of paper on a wall never could.
Today, spend some time basking in the knowledge that as a teacher, you are so much more than merely good enough.
How are you feeling as the new school year draws nearer?
Originally published on August 2, 2010.