Are You a Good Enough Teacher?

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.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this, especially the research you shared. I’ve been looking for this kind of information.
    Jaimie’s latest post: On the Road Again

  2. This is a great post! Very inspirational.
    Kami’s latest post: Read aloud chapter books

  3. Beautiful and so true!

    We’ve been homeschooling our child as we travel the world ( non-stop since 2006) so I especially enjoyed reading the Kerry Anderson story and I’m adding it to my collection of similar outside-the-box homeschoolers.

    I also loved your honesty about living outside of one’s comfort zone and how we all question ourselves as that is just part of life.

    LOVED this! – “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?”
    soultravelers3’s latest post: Darling Dordogne- Vacation Holiday in France

  4. Jamie, this was very good to read. I always tell concerned parents that as long as they love their children and are committed to their education they can homeschool them. It has nothing to do with your degree of education, it has to do with your degree of commitment.

    Amen to “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?”

    I’m feeling excited as our year draws to a close (I finish up our school year in August) and our new year is around the corner. September is always a month of new beginnings.

  5. Thanks for this great article! I am a certified teacher about to embark upon teaching my own child, but I won’t let my training hold me back! As you said no teacher can be as committed as a loving parent, I know the drawbacks of schools and the limits any teacher has. I am excited to learn alongside my son and to see what this year brings us. Thanks again for this reassuring piece : )

  6. I absolutely love you for this. Just when I start doubting myself, someone wonderful , like you , comes along to make it make sense again. I too am a college grad. I homeschool and yes, we go through a certain amount of bickering. That doesn’t bother me so much, as there are some days, I doubt my ability to transfer the knowledge I have, either in my head or found in books or on the net, to my twelve year old’s head. He has ADHD and even on medicine there are days when he wants to be the boss. This means, I really have to have my ducks in a row and be totally accurate in what I give to him. I guess I am not alone in feeling that some days , this is a daunting task. Thanks for this article.

  7. I am scared to death! This will be my first year of home schooling. My oldest daughter is five and will be in kindergarten. We actually started in July, but our official start date is August 30th.
    Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith’s latest post: Love is Messy

  8. Yesterday I was ready to enroll my daughter in public school–starting homeschooling again this year (our third )just seemed so daunting. I took some much needed quiet time and realized Satan would love nothing better than for me to give up without even trying. So here we go! All I can do is my best and this was so encouraging Jamie! Thanks for the well-timed honesty!

  9. What a lovely, encouraging article. This really encourages me. As I’m going through my first year of homeschooling, I actually have a master’s in education and it’s amazing to me the things I didn’t learn or that I have to un-learn. I agree with you that the training actually can even be a hinderance! I’m realizing I have to approach this with a completely open mind, ready to be flexible and change and learn – especially learning how my children learn. I totally agree – the main qualification is not a degree, but your level of commitment. And that’s what I come back to when I have those days when I feel like I’m failing and seriously consider putting them back in school. No one will be as committed to my children as I am – such a good point.
    Leslie’s latest post: -

  10. Thanks for your post! It’s great reading statistics that show those of us who only graduated high school have homeschooled children who still do better than the national average.

    I am excited at the beginning of every school year filled with ideas on all I want us to accomplish. I’m a procrastinating perfectionistic overachiever, so I plan too much and beat myself up when I don’t get it done. Also, when we’re about three-quarters of the way through the year, I wanna kill somebody or fill my ears with cement because of the bickering between my two children.

    However, I have gone through significant personal growth this last year and hope to be a better homeschooling momma. My children also began attending a university-model school two days ago. They go two days a week for five hours each day; I homeschool the other three days. This affords me time alone that I haven’t had in four years. I expect this year to be better than any other and start a wonderful trend.
    Melanie’s latest post: Use What You Have Cooking UWYHC- Day One

  11. Thank you for tackling such an important aspect of homeschooling. I think realizing your child’s success is entirely in your hands can be a scary and humbling experience.

  12. Ah, thank you for this. We’re just finishing up our first 6-week school period in our first “real” homeschool year (K4) – last year (K3) was kind of a trial run for everyone involved. It’s different than I ever thought possible – but in so many good ways! I constantly question myself, but with the leadership and support of my family (both my husband and extended family), I’m becoming more and more confident in my ability.
    Lindsey’s latest post: Menu Plan Monday – July 19

  13. I have to agree with the “qualified” part. I was a classroom teacher for 13 years and I struggle with homeschooling my children. I have to “unlearn” the institutional ways that I battle that create a little “institutionalized” classroom in my home. As a classroom teacher I would have said I was teaching children (but I was really teaching a curriculum TO children). Now I know the difference as I really do teach my own children and not a curriculum. :-) I’ve learned more from homeschooling my children what “learning” is than I did in 4 years of college and 13 years in education.

  14. Thank you. I am one of those new homeschooling mommas. I always question myself, but I know this is best for my family. I always tell families who question it that its an adjustment that will grow you and your family. Thanks again.
    Kisha’s latest post: Like it or not, I’m sewing!

  15. Great article, thank you! This is great to read when everyone around you doubts you’re ‘teacher enough’. :)
    Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz’s latest post: NB Fluff: Hippeez Fitted Diaper Review & Giveaway

  16. Great post, and SOOOO needed this week as I seemed to just realize how quickly September is coming… AH! I haven’t even finished planning SUMMER curriculum yet. ha. :)
    Cass @ Unplug Your Family
    Cassandra’s latest post: Feature @ Joyful Mothering – "Finding my Center in the Middle of It All"

  17. This was particulary appropo for this season! I’ve been questioning that a lot lately…mainly b/c my time is SO torn w/little babies to tend to, toddlers into EVERYTHING and older ones who seem to be craving MORE one-on-one teacher time instead of less! Sigh. It is a never ending battle of self doubt. I’ve questioned it this week here (http://amypayson.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/to-test-or-not-to-test-should-i-test-my-homeschooler/) as we were dealing with that whole standardized test thing! Our average score turned out to be 84%. With your stats that score is making me feel a whole lot better!!!

    The most rewarding part about me being the teacher: teaching them to read. To know that I had a hand in the most important learning skill of their life…priceless!!!
    Amy @ simply necessary’s latest post: Camping in the front yard…

  18. thanks for this! especially the part about NOT being a credited teacher…lol…as an environmental politics major, it is a far cry from teaching! p.s. grew up near james madison uni!

    :)
    jen

  19. Yes,yes, yes. This is such a well-timed post for me. It touches on my fluctuating feelings about my first attempt at homeschooling. Although I must admit, for every minute I spend fretting, there are at least thirty where I am not.
    Thanks. Looking back over all the posts has been very helpful to me.
    Karen’s latest post: On this day….

  20. Hi Jamie,
    Thank you for this article! I just found a link for this article on a blog’s facebook page and I have shared it with the moms on our Yahoo Homeschool group list and on my blog post here: http://asliceofsmithlife.blogspot.com/2011/08/are-you-good-enough-teacher.html

    Thanks for the encouragement! Doubts are a daily battle and struggle for me so this article gave me inspiration and hope ! :)
    Tracy Bua Smith’s latest post: Are You a Good Enough Teacher?

  21. Well. I JUST love this post. I am DEFINITELY the person most interested in my children’s successes. No new teachers that have to learn their quirks and needs. No surprises in classroom arrangements and child – teacher ratios.

    I love my kids. If they were to fail for a stranger, why would that stranger care?
    tracey – justanothermommy’s latest post: Too long for Twitter

  22. Hi!
    Thank you so much for all your posts!!! So many times they are exactly what I need!
    I’ll start homeschooling my daughter grade 1 and I have two boys 4 and 2. We also have to move by the end of the month and we were approved to buy a house! It will be a miracle to be able to find it so that we can move directly there. I’m excited to start homeschooling and to buy our first house but I’m also soooo stressed!
    Did I mention that English is my second language?
    But thanks again for your posts! They are reassuring me that I have made the right decision :)

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