Wow! I admire you. I could NEVER do that.

Yes, you could.

Homeschooling isn’t rocket science.

I hear this all the time. Don’t get me wrong. I am not offended in the least, and I do indeed take it for the compliment it is meant to be.

But I just feel like there are some common misconceptions about homeschooling that keep a lot of people in the dark about what it is and what it is not.

  1. It is NOT school at home. Not the school that our culture is used to, at least. It is, though, education at home. If all the  homeschoolers just brought home a white board, desks, saluted the flag every morning, and had scheduled 20 minutes recesses and a set lunch time every day, we would all go crazy. (Many newbies try this and find that although there are some benefits, it is just not sustainable.) Homeschool is not school at home.
  2. It does NOT require a teaching degree. Why? Because it isn’t teaching in a public school or traditional classroom setting. Teaching at school and teaching at home share some similar skills, yet they are very, very different. Whereas a teaching degree is generally required for those planning on teaching at a school with classrooms, recess, a principal, assemblies, state and fed testing, and whatever else they do at the public schools, there is no need (although I can see a definite benefit, obviously) to even having any college degree of any kind to teach and raise your children. Being their parent, being willing and determined, and being able to learn yourself is what you need. (See first quote at the very bottom of this post.)
  3. It IS just raising your children. Don’t you teach your children everyday anyway? Didn’t you teach them how to talk, how to walk, how to tie their shoes, how to get dressed, how to take care of their bodies, how to eat appropriately in public, how to treat people, etc., etc., etc.? You are teaching them all the time whether consciously or not. At my house – and so I generalize to all generic homeschoolers’ houses – I teach my children to be honest and tell the truth the same way I teach them to do their math and understand sentence structure. I teach them to clean their rooms and do their chores the same way I teach them to appreciate and recognize classical music and understand how a lightbulb works. Homeschooling is parenting, but in all aspects of life, the social, spiritual, physical, musical, AND academic. It is parenting without outsourcing (or very little).

That’s enough of that, because technically I didn’t write this post to make THAT checklist.

I wanted, actually, to write THIS checklist. What you DO need in order to successfully homeschool. Like I said at the beginning, just because you DO NOT homeschool, does not mean you CANNOT homeschool. Obviously not everyone wants to homeschool, which is just fine. And Obviously there are some people who really, just really no matter what, cannot homeschool whether or not they want to. That is also just fine (unless they actually DO want to homeschool. In their case, I have no good suggestions. Sorry.)

So not as a slam at all, but as just as much a compliment as you have given me, Yes, you can homeschool, too. I know  you could if you had the desire. If you are a loving, caring, and conscientious parent, you can successfully homeschool your children.

Do I need to throw in a little He-Man?

Do I?

Ok. here you go.

He-man

YOU HAVE THE POWER!!!

Ok, back on subject. There are things that I think are required, however, to successfully homeschool (and I think the word successfully is interpreted differently for every homeschool, yet these skills/principles still apply.)

You need to have a desire. A lot of people don’t want to homeschool. In fact MOST people do not want to homeschool. That’s just fine. People who don’t want to homeschool, should really just not homeschool. Those who do homeschool, and who do it well, however, stick with it because they feel driven to. Some do it for spiritual and religious reasons. Some do it for social reasons. Some do it for academic reasons. Nowadays more and more people are doing it for political reasons. And I’ve heard of some who did it purely for logistical reasons. But the bottom line is the parents are doing it because there is a need and desire. It would be hard to homeschool just because you thought it was trendy (as if it were!) or because you knew some awesome people who did it (and we all do.) Homeschooling is indeed hard – in almost all ways harder than outsourcing education and sending the kids off for 6 hours a day (although personally that would be harder for me). When times get really hard, you have to fall back on your why. If your why is strong (your need and desire) you will have the strength to keep going at the pace and intensity your kids need.

My why encompasses all of those mentioned above, except maybe logistics. But the deeper reason I do it is because I feel called to do it. I feel it is what God wants ME to do with MY children. It has nothing to do with you or your children, or my neighbors and their children. And the more homeschooling moms I talk to, the more I see they have had this same experience as well, this overwhelming sense of calling. There have been only a few times in my life I have felt called to do things, but this is definitely one of them. If I know God has got my back in this endeavor, I can make it through all those hard times. Following God’s plan for me and my family is my ultimate why.

You need to have discipline. But it is also helpful to remember that discipline is not the same thing as punishment. Your house cannot be a dictatorship. But at the same time, it won’t work as a democracy either.  If you are trying to work with your child on x, y, or z, but they just ignore you and do a, b, or c instead, I’m sorry to say it, but you are just going to have a pretty crappy day. I think what we are all going for is some sort of benevolent authoritarian home government. (A monarchy might be nice, too! Jk. Probably not.)

I wish I had some magic rule or strategy for establishing a well disciplined house. I do feel like my house is pretty well disciplined, but I also feel that many times I fail as a disciplinarian. Sometimes I am too soft and give in easily, and yet sometimes I fly into a rampage and children are threatened with no presents for Christmas, no dessert for a year, and bathroom duty every day until they are 20. (Less effective threats, let me just tell you right now – well, the present denial one did get a good reaction out of them.)

In any case, maybe my advice is that whatever method of discipline you take (just pick a few books off the library shelf or ask your Facebook friends or something) you have to be patient with yourself and do your best. In my (limited) experience, consistency, fairness, and calmness are the best companions to disciplining children. You are the parent. They are the child. You are in charge. They DO NOT get whatever they want and that is just final. Sometimes they just have to do things without whining and complaining because “mom said so.” Disciplining is really hard work, BUT if you have the desire, you will do it because it matters more to you than getting off the “easier” way.

I will put in my plug right now for Nicholeen Peck and Teaching Self-Government. I’ve heard her speak more than once, I bought her book, and I really like what she teaches and does. Very awesome and very inspiring. I can’t say that in real life I actually do everything she does, but I love that she does it and I think she is spot on. Teaching Self-Government. You are welcome!

You need to have PATIENCE! This is the major reason (expressed to me, at least) why people believe they can’t homeschool their kids. (Well, besides discipline “my kids never listen to me now as it is!”) I have heard actual teachers say that they are fine teaching other people’s children, but they could never teach their own because they don’t have the patience. That is kind of sad thought, isn’t it. We don’t have patience for the very children we have brought into the world and have promised to nurture, raise, and care for?

Flashback 3 paragraphs. The “No Christmas Presents, Desserts, and Everlasting Toilet Duty” paragraph. I lose my patience, too.

Now flashback 3 1/2  years ago to when I first started homeschooling. I lost my patience, A LOT!

Now flashback to when I had only one child. I lost my patience with him all the time. And for stupid and embarrassing reasons that I really don’t need to go into right now.

But then I had two children. And shortly after I had three. My level of patience went up because of my love for them and my desire to be the best mother I could be. God trusted me with these little babies because he knew, even if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I could do it, and He would help me. So, no matter how bad I was at keeping my patience, I was determined to get better. My love for my children was my why.

So jump up to when I decided not to send my son back to school for first grade. There was a lot to learn about patience. But we had a lot of time to do it. The family and home was my laboratory for life and even though I failed many, many times, I just kept trying. Because of my original why – my deep and unyielding love for those precious, though sometimes really obnoxious and stubborn,  beautiful babies of mine – but also because now I had another why. Homeschooling was important enough to me that I was determined to develop whatever skill I needed to make it work and make it work well.

I remember meeting homeschooling families and just being in awe of the love, kindness, and respect the children and parents all had for one another. They were just regular families, but at the same time, they weren’t normal families. They were more. They were the family we all aspire to be – at least I aspired to be. The common factor, besides being religious which I believe doesn’t necessarily have to be a factor, was that they homeschooled. The mother loved, respected, valued, and had patience with her children. I believe this is what made the difference. In fact, children often feel our love, respect, and that we value them THROUGH the patience we give them.

Think about that for a moment.

Now tell me it isn’t worth it for you to work on developing more patience in your family.

I think (and I could be wrong) that patience is not something we are born with, but something we have to learn and practice and practice some more. Being an “impatient person” or not having any patience is not a life sentence unless you choose it to be.

I think homeschoolers, because of the nature of their lifestyle choice, either develop lots of patience, or they don’t and end up sending their kids back to public school.

YOU HAVE THE POWER!!

heman

I read an excellent article the other day about being a teacher. The title was ” ‘I’m only a Primary teacher.’ ”  The article focused mainly on those people in my church who are asked to teach the little children during church instead of going to Sunday School and the other adult doctrinal classes with the rest of the congregation. A lot of times people feel like just being one of the many teachers for the little ones isn’t as glamorous or as important as being the head of one of the auxiliary organizations of the church. So as you read these quotes, although they talk about mainly doctrinal and spiritual truths, I feel they equally apply to all truths. (All truth comes from God anyway.)

“[Parents] should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers…The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children. Remember, God’s power to influence us righteously is His love.” – Elder Robert D. Hales.

“A teacher speaks and acts in love. Love is the most important element in effective teaching. Our teaching skills may not yet be well developed, but when a child feels loved, he or she will internalize the gospel principles that are presented. Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, provided the perfect example of teaching with love. He taught in the language of and at the level of understanding of His hearers, using stories and illustrations that came from their own environment.” -Sister Jean B. Bingham

“Often we think that teachers are “born, not made.” However, one of the gifts of the spirit is to “teach the word of knowledge,” (Moroni 10:10), and we are encouraged to seek for and develop those gifts. Through personal experience, mentoring by seasoned teachers and observing the examples of others, each of us can increase our talent and capacity to teach.” – Sister Jean B. Bingham

I know you love your children. I know, if you had the desire, you could develop the discipline and the patience needed to homeschool your kids. Homeschooling is maybe not what you thought it was. No homeschool mom is a super mom, or a “better than” mom, or anything other than a regular mom. She just has a certain why that drives her to do things a little counter culture.

So I say to all you regular moms out there, homeschooling or not, don’t sell yourself short! You love your children and you are amazing and you sacrifice and do wonderful things for them every single day. When you feel a desire or need to act for their safety, wellbeing, and benefit, you do it, and you do your best!

And that is what God asks of all of us.

(However, if you do feel the desire to homeschool, but feel you can’t, I have a very, very large homeschooling community that will help you realize that you can!)

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