Welcome back to “Debunking Those Pesky Homeschool Myths.” If you missed the previous post, you can view it by clicking on the Homeschool Myths page for a full listing.
On a typical school day in the United States, 75 million children will spend a majority of their day exclusively in the company of their age-mates. However, nearly 3.2 million children will have a far different structure to their day. For these homeschooled children, their homes and families are the center of their life and learning.
Who are these homeschoolers and why do they homeschool? Are they religious zealots? Are their children anti-social or under-educated? Myths and misunderstanding about homeschooling still abound.
Myth #4: Parents Aren’t Qualified to Teach Their Children
“Parents are the child’s most important teacher from the time they are born through high school.” – Renae Dreier
Prior to 1850, the majority of American children were educated exclusively inside the home. Parents are their children’s first teachers – through repetition and persistence our children learn our language, potty training, how to tie their shoes and much more.
Parents are also children’s first role models. Through speech, song and action, we teach our children their first life lessons. We set them on the path to becoming intelligent and independent thinkers, learners and ‘doers.’
When we believe ourselves incapable of teaching our children, we are selling ourselves short and cheating our children of an important lesson. The lesson of “I CAN” – as in, “I can rise to meet this challenge, as I have with other aspects of my life, like having a child in the first place.” is selling us short. Not only is a parent capable, they also have decades of life experience to share.
The HSLDA website comments, “You are training your child to be an independent learner, so be a good example and learn right along with him! Teaching your child to tackle a subject and stick with it until the material is learned is a great experience for life.”
What a parent doesn’t know they can either learn, or else utilize the many information sources available to homeschoolers, such as:
- online high school courses
- community college courses
- DVD, video, or CD courses
- purchased curriculum
- distance learning programs
No one person can be an expert at everything. If there is a subject that you feel ill prepared to teach, then find a source of knowledge in the form of a homeschool group, tutor, or even a neighbor. The power of community can come together and help fill in the occasional gap in a parent’s knowledge.
Also, remember that the future is always changing. And with that changing future, comes changing needs in education. As John Holt, one of the founding fathers of the unschooling movement once wrote, “Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.”
That is the key – foster the love of learning. A love of learning will give your child a natural aptitude towards learning new and sometimes difficult subject matter. It becomes less about a parent’s capabilities and more about the child’s natural interest and ability to learn.
When it is all said and done, and a child walks out of the front door, now an adult – what can we hope for? I hope (and work) towards a capable, thinking adult – someone who can care for themselves, learn what they need to learn to survive and thrive, and have a healthy sense of who they are and where they are going.