How many of us have heard a similar statement? I have had several people express that sentiment to me over the years. Some have told me to go to the local public school so I will know what to teach my kids. Another decided to point out that all of the homeschoolers they have encountered were dreadfully behind academically. I’m here to say that you are qualified to teach your child. You are qualified to guide and direct your child’s learning even if the subject is over your head!
I’ve been there. I’m there now. Not too long into this parenting gig I found myself there. My first child started immersing himself in facts about dinosaurs in his early years. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs, but my son learned anyway. So when we started homeschooling it didn’t seem too unusual for my child to know something that I didn’t know.
I personally think it is a mistake to think that one needs to sit under direct instruction from a knowledgable person in order to learn. That may be the best method for some kids, but we are blessed to live in a world where knowledgable people have recorded their information for others. Books, videos, and websites can provide information that a parent cannot.
Homeschooling a subject beyond my knowledge base is totally possible because homeschooling isn’t about teaching my child what I know. Homeschooling is about providing an education and I can facilitate my child’s learning even if I know little about the subject.
I facilitated my young child’s love of dinosaurs by feeding his interest. I found books, videos, and online resources that helped satisfy his need to know. He taught himself. To be honest, I still don’t know a lot about dinosaurs. So now when my child is studying a subject beyond my knowledge, I do the same thing.
High school looms ahead. Even though my children’s STEM plans are far beyond my knowledge base, we will go on because I’ve already been riding the facilitation train. At some point in our homeschooling it may be quite beneficial for my child to have direct instruction from someone who is knowledgeable. This can be accomplished through online classes, local classes, or tutors.
Facilitation also comes when I can share with my child how to find the information he needs or how to learn the material. I can problem solve with him and help him find what he needs to learn even though I don’t know the answer myself.
Learning along with my child
I’ve also taken the approach of learning along with my child. For some subjects we are partners in learning and others I trail along behind. Today, for instance, my son was learning about iambic meter and he needed some help. I pulled out my teacher’s manual and it wasn’t any help. So I sat down with him and we learned it together. Math is another subject we tend to tackle together. We both sit down together and we try to work through the harder ones on our own and them come together to find a solution.
Verifying that learning is happening
To verify that learning is happening and to be able to help my kid when he is stuck, I tend to use textbooks or resources that come with a teacher’s guide or solution manual. I have my son answer some questions and if it matches the answer key we move on. If it doesn’t we figure out the answer together. There have been times when we both couldn’t figure something out. One time that led to us taking a 30 minute detour onto Youtube to watch others explain the concept until we both figured it out. If he gets it and I don’t, I’ll either have him explain it to me until I understand it or he will move on.
While we as parents may not remember or have had any exposure to a topic our child is learning, there are many options available for us to guide our child’s learning. I know that I’m thankful that homeschooling isn’t about teaching what I have in my head. It is about learning and learning is a journey that will take you and your child to places you have never been.