Have you ever wondered how can someone teach at home without an education degree? How can they teach high school if they don’t even remember their Algebra 1?! In this article, I will tell you exactly how it’s done through specialized curriculum, motivation through purpose, advantages of being in control and available support.
Firstly, most homeschooling curricula is different from curricula used in a traditional setting because it is often self-instructional. This means that learning is not meant to be directed by a “teacher”. In curricula designed to be self-instructional, the concepts are spoon-fed in very small increments so that the student cannot get easily lost. So, basically it is not the teacher teaching the child, but instead the curriculum teaching the child. The parent becomes more like the manager-in-chief. Each chapter or section in a self-instructional curriculum if often designed with formative (mid-way) testing and summative (end-of-chapter) testing to confirm progress. This allows you to adjust the work load at any time if things get difficult – or to easy. Also, self-instructional curricula has a “scope and sequence” chart showing all of the content for the whole year. This means you and your student can look ahead at the challenges and plan for a tutor if needed. Examining the scope and sequence allows more quality time for parents to discuss learning goals too. I have had parents tell me that they enjoy the benefit from this interaction while homeschooling their children because they actually wind up relearning important math and English skills! There are also other options available, such as using tutors, cooperative teaching, dual enrollment and online courses – but I digress.
Secondly, students that constantly interact with their parents understand the “WIFIM” for the work. The WIFIM is the “What’s-in-it-for-Them” reason for the school work which motivates them to learn by providing a purpose. We all work a little harder when we know why something will improve our lives or help us to reach a goal. Homeschooling allows for this kind of environment of high motivation which is very important to being successful in teaching and learning. Parents are the best advocates for their children and are eager to share with them how learning can improve their life or help them meet a goal.
Thirdly, homeschoolers are in control of their learning and can set their own goals. In the homeschooling world, setting goals is itself an education. For this reason, I instruct parents to let their student set academic goals (within a given structure). Homeschoolers can fill out a daily academic goal chart one day at a time, i.e. page numbers to do, tasks to complete, appointments to keep, etc. So, for instance when the student starts their work for the day they examine their goal chart, then they complete each goal crossing each goal out on the chart as they finish. They set the next day’s goals themselves before they finish their school day, and they submit their work and goal chart to their parents. This way, parents can see exactly what their student said they did, and what they plan to do tomorrow. Parents use the goal chart to examine the student’s work and judge if the plans for the next day are appropriate (based on scores and work quality). Students can increase or lessen the “load” when things get easy or hard, and parents can decide if they used good judgement. These discussions are a great motivator and provide “learning moments” for setting expectations.
Having a variety of curriculum choices, knowing the WIFIM and independently setting daily goals describes some of the reasons parents can successfully homeschool without the help of a state licensed teacher; but the whole plan comes together with the help of local support groups. Homeschool support groups become invaluable in the life of homeschoolers; even if it’s just for recreation, face time talking with other parents or social interaction for the kids. Local groups found through the state-wide Florida Parent Educators Association, for example will have everything from speech and debate contests, 4-H groups, photography clubs, drama teams and even graduation ceremonies – all for homeschoolers! The options for activities are endless! Groups will also have “special speakers” on homeschool issues and even offer “classes” by member parents that are experts in a given field. It’s a parent’s right, but also their duty to provide a quality education and utilize available resources. Homeschooling without a “teacher” is very possible and actually very enjoyable for most families, but it is a lifestyle change and not a lifestyle suited for all. For a variety of topics see other articles on this blog.
Please submit questions to be answered in this column to firstname.lastname@example.org. This column serves to build a relationship between the public and homeschooling families. Nancy is director of Family Tree Private School, www.myftps.com since 1999 – a school for homeschooling families. Nancy has a Master’s degree in Educational Technology and Research and was Florida certified K-12 for over 30 years. She and her husband homeschooled their 3 children.