If you are reading this, welcome to a new series I am working on entitled, obviously, Hardcore Homeschool. This will be an 11-part read unless I change my mind between now and when the series is done. Ya just never know. In any case, I would be interested in hearing your comments as we go along.
I am hoping this series will encourage parents who are not too sure about homeschooling to go ahead and take the plunge, and to enable parents who are already homeschooling to streamline their processes and lighten their loads just a little bit. It is time to be vocal about education ~ what it is and what it is not. Here we go.
Hardcore Homeschool: 11 Things Parents Need to Know about Educating Their Kids
You can successfully teach your child or children at home, and this series will help you understand the most important aspects of education itself. What I am about to share with you is information that has been hijacked by the government’s educational establishment, has been taken, twisted around, and in some cases altogether hidden from view.
What had been commonly and widely known about education 100 years ago has been challenged by modern theories that have, over time, proven to be nothing less than psycho-babble and bunk, to put it nicely.
It is time to get back to the true tenets of the discipline known as education and how it naturally is fostered. There is nothing natural about public or private schools in the 21st century. And here’s why.
You are about to read 11 concepts that are important for every home-educating parent to understand in order for their children to get the best possible education. We will not be discussing curriculum; rather, we will be dissecting methodology. Sound dull? I guarantee it will be spicy.
1. Attitude is everything, both yours and your child’s.
As a parent, you must approach homeschooling with an air of confidence even if your knees are knocking under the table on Day One of your homeschool journey. Kids can smell fear and hesitation, and they will latch onto any negative attitude more quickly than they will latch onto a positive one. Give them positive words to work with, not negative or wishy-washy ones. Then watch them bloom in the environment you have established.
Many parents begin home education with an attitude of experimentation. “Let’s try this and just hope it works out okay,” is the attitude I frequently observe. Why wouldn’t a parent feel that way? Society tells us that we are not competent to educate our own offspring unless we have a degree in something or other, preferably in education. As a parent with a degree in education, I challenge this assumption and say that there is nothing I learned in college that prepared me to be a teacher more than having a child of my own.
You as a parent need to arm yourself with the internalized knowledge that you are the very best teacher your young child can possibly ever have. Parents naturally teach children how to walk, eat, become potty-trained, talk, ride a bike, and many other basic and fundamental tasks and skills. Why should it stop there?
Why should you just give up instructing your child at age five and suddenly give him or her over to “The Professionals”? Don’t we think that our children will think it strange that suddenly mom and dad are not adequate to teach him anymore? No wonder parents have problems garnering respect from their teens; it stems way back to parents telling their children ten years earlier that “Honey, someone more qualified than me is going to take you over from here. I’ve gone as far as I can go with you. Now you get turned over to the state. You wouldn’t want me to handle your education from this point.”
Nonsense! Parents are the most qualified individuals on the face of the earth to teach their young children how to read, spell, add, subtract, write, and most importantly, behave the way they, the parents, would have them behave. Impressing standards of behavior on children is an important part of education. Why would a parent want to hand that over to a stranger or a series of strangers, a different stranger every year?
I remember doing my student teaching in college. I was assigned to a first grade classroom for the first part of the practicum experience. The teacher was old enough to be retired, but she kept going for some reason none of us could quite figure out. Her classroom was quite orderly and well-maintained, although the children seemed to be slightly afraid of her. I was afraid of her. I was relieved when my 8 weeks of learning from her was done. Pity the poor children who had 32 more weeks to go. But learn from her I did; I learned how I did not want to treat little children.
My other student teaching experience was assisting in a fifth grade classroom with a teacher who wanted to be well liked more than he wanted to impart education. The students spoke to him as though he was their age with a familiarity that raised my eyebrows. I remember thinking how poorly behaved the students were, and I realized that the difference between the rather rowdy fifth graders and the made-to-toe-the-line first graders was the expectations and the attitudes of their teachers. This is an important observation.
Have you ever been in the presence of children, and their behavior was such that you found yourself thinking, “If that was my child, I sure wouldn’t put up with that attitude and that behavior!” and you couldn’t wait to get away? Bingo! Your expectations were quite different than those of the children’s overseers at that point in time.
Children will rise to your expectations, and they will develop an attitude toward homeschool just as they develop an attitude towards anything. Children will assimilate the attitudes of the people with whom they spend time. It is your right and your privilege as a parent to determine your expectations for your children, to determine in which way you will go, and to walk alongside your children as they journey each day further and further into the realm of true education.
You are not only the best possible teacher for your child, but also you are the best role model for your child as well. There is something about being a parent that causes one to think twice before modeling certain behavior. Some people actually give up certain habits when they become parents in order for their children to avoid bumps down the road. Thinking twice about how our behavior affects someone else is always a good thing. Being vigilant to set a good example in both word and deed is an important part of parenting.
Not all parents are vigilant in this manner, however. By sending children off to a school setting with a myriad of other young children, we are inviting the habits of others to rub off on our children, both good and bad. For some reason, it is the bad habits that seem to stick in these situations.
For example, think how prevalent foul language is in elementary school settings these days. Why is that? It is because parents are not vigilant about to what or to whom their children are exposed. Garbage comes in at a much younger age than it used to, and not surprisingly, garbage comes right back out, staining all that it touches. It is important to remember that once something goes into your child’s head, it is almost impossible to erase it, especially information that is of the garbage variety.
It is your privilege as a parent to choose carefully the things your children will be exposed to and when. This is something for which we will be held accountable as well, I believe. Your young children will be much healthier individuals emotionally than their public or private school counterparts simply by virtue of your children being in a controlled environment, surrounded by people who love them dearly, not people who are paid to pay attention to them. There is definitely a difference, and anyone who says that a classroom teacher provides the same nurture that a parent can is sadly mistaken.
So far I have been talking about a parent being highly qualified to teach their young children at home. Is there a difference between teaching young children and teaching older children? Am I saying that parents are not as qualified to teach their middle school or high school aged kids? Absolutely not, but we have to start somewhere.
If you have sent your children out of the home for instruction, and you are now rethinking that idea, I commend you highly and urge you to act quickly, but taking a student out of a classroom situation and bringing him home to be educated has some intrinsic challenges, and the biggest one is attitude.
No matter what the homeschooling situation, a yes-we-can attitude will be invaluable to you. You have to adopt a positive attitude when beginning to homeschool your children for their sake as well as for yours no matter the age of your children. Remember, you are establishing expectations, and hopefully one of your expectations is that your children will learn. You don’t have to know exactly what they will learn and exactly when. You don’t have to have all 12 years of their education planned out before they begin kindergarten.
Just establish your authority from the start, have a positive attitude about your homeschooling journey, and walk into it with joy and enthusiasm. You may not feel joyful and enthusiastic every day, but you can provide your children with a yes-you-can attitude that motivates them to see the positives of homeschooling. Homeschooling is an awesome opportunity, and I don’t let my children forget that.
Focus: Parents can homeschool with confidence because they are best equipped to understand their children, to meet their deepest needs both socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. A positive attitude is essential for the parents to demonstrate.
Homeschooling requires parents to set expectations for their children which will also determine what types of attitudes are fostered towards education in the home. If mom and dad support home education, the children will as well. If mom and dad believe that they can teach their children, which they most certainly can, then the children will accept this structure as well.