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Certified Teachers vs Regular Homeschool Parents

You would be amazed at how many certified teachers with public and private school backgrounds contact me for support. Some feel inadequate because they are not specially trained for high school, as one teacher and mother confessed: "Sometimes I just want to hand the whole high school "thing" over to you. I keep thinking, 'My major is elementary education, not high school!'"

Other times teachers feel constrained when they begin homeschooling. Even though they know in their mind that homeschooling allows flexibility, their four-year college degree is screaming out for a highly structured regimen, and they struggle to break the shackles. They are used to having prescribed curriculum and supportive peers, so they feel insecure and reach out. As one certified teacher told me: "I have so enjoyed getting your newsletter each month. It has helped me wrap my mind around homeschooling through high school. I am interested in a one-hour consultation to discuss high school and college issues. I have a pretty good handle on high school credits and courses, but I would like to have an outsider's input."

Homeschooling is like Parenting 

These homeschool mothers have come to realize that homeschooling is NOT about a degree in education. Rather, homeschooling is like parenting, with inherent insecurities around every corner. Parents seek to identify the "right answer" only to arrive at the other side of adolescence realizing that there are many valid ways of doing things. Indeed, there are few hard-and-fast rules that cannot be broken when the situation warrants. One parent of a teen observed: "I know that nobody can give me the right answer for the problems I'm having with my daughter. I just wish that I had a group of supportive parents around me, like the playgroups we used to have when our children were toddlers. Why don't we have support like that now that our kids are older? It's even harder now!"

Parenting is always difficult, and answers to parenting dilemmas are never easy. The solution will not be found in advanced degrees, unless they are advanced degrees in your own child! One parent estimated that she had a college degree's worth of information with each child in her home! When she discovered she was expecting her third child, she declared: "Since I have two kids, I figure I already have a bachelors and masters' degree in my children. I may as well go for a doctorate!"

Model Behaviors

Much of what kids do is based on modeling their behavior after others. As an adult, you can see it clearly. When we see young children talking about politics, you recognize immediately that the child is mimicking the views of their parents. It is crucial to raise children to follow your values and core beliefs. As homeschoolers, we generally recognize the limited socialization in a public-school setting, but the truth is that even adults in the public school system can end up being a negative role model for our kids. We want our kids to model healthy behavior, rather than destructive behavior. The best way to do that is to ensure they are regularly exposed to people who live out their lives with honor and integrity. Do not assume that just because someone has an advanced degree or title that they are an admirable role model. That's just not always the case.

Teachers Who Know Too Much

I'm a nurse, and I know too much about the human body. My husband teases me about it all the time. When a family member is ill, and I get worried, my husband will laugh and say, "What is it this time? Spinal meningitis? Homonymous hemianopsia?" There have been times when my son was in the hospital, and I knew WAY too much! I knew just how quickly it could go bad, and exactly what it would look like.

When a certified teacher is homeschooling, they may also have the problem of "knowing too much." Teachers have spent years in school, learning how to teach. They learn about educational philosophy, grading criteria, classroom strategies, and about crowd control. It's hard to let go of four years of education training. It's hard to remember that the love of your child is the most influential factor in teaching. In high school, the problem of "knowing too much" becomes more acute, as you start to think about high school grades.

I know that it's hard to separate homeschooling from being a teacher. I have a lot of clients who are certified teachers, and they tell me it's one of their biggest areas of struggle! They are often gifted teachers, but struggle to "let go" of the classroom strategies they were taught in college. 

Who is an "Actual Teacher"?

A virtual school had an advertisement with a parent testimonial stating, "We have the added advantage of an actual teacher." Don't be fooled! Homeschooling parents ARE real teachers – the best possible teachers for their children. You are providing your children with all the social skills they need to shine in this world. You are totally, completely, and 100% qualified! Not because you know English perfectly, or even because you know how to grade perfectly, but because you are their parent. The one who knows them and loves them best.

I saw an advertisement for Laurel Springs. It says their "One to one student/teacher interaction… gives your child an education comparable to the best private schools" and "You can enroll… to receive curriculum and teacher service." I know that it's the season for homeschool conventions, and you will be FLOODED with homeschool advertisements. I just want to point out that with independent homeschooling you ALSO have a one-to-one student-teacher interaction. And maybe we don't want to be compared to ANY school, but instead want to provide the education our student needs. When we retain our independence, we can choose our OWN curriculum and be our own "Teacher service."

Keystone National High School advertised their "support from highly qualified, certified teachers." I'll agree that sometimes it does help to get the support of an experienced teacher, but it does bother me when advertisers tout "certified teachers." Parents are the best teachers! And they are LOVE givers, not just CARE givers, and that makes all the difference. If you need assistance, consider a homeschool consultant who truly knows homeschooling and can ENCOURAGE you in your homeschooling journey.

No Degree Necessary

Where does that leave us? Right where we began. As homeschoolers, you need to know that a degree in education is not going to make you a better home educator. In some instances, it can be a burden and cause insecurity. A degree in education does not provide what your children need, but a willingness to be flexible can improve your chances of success. Ultimately, though, it is having superb role models that will positively affect your child's future in college and their career. Although nobody is perfect, at least you can strive to provide your example as a role model that will reflect your family values and ideals.

Do you have experiences with homeschooling as a certified teacher? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you! 

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's Free Resource Guide, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School."

You can find her at

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Sunday, 27 November 2022

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