• How to Be a Better Home Educator


     homeschool health Lee Binz, The HomeScholar

    Homeschool Parents Are Their Kid's Best Teachers!

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How to Be a Better Home Educator - in a Nutshell

Anxiety and feelings of insecurity can come and go. When you are faced with feelings of inadequacy, you may start wondering how to become a better homeschool parent. How do you become successful? Let me explain what will and will not make you a better homeschool parent.


A degree in teaching will NOT make you a better home educator

You don’t need to be a certified teacher or have credentials to homeschool your children. Teachers learn to teach groups. You learn to teach your child.

My friends who are certified teachers tell me that their teaching degrees gave them training in crowd control, educational philosophies, grading criteria, and classroom strategies. On the other hand, homeschooling is about parents strongly motivated by the love they have for their children to educate them. No crowd control, educational philosophies, or classroom strategies are needed. If you want to become a better homeschool parent, then love your child more. Become a student of your student. Better homeschool parents learn about homeschooling, not teaching.

I’m a trained nurse, and I know too much about the human body. My husband teases me about it all the time. When someone gets sick, I worry too much. My husband always says, “What is it this time?  Spinal meningitis?”  But I worry too much because I know too much.  There have been times when family members have been in the hospital, and I knew far too much about exactly how seriously ill they were, and how close to death. It can be terrifying. Even immobilizing.

In the same way, when you are a certified teacher and homeschooling, you may also have the problem of “knowing too much.” You would be amazed 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. Others have seen so many uneducated children they are terrified of making mistakes. It’s hard to let go of four years of educational training. It’s hard to remember that the love of your child is the most important factor in teaching. In high school, the problem of “knowing too much” becomes more acute as you start to think about high school grades.

Certified teachers often struggle to let go of teaching and testing

I know it’s difficult to separate homeschooling from being a teacher. Many of my clients 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. Homeschooling isn’t about teaching at all, it’s about learning. Homeschooling means trying to encourage the love of learning.

For example, one area where certified teachers often struggle is in testing their children. Try to remember that tests in school are given because you need tests to assess large groups of children. When you are homeschooling, you can assess in other ways. Ask yourself how you are assessing them already. Perhaps this mindset will help. Nancy explains it this way.

“Lee, I was a classroom teacher for several years. I have just completed my 11th year of homeschooling and we have graduated our oldest student. If anything, my classroom experience has handicapped our homeschool efforts. The goal in homeschooling our children is NOT to keep up with what is being taught and how it is being taught in the government school setting. I am learning to be more creative, flexible, and to think out of the box than ever before. Thank you for your encouragement!” ~ Nancy

A degree in teaching won

Parent Partnership Programs will NOT make you a better home educator

Parent partnership programs and alternative education programs are conditional on giving up some of your homeschool freedom. Parent partnership programs are love with strings attached.

As a homeschooler, you are probably getting quite a few emails from organizations that want you to stop homeschooling independently. These emails from schools, parent partnerships, and alternative education programs make many promises. They benefit financially when they make you feel inadequate and incapable.

If you feel less than adequate when you read an advertisement, steer clear. You are capable of homeschooling, even at the high school level. You have what it takes. You have what you need. You can do this!

Parent partnership programs and alternative education programs see homeschoolers as a source of income. When you use their programs, they get money. Whether they receive money from the government or money directly from homeschoolers, these programs benefit financially when they make you feel inadequate and incapable. Once you sign up, they can exert control over your homeschool. They love you but there are strings attached. Don’t let them make you feel less than qualified!

Any time you accept public money, you give up some control in exchange. If you use a parent partnership homeschool program through a public school, the school may exert control over your child’s education. These programs may claim to love homeschoolers, and promise they will not exert control over a homeschool, but they can.

They often require that your child be evaluated by a teacher, maintain a certain number of hours in a digital classroom, or submit work to be graded. Programs may require you to choose a curriculum from an approved list and refuse to approve of your choice of curriculum. Many will not allow you to teach using your worldview, a religious curriculum, or religious instruction. More concerning than what they require is the attitude these programs convey.

Alternative education programs can change their policy at any time. I have seen this happen. Families start with a program and feel satisfied with it, and then the following year the rules change.

Parent partnership programs won

Homeschool parents are the REAL teachers

Advertisements for parent partnerships and school systems are trying to make you feel inadequate. Look at what these advertisements imply. Some ads offer "real” teachers. This implies you aren’t a real teacher. You are a home educator and that’s a real teacher. They also may advertise they use "approved curriculum" but your homeschool curriculum is approved, too; it’s approved by you, the homeschool parent who knows their child best.

Programs may advertise earning a “real diploma” yet a homeschool diploma is real as well. In fact, my children's high school diplomas were real enough to earn college admission and scholarships. They may offer "accredited transcripts" when some public schools aren’t accredited any more than homeschoolers are. Most colleges request an “official transcript” which home educators can create with a simple document titled “Official Homeschool Transcript.” Colleges understand that a homemade homeschool transcript is valid without accreditation.

School-at-home will NOT make you a better home educator

School-at-home advertisements can seem impressive, but read carefully and look over the details.

Here are a few interesting advertising phrases:

  • "Curriculum is individualized." A close look reveals the program only uses textbook, workbook, school-at-home style learning. That doesn't sound individualized. What could be more individualized than you finding curriculum that meets the specific needs for each child in your homeschool?
  • "Outstanding curriculum choices coupled with the expertise of your advisor." The best guidance counselor is you, the parent, who knows and loves your child. An advisor should be encouraging you to follow your heart and your intimate knowledge of your child anyway. Remember that so-called outstanding curriculum choices may only include limited options.
  • "Courses range from vocational to Advanced Placement®." Your independent homeschool can offer anything from AP® courses to remedial education, as needed. You are not limited by curriculum choices and can put together any class your student needs, at any level, no matter how strange or unusual your child’s interests.
  • "Record keeping options for courses on their own or through a co-op." Homeschoolers can include any educational experiences on the official homeschool transcript. You can include a public school calculus or band class, a co-op class, a distance-learning class, and a community college class all on one official homeschool transcript . Record keeping is often less difficult when you homeschool independently, because you can do it your own way.
  • "Tuition is only…” Homeschooling does not have to include tuition payments. You can spend as little or as much as you need or want to in order to create a suitable education for your child. Without giving up freedom, you can educate without tuition payments.
Most importantly, school-at-home and public school supplemental programs are not a good fit if you are homeschooling in order to avoid the trappings of the school system.

Homeschooling WILL make you a better home educator

As you begin to homeschool, you will recognize quickly that part of your job is to shape and mold your child’s behavior. You immediately reap the rewards of a closer relationship with your child, too! Homeschooling can make your child more pleasant to be around. At the same time, it will increase your love for your child and your awareness of their academic needs, so you will become a better home educator over time. So you can see that homeschooling will make you a better home educator as time goes by.

Homeschooling will make you a better home educator

Continuing education WILL make you a better home educator

Nurses, doctors, and other professionals are required to take continuing education courses each year in many states. They need to stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends. Homeschooling parents have a similar need of continuing education. Invest in yourself and your vocation as a homeschool educator.

A huge determining factor in your success as a homeschooler depends not on how much money you spend, but where you spend the money you have. In fact, statistics from the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI.org) show that homeschool achievement is not related to a teaching degree, the amount of state control or regulation, or family income.

Invest in yourself as a home educator. Especially as high school and college are approaching, don't be afraid – be assertive. This is your job, after all, and you need to have what it takes to succeed. Not everyone has support groups available and some support groups rarely discuss high school issues and concerns. Don't ignore the problem of high school, because it won't simply go away.

There are four ways to invest in yourself: buy a book, take a class, attend a convention, or get individual help. Some homeschoolers have a support group with a great lending library. Support groups may offer classes on homeschooling high school. You may be able to find a convention nearby. Some parents have older, successful homeschool friends to lean on. However, my job is to make sure that everyone has these resources, no matter where they live, so they are available to everyone.

Investing in your vocation WILL make you a better home educator

Learn more about the next step in your homeschool journey, and more about the areas that are challenging for you, before you become afraid or anxious.

Part of my job is removing homeschool parents’ fears and insecurities. It is part reality-based reflection on the state of the general population of public school children, part cheerleader, encouraging with positive affirmations, (“Go team go!” and “You can do it!”) and part hand-holding, from one friend to another, as we work out issues that arise.

In case you are wondering how I can help, here are four ways to invest in yourself as a home educator from my website.

Continuing education will make you a better homeschool parent

Questions to ask before enrolling in an educational system

Accredited distance learning programs advertise for you to join them. They want you! But look closely at the messages, think carefully, and weigh the pros and cons before choosing. You have no need to be afraid of homeschooling! Before you decide to give alternative education or parent partnership programs a try, ask yourself some questions:

  • What will I have to give to receive what they promise?
  • Do I feel inadequate when I read the advertisement or talk to the organization?
  • Do they stand to gain financially by making me feel inadequate?
  • Will they be able to exert influence over what I teach my children?

When you are evaluating these programs, check out their attitude toward homeschooling. You may find programs bring up the old, familiar complaint about homeschooling – lack of socialization. Even rookie homeschoolers usually know that socialization in the real world is the highest quality socialization a child can get. Raising socialization as a concern is a red flag; it signals that the program is not as homeschool friendly as it claims.

Sometimes advertisements urge parents to sign up by citing how difficult the teenage years can be. Teenagers can be difficult as any age group can be difficult, like parenting in general is difficult. Yes, it's true, managing teens can at times be like trying to nail Jello to the wall. I'm not convinced programs can do a better job of educating teens, though. Some teens are simply difficult no matter which method you choose. Certain children are more difficult than other children. Putting your child into a school system is not going to change their nature.

Homeschooling is individualized and runs at a pace that fits your child. Consider the learning pace of public or private school affiliations, which often have written in stone requirements for the rate of instruction. The pace may be too fast or too slow for your child. Since children usually learn in fits and spurts, a system requiring a constant rate of learning can be either frustrating because it's too fast, or boring because it's too slow.

When I think about the steady rate of classroom teaching, I am always reminded of the I Love Lucy episode with Lucille Ball in the candy factory. She tries so hard to keep up, to the point of shoving candy into her hat, mouth, and blouse just to show she isn't falling behind! When she works quickly, the conveyor belt moves more quickly too, and she is never able to keep up. Homeschooling does not have to be this way. You can give work at a comfortable pace for your individual child, making sure the work is challenging but not overwhelming.

How to be a better home educator

You can become a GREAT home educator

You need look no further than your own home for the great education your child deserves. You can homeschool independently through high school! Thousands of families before you have experienced incredible rewards. Your family will be blessed by your decision. Don't settle for a love that isn't true - love should have no strings attached! You love your child and want what is best for them in the long run. You want them to be literate, responsible, employable adults – I know you do!

Your love for your child will ensure success.

Be a Better Home Educator Infographic

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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" and more freebies:  HomeHighSchoolHelp.com/freebies.
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