Do you remember what it felt like, making that fateful decision to really do it . . . to begin homeschooling? For many of us, it was a moment filled with questions—and more than a little anxiety.
Can we really teach them to read? you might have wondered.
My wife and I had both been teachers—but we had never taught little ones. Will they be able to get into college? we asked. And can I be a good parent and teacher at the same time? Ackk!
But thinking back, underlying our decision was a calmness that was rooted in what we knew and observed to be true: We knew we loved our children more than any teacher could. We knew our children’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else ever would. We knew God had carefully matched our children with us as their parents. And we knew that others had homeschooled successfully, with a variety of students—and we liked what we saw!
When my wife and I were teaching in a private school, we experienced a lot of joy in ministering to our 100-plus students, but we realized that we could never invest in them the way their parents could. We couldn’t give them unconditional love, but their parents could. And when a child felt unconditionally loved, that child consistently found success—struggles and all. And success breeds success.
When each of our kids turned 5 years old and it came time to really do “official” homeschooling, we were so glad for those first five years during which we were able to learn about them individually. We knew not only our children's strengths and weaknesses, but also what motivated them. We knew how they liked to learn, and how they didn’t! Of course, they knew us too—but that was not really a bad thing. It helped to manage expectations all the way around.
Another calm assurance we had personally was knowing that God chose us for our children, and He chose each of our children for us. He knew that we were uniquely equipped to handle what they needed during the formative years of their lives. He knew we could help them see the big picture of what God had in store for them.
Regardless of a family’s beliefs or whether they have any religious beliefs, the unique freedom and flexibility of homeschooling allows every parent to meet their child’s needs in a personalized way.
And one other significant factor that helped us feel confident was the knowledge that many had gone ahead of us in the homeschooling journey—and had raised successful, well-adjusted children. Homeschool graduates from all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of learning styles are now benefiting from homeschooling, doing everything that their traditionally schooled peers do. Parents who know their kids well can adjust each child’s homeschool curriculum and schedule to allow learning at a pace that preserves the child’s self-esteem and facilitates their educational progress.
Here’s the bottom line: being attentive, caring parents is what equips us to be good teachers—not holding a certification.
If you have friends considering homeschooling, please let them know they already have the most important qualification: being a responsible, loving parent.