All in Alll: Homeschool Pros and Cons, Part IV
Since it has been over a month since last posting on homeschool pros and cons, you might surmise I've forgotten about this topic. Actually not. My scatterbrained mind has just been rambling in other directions recently. But I'm not through my list, so I hope to revisit this every few weeks.
Rather than dazzling you with one of the fantabulous benefits of homeschooling before hitting you with a related less-than ideal reality, how about if this time we start with a downside and then move into positive territory?
One very real fear parents have about teaching their children at home involves subjects they don't care for or don't have a strong background in. Just how am I supposed to teach high school English Comp (algebra/ economics/ Latin/ fill-in-the-blank with your most dreaded course) when I hated it my first go-round? Will my children be forever messed up because I am not a Jill-of-all subjects?
It's a valid concern. Almost all parents are stronger in some areas than others. In some rare homes, between Dad and Mom, all the bases are covered. Mom might be a whiz at writing and Dad is a science nerd. So maybe Dad can tutor science (or whatever his strong suit is) in the evenings. (Saying of course he has enough time after busting his gut working to provide for his family.) But for most of us, even with pooled talents, there are gaps. In my case the dreaded subject was high school English. How was I supposed to teach my children to write when I was only truly comfortable writing lab reports?
Fortunately, this problem also has a number of excellent remedies. First, as you homeschool, you will be learning yourself. You'll be amazed at the new skills you pick up as you learn alongside your children. Also, choosing excellent curriculum can go a long way in helping you teach subjects you are not as familiar with. (That's one reason why I'm a believer in investing in quality materials, but that's a subject for another day.)
Beyond this, you can get help from so many different avenues. Maybe you can co-op with one or more families, pooling talents. Or you can go more formal and hire help. Many in our church use a hybrid or cottage school which meets several times a week, while on the other days the children study at home. In our family for the past dozen years our junior and senior high kids have been taking classes a la carte from an online provider of live classes. The Potter's School has been a lifesaver for me, allowing our teens to take coursework such as computer programming languages, journalism, and anatomy. Oh, and English classes, too, of course! That is the first subject I farm out!
We've also been blessed by having a number of young men in our church tutor our children or lead a small group class, and a time or two our kids have taken classes taught at night by a father. Community college and university classes make up part of our high school student's curriculum as well, again allowing them to receive expertise outside our realm along with college credits. So you get the point. There are umpteen different ways to cover areas in which you are not as equipped as you'd like to be. Most of the time, pulling in outside resources and teachers gives your children a much stronger education in many ways, including non-academics.
OK, so what's the upside? Well, if we have a tendency to duplicate our shortcomings unless we get outside help, as parents and teachers we also have the wonderful opportunity to share our enthusiasms with our children. Grandparents can teach from their passions and expertise, too. See photo above. Artistic parents have homes in which aesthetics rise to the top and become second nature to the students. Science loving parents find multiple ways to share their love for exploring the world around them. Literature devotees effortlessly spread the love of reading to their children. And on and on.
I enjoy teaching math. Last week my 12 year-old, Paul, learned about the Fibonacci sequence. Oh, joy! How much fun it was to talk with him about the beauty of mathematics as seen in nature. Just another reminder we serve a God of order.
By the way - if you want to watch some of the most creative and humorous math videos ever, check out this one and its sequels called “Doodling in Math: Fibonacci, and Being a Plant.” So very much fun!
Others in this series:
Pros and Cons Part I: Discipleship and Hard Work
Pros and Cons Part II: Tailored Education and Overwhelming Choices
Pros and Cons Part III: Fun and Fears