After much thought and prayer, you’ve decided to homeschool your children. The question then becomes, what exactly makes a good homeschool teacher? The answer is dedication, flexibility, and the willingness to not isolate yourself or your kids. There are many other factors that go into being a good homeschool teacher, of course, but these three characteristics are at the top of the list.
Aren’t all homeschool teachers dedicated? Unfortunately, many families make the homeschool decision but lack the dedication to completely commit. This commitment entails setting aside a specific space in your home strictly for homeschool teaching and learning. Putting your kids in the middle of the living room or in their room for school invites boredom and distraction. The environment you choose for your children’s education is vital to their success.
Another part of being dedicated is setting aside time specifically each day for school and learning. It’s too easy to let life prevent you from completing each day’s school lessons. Without dedicated time, homeschoolers frequently fall behind and have trouble catching up.
One of the most important aspects of homeschooling is flexibility. This doesn’t mean canceling classes on a whim, but knowing when and where the framework you’ve established for school can stretch a little bit.
For example, parents often find that one child excels in a particular subject. Flexibility looks like finding a challenging curriculum for this child’s needs that may depart from the curriculum used by your other children. You may also find that your chosen curriculum isn’t hitting the mark. Being flexible means trying different avenues and testing out new lesson plans such as creating something from great content like The Power of the Same. Flexibility also means searching until you find the right one.
Let’s face it: one of the hardest things homeschooling parents struggle with is the lack of variety in subjects, environment, and curriculum. But this is also the beauty of homeschooling! On any given day, you have the ability to schedule a field trip to a local museum or to another nearby homeschooling group. Get connected – find groups in your area and sign your school up for field trips, class swaps, and general socializing. Your children will thank you for this – and you’ll be grateful, too! Getting outside the house prevents both parents and children from becoming complacent with school due to a lack of variety.
Requirements for Homeschool Teaching
If you’re convinced that you have what it takes to homeschool your children, it’s important to review the necessary homeschool requirements for teaching, as well as homeschool costs. Here are some of the basics:
To Teach: According to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, there are eleven states that require some form of education to qualify as a homeschool teacher. This qualification requires a high school diploma or a GED. Only one state (Washington) requires either college credits or the completion of a home-based study. The rest of the states have no qualifications. There are certification programs available with courses for you to become a homeschool teacher, but most states do not require this. Remember to utilize your homeschool network before investing in courses that may not provide a long-term benefit to you or your children.
To Have a Homeschool in Your Home: Because rules change from state to state, it’s important to check your local laws, call your school district to find out if there are any special requirements to ensure your children will be eligible for graduation, as well as maintain grade levels. Not following these rules could cause a problem for your children if you become unable to teach them and they need to go back into the public school system. It’s important to ensure your child stays on grade level. Make sure to check out the rules for your state.
Contrary to what most people think, homeschooling is not cheap. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) estimates that the average parent spends about $300 to $600 per year, per child, on homeschooling curriculum, games, and books. This does not figure in the cost of field trips or other amenities.
Preparation is the key to successful homeschooling, both for you and for your children. There are many other online resources for homeschooling (check out these great resources from PBS and Scholastic, especially), but the most important thing is to find successful homeschools in your area and set up meetings for brainstorming and collaboration. You’ll learn tips and tricks from other educators – and you’ll also be part of a growing network of parents seeking the best education for their children.