(This was sent me by Cindy LaJoy, a fine writer and mom of five homeschoolers. I could not agree with her more as you know if you’ve read Poor Cheated Little Johnny, and felt it was well worth sharing with you! Enjoy! I imagine many of you will agree.)
Being relatively new to homeschooling and hitting the end of our second year, I had an interesting conversation with a new acquaintance last week. Upon learning that we were a homeschooling family, she asked me what sort of degree I had and how I became certified to teach. This was not asked in an insulting manner, but with an honest desire to understand something that was completely new to her, and as someone who was of a much older generation she had never been in conversation with someone who had homeschooled before.
When I told her that I had only a high school diploma and there was no certification required, she sat there dumbfounded. After a few uncomfortably quiet moments she then tentatively asked “Well, how can you teach your children if you don’t have a degree in education?
I’ll admit to being unsettled for a moment as I struggled to come up with an appropriate answer. After all, how DID I come to the conclusion that I was qualified to teach my children when, in fact, I had never been to college, never tackled advanced mathematics, never taken chemistry? For a brief moment I experienced that shadow of doubt that continues to haunt me as I acknowledge what I know to be true…I am no more an educator than the man on the moon.
What I am is a mom.
For thousands of years, moms did their jobs and did them quite well. They bore children, they sacrificed all for them, and they protected them from the evils of this world. Mothers taught their children what they knew, and looked for opportunities to expose their children to others who could teach them things they were not “qualified” to do. Taken to its most basic level, even Cro-Magnon mommies would teach their children how to groom themselves and forage for food, and send their children to the males to learn valuable hunting skills they might not be as prepared to teach. When you think about it, educating our children is something we have ALWAYS done until the last 150 years or so when we relinquished that part of our parenting to those who were supposedly better equipped to do the job better than we. No wonder that the schools have also assumed the role of parent in so many other circumstances.
We abdicated our parental authority years ago, on the first day of Kindergarten, when we walked hand in hand with our beloved child through the doors of our local public school and said “go ahead and educate him, I can’t do it myself.”
What we don’t need are more professionals with titles and degrees, what we don’t need are more dollars spent on education. What we do need are more parents casting aside what society has brainwashed them into thinking, moms and dads need to reclaim the roles that are rightfully ours. We don’t need professional “educators” to teach our kids, we don’t need to rely solely on outsiders to impart knowledge. If we managed to somehow successfully navigate the choppy seas of school ourselves, then there is no reason to view ourselves as unqualified to teach our own children. After all, can’t we read, write and compute? And if we can’t do so satisfactorily, don’t we have the ability to find someone else who can to teach those subjects in areas we feel less than competent?
So there I sat across from my new friend, and it was an epiphany for me, for it became the first time I felt confident enough to look her straight in the eye, and rather than fumble my way gracelessly through a rambling explanation of why we felt I could educate my children without a college degree myself, I quietly offered this “I’ve taught them everything else they’ve needed to know, I can see to it that they are taught the rest as well.” Period. No justification offered, no explanation of how terrific many homeschool materials are or how we have a great support system. I am a mom, that already makes me qualified to wear the title “Teacher” proudly.
There are sure to be times when calculus questions arise and I can’t answer them. There will definitely be explorations into Shakespeare that will bore me to tears or economics tests to be administered that make no sense without the teacher’s guide. The difference between today and a year and a half ago is that I know I can find the answers, I have empowered myself to be an excellent educator for our children by recognizing 2 important facts…#1 There is no one in the world who will be as passionate about making certain our kids are well educated than I am, and #2 There is no question that will ever be asked that I can not eventually find the answer for either by myself or through others whom I might seek out for a particular subject. Internalizing those two key facts have created in me an entirely new outlook. I can do this! Of COURSE I can!
So can you, even if you don’t have a piece of parchment with your name on it hanging on the wall. You never needed an advanced degree when you taught your children their first words, their first steps, how to ride a bike or use a knife safely or any other practical or not-so-practical skill, like making arm pit farts or how to thoroughly and completely tangle up the Christmas lights for next year. So why do we fear teaching reading or science or math? After all, armpit farts are a real challenge.
I’ll take that title of “Educator” if you insist, but frankly, I see the title of Mom as being more useful and descriptive, and a much harder one to earn, for a Mom’s job title is far more broad. A mere educator only teaches, but a Mom has far reaching duties that involve educating but also include a whole lot more. We need only remember that the two are not interchangeable, and perhaps that is something we as a society have forgotten which has led schools to assume roles that were never theirs to take on. After all, a Mom can certainly be an Educator, but an Educator can never be your child’s Mom.
That’s all the qualification you’ll ever need.
As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.
But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.
In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works. (Cindy, who wrote the article above, has used CTT extensively with her own five children.)
CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)
Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.
Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.
Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.
Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.
Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.
For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.
We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!