When people find out that I homeschool my eight children, I get a lot of different responses. One of the more common ones is, “Wow, you must be smart. I could never homeschool my child in x.”
Insert “science”, “math”, “grammar” or whatever “weakness” the person perceives in themself for that x.
But that’s part of the beauty of homeschooling. You don’t have to teach your child at all, you just need to enable your child to learn. And most of the time, you are learning with your child.
If you have a curiosity and a desire to learn, you have (in my opinion) the main prerequisite for homeschooling.
Let me give you an example. This upcoming Monday (8/21/17) there is a solar eclipse in America. As a “good homeschooling mom”, I’m using this as a teaching exercise.
What do I know about solar eclipses? Not much. I know that the moon is traveling in front of the sun and blocks it out. That’s about it.
So what does a homeschooling mom who is unable to answer her children’s questions do? A few things.
Turn to Google. The first thing I usually do is google “homeschool [topic of choice]”. So in this instance “homeschool solar eclipse” returned this NASA website, that had a lot of interesting ideas.
Turn it over to the children. Once I find a few ideas, I hand it over to the children and let them pick the ideas that they are excited about. If you’ve trained your children to explore their natural curiosity, they usually have no problem running amok with the ideas you’ve presented them.
Enable your children. At this point, it’s your job to enable them to do whatever they’d like to do. In this instance it required ordering solar viewing glasses. I put Brett on this job and she found the list of NASA approved sunglass providers and ordered glasses for the whole family (a 2 minute eclipse doesn’t give much time for sharing glasses).
Have the children explain it to you. As the old saying goes, “the best way to master a subject is to teach it to somebody else”. If the children are able to answer my questions, I know they understand the subject, and I’ve done my job correctly.
While we were studying the solar eclipse, we learned that the eclipse is viewable from West to East across the United States, not East to West. We were all surprised by this. We all thought that those on the East coast would be the first to see the eclipse.
We couldn’t seem to grasp how this worked, so we decided to make a human model. Jim represented the sun. He stood in the center of the room with a flashlight. Greyden represented the earth and walked around the sun, while spinning. The children had to make sure that Greyden was walking in the correct direction (clockwise vs counterclockwise – thanks google).
Then they had to figure out how Jade (the moon) should circle Greyden – again did she go clockwise or counter clockwise? Once we had this figured out, we were able to show how the eclipse first appeared in the west and moved to the east.
It took us quite a while to get it right because it was very counter-intuitive to us. But after awhile, we were all on board.
Did I plan this science lesson in advance? Nope.
Did I have to spend any money on curriculum? Nope.
Did I have to force my children to pay attention? Nope.
Did I have to know anything? Nope.
This learning happened as a natural consequence of living. As a homeschooling Mom, I didn’t have to know all about solar eclipses. I simply had to encourage my children’s (and my own) natural curiosity.
The eclipse discussions all happened during and after dinner over a few nights. The only money we spent was purchasing the glasses. The children are all excited to view the eclipse and are praying for no clouds. It’s renewed their interest in astronomy, which they have always loved studying (especially when we got this glow in the dark constellations book*!)
So if you’ve ever thought about homeschooling but felt that you don’t know enough to be a good homeschooling parent, I’m hoping that I’ve helped put a tiny piece of your fears to rest. If you’re willing to learn alongside your children and to enable their learning, you’re very qualified to be a great homeschooling parent!
If you want to learn more about homeschooling, I did a podcast series on it, and you can always search the blog for our other homeschooling posts. If you have a specific question, just leave a comment, and I’ll either answer it in the comments or write a blog post about it!
If you’re a homeschooling parent, how do your children learn without your direct teaching?
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