Teaching is a noble profession, but you don’t have to do it for a living to be a “real” teacher.
I’ve been homeschooling for about 10 years now. It wasn’t my original intention. The school district my family lived in lost its accreditation, and we didn’t have money for private school.
I figured it wouldn’t be difficult to teach ABCs, 123s, colors, and shapes, and we would see how it went. My children learned so fast that I take my role as a teacher very seriously.
Preparation and Organization Are Key Elements
Homeschooling mothers create lesson plans, set up field trips, and spend countless hours preparing. Setting the calendar and spreading everything out over the course of the year is not easy. It takes dedication and structured planning.
Every year, I take about a week before the new school year to map everything out. It’s boring office work. There are worksheets to stack, new websites to test out, books to add to the reading list, and field trips to contemplate. I count out the number of days I will teach and spread out all the material based on the timing and necessity.
School teachers have similar duties. They’re usually called into their classrooms to prepare a few weeks before the start date. But unlike homeschoolers, they don’t have complete control over curriculum materials.
I have to get creative to make sure my children understand the importance of their education.
That added responsibility is a gift and a curse. It’s intimidating but more customized to the student’s individual needs. My children are always more engaged when I plan personalized material. For example, my youngest daughter loves toads. She is also a true believer in the Loch Ness Monster. She has no interest in books about school children. When she first started learning to read it was a real struggle. Then I started finding every book on toads I could find, and it made the process easier and more enjoyable. Her love of Nessie and other mystical creatures is also helpful for encouraging her to write now that she’s older.
As her teacher, it’s my job to keep her engaged. I have to get creative to make sure my children understand the importance of their education and work hard at it.
Homeschooling Is a Self-Funded Endeavor
The right supplies also matter. Every resource that homeschooling parents utilize is paid out-of-pocket. Despite the fact that our property taxes are used to fund public schools, there are no tax deductions for homeschoolers. So we pay for other people’s children to go to school and pay for the education of our own children.
Every resource that homeschooling parents utilize is paid out-of-pocket.
Public schools spend an average of $13,187 on each student during the fiscal year. How that money is spent depends on the Department of Education, the school district, and so on. The cost of homeschooling varies among families, but I usually budget $500 for workbooks and classroom materials, $100 for online resources, and $300-$400 for field trips.
The difference in costs doesn’t equal a lack of education though. Because homeschooling fosters a love of learning, we often work ahead and have to add more material to meet the standard state requirements for class time. It’s for this reason that both of my older children are two years ahead of the age-based grades they would be put in if they went to public school, and if my 3-year-old preschooler wants to bump up to kindergarten next year he will be as well.
Making Learning Fun While Commanding Respect Is Work
Not every subject is an easy task. Math is difficult even for kids who enjoy it, so finding new ways to make it fun is a daily task. And as much as we want learning to be enjoyable, we don’t want to encourage goofing off. That usually distracts.
Finding a balance requires respect. I’m a firm believer that respect is a two-way street. I respect my children as students when we’re in our basement classroom and often remind them, “I am not just your mother right now, I am your teacher.”
That statement alone helps them to sit down at their desks and prepare to listen. Discipline is necessary for all lessons. I like to offer some freedoms though. If someone needs to go to the bathroom, wants a snack, or just needs to stand up and jump up and down for a minute to get out their energy, I’m happy to encourage it.
Discipline is necessary for all lessons, but if someone needs a bathroom or snack break, we can do it.
My eldest is a bookworm, but she does her best thinking when we take walks. When she was younger, we would count sticks or bring a basket to collect acorns and line them up and count them afterward. This led to marching while we did times tables, because multiplication is really just counting in groups and division is counting them backwards. Now our walks are full of conversations about politics and philosophy.
Throughout it all, there have always been those special moments when I see just how much my children have learned. Homeschooling mothers witness the “light bulb” moments and strive to create them as much as any teacher in any setting. It’s infinitely rewarding to help a child work through a lesson and finally understand everything.
Homeschooling mothers put as much time and effort into their lessons as school teachers. They work hard to offer their children the best education possible. They may not teach for a living, but they often live to teach.
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