To be a good homeschooler, you've got to hone the skill of teaching. As parents, we're always teaching our children but when it comes to academics, there are some guidelines that will help you become a more effective teacher.
Good Teachers are lovers of knowledge, and they become lifelong learners. Our children will model us, so if we love learning, they'll continue to love it too (they naturally do, but it can be lost). If they see us reading, they'll read. If they see us reading biographies, they'll read biographies. If they see us watching television, they'll want to watch television.
Even if we're someone who doesn't like to read, we can change this. I've known people who went from not reading to becoming an avid reader and lover of classic books.
Start with an easy book. Start by reading the classics to your children. Read to them often. Then move on to books that pique your interest and are easy to read like Jane Austen or Tolstoy. You can even start with short stories by classic authors. There are plenty.
Inspire Your Children
Good teachers inspire us. Teach your children things that interest you, and you'll awaken their interests. If you're an artist, a historian or math whiz, a gourmet cook, an athlete; whatever it is you do well, share this love with your children. Your passion will infect them and inspire them to learn more. It'll also give you common interests that you can continue to do with your children when they're grown.
Good teachers are good listeners. Listen to your children. Eavesdrop on their conversations with one another. Pick up on their interests, their talents, their inclinations and steer them towards those things. Pay attention to the questions they ask you, and find common threads to subjects they might enjoy learning about.
I remember my son asking me when he was really young what would happen if you cut someone's head off! That's a perfect entry into how the body works.
Good teachers have high expectations for their students. Facilitate your children's learning by expecting them to work hard. Challenge them but be careful not to overwhelm them into thinking they can't do something. You want to find the sweet spot between too easy and too challenging. Pull back when you need to and give them plenty of room to figure things out for themselves by trial and error.
Don't grow anxious when they don't get things right or puff them up with conceit like Aesop's frog when they don't get things wrong.
Learning requires mental work; your job is to facilitate it. To inspire your children to want to learn. To make learning interesting for them.
Good teachers have confidence in our ability to learn, or they wouldn't teach us. Believe in your children's ability to learn; they will learn at their own pace and whatever that pace is is exactly what it should be. Don't read markers by education bureaucrats telling you where your child should be! These are averages and no child is an average.
Patience. Patience. Patience.
Good teachers are patient. Patience is the most difficult thing for all of us. Don't be too easy on your kids—you want to have high expectations of them, but don't get frustrated with them either. If they're working hard, they're doing the best they can. If not, you may have a discipline issue and not a learning issue. You have to know which is which so you can tackle them appropriately.
Having patience when your children are learning is essential to building a good homeschooling relationship with them.
A good teacher commands respect; your children need to respect you too. If they're unruly and disobedient, you'll struggle to homeschool them. If you can't get them to pick up after themselves and do household chores, how will you persuade them to do a math or a grammar lesson?
You won't. You'll plead and beg with them until you're blue in the face, but if they rule the coop, good luck. They'll get to it when they feel like it.
If you find yourself negotiating with your children; they're in charge. If you find yourself restructuring your day around their desires; they're in charge.
You have to be the parent, establish your authority in the home and make it clear to your children, at all times, who's boss. You!
When I think back on the not just good but the great teachers I had, they shared these common traits. They were patient, they were seekers of knowledge and truth, they loved the subject they taught, they knew how to purge any confusion I had, and what they taught me was always within my grasp. But most importantly, I had respect for them, and because I had respect for them, I wanted to work hard and do well in their classes, and I became interested in what they were interested in.
You must have had some good teachers too. Look back on your experience with them and remember what it was about your teachers that you resonated with. Then try to model that behavior with your own children.
As parents to our children, we already have an advantage because more than anyone else, we want to see our children do well. We may need to tweak our teaching style when we first begin homeschooling, but we are naturally positioned to be the best teacher for our children.
Don't fret if you feel unprepared to teach your children. Don't worry that you may not have what it takes. You are capable of it.
The reality is that 90% of us went through the public school system and will need to do remedial work to teach a subject like grammar, and a subject like Latin may be entirely new to us. And this is perfectly okay.
You see, the trick as you homeschool is to stay one step ahead of your children. You will learn as you go along and by the end of your child's homeschooling years, not only they will be well-educated, but you will be better educated too.
That's the beauty and glory of homeschooling.
If you enjoyed this, you might like my free download Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.
If you need help with homeschooling, you can schedule a one-hour consultation with me (that's usually all you'll need) http://bit.ly/2GJAZEr