3 Practical Ways to Become a Better Homeschooling Teacher

Mother and Daughter Working and Studying
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As a homeschooling parent, it's common to wonder if you're doing enough and teaching the right things. You may question if you're qualified to teach your children and look for ways become a more effective instructor. 

Two important steps to becoming a successful homeschooling parent are, first, not comparing your kids to their peers and, second, not allowing worry to derail your homeschooling. However, there are also some simple, practical steps you can take to improve your overall effectiveness as a homeschool teacher.

Read Books

Business and personal development and training expert Brian Tracy has said that if you read a book a week on the topic of your chosen field, you’ll be an expert within seven years. 

As a homeschooling parent, you probably won't have time to get through a book a week in your personal reading, but make it a goal to read at least one homeschooling, parenting, or child development book each month.

New homeschooling parents should read books on a variety of homeschooling styles, even those that don't seem as though they would be appealing to your family.

Most homeschooling parents are surprised to find that even though a particular homeschooling method doesn't fit their educational philosophy as a whole, there are almost always bits of wisdom and helpful tips they can apply.

The key is to look for those key takeaway ideas and discard – without guilt – the author's suggestions that don't appeal to you.

For example, you may love most of Charlotte Mason's philosophies, but short lessons don't work for your family. You find that changing gears every 15 – 20 minutes gets your kids completely off-track. Take the Charlotte Mason ideas that work, and skip the short lessons.

Do you envy road-schoolers? Read the book Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith. Even if your family isn't on the go more than one or two days each week, you can still pick up useful tips for making the most of your time in the car, such as using audio books and CDs. 

Try one of these must-read books for homeschooling parents:

  • "A Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison
  • "Homeschooling the Early Years" by Linda Dobson
  • "The Relaxed Home School" by Mary Hood
  • "The Unschooling Handbook" by Mary Griffith
  • "The Well-Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer

In addition to books about homeschooling, read child development and parenting books. After all, schooling is only one small aspect of homeschooling and is not be the part that defines your family as a whole.

Child development books will help you understand the common milestones for children's mental, emotional, and academic stages. You'll be better equipped to set reasonable goals and expectations for your child's behavior and social and academic skills.

Author Ruth Beechick is an excellent source of information on child development for homeschooling parents.

Take Professional Development Courses

In nearly every industry, there are opportunities for professional development. Why should homeschooling be any different? It’s wise to take advantage of available opportunities to learn new skills and tried-and-true tricks of your trade.

If your local homeschool support group invites special speakers for meetings and workshops, make time to attend. Other sources of professional development for homeschooling parents include:

Homeschool conventions. Most homeschool conventions feature workshops and expert speakers in addition to curriculum sales. These speakers are usually curriculum publishers, homeschooling parents, and speakers, and leaders in their respective fields. These qualifications make them an excellent source of information and inspiration.

Continuing education classes. Local community colleges are an ideal resource for professional development. Investigate their on-campus and online continuing education courses.

Perhaps a college algebra course would help you brush up on your math skills to help you more effectively teach your teen. A child development course can help parents of young children gain a better understanding of which topics and tasks are developmentally appropriate for their children.

Maybe the courses you choose to take have no direct correlation to what you’re teaching in your homeschool. Instead, they serve to make you a more educated, well-rounded individual and offer you the opportunity to model for your children the concept the learning never stops. It’s meaningful for kids to see their parents valuing education in their own lives and following their dreams.

Homeschool curriculum. Many curriculum options feature material to instruct parents on the mechanics of teaching the subject. Some examples are WriteShopInstitute for Excellence in Writing and Brave Writer. In both, the teacher’s manual is instrumental in teaching the curriculum.

If the curriculum you're using features side notes, an introduction, or an appendix for parents, take advantage of these opportunities to increase your understanding of the subject matter.

Other homeschooling parents. Spend time with other homeschooling parents. Get together with a group of moms for a monthly mom's night out. While these events are often perceived as simply a social outlet for homeschooling parents, talk inevitably turns to educational concerns. 

Other parents can be a wonderful source of resources and ideas you hadn't considered. Think of these gatherings as networking with a mastermind group.

You might also consider combining a homeschool parent meeting with reading about your field (homeschooling and parenting). Start a monthly homeschool parents' book club for the purpose of reading and discussing books on homeschooling methods and trends, child development, and parenting strategies. 

Educate Yourself on Your Student’s Needs

Many homeschool parents feel ill-equipped to home educate their child with learning differences such as dysgraphia or dyslexia. Parents of gifted students may think that they can't offer their children adequate academic challenges.

These feelings of inadequacy may extend to parents of children with autism, sensory processing issues, ADD, ADHD, or those with physical or emotional challenges.

However, a well-informed parent is often better equipped to meet a child’s needs through one-on-one interaction and a customized education plan than a teacher in a crowded classroom setting.

Marianne Sunderland, a homeschooling mom of seven dyslexic children (and one child who does not have dyslexia), has taken courses, read books, and researched, educating herself about dyslexia to more effectively teach her own children. She says,
 

“Homeschooling not only works, it is the best option for educating kids who don’t learn by traditional methods.”

This concept of educating yourself goes back to the suggestion to read books on topics related to your chosen field. Consider your child and his unique learning needs to be your chosen field.  You may not have seven years available before your student graduates to become an expert in a particular area, but through research, learning about his needs, and working one-on-one with him daily, you can become an expert on your child.

You don't have to have a special needs child to take advantage of self-education. If you have a visual learner, research the best methods for teaching her. 

If you have a child with a passion for a topic about which you know nothing, take time to learn about it. This self-education will help you help your child capitalize on his interest in the subject.