By January, the anticipation of a new school year has become a distant memory and the remaining months of homeschooling loom either as mountains of drudgery or peaks of delight. While using a relevant curriculum is paramount, I suspect that there is another key element at play here, one that most homeschooling parents would do well to consider.
Whatever your reason for undertaking a task of this great magnitude, the relevant question to consider is how you see your decision to homeschool altering with time? In your wildest dreams, do you think that in years to come, government schools will adopt a curriculum that teaches core subjects without promoting hedonistic lifestyles? Do you think it will be as acceptable to have a nine-year-old who does not read as it will be to have an eighteen-month-old who does? Or do you think that private school tuition costs will actually drop? If you share our view that public education is on a downward spiral, then one of your obligations as homeschooling parents is to ensure that your children will know how to teach their children.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to surround your children with teaching opportunities. Because it is easy for children to confuse teaching with bossiness, initially it is helpful to formalize the course of action. Just like you, your teaching children need to see that what they are teaching has value; they need to know that there is a need to know. And your children need a method of accountability, which is best realized by measurable goals. Whether it is teaching the new puppy to come when called or teaching a younger sibling multiplication, be alert to both natural and created opportunities that demand more instructive effort on the part of your children. As your children’s teaching abilities increase, they will discover that teaching others can be a natural part of daily life.
So why not make 2010 the year of learning to teach? Set some concrete goals and enjoy the exciting adventure of raising young teachers!
Dan, Deb, Joy, Hope, Grace, Abel, and Pearl
P.S. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. How are you cultivating your children's teaching abilities?