"I'm a terrible writer. I don't know where to begin to teach my child to write well," a young mother with two babies on her lap admitted to me over lunch.
"I don't know a thing about good art or good music. How on earth can I teach my children to appreciate fine art and fine music?" a mom who was considering homeschooling asked me as we discussed the possibilities for taking her children out of public school.
The biggest problem we face as homeschooling moms is not our ability to teach our children, but our confidence level in our ability to teach our children. We all have areas where we feel inadequate simply because no one can know all there is to know. In educating our children, we lay a foundation of knowledge in several areas and give them the tools of learning so that they can learn anything they need to learn.
So, know for the question, "How do I teach IT if I don't understand IT myself? That is a great question. Almost all homeschooling parents will encounter this dilemma. It might be that you've learned it, but forgotten it. Or it could be a gap in your education. Either way, there is an easy solution!
The solution to teaching something, that you don't know or don't understand yourself, is to delegate it to someone else or to learn about the subject quickly. I seldom delegate for this reason because I love to learn and I look at this situation as an opportunity to learn more! (I usually delegate because I just don't enjoy teaching something...like science experiments! smile).
There are also classes on-line, on computers, and with DVD curriculum. We used Latina Christiana for Latin a few years ago (I DON'T speak, read, or write Latin!) and it was wonderful. The lovely lady on the DVD pronounced the words and explained everything wonderfully. I learned right along with the children.
Learning the Subject Quickly
Now, I will share one of my homeschooling secrets. I go to the library when I need to learn about a subject and check out tons of children's books on the topic. Yes, children's books. I find them to be more interesting, easier to understand, and they have beautiful pictures! If I read three to five children's books, I usually understand the subject and can teach it. Ah, a very simple solution.
Another way to learn a subject you are unfamiliar with is to do a unit study. This is where you learn WITH your child beginning with a trip to the library where you locate children's books on the topic of interest. You read the books WITH your child and the hands-on activities of a unit study will help your child and YOU remember what you learn!
DVDs are another great way to learn a subject quickly. Math-U-See's Steve Demas is a great instructor. If you need to brush up on math, consider getting some of his DVDs and watch them to review all the algebra you've forgotten since high school. Documentaries are available at Blockbuster and can be another quick way to learn about or review a subject. There are a plethora of history, geography, and science DVDs available. Be careful about evolution when you use secular movies. Words that should set off warning bells are..."millions of year" or "pre-historic man." Adam was the first man created about six thousand years ago. The events in the Garden of Eden are recorded--historic, not pre-historic.
Skills that you can Build Slowly
If you want to be an excellent writer so that you can help your children become excellent writers or you want to understand the nuances of literature to help your child have greater insight, then these skills need to be acquired over time. The best way to become a skilled writer is to read excellent classic literature. Yes, read to learn to write. Just as a great artist begins with copying the work of the great masters, so a skilled writer begins with reading. You might even copy by hand well-written paragraphs from the books you are reading. Reading excellent writing doesn't just help you to teach writing, it can help you teach every subject.
My friend, Laura, had children who were approaching high school age when she realized that she had not read the classic books her children were getting to read. When she bemoaned to me, I encouraged her to read them too. She began reading works by Jane Austin, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. She loved them. Immediately, there was a change in her teaching in EVERY subject. I don't know the full reason. I just know that literature has a way of strengthening our mind and it's fun! Learning becomes more of a delight. When learning is a delight for mom, the children will think learning is an enjoyable pastime too.
So, if you feel inadequate, begin by reading the classics. Just watch your verbal and writing skills improve too. Here are some books to consider reading:
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
- Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Harthorne
- Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Father Brown Mysteries by GK Chesterton
- Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
- Jane Eyre by Charolotte Bronte
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe
- The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis
- Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
- Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
- The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas
Read, Memorize, and Study the Bible
If you think literature is good for you, try reading the best book ever written; the book written by God Himself! The Holy Bible is the most effective teaching tool there is! But Scripture is also great for growing in wisdom of all kinds. God's Word also inspires us to be confident. Read the Bible everyday and memorize Scripture passages as the Holy Spirit leads. Dig into the Bible as if you are digging for buried treasure. There are valuable truths waiting to be uncovered!
"Oh, how I love you law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate of your statutes." Psalm 119:97-99
We all have "enemies" that are "ever with" us. These enemies might be insecurity, financial challenges, or quirky children. God's Word will help us to be wise when we are confronted with challenges and difficulties. Scripture will give you insight, making you wise about many topics that may seem unrelated to the Bible. That's because "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare, before the eyes of HIM to whom we must give an account." Hebrews 4:12-13
If you want to become a bold, confident homeschool teacher, able to teach anything, then be a student yourself--of God's Word! Watch and see if you are not transformed by this powerful double-edged sword! This transformation will occur over time as you commit time each day to reading and studying Scripture!
Be blessed in all your ways!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)