This post in inspired by some friends of mine, but definitely not aimed at them or a rant about them. I just want to make that clear! I think this is something that most people think, but not many actually say out loud. I just wanted to further expand my thoughts on the subject.
I've been homeschooling for 3 years now and I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people say they could never do it, or they are terrified of homeschooling. It's a reasonable fear! Our society teaches us that being a teacher is a hard job, that only the best can do it, and you have to go to school for years to become certified. Don't get me wrong, I know that teachers work hard and it isn't easy. But comparing a public school teacher to a homeschool mom is a little lopsided!
First of all, when you home-school you are teaching your own children. This is what you were created to do. You teach your children all kinds of things. You taught them how to walk, how to clap their hands, how to eat with a fork, how to use the toilet, how to pick up their clothes from the floor (although most children are still perfecting that art). You didn't have a chalkboard with a syllabus and a half hour a day teaching your one year old how to walk. You just looked for times when he was interested, and you encouraged him to keep trying. Home-schooling is basically the same way. Finding moments in the day when you can get your child's attention trained on some school facts. You do this at meal times when you teach them how to chew with their mouths closed. You didn't have to get a certificate to be qualified to teach them how to make their bed. You used your own life experience.
When you home-school you do not have to make up your own curricula, lesson plans, and research topics to teach your children. You can buy complete curriculum sets that literally tell you what to say, what to read, what to have your child do, and what you will need for the next day. You can be as involved or uninvolved in planning the school as you want. We use a rather involved curriculum and I don't have any prep work besides making sure they have basic school supplies. Any questions they have are addressed in the Teacher's Manuals. And by the way, "real" school teachers have those manuals as well. Most teachers do not make up their own school work to teach.
The biggest struggle for most home-school moms is not WHAT to teach, or HOW to teach it, but WHEN to teach it. When you're home and you see dishes in the sink, projects that need done, a nice day outside, or family that needs help, it's very hard to make yourself sit down and do school. And frankly, sometimes you just want to mess around on the computer or read a book. The beauty of home-school is that you can do that sometimes, but it really can be a struggle to actually get school work done. Some do better with a classroom setting, some like their kids in a central part of the house so they can do housework around them, some like to use library rooms for the majority of the work, and some incorporate the outside and different activities into school. And you know what? All of those things work! Because it's home-school, it's not public school. You don't have to sit at a desk from 8:30-3pm working on work. You can do a few hours in the morning, and some in the afternoon. You can take Mondays off. You can work in the evenings.
Home-schooling is a little frightening. It's different, there's a lot to sort through to find what works for you, and there are a lot of opinions on the subject. But the fear of not knowing enough, or not being able to teach your kids the right things should not be a fear. I read somewhere that 80% of 4th graders polled in the public schools could not recognize Abraham Lincoln. I've read that as many as 15% of High School graduates (not just Public School, but all types of schools) cannot read past a 2nd grade level. I'm not trying to speak bad about other types of schooling because every family has to decide what is right for their children. But what I am trying to say is that you can't do much worse than that! Especially if you have the help of a curricula that will help you teach your children what they need to know.
Don't be afraid, you won't be alone.