When we first started homeschooling my kids were young; my oldest was in 3rd grade. Because I was in Florida where homeschooling is very popular, no one batted an eye when I told them I was going to start homeschooling. No one even questioned my ability to teach my 3rd grader and 1st grader.They were more concerned that they would get “social time”. Somewhere along the line that started to change. It becomes less about “socialization” and more about “How are you going to teach your kid Algebra and Chemistry?” Support groups seem to be the answer for the first question and co-ops and outside classes seem to be the answer for the second. Just like there are so many social opportunities for homeschoolers, there also seems to be an abundance of classes that we can take.
Classes are popping up all over the place for homeschoolers to meet online and have class. Even the website that used to be all about electronic curriculum is offering several classes. They aren’t cheap either. From Algebra to German to Lego Club, you can find a class. Right now for $60 you can have your 8-13 year old take a class about the Oregon Trail. Is that really necessary?
Recently, I read an article in a magazine about teaching Latin and Greek to your children. It was a great article that made a lot of very good points. If I wasn’t already studying Latin with my kids, I would have been able to see the merits of learning it. As I read, I started getting a little irritated. I reached the point in the article where the author told me that I wouldn’t be able to do teach the kids myself. According to her, I would have to enlist the aid of a teacher, and isn’t it great that she knows just where to find the perfect one for a large sum of money. It frustrated me because I know that my kids are learning Latin, and for the most part, they are teaching themselves.
Before you start gasping, let me tell you that my kids teach a lot of their school work to themselves. I admit that my kids are bright, but they aren’t geniuses or even “gifted”. For the most part, they read the lesson and do the problems. My oldest is about to finish the Saxon Algebra II book, self-taught, and doing well. Every now and then I have to sit with him and let him talk out a problem with me, but usually he can see his mistake before I have even had time to figure out what kind of problem it is. It is the same with my daughter. (And just to throw a little brag in here, she scored 100 % today on her Algebra. I guess backing up wasn’t so bad after all.)
When did we homeschoolers fall for the line that we can’t teach for the “hard” stuff? When did we start believing that we need to be experts in every subject that we want our kids to learn? Are we being told this because there is money to be made if we believe it? I thought we were homeschooling because we believe that we are our children’s best teachers. At least that is one of the mantras out there, isn’t it? (Now, before I have moms getting upset with me, if your child is ready for college level material and it is available to you, by all means put them in college. I am talking about elementary, jr. high, and high school level courses.)
So, do you believe that we can teach ourselves? Abraham Lincoln did it. The inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison, did it too. In fact, I found this lovely little website, Autodidactic Profiles, that gives us a huge list of famous self-taught people. I love this quote from the same website.
But only in the latter half of the twentieth-century has the insidious notion that one must have the blessing of an institution to function in society been generally accepted without protest.
So, yes, I believe that we can teach ourselves and teach ourselves well. It may require more work than we want to put in, but I believe that the rewards can be far greater.