It’s been five years since my husband and I took those first wobbly steps to homeschooling our kids. But with one child done with preschool (our initial finish line), doubts are beginning to creep in. Can I really teach my kids, especially when we’re already moving to grade school territory?
Whether you are a homeschooling mom or a tutoring mom, you have undoubtedly questioned your ability to actually teach your child. This is because somehow, we all think that teaching is just the province of teachers.
Intriguingly, my desire to educate my kids myself was validated by the Early Childhood Education crash course that Sanne and I just finished at the University of the Philippines (U.P.).
In all of the sessions of the course and in interactions with our fellow participants (mostly teachers and school administrators), I was consistently struck by the thought that teachers are like parents too who want the best for the kids under their care.
And I came away feeling that I really am qualified to teach my kids. Here are six reasons why:
1. Everyone starts inexperienced in teaching and handling kids.
Teachers don’t start out as highly skilled right out of college, and nor do parents when the babies start coming. We gain confidence through daily dealings with our little ones. It is only through actual experience of teaching and managing kids that we learn the best teaching and management strategies.
2. Research is key to teaching.
Nobody knows everything. We all learn what we need to learn when we need it. This mindset is important to remember, as we need to dedicate time to research topics and activities like what teachers do.
Teachers also design their own curriculum (in progressive schools) and craft their lesson plans according to the needs of the children.
3. Getting to know the children that you teach makes you effective.
Teachers make the effort to get to know the kids that they teach in order to reach out to them, but they do admit that the student-teacher ratio makes it a bit hard to do. In progressive schools, teachers assess their students through observation.
As parents, we definitely have the benefit of getting to know our children and assessing their needs really well. We need to take advantage of the time that we have together and use our knowledge of them to provide them the best educational support (through homeschooling or providing tutorial) that we can give them.
4. The real world gives context to learning.
I was taken aback by the progressive U.P. professors’ emphasis on the real world, mentioning throughout that children need to experience what it’s like outside the walls of the classroom. This is also why the U.P. Child Development Center has vertical classes composed of kids of different ages. Guess where this happens naturally?
5. Some administrators do not necessarily hire just those with an education degree.
One of the most touching experiences that I’ve had in the crash course was our school visit to Integrated Center for the Young (I.C.Y.), my niece’s former school.
Teacher Mel (I didn’t get her surname!), a developmental psychologist and one of the two school owners, got everyone teary-eyed with her impassioned speech about the work that they do for their students – those with special needs and those who are typically developing.
Her statement that she would choose an applicant without an education degree but with a passion and love for children over someone who has the requisite skills really hit home for me. As one of the U.P. professors said, skills can be acquired if you have the right attitude. Which brings me to the next point.
6. We need to invest in parent education.
I went through my Kindermusik educator’s training over five years ago thinking that I was doing it for my child (I only had one then) first, because the training was about early childhood development. The possibility of a new career just came second; being able to actually teach classes was just an icing to the cake.
I’ve embraced early childhood education as my vocational passion. This is why I invest in my continuing education. Sanne and I got training for positive discipline last year and the early childhood crash course this year in order to broaden our knowledge, as well as to provide better service to other parents through The Learning Basket.
Like teachers who are tasked to attend trainings and seminars by the Department of Education, I believe it is also imperative for us as parents to keep learning and sharing ideas and experiences with each other to become better, or at least more informed parents.
I was touched by what one of my co-participants said in one of our conversations. Teacher Ana Linsangan, a preschool teacher turned school administrator at Gingerbread House of Learning, said that being parents actually makes us qualified to be teachers because of our love for our children and our close interaction with them. In fact, for her, her education degree really fell into place once she had her own child.
It may be daunting for us parents who choose to home educate our children or provide tutoring or after school enrichment because we may feel that we are not qualified to teach our kids.
While the fears and doubts are real, I believe that I am qualified to teach my kids. As long as I embark on my own learning journey and commit to getting to know each of my children-students, then I’m on my way.