As A Location Independent Parent Are You Qualified to Home-Educate Your Child?
“Are the schools off today?”
I am standing at a bus stop on a school-day with my three children who are all dressed in jeans and jumpers, rather than school uniform, waiting for the bus that will come to take us to a friend’s house where our kids will be working on a joint Egyptology project.
The elderly lady, who has asked the question, is looking at me with a critical, accusatory eye as she awaits my answer, and it strikes me that I have two ways to respond; one is to claim ignorance and provide no further information, and the other is to explain that my children don’t go to school in the first place.
I opt for the latter, which inevitably gives tide to a flood of questions, one of which, perhaps also inevitably, regards my qualifications to teach. Now, I am in the fortunate position where I do have extensive qualifications, and my husband has been a teacher/lecturer for many years. This means that I can rattle off this answer to the approval of my elderly bus-stop critic. However, it doesn’t ring true, and here’s why…
Teaching Vs Facilitating Education
I don’t think of myself as a teacher at all. If I have to give myself a title it is facilitator of my children’s education. I am there to ensure that they have the resources in both practical and mental terms to continue on a path of independent learning. I am there to introduce them to a world of possibilities, to spark off their curiosity, to provide an environment that is both supportive and inspiring. I am my children’s co-learner and the qualifications that I require are love for my kids, curiosity in the world around me and an understanding of how to access information.
My friend, whose house we were heading to for the Egypt project, is the perfect example of why professional qualifications aren’t required to home-educate your children. She is a wonderful mother who loves her children deeply, has a passion for learning, who approaches education with such positivity and confidence, and who doesn’t come from a teaching background.
When I asked her about the way she responds to the question of professional qualifications, she told me that she replies by saying that she is raising her children to be independent learners. They research topics, investigate questions, explore a wide variety of projects, and in all of these adventures, they learn together.
Lighting the Fire
In the words of William Butler Yeats, ‘education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire,’ and this is the task we set ourselves as home-educators. No-one knows your children better than you do. You know what works for them and what doesn’t. You know what will ignite their imagination and what will pour water on the smouldering embers of their desire to learn. You know when your child is bored, tired, frustrated and you know when they are engaged, alert and focused.
You have, in fact, already been intimately involved in their education throughout their lives as you were the one who helped them take their first steps, formulate their first words, tie their first shoelaces. Children are constantly learning, and with home-education this natural process continues unabated, unaltered from its pre-school age beginnings.
And yes, your children will ask questions that you don’t know the answer to; I can guarantee that you will not have all the answers that will satisfy your child’s curiosity. But that’s ok. In fact, that’s more than ok, because this then supplies an opportunity to develop your child’s research skills.
You are already qualified to facilitate your child’s education. You’ve been doing it for years already!
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