I’m not a teacher, so how can I teach my children?

I’m not a teacher, so how can I teach my children?

This answer to an often asked question by newbie home educators was kindly shared with us by an anonymous member 

Home Educators often get asked how we, as parents, can be effective academic teachers of our children compared to a trained teacher. Prospective home-ed parents often worry about how they could possibly teach their child/ren effectively and provide opportunities for any career their child chooses in the future. 

The role of every parent is to facilitate their child’s learning and provide for and encourage their child’s educational journey. For most of the population, this means choosing a school for their child when they are around five years old. For others, at the start of or during the school years, it means choosing home education. Up until that point, depending on family circumstances, our children’s education may have been parent-led, involved childcare or preschool, or may have been a mix. 

Whatever style of education we each choose for our children, I imagine we all have this in common: our homes are littered with toys, games and books; and our conversations, holidays and activities, predominantly revolve around our children and family. Perhaps many parents who choose to send their child to school do not realise that they continue to support and supplement their child’s learning through their everyday, extra curricular and family activities. Perhaps this is sometimes momentarily forgotten by home educators too. 

As home educators, our role is no different. We simply remain or become the primary facilitators of our child’s education. How that looks is as diverse as every home ed family. Upon receiving our home ed registration, to satisfy legal requirements, we must ensure the eight Key Learning Areas are covered in our children’s lives. 

What this is and how it looks can be done in many ways, but the constant that remains is that we simply continue to be the facilitators of our children’s learning. 

There are three ways I feel that home educators can ‘teach’ and ‘learn’, regardless of what style or   philosphy that is followed: 

1. Parent Instruction
This is when the parent directly teaches the child in 1-1 instruction. A parent may follow a textbook or a program in a curriculum area and may or may not follow an associated Teacher guide, such as the Targeting Maths curriculum. They may follow a bought complete homeschool curriculum such as the Good and the Beautiful, Simply Homeschool or Charlotte Mason. These curriculums may be secular, faith-based or follow a particular pedagogy. 

2. Independent Child Learning
This is where a child learns without much or any parent involvement, however, the parent still facilitates the learning by providing the resources and support for learning. The parent perhaps acts more in a supervisory role ensuring accountability as per our legal obligations. A child may learn independently by way of workbooks or set activities, some set curriculum, homemade or bought activities, worksheets, short- and long-term projects or research, games, technology, online classes and practical and natural learning. 

3. Combination of Parent Instructed and Independent Child Learning
This is when a parent may directly instruct some of the learning as well independent learning. 

How do parents facilitate their child’s learning? Education can be totally child-led and interest-based as is the pedagogy underpinning the unschooling philosophy and used, usually in combination, with other home ed styles. Home ed can be parent-led where a parent chooses what their child will learn. Alternatively, it can be a combination of parent, family and child-led interests and input. Regardless, home educators generally share a common drive to create opportunities purposefully to target the child’s interests or curriculum needs and designed to supplement the natural learning that occurs. 

How is learning delivered in home education?
The delivery and choice of the learning experiences could be joint or independent decisions of child, family and/or parent. 

• It may be using publications from publishers such as RIC, Blake, School Zone, ABC. 

• It may be using a range of online programs or technologies such as Reading Eggspress, Maths Online, Muzzy, Skoolbo, Australian History Mysteries, Mathseeds, Mystery Science, Artventure, Stile, Adventure Academy, IXL, Khan Academy, Prodigy, Duolingo. 

• It may involve downloading pre-made lessons, units, resources or activity ideas from Google searches or using sites such as Twinkl, Teachers Pay Teachers, or For Teachers For Students. Organisations such as museums often have online ideas, lessons, videos to watch and do at home too, and we have access to ABC Education programs, such as BTN, as schools do. Such avenues are all wonderful to assist with ideas, printables and resources for a particular topic or interest area. 

• Facilitating home education can involve outsourcing teaching to a third party online. There are many, many opportunities for online classes, both free and paid. Some classes are fully interactive for students such as those offered on Outschool or provided by tutoring companies, but can also come from organisations such as NGV@home, Fizzics, Sydney Living Museums, National Portrait Gallery or Prime Science. 

• Other online live opportunities may be in real time without audience video/audio interaction but have interaction through live comments and questions. Some of these come through businesses and organisations such as Donna Hay and the State Library of NSW on platforms such as Zoom or via Facebook live streams such as the Zoo or Street Science, where there is a teacher at the other end and the class is at a scheduled time. 

• Home ed can be delivered through face-to-face outsourcing such as free activities from places like shopping centres, or story time and after- school clubs at the library. There may be paid classes such as attending weekly subject classes like art, sport or music which may be specific classes for home educators or after-school classes. Some families supplement their program by using tutors. 

• For some families, their delivery may include subject specific printed curriculums such as Homeschool Languages or Spelling Mastery. 

As a home educator, it feels like there are never ending opportunities for extra curricular activities with other home educators or the general public that contribute to our children’s education journey. These might be through sports such as tennis, Auskick, Little Athletics, cricket and swimming. Or through home ed events that include meet-ups, academic and social co-ops, and specific skill classes such as ninja, gymnastics, art, music, archery, swimming and forest school. 

How can I give my child excursions and incursions, sports days, productions, access to online subscriptions that their school friends get? Home educators have those too! 

There are regular excursions organised for individual home educators, local networks, or HEN. These include places such as museums, theatres, galleries, play centres or aquariums. Families go on their own excursions, and learning experiences are gained through family adventures such as camping and holidays. The education programs offered to schools can be equally accessed by home educators at most venues. The difference is these are parent organised and advertised within the home ed community. This means that due to the diverse range of interests in our home ed children, excursions for a vast array of places are initiated by parents. The challenge is deciding what not to attend as there are so many on offer! 

There is a home ed musical society who put on performances. I imagine similar events would have been held in the past for athletics carnivals. Home ed students can register for events such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge. 

Family and student camps are organised for home ed children to attend, sometimes with family, sometimes without. Examples are last year’s costumed Sovereign Hill camp and the Medieval Kryal Castle camp. 

Subscriptions to popular apps such as Reading Eggs and Mathletics are accessible to home ed families too. This can be through group ‘buy-ins’ organised by a parents and processed once the minimum number is reached, or can be organised by the company themselves offering a specific discount for home educators. HEN volunteers organise discounts with a variety of companies each year. 

The list of ways to deliver and engage in home education as a parent with your child/ren – and other home educating families – is endless! So can parents be effective academic teachers for their child? Absolutely! 

Both home ed parents and teachers facilitate children’s learning, but the difference is that with home ed, you are able to fully support what is essentially a lifelong learning journey and be flexible in how and when it is delivered. 

Otherways 172 (May 2022)

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