The other day I had a comment on a blog post about “what about those subjects you are not qualified to teach like biology or chemistry?” The whole comment was rather rude and it was made on a post that talked about *planning* high school courses, not about teaching. But I’ve been thinking about that comment. I’ve been pondering what it means to teach and what it means to be “qualified” to teach.
I think the statement “not qualified to teach” stems from a lack of understanding of how homeschooling works. I think it also presumes that the person standing in front of a classroom is a subject matter expert. I do not have to be a subject matter expert to read a text or require my student to read a text and to facilitate discussions, or administer tests. According the laws of my state, I am qualified to teach my children at home. I am also by law qualified to teach in a private school. Yes, that’s right. I do not have a teaching certificate but that is not required by law to teach at home or in a private school. My state also offers a “parent qualifying course” for those who do not have minimum required hours of college. I did not have to take the qualifying course. Education is very important to me and I take the education of my children very seriously.
But what exactly does teaching look like in the home school? What does it look like at the high school level? As parents we teach our children. We start teaching them from birth and we teach them all kinds of things, like how to talk, how to respond to people, how to get dressed, etc. We teach them to love and we teach them to hate. But for some reason we get this hang up that if it is something academic we can’t teach them. No. We can. It just doesn’t look the same.
I admit it. I was afraid of teaching my children how to read. I was afraid I would mess it up. How could I teach something so complicated as reading??!!! How did I do it? By researching programs, learning my child’s learning style and finding a program that worked for both of us. Yes my oldest was a guinea pig and we struggled but she is an awesome lover of books and reads authors like Dickens and Austen for pleasure. Success!
But here’s the secret to teaching any subject at any grade level: if you are not the subject matter expert, find a curriculum, program, or resource that provides the information the student needs to learn and be willing, if necessary, to learn right alongside her.
My oldest has taken courses such as Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry in high school. She did very well with those courses. I did not teach them. Yes, it was home school. Yes, she took those courses at home. I taught other subjects like cooking, and I facilitated other courses such as writing, literature study, and logic.
In a future blog post (Homeschooling High School Blog Hop for August!) I’ll address some of the specific programs I have used for high school for subjects like biology and chemistry.