I read a wonderful post from Holistic Homeschooler about needing a teaching degree to homeschool. When I began homeschooling, I only had an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. When my youngest was three, I decided to go back to college to earn a bachelor’s degree. I had several credits in psychology but Liberty University offered a degree in Elementary Education that was fully online. Since I was homeschooling my children, I felt that a degree in education would be the best option for me. I completed my Elementary Education degree with a minor in Psychology. I have continued my education to the doctorate level; I am currently working on my dissertation. Through my studies, I found that love research and to talk with others. I want to do qualitative research in the field of homeschooling.
Has my degree helped me homeschool my children?
Yes! At one point, I had my daughter evaluated because I thought she was struggling with math. Turns out she was tested in the gifted range. I was told to not put her in public schools in the area in which we were living at the time. Her mind works so differently that the schools would not have enough experience with gifted children like her. After talking with the schools in the area, they told me that giftedness doesn’t show up until 4th grade. (Insert ? and face palm ?♀️.) Giftedness can show up in preschoolers. I pursued a Master’s in General Education with a certificate in Gifted Education.
I have also had training in conducting evaluations and assessments. I understand how to evaluate children for gaps and discrepancies in learning along with knowing when to refer one for assistance with dyslexia or other learning disabilities. My oldest son has dyslexia. I have materials from my classes that I use to assess my children’s progress. Even though they are not going to public school in the foreseeable future (or ever), I do not know what the future holds (James 4:13-15). I live with the reality that my husband’s job is high risk. If something should ever happen to him, my children MAY have to attend public school…as a last resort. I ensure that they are within the respectable age/grades of their peers in Mathematics and Language Arts.
I also understand different learning styles and methods of instructions. The biggest take away from my education degree is the ability to read state and national standards and ensure my children are receiving the instruction for what’s needed in the state in which we live. As a military family, we move every 2-3 years. I have been in states where my children would have to “repeat” learning standards because each state is different. Common core “has helped level the playing field in most states,” but it’s not always the case. (Side note: I dislike common core standards some of the math methods are redonkulous. Don’t even get me started on the English standards).
I agree with Sarah from Holistic Homeschooler that a teaching degree is not needed. As I have explained, I have a degree in education not teaching.
What Do You Need to Homeschool?
Now with all this training and learning in the field of education, you would think I have it all figured out. Nope! I still turn to friends and homeschool groups for ideas and help. I struggle with my son’s dyslexia and dysgraphia. My daughter is showing signs of dyscalculia, which I have. Oh boy! I turn to others for help because they have a fresh set of ideas or know something that has worked for themselves or others.
I have met many moms with Ph.D.’s in a wide variety of fields who need help with homeschooling. I have met moms with only a high school diploma who need help with homeschooling. The thing all these mom have in common is that they seek out communities and groups, online and locally, to help them with their homeschooling field. Guess what? Teachers in the school systems, public and private, also do this. God created us to be in community with others. Whether we are teachers in a school system or at home, we need others. Even introverts have a few close friends.
I will not use the phrase “it takes a village.” I don’t like that phrase because every village has the token “village idiot” and I don’t want it raising or influencing my child. I surround my children with a community.
What Creates Community?
A homeschool community is a group who has similar values and ideals. This is not to say that you agree on everything, but that the overall structure, purpose, or philosophical beliefs of everyone is the same. We use Classical Conversations as our primary curriculum and group. I use a mixed approach to homeschooling. I mix classical education with unschooling and hands-on learning. In our group, we have Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, , of course, my crazy Pentecostal self, and many others! What we have in common is our faith in Jesus and our overall education philosophy. At home, we all change it up and meet goals in different ways.
Homeschool community should make you feel like you are home and among friends. Yes, there are times in which you will have bad experiences and will not find your community. I’ve been there. It can be hard to find “your tribe” among homeschool groups. I had to pray for months before we found Classical Conversations and the right group. I can tell you that these moms are more of my tribe than my own church! When my daughter is having physical troubles (she has joint issues but we don’t have a diagnosis yet), it is the moms from my homeschool group who are calling to check on us not members from our church. This group is my tribe! They are an extension of my homeschooling and very close with my children. These moms and families are my community.