I think that one of the most important factors in determining the feasibility of homeschooling is understanding the critical role that parents must play. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I do not have children of my own so I do not know the struggles of parenthood, nor am I trying to judge anyone in any way. The purpose of this series is to help you to make an honest assessment of your situation as it pertains to being a good candidate for homeschooling. If you haven't already, you can read the first article of this series here: https://www.tgarcia.education/post/home-schooling-is-it-for-you-introduction
Now that that’s out of the way... Time for the good stuff!
Regular school takes a lot of the burden off of parents for not only educating, but also raising children. Sometimes, this comes at a very unfair cost to teachers when parents do not pull their weight or vice versa. Do parents even know what their responsibilities are when it comes to schooling? That’s actually a good place to start. I feel that over time the parent-teacher relationship has become very strained. But like all relationships, this one needs to be nurtured and both parties need to communicate needs and expectations of each other. Somewhere along the lines, teachers may have gotten exhausted from asking parents for help and becoming so disappointed when we receive none, that we stopped asking altogether. By the same token, parents may be under so much stress trying to provide all that they think their children need that they feel like teachers aren’t doing enough. So many other factors and considerations have put much pressure on the parent-teacher relationship that it has become toxic. Before I continue, please remember that we are on the same team, we want the same thing. Let the healing begin.
In this post I am not going to discuss the role of teachers, not because it is less important but because as teachers, we are constantly reminded of our roles by our colleagues and we all know what we signed up for (hopefully)…. I mean it was literally in the job description. Anyway, it takes a real joint effort from parents and teachers to ensure students’ holistic development. Here are some practical roles that I want to remind parents of:
When students are assigned homework, it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure that the work is done. Now, this doesn’t mean that parents need to sit down with their child and do the work. Though it is a good practice, let’s be real, that can be impractical and virtually impossible for some parents. However, the bare minimum of simply ensuring that your child does his/her homework is certainly required. The importance of doing homework is not us teachers sending “work home for parents to do” contrary to popular belief. Homework is assigned for revision of concepts as well as it allows teachers to assess student understanding.
Parents should try to communicate as openly, respectfully and reasonably as they can with educators. Nobody is saying that you have to be best friends with your child’s teacher. But realistically speaking, especially at the primary school level, your child’s teacher may actually spend more time with him/her than you do. This means that you could probably learn so much from open, honest communication with his/her teacher. Teachers can also give valuable insight into your child’s social interaction with his/her peers. I think that this is also a good place to mention that children can sometimes exaggerate the truth or in the worst cases, outright lie about situations that take place in school. It helps to have an adult conversation to really find out what is going on.
Parents need to pay attention to all the other needs of their children including but not limited to social, emotional and psychological. Once these needs are compromised, then one of the first places we see a direct result is in a student’s academic performance. We should all be striving to develop our children in a holistic way. Parents ought to be proactive and intuitive when it comes to reading their children and understanding their unique needs. It is your responsibility to monitor your children’s relationships with peers and even other adults. Among the most influential elements on a child’s behaviour and personality is socialisation. Children follow and fashion their thinking based on what they see as culturally and socially accepted. And now, we have the added pressure of social media. Believe it or not, these things all contribute to a student's academic performance. This point is so extensive that I will certainly need to discuss it in the subsequent article of this series.
Now that we briefly discussed three parental responsibilities as it pertains to schooling. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that when you’re considering homeschooling, a heavier emphasis is placed on you to do much of what you would have received help from teachers. In the event that you are teaching your child without the help of an educator, you now have to assume both roles; both of which are full time jobs. I know that this blog may seem as a deterrent from homeschooling. It really is not. But we need to understand the importance of educating a child in their formative years. Homeschooling is undoubtedly a terrific experience once carefully assessed based on a child AND parents' unique circumstances. As much as learning ought to be student-centered, it is the teachers and parents who create the environment and set the climate for it to occur safely and effectively.