I'm sure you are thinking that I made a mistake in my title. You're saying to yourself, I thought home schooling was about parents teaching their children.
Over my 25 years as a home educator, I have been the primary teacher for my children/students. Having had the benefit of a good private school education myself, I have been able to handle the subjects of English grammar, mathematics, and history quite well. However, there were subjects (specifically foreign language, science, and music) that I was not as proficient in, although I had received good grades when I was in school. In those cases, I delegated my teaching responsibilities to other people, either through private lessons or co-op group settings.
With each successive child, I've improved upon my methods and streamlined the process. I have gotten rid of much of the "busy work" assignments that some text books recommend, knowing that they were often there for the teacher handling 20+ students. Since I didn't have that situation, I had the luxury of making my assignments interesting or, at least, practical. However, one-on-one with mom could and did sometimes become tedious both from the teacher and the student's perspective. In order to combat this, I "got creative" and found a variety of sources to supplement my teaching.
There are a number of publishers that cater to home schools and produce DVD's and CD- rom courses for the computer. With the current technology available, it is very possible to get an entire faculty of excellent teachers to work with your students, right from your own television set. The fact that the presentations can be viewed repeatedly, if need be, coupled with the fact that the production values are usually quite good, makes this learning environment one that surpasses many fine academic institutions. Some publishers even allow you to call and get assistance with any portion of the subject that is not understood. We have used this method for chemistry, algebra, general science, biology, world history, American history, physics, anatomy and physiology, Spanish, Shakespeare's plays, geometry, and English literature. To be sure, not all of these resources come from a self-conscious Christian perspective, but many aren't inconsistent with our faith. And, with those that spout the "religion of evolution," the pause button is liberally used for me to to clarify and/or instruct on particular points.
My children look back fondly on many of these teachers as though they had actually physically been in the same classroom with them. An interesting aside: when my youngest, (who had the benefit of watching some of these courses alongside her older sister of seven years), took these courses herself, she remembered so much in detail that she could often say what the instructor was going to say before he even said it!
For those whose budgets make it difficult to purchase all thse series for your own personal library, I recommend that families consider purchasing and sharing with other homeschoolers. Or better yet, see if you can get your church or co-op to invest in a lending library so that homeschooling families can make use of these materials. A regular monthly subscription fee could purchase a considerable amount. And, of course, you can make use of eBay and HSLDA's re-sale sites to save some dollars as you do. I think you will find this is an excellent way to broaden the scope of your home school.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].