Topic | Homeschooling Q&A: Are you qualified to teach?

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  • Doug Smith

    Here’s question number three in our series on answering common homeschool questions. There may be a few variations on this one:

    1. How can you teach your children since you’re not trained or qualified to teach?
    2. How can you possibly teach the advanced high school subjects like chemistry or trigonometry? (Or are you smart enough to teach…)
    3. Wouldn’t it be better to allow professionally trained experts to teach your special needs child?
    4. Please jump in with your answers so everyone can benefit. Thanks!


    This is one that I actually have a great answer for: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. So usually I get “well, at least you have a degree unlike those OTHER people who try to teach without one!” Which always makes me laugh because I really don’t remember much of what I was taught in the classroom in college; I learned more from the in-class time we had to do, especially student teaching. Also, I don’t think these insensitive people realize that those OTHER people are my friends. Not to mention the fact that homeschooling is so much different from classroom teaching, it’s not even funny! I always say that homeschooling brings together my two favorite things: my kids and teaching. I get to do so much more with my own kids than I ever could in the classroom!

    Faith 🙂


    I feel very strongly about this one. I try to remain calm on the outside, but my hackles raise when I hear this question.

    My response is that going to college for four years doesn’t make a person a good teacher. I believe someone is either gifted with the skills to be a teacher or not. And God made me a good teacher. Also, I have spoken with people who’ve been to college and their response was that they learned more about how to manage a classroom than anything else. And I don’t have a classroom to manage!

    As far as the higher grade sciences and maths go, I strongly believe that I am responsible for my children’s education. So if I choose to hand over that responsibility in one subject because it is above my ability, then I am responsible to God for who I choose to allow to teach my child. I will do it with prayer.

    On another note, if someone has been lead to teach their children at home, God will empower them with the right tools to do it.


    Oh, I hate that one! I have a BS in Elementary Ed, too. Taught in a classroom for 5 years. More often than not, I have found it to be a hindrance. Our first year was horrid because I was trying to hard to have school at home and follow a schedule. Heaven forbid if we didn’t get to something, we’d be doing double time the next day! DS #1 and I were miserable.

    I often answer that no one loves my children more or has as much of a vested interest in them than DH and I. I am doing it because I love them and want what i think is best for them, not just to get a paycheck. I would most definitely NOT want many of my colleagues teaching my children!


    I agree, tandc93!!! My “training” as a teacher has, at times, made my children and me miserable as I try to make us a classroom. That is why I so love the CM way of homeschooling because it is so far off from what I did in a classroom.

    Faith 🙂


    If I’m asked, “Are you qualified to teach?” or “Are you a teacher?” sometimes I answer simply, “Yes.”

    If I’m then asked something like, “Do you have a degree in teaching?” I simply say, “No.” That short answer surprises people…they are expecting me to be defensive about my qualifications. To the contrary, I’m not defensive at all, and as you all know, parents are certainly qualified (and called) to teach their children. My friendly confidence about my qualifications usually ends the questioning, and I try to steer the conversation elsewhere.

    I might also point out that as a parent, it’s my job to make sure my kids are properly educated and that I take my job very, very seriously. No one wants my children properly educated more than I do, and most people understand that once it’s pointed out to them.

    About the advanced subjects in high school, I dislike that question. What do people think I’ll say, “Well, I’m dumb as a rock and all those numbers and folumas confuse me, so I think I’ll let my kids will watch cartoons all day and drink beer.” But I try to smile and say, “I’ll hire a teacher if we need one and I’m entirely confident that my kids will be able to handle the advanced subjects when the time arrives.”

    Doug Smith

    Here’s one way I like to answer this one…

    A quality education doesn’t spoon feed the student. Instead, we want our children to learn how to learn and develop a love of learning. No one can know everything so the most successful people are self learners who know where and how to find the answers they need.

    That puts us into the position of teaching the basics and becoming a facilitator who doesn’t have to know every subject in detail.

    And when we need help there are an abundance of good resources like videos, other skilled people we know, homeschool groups, and community college classes.

    🙂 This all makes me laugh. I didn’t complete my elementary ed degree because I hated the methods. I was horrible at planning an education for multiple grades with textbooks (I went to a private college for parochial school teachers).There seemed like there had to be a better way, but how? When I had the opportunity to get married before graduation I just went and did it.

    Now when people ask me if I am qualified I just tell them that Charlotte Mason’s six volumes taught me more than 10 years of college and if they would like a dissertation on her methods I am more than willing to oblige. 🙂

    That said, no colleges that I know of really cover CM methods and many homeschool curriculum writers have “CMish” options, but are rarely truly CM (I’m thinking of TWM methods that look CM, but are really just similar in name only).

    Education is a process and homeschooling mommies are rarely, if ever, done education themselves. 🙂


    I “love” your questions. I get asked them often!

    1. I get “told” “You can’t possibly teach all of those special needs.” or “How do you teach all of them?”

    My answer. “I tutor them one at a time; just like the public school teachers do.”

    They look at me oddly when I say that. My next answer is, “Don’t the children have to wait in turn to ask questions if they do not understand something?”

    That usually makes them stop and think for a little while.

    2. My answer to this one is, “As long as I have the book in front of us, I can teach anything.” (most extbooks for any subject gives at least one or two examples on how to do something along with the rules needed for that subject.)  B. If I need more help I can get it easily. (There are plenty of websites where College Professors are more than willing to answer emails. There are also reasonable prices for one on one tutoring thru some websites for as low as $5.00 this year 2010!) Whatever I lack for.., I can always pray for and my Father in heaven always provides. Sometimes in the most unexpected ways too.

    3. hmmm Tongue outInnocent I think I know my how my special needs child learns better than any “professional” since I have known my child since birth!

    That is how I handle ‘questions’ from average people to people in “authoritative positions.


    I dare say that anyone homeschooling will agree with most of my thinking Cool

    I sure do love the freedom of speech.



    Well, as I have taught night courses at a technical institution on topics like “Advanced Excel”, and have taught in many other settings (and have since I was 13), I feel that I am quite capable of teaching.  I feel that the “Instructional Technique” course I took when I was 13 through Cadets taught a lot more on the specifics on how to teach something than is taught at a University Education program.  (That said, it was one specific type of teaching, not necessarily what I use.)  But even without my teaching experience, Parents know a lot about teaching.  We don’t (yet!) have our children enrolled in classes on how to walk (unless there are special needs….)  or how to talk, or how to eat with a spoon and fork – yet we generally do quite well at teaching it, or the child does quite well at learning it in spite of us!

    As for the advance topics, well again, most people are worried about math and science – and that is the areas that are my strengths, so I’m sure I can do it.  Even if it wasn’t my strengths, I expect to teach my children how to learn from various sources – and so either they will work out the areas I am not as strong with myself, or we will muddle through it together.  If necessary, we will find outside help.  In discussing that with some people tonight, they suggested that I might have problems with things like Canadian History.  Well, I admit that that is a very weak area – and I admitted that I am having fun finding resources I like….. but that as I could remember almost nothing about Canadian History from my 12 years of schooling, that if my kids manage to remember something about it, they will have done better than me, and will probably be just fine.

    I haven’t had to deal with any special needs at this point, so don’t have a direct answer to that…. and if there were special needs I would research it, and listen to what the professionals advised – but that I would do what felt the best for my child.  Having the amount of time with my child makes me sure that I would be able to make the right decisions.  I know of some special needs children that have not done well in the regular system – but it would be something I would need to consider individually.

    My favorite answer is:  I was taught by those professionally trained people, do you think they didn’t teach me well enough to pass it on to my children?  I have yet to get a response to that.


    Ohh ahhh, good question!

    This is such a great discussion, especially since we’re new homeschoolers. I’m sure I’ve many people wanting to make this statement or ask me this question. I read a quote the other day…

    “Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.” Yeats (I think)

    Charlotte Mason talked about ‘feeding the mind’, and I think after 6 months of homeschooling we are learning what feeding the mind means after trying to stuff it down our childs throat or force feeding him for the last few months!. Very wise lady.

    ‘I am a research assisstant in the field of child development, I work long hours for no money but a massive payout!’ or ‘I’m a professional domestic engineer.’

    It’s the hardest job I’ve ever loved.

    There is no-one more in this world that wants to see their child succeed and have a fulfilling life in all areas, than us as parents, do. That’s why we took them out of school. This is not to say I don’t have a crisis of confidence every now and then, but I go to bed that night leave it with the Lord and BAM, it’s a new day the next morning and we try again. (‘Remember tommorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.’ Anne of Green Gables)

    I keep seeing this concept a bit this week…’Be confident, Jesus will perform it.’ Phillipians 1:6 ‘…being confident of this, that He that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’

    God Bless all



    I’ve never really been asked if I feel or if I am qualified or not, but I have been asked about High School.  I just say “I’m not quite sure, we take it one year/month/day at a time.  But, I don’t see that a real possibility right now”.  I always add that I contract out for things I feel is out of my scope or that I don’t mind my children being taught by someone else. 

    I mean seriously though.  Most parents know when they feel they need help with a subject or topic and usually reach out for it.  Plus, how many ps parents do you know that have to pay for tutors??  If all was accomplished at the school or the professionals it wouldn’t be necessary.

    Also, I just have to say that I know alot of high school graduates, and just because that event took place does not mean squat to me.  Most of my peers/coworkers/acquaintances/family that have the paper (somewhere) and do not have any solid knowledge of history/math/grammar/lang arts, etc.  Now, if any of you do have that paper I’m not trying to be offensive, honestly.  Just pointing out the obvious.  And, most people aren’t qualified to be parents but they do it anyway, so what is the difference?? 

    I have to say that I was one of those people who really didn’t put much stock in hsing.  Those I was exposed to it it did not impress me and it did NOT look better than ps.  I have come to realize that whether it looked better or not those kids were probably still better off not being in ps. I’ve also come to realize that each family can choose how/what/when/why they do what they do.  I’m super thankful that I can *school* my kids the way I want to, schedule/routine/no routine/no schedule/living books/text books/sports/co-ops/field trips, and all.  I just had this idea that if you hschooled it basically HAD to look like the neighbors or your extended family’s.  I was wrong:)


    Oh, wait! I know what I’ve been told. 

    It goes between “You’re crazy” or “I wish I had done that” or “You are a brave woman” or “I didn’t know you could do it that way”. 


    Fourth paragraph “The families I was exposed to did not impress me”

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