Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teaching Things that I Don't Know


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Question from a HAMB reader, Samantha:               
Dear Karen, I am interested. Have you ever run into a subject homeschooling that you couldn't get through? If so how did you handle it? Outside sources? Called in a tutor? I find homeschooling so fascinating and real. Much more real than any public school education.
Dear Samantha:
Thanks so much for the question.  Many people have asked me this question and I have been meaning to write a bit about it from the perspective of a homeschooling mother who is crap at math.
It is a common question because we all have our aptitudes, adults as well as children, and these aptitudes are fairly chiseled in stone.  No matter how hard I have worked at it, I am STILL crap at math.  Regardless of the effort I have put into understanding letters and numbers together, it is still a mystery to me.  I have been taught and tutored and tortured in advanced math and I DO. NOT. GET. IT.
So how do my children learn it?  We learn it together.  At this moment we are working on Geometry 1 together and we did Algebra 1 last year.  I have two textbooks and we work through the material together.  Sometimes I get it first, but mostly they get it first and teach it to me.  We have been known to use Khan Academy at times when we needed extra help in Geometry or in Algebra.  We also have other people in our lives who are complete math whizzes.  (my husband and my stepdaughter).  The nice thing for me is that my kids both have math aptitude.
But what if there was something else that someone wanted/needed to learn, something that I don't know?  (Honestly there are thousands of things like this!)
This is where it comes in handy to think about how I define homeschooling.  I do not see my job as spoon feeding information to my children.  Rather, I see my job as helping them to figure things out for themselves, as helping them to figure out how to get the information for themselves, and as learning to love the process of gaining knowledge.  They have learned many many things on their own, completely without my involvement.  And so have all children!
  • The trick is simply to learn it together.  During those early years most of the material that children learn is familiar with most adults.  High school is the time when parents begin to freak out about now knowing everything.  But why should we know everything????  If my child is taking a psychology course or a biology course, THEY are responsible for the reading and the work, not I.  Presently my daughter is reading through a literature book.  I haven't read every story in the book, but I still discuss the stories with her by expecting her to do the work herself.  
  • Second, the internet is a fantastic source of information on just about any subject you can come up with.
  • And third, tutor, classes, mentoring, ANY RESOURCE is fair game!  I know many homeschool families who have created very unique learning opportunities for their children because their child wanted to learn something that the parent couldn't teach.  Get creative!
Reading and research becomes a second nature skill for homeschoolers because of our autonomy in the world.  And I must say, these skills are fantastic for the student intent on going on to college!


  HELLO to my readers in Pakistan and Peru!
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If you enjoyed this post you may also like:  Thirteen Things I Wish I Would have Known About Homeschooling When I Got Started 
Or you may enjoy reading:  How Do I Homeschool? 
Or try this one:  Getting it Right

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