Do you have to be a certified teacher to homeschool? Many people think you need special teaching qualifications to home educate your child. But, I’m here to tell you that you can fail high school and still be a great homeschool teacher!
Indeed, the person who rediscovered modern classical Christian education, Dorothy Sayers, said this:
There is also one excellent reason why the veriest amateur may feel entitled to have an opinion about education. For if we are not all professional teachers, we have all, at some time or other, been taught. Even if we learnt nothing—perhaps in particular if we learnt nothing—our contribution to the discussion may have a potential value. The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers, p.1.
Hopefully, this will encourage you to feel confident about making choices for your child’s education also.
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My Parents Did Homeschooling Without Teacher Certification
My mom and dad, who have no university qualifications between them (mom dropped out after Year 10 and dad has a chef’s diploma) have three children, who all completed university degrees.
This is how we did:
- My older brother did a Bachelor of Architecture, a Masters of Architecture and worked for one of the best architecture firms in Sydney; he’s now doing a Divinity degree to become a pastor.
- My younger brother did a Double Degree in Law and Economics and is now working for a reputable law firm.
- I did a Diploma of Nursing, a Degree in Medical Science and started doing an MBBS to become a doctor before stopping due to illness.
We are all married with children, and (so far) two out of three of us are planning on homeschooling our own children.
How did my parents do it?
My mother said she ‘cracked the [metaphorical] whip’ for my younger brother who struggled with homeschool motivation‘. However, my older brother and I never had this problem and we both loved our work and everything to do with learning.
My dad took some of our mathematics homework with him to study while he was on night shift (he taught it to us in the morning), but when this became too hard, we got tutors we could ring up on the telephone (there’s usually a way around homeschooling problems, and it’s good to ask other homeschooling families in your area for their tips if you have a problem).
You Don’t Have to Have an Incredible Education to Homeschool
The more highly educated are, the more likely you are to homeschool. This is probably due to confidence.
That is, people say, ‘I’d love to homeschool, but I don’t have a teaching degree and I’ve never been to university. Surely, my children can’t learn from me!’
This assumption indicates people wrongly believe children learn only when they’re taught by a teacher. But, that’s not the case.
In fact, there’s a whole movement based on the assumption that children can learn independently from their teachers, and this is a good thing. It’s called unschooling – you can check it out here.
Yes! You Can Fail High School and Still be a Great Home Educator
Although more highly educated parents are more likely to homeschool, parents with no college education can also home educate children and produce impressive academic results.
In a systematic review of homeschooling literature, 15 independent studies were analyzed on this issue. Studies drew results from 12,789 homeschooled students who were scattered throughout all the American states.
Researchers discovered a significant difference between the academic results of parents with more advanced educations, whose children produced higher results than children with parents who had lower levels of education.
This said parents with no college education had children who were also able to produce impressive academic results (see graph below).
Researchers found that if neither parent had a college degree, their children scored in the 83rd percentile, well above the national average. If one parent had a college degree, children scored in the 86th percentile.
If both parents had a college degree, children scored in the 90th percentile.
But, It Helps To Have a Teaching Degree?” – No, Not At All.
One would think a teaching degree would help you homeschool your children more effectively. But, an education degree makes no difference at all.
When the exams of children with certified (teacher) parents were compared with uncertified parents, results showed both sets of children performed the same on exams (furthermore, children without teacher parents performed one percent better than children with teacher parents!):
If neither parent was a certified teacher, their children scored in the 88th percentile. If one or both parents were certified teachers, children scored in the 87th percentile. [Why on Earth Homeschool]
Don’t Beleive You’re Not Good Enough to Educate Your Own Kids
Sadly, many parents believe they’re not smart enough to teach their own children. However, you shouldn’t believe this lie. Ivan Illich, who wrote Deschooling Society, believed that teachers are not always as good at teaching certain skills, compared to professionals in the field. For example, a chef would be a better teacher than a teacher who teaches cooking skills. As Illich said:
[A]t present, those using skills which are in demand and do require a human teacher are discouraged from sharing these skills with others. This is done either by teachers who monopolize the licences or by unions which protect their trade skills… school teachers and made scarce by the belief in the value of licences. Certification constitutes a form of market manipulation and is plausible only to a schooled mind. Most teachers of arts and trades are less skillful, less inventive, and less communicative than the best craftsmen and tradesman. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
This makes sense too. While a craftsman spends most of his time improving his trade skills, it seems teachers spend a quarter of their time marking exam papers, a quarter of their time creating exam papers, a quarter of their time restoring order to the class, and a quarter actually teaching the class.
Let’s compare the divided time with a professional such as a physiotherapist. A muscular physiotherapist gets to work at 8 am and often doesn’t leave until 4 pm (with 4 weeks holiday a year).
Between that time, they see between 10 to 15 patients a day. They diagnose, treat and reschedule appointments – all in 30 minutes. How can a teacher get even close to teaching the nuances that go with a career like this?
You will also have good things to teach your children, depending on your background. Whether you’ve spent your years raising children or treating patients in a hospital, you’ll have something to pass on to your children that’s worth learning.
Buy a Homeschool Curriculum to Do the Work For You
Even if you’re still not confident enough to home educate, remember that to give your children a well-rounded education, you can easily buy them a curriculum. There are many choices such as:
- Christian homeschooling curriculum packages
- Charlotte Mason programs
- Classical programs
- Unit Studies curriculum
- Family style homeschool curriculum
- and free options.
This means that you can sit your children down with a curriculum and know they’re learning what they need to be learning for their age. Also, you don’t need to know too much to do this, you just need to motivate your kids.
Conclusion: Do You Have to Be a Certified Teacher to Homeschool?
Clearly, you don’t need a teaching degree to homeschool your children. This article has shown that a teaching degree, while useful in schools, is of very little use when you home educate your children. Of course, a teaching degree is useful insofar as it gives parents tertiary education, and this has been shown to have some benefit (see the first graph). What’s more, it would make you feel more confident as a homeschooling parent…you’ve been there and you’ve done that. However, when it comes down to it, you don’t need it and you won’t find it that much more helpful.