Sadly, one of the barriers holding many parents back from homeschooling is the fear of being unqualified to teach their children. Worries about not having a teaching degree, not being smart enough, or not being able to compete with teachers in the traditional school system can easily seep into our minds as parents — especially if you’re interested in or new to homeschooling — and cause anxiety about whether we are qualified to homeschool our children.
But is this fear grounded?
What Qualifications Do You Need to Homeschool Your Child?
While there are no federal laws in the United States that require parents to have a teaching degree to homeschool their children, it’s important to note that certain states do have some regulations for homeschooling.
For example, some states like New York require parents to be “competent” to homeschool. Homeschooling in other states — including North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee — is only an option if parents have a high school diploma or GED. However, if you live in one of these states but don’t meet these educational requirements, you may be able to get them waived under certain circumstances.
Interestingly, Washington requires homeschool parents to possess a minimum number of college credits or to complete a course in home education. However, most of the United States — including Texas, Illinois, and Florida — don’t have any stipulations on whether parents wishing to homeschool are qualified.
So, you may need to meet specific state requirements to be qualified to homeschool your child. Take time to research these carefully. To easily view your state’s homeschool requirements, click on your state in this interactive map provided by HSLDA.
All You Need to Homeschool Your Child
So, what do you need to homeschool apart from meeting your state’s requirements? Here are eight things you must have to be qualified to teach your child:
1. A Deep Desire for Providing What’s Best for Your Child
The first ingredient you need to be a successful homeschool parent is a love for your child and a desire for their personal development. All else in the homeschooling journey stems from this. And since most parents have these qualities innately, you’re probably on the right track to becoming a homeschooler already!
2. A Willingness to Fail
A harsh truth new homeschool parents can struggle to accept is that everything won’t be perfect right from the start.
For many, the first year of homeschooling is something of an experiment. During this time, it’s important to try various homeschool resources, discover your child’s learning styles, and explore educational activities. Every homeschool family is unique, which is why it’s necessary to take time to test what works for your family and what doesn’t.
Indeed, the flexibility to customize your curriculum is one of the many benefits of homeschooling. So, be willing to fail at the things that are not working in your home school so you can implement the things that do.
3. A Commitment to Your Child’s Education
To homeschool well, you must be willing to commit to the process. As stated earlier, the first year is often a time for trying out what works and what doesn’t. So, don’t enter your first year of homeschooling with the mindset that you’ll just “try it out and see how it goes.”
Instead, commit for the long term. Classical Conversations members often say that the fruit of their homeschooling labors manifests when their students are in our high school level Challenge program. If you homeschool from kindergarten through high school, you’ll find your student will begin to own their education by becoming a self-motivated learner, asking important questions, and applying what you’ve taught them to become more of the person God has called them to be.
So, even when homeschooling is hard, persevere. Patience is necessary for this journey. When you feel like giving up — and you probably will feel like giving up at some point — remember that your efforts will soon be rewarded even if you can’t see how at the moment.
4. An Eagerness to Learn Alongside Your Child
One of the many benefits of homeschooling your child is that you’ll reclaim your own education in the process. In other words, to teach your child successfully, you need to be willing to relearn material you’ve likely forgotten since your elementary, middle school, and high school days.
If you’re prepared not only to teach your child but also to learn right along with them, then you have another essential qualification to homeschool your child.
5. A Yearning to Know Your Child
Sadly, many parents with children in traditional school only see their children on nights, weekends, and school breaks. So naturally, a common reason parents choose to homeschool their children is to spend quality time together as a family.
If you homeschool your child, you’ll receive a rare opportunity in today’s world — a chance to know your child deeply.
For example, you’ll learn firsthand how your child learns best and what subjects they are most passionate about. Also, as a homeschool parent, you can engage in rich conversations about what your student is learning. This will help you understand how your child thinks and what they think about.
Indeed, if you wish to know your child deeply and grow closer together as a family, you possess another characteristic necessary to homeschool.
6. A Consistent, Detailed Roadmap
While homeschool success begins with having the right internal motivations and characteristics, several external resources are also necessary.
First, you will need a plan for your home school. While there’s room for experiment, you’ll need to make choices like which educational model to follow, which books and resources to use during which years, and which subjects to study.
There are many paths your family can take on your homeschooling journey. But since the number of options can be overwhelming, walking a path others have taken before you can make all the difference.
For instance, Classical Conversations members choose to follow the Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge programs from kindergarten through high school because it provides a structured (yet flexible) roadmap for their home school. In other words, parents in our programs spend less time planning their homeschooling journey and more time on what matters most — actually taking the journey and teaching their children.
7. A Proven Homeschool Curriculum
Of course, you will also need a homeschool curriculum. But, with the sheer magnitude of options available, what exactly should you look for in a homeschool curriculum?
Since every family is different, you may want to consider a homeschool curriculum that allows for flexibility and customization. In other words, find one that will enable you to add or subtract subjects, resources, and coursework to meet your family’s goals without throwing your home school into disorder.
Some other considerations are to weigh a curriculum’s approach to education, whether it represents a Christian or secular worldview, what subjects it includes, if it incorporates original source readings, and whether it recognizes you as your child’s first teacher (and doesn’t take over your role).
For reference, the Classical Conversations curriculum is rooted in a Christ-centered, classical approach to education that provides enough structure while allowing families to customize their learning and follow along at a comfortable pace.
8. Support From Other Homeschool Families
Finally, you will need support from other homeschool families.
The truth is, homeschooling in isolation is impossible. Whether you choose to join a local Classical Conversations community, a homeschool co-op, or meet informally with other families in your area or online, it’s essential to seek connection, support, and guidance from other homeschool families.
For instance, in our homeschool communities, families in the Classical Conversations programs are all walking the same path together. This means that you can give and receive encouragement, advice, and accountability to and from those walking alongside you and those who have gone before you. If you’re interested in finding a Classical Conversations community in your area, visit our Community Search.
In addition to joining some homeschool group, you may also want to seek legal support for your homeschooling journey, like the services offered by HSLDA.
Be Your Child’s Best Teacher
But just because you may meet all these essential qualifications to homeschool your child doesn’t mean you can’t also improve your teaching skills year after year.
So, whether it’s your first year of homeschooling or your twelfth, consider attending our Practicum 2022! During one of these local events, you’ll receive the opportunity to practice the classical tools of learning with other homeschool parents in your area. You’ll walk away prepared and confident to homeschool your child successfully next year and beyond.
To learn more about Practicum 2022 or sign up for an event near you, click here.