A lot of parents worry that they can’t homeschool because they believe their own education was lacking, they need a teaching degree, or they don’t remember what was taught when they were in school.
Trust me, if this was a reason to not homeschool, I would be the first one to quit.
I have never taken a chemistry or physics class in my life. I can’t remember taking any American history class beyond middle school level, and my grammar knowledge stops at fourth grade.
There are two main ways to address the issue of a parent’s own education lacking (which no doubt everyone’s in, whether it’s because they have forgotten, or they were never taught).
First, and easiest is finding a curriculum to teach the subjects that you do not know.
I say this is easiest, but still this can take hours to search for the curriculum you want in any given subject area. The absolute easiest way to make such a decision is to buy a curriculum package from places like Calvert or Bookshark.
You can also choose a curriculum for each subject, like IEW for writing, Shiller for math, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for science, etc. This takes more work, but it does give you a much more customized plan.
For older grades, I always made sure I had a teacher’s guide so I could correct the work even if I didn’t know the content. For younger grades, if it’s something we’ll work on together, a parent’s guide is less needed, but is oftentimes available with formal curriculum packages.
For Muslims and those who are aiming to reduce the euro-centric focus of history, I can’t say that I suggest a specific history curriculum. All have their biases, and many speak of Muslims as savages and backward-culture heathens. For subjects like this where a suitable curriculum is not available, or you have your own goals that a curriculum would not be able to meet, mother culture can be a great supplement.
While I’ve maintained throughout my homeschooling years that mothers do not have to know the material that needs to be taught in order to homeschool, there is no doubt value in building one’s own stores of knowledge to bring to the table and broaden discussions with your child, or your family as a whole.
Mother culture is a term used in Charlotte Mason circles – I’m not sure if it’s coined by those in the Charlotte Mason Soiree group, or by Charlotte Mason herself – but mother culture is in essence the work that a homeschooling mother puts in to build her own knowledge base, education and skills.
Mother culture can be reading classic novels, books on history and science, working on art projects, improving one’s gardening, taking classes about one’s deen, etc. Anything that builds you up to be a more knowledgeable teacher in a subject that will benefit your child’s education is mother culture.
One of the biggest benefits of mother culture is also showing kids that education does not end with formal schooling.
What’s on my mother culture table currently?
- Crocheting a stuffed cat as a toy for my kids
- Working on a tatted doily as a gift for my mother
- Reading 1491 to increase my knowledge of US history
- Reading classic novels and discussing them with other homeschooling moms
- Taking online classes with Miskah University to increase my knowledge of deen
- Doing online tutoring for arabic with Studio Arabiya
And this changes every few months as I finish one thing and pick up on another. It’s like unschooling for moms, and when you get started, you don’t want to stop. It’s exciting and invigorating to be learning!
But I don’t have time!
Oh, I know… do I know.
When my oldest was in middle school and early high school we were following The Well Trained Mind pretty closely, and for literature the guide says the parent should be reading along with their student. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
I had a high-needs baby that grew to a high-needs toddler, then a new baby, all while driving my oldest to two fencing practices a week, my toddler to two preschool classes a week, my oldest to two homeschool classes each week, plus any fencing tournaments that came up.
I was barely holding on. I did not read any of her books with her.
But I did learn one very important thing from that experience: Our schedule should not be that busy. Mother culture is really enjoyable and very rewarding. If I don’t have time for it, and I didn’t just have a new baby or some type of family emergency, then there’s something wrong with my schedule.
There will absolutely be times where everything slows down in my life again and I’ll have to drop some mother culture things, but I’ve learned that when I can make the time, I will never regret reading, learning, and growing versus vegging out with Netflix (which I still do occasionally).