10 June 2009

The Value of Family and Friends as Teachers

There is a great deal to be said about knowing your own limits and outsourcing when needed. When your arm gets broken, we go to the doctor. When we need a 4-tiered wedding cake, we hire a baker. So, when it comes to outsourcing parts of our children's education, why do we sometimes balk? Because we are homeschoolers does not mean we must do all the tasks of education ourselves, in our homes.

There are many ways this can be done. Most of homeschooling is done by the mother. So the first place many of us turn to is dad. He can have alot of experience and connections that mom may not. He may excel in areas that she does not. He should be the first place to reach out to.

Second, homeschool co-ops and support groups are a valuable resource for possible teachers. Some co-ops are primarily social and others are academically oriented. If you would like to have someone else teach certain subjects to your children, check the schedule of your local co-op. Some may have requirements such as: annual fees; you must teach a subject yourself; available space in desired grade level; participation minimums; or religious guidelines.

The next natural resource to check out would be family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. Was grandpa a geology major? Was grandma a Post Master? Does auntie teach Biology? Is uncle a computer programmer? There is a great value to be had by allowing your children to see their family members in a professional setting different than the family couch. You can extend this resource to include neighbors and family friends.

The last and certainly not to be overlooked resource is strangers. What? Let me tell you: I have met so many strangers in the course of our daily outings and errands who were totally flattered to even be asked if they would be willing to teach. The first to come to mind was a local news station cameraman who we passed in the grocery store parking lot. Of course, my kids wanted to stop and inspect the huge camera, peek inside his van, and ask questions about the antennae. He was very friendly so I asked him if he had a business card. I told him we were a homeschool family and that we were always on the lookout for field trips and tours. He became very animated while he talked about the possiblities for a visit to the tv station. Other people who have expressed a willingness to take us on tours and explain their vocation to us include: firemen, post office workers and delivery drivers, police officers, day care centers, grocery store managers, and jewelry makers.

The last thing I suggest would be to go to the high school or college nearby and hire a tutor. Students need community service hours, so maybe they could tutor for that. Usually students who love a subject are willing to help others; I would call the school and ask the teacher for suggestions. The teacher would know who was responsible enough, willing, and doing well enough to tutor a younger student.

So! Ask questions! Introduce yourself! Collect business cards! Don't be afraid of opportunity-- the worst that could happen is that they say no.

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