How Can You Teach What You Don’t Know?

Mari Almon, Director of Advertising for Homeschool Buyers Co-op, lives in central Florida. Married to Steve, they are both thrilled that their two children, Liz and Jon, had the opportunity to graduate high school from home. In her spare time Mari enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing, and perennial gardening. To reach Mari, email her at

Here’s a question you are certain to hear during your time homeschooling: “How can parents offer the same level of high quality, single discipline instruction as is available from board certified teachers in the public and private schools?”

After coming to terms with my own similar concerns I realized that parents must first overcome their own fears enough to honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses and then take it from there.

It’s not a matter of if you have a degree or not. You have a wealth of unique life experiences, possibly employment history and a personality equipped with personal gifts and talents all of which play into your knowledge bank that make you capable of teaching some things and probably not everything.

Honesty is the best policy – acknowledge what you don’t know, or at the least, what you don’t know well enough to teach responsibly.

What do we do when we have to teach them something that we don’t know? The short answer is “we do whatever it takes.”

We can become a student. We research and learn. Sometimes we can learn right alongside our children and wrestle the subject together. Other times we must step up and master the topic so that we can help them master it also.

We can call on the resources around us to utilize the strengths and education of family and friends. I can’t tell you how many times I would stay up late at night with my husband to have him teach me a math lesson so that I could help my children through it with clarity in the morning while he was at work. We have friends who we know are absolute geniuses about topics we know nothing about – so enlist your friends. Maybe they have advice or can teach you or if your friend is a fellow homeschooler, maybe you can team up with them to lesson share.

There are some very awesome homeschool co-ops nowadays. There are those that teach basic core subjects and others that specialize in specific genres like fine arts and sports. There’s a social aspect there too that you and your children may enjoy. It may be a possibility for you to throw in your hat to teach a class if you have a niche or skill in exchange for your children’s classes or for the always welcome paycheck.

Check out your local community college and see what they offer in the way of dual credit courses. “Dual credit” simply means your student is awarded both high school and college credit for the same course. Many core college subjects (history, math, science, English, government, etc.) are simply repeats of high school subjects. This means your student is going to take history in high school and then pay to take history again in college. The same is true for some of the other subjects. This isn’t necessary! High school is the ideal time for students to earn college credits for these core subjects. It’s a two-for-one deal – one subject can get dual credit!

Nobody loves our children like we do, right? Take time to explore all the possibilities. Leave nothing off the table. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and a journey. Don’t get frustrated or worried. Do your best and let God do the rest.

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