Being a Homeschooling parent changed who I am in the Classroom

homeschooling mom as a classroom teacher- Parenting resources by ZenParent

A few weeks ago, an opportunity to teach in a school presented itself, and I suddenly found myself in charge of a middle school class of children. The first day in the classroom after a long break (I used to teach years ago) taught me many things. The first thing I realised was how much I missed being a teacher. On my first day, I realised that I was a completely different teacher from the last time I was in the classroom. The new ‘post-homeschooling’ me was a completely different educator, enjoying my job a whole lot more, though with contrasting views on everything that goes on in the classroom.

1. Students’ Opinions Matter: During the three years that I home-schooled my son, I learned to look at him differently, and see him as a person with lots of ideas, thoughts and opinions of his own, rather than a helpless child who is constantly looking for guidance from me. This is what I have begun to do with my students as well. Children, when given a chance, are creative and very capable of coming up with good solutions for every problem. A big part of my regular classroom activities is now group problem solving. We pro-actively discuss every problem we encounter, and together everybody contributes to a solution.

So often, in schools, we tend to focus so much on the books, answers and lesson plans and marksheets that we forget that the student in front of you is a person with a voice that must be heard. It’s all up to the teacher to see to it that the child’s ideas and thoughts are being heard, valued, used and appreciated.

listen to the students too- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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2. I Encourage Talking in Class:Words are thoughts and you can’t think without them” is a line from one of my favorite movies. I love language and words, and am passionately devoted to building my students’ communication skills. Practice makes perfect, and in my opinion, talking helps communication skills better than anything else.

“Pin drop silence!” Used to be a common phrase heard in our classrooms when I was a school student. You won’t hear me saying that -ever. I find it demeaning to tell children that they must be quiet, when they obviously have lots of interesting things to say. To curb that enthusiasm in my opinion, is the worst mistake a teacher can make. I love a lively class, with every student having something to say or contribute. I do insist on silence only when someone is speaking, as a sign of respect and courtesy.

3. I Focus on the Big Picture: I know that change and progress takes time and effort. So what if a child cannot write in perfect cursive yet, or can’t read a big word today? With a bit of support, he will shine before the year is through. I am much more open to the reality that every child is different. It doesn’t matter if a child hasn’t ‘got’ something. We can get back to that in a while when he or she is mature enough to grasp it. There is always time.

let kids learn- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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4. Marks matter not: As much importance that exams and report cards receive, nothing will change my stand against examination scores. It is my belief that exams scores are rarely a reflection of a student’s intelligence. In fact, I have often times noticed that the ones that score the highest marks on paper are the ones who are the least confident, and least active in classroom participation. In my classroom, an exam has only one purpose: To show me how much my students know. I tell my students every day, that ranks, test scores and exam marks matter very little to me. I say to them- “Show me how smart you are, but don’t do it just in your books. I want you to really show me.”

5. Know they are always Learning: A few years ago, when I began reading all the homeschooling and un-schooling books, I discovered a wonderful truth that I didn’t think of before. That my child is really learning all the time. As traditional schoolteachers, we tend to have certain expectations of a student, and how a child must learn. Not anymore. Now I know that even when it doesn’t seem like it, he is learning all the time from observing, hearing, doing, watching, reading. Now, I actually trust that every child in my classroom is constantly learning, from me, from his peers and of course from experience too. It may not be visible today, but in the long run, I know I will see progress.

Read another story from the homeschooling mom about her favorite Math books here

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