My Sons, Timothy and Sean
You don't have to homeschool for very long before someone asks...
the Credentials question.
"What makes you think that you can teach?"
"What are your credentials to teach (name your subject)."
There are numerous variations of this question and most come with a tone. Before I go further, let me first clarify my own position on this. I do get asked this question, but not very often. Quite rarely, actually. I hold a Master's Degree...in a specialty field, where a large percentage of the population I have been providing services to the past 17 years are considered within special education. But, I fondly (or not so fondly) recall once this past summer, I was sitting in a sewing class and the instructor, who knew me from previous classes, mentioned I was a homeschooler unaware the other 5 women sitting in the class with me were all teachers.
"Real" teachers, they informed me.
There was blood in the water.
However, with a carefully worded response (and in this case one that included my own credentials), I was able to educate and satisfy their questions and promote the validity of a soundly made homeschool decision....as best you can to a room full of teachers.
When you have a child with special needs, this question of credentials comes into particular view. One of the bigger credentials questions that I see come up to parents of children with special needs, one that most Primary Care Physicians will inquire about, is that of how to go about making sure your child with special needs receives the skilled therapy services he/she needs and I will discuss that in its own post in part 7 of this series: "Therapies".
When you are asked the credentials question, whether this is regarding homeschooling a child with special needs or a typical child, have a "stock" answer ready for this question. It should not be defensive, nor should it be a short 5,000 word personal history of every small inspiration or grievance that encouraged your decision to homeschool. Remember, the person your asking may just be generally curious (who knows, maybe they are considering homeschooling for themselves) or maybe they are being beligerent (remember you dont have to show up for every argument you are invited to).
Look at this question as your OPPORTUNITY to educate and present homeschooling in a positive light.
When I am asked what makes me feel qualified to homeschool, specifically the boys, which as we know is a very different question than WHY do we homeschool, my personal response starts with what my particular education credentials are. But what if you don't have that? Here are some ideas for you to put together (pick and choose) to formulate your own "ready" answer:
- Well, honestly, I think it would be unrealistic to expect a classroom teacher to know as much as I know about my child's diagnosis/needs/abilities, as I have been studying (autism, etc. pick your dx) since he/she was (born/name your age). See how this answer is worded? It does NOT imply you know more than a teacher. It implies you are the expert in your own child's diagnosis. Wording it this way is sympathetic to teachers who are giving 100% in their classrooms, not condescending. You will be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with this statement.
- By homeschooling (Child's name), I am able to teach him/her in the way he/she learns best, giving them more one on on attention than they would receive in a public school setting and thereby enabling him/her to be more successful.
- While I do not hold a teacher's certificate, homeschooling was a family decision and please be assured our child's academic success is our main priority. Sometimes after this, you will get a follow up, "but HOW" or "Why do you feel you are qualified", you could follow with something like "I am qualified to know what is best for my child. Homeschooling is best for my child at this time". or
- "My child is special and therefore, his educational needs are special. As a parent, I did not feel his/her needs were being met to his best abilities in the public school setting".
- I also have a strong support system which includes...
- &, (if your kids are really young) I feel qualified to teach the alphabet. Thank you.
I read on facebook this week this response "All schools, public and private, are drone factories. Some just turn out better drones than others". While this one made me spit coffee out laughing when I read it, I don't really share that view and it is not going to win you any friends We should be cognizant to never get an elitist attitude because we homeschool. Every family situation is different. Every family is different. I have friends with children in public schools and friends who work tirelessly for children in public schools. I have worked in public schools. (I will admit to you though, dear readers, that I do have one aquaintance who is always always always comparing her children to mine and finding mine lacking because we homeschool~~I AM very tempted to use the drone reply next time I see them.
Do I think every single parent is "qualified" to meet the needs of a child with special needs via homeschooling? NO.
Do I think every parent is qualified to make the decision on whether or not to homeschool their child, particularly if that child has special needs, based on what they feel is in the best interest of their child and their family? YES.
Only you can objectively look at what a public school placement can offer (the bad and the GOOD) vrs. the homeschooling program you are considering doing and deciding which is best for your child/family. If this leaves you with questions, next week, this series will continue with "The Advantages and Disadvantages of homeschooling your child with special needs" where hopefully more of your questions will be answered.
I welcome your comments and discussions. For even more conversations, join the Brighton Park facebook page.
Blessings to you,