It’s a classic dilemma. Your son is way into Minecraft and wants to start learning to code so he can create his own mods, but you’re doing well to turn on your computer. Your daughter is destined to be the next Vera Wang, but you can’t sew on a button. Or maybe it’s not those specialized subjects, but just that Math has never been your strongest subject.
How do I teach my kids something that I’m not an expert in, or at the very least am not good at?
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Don’t worry. You won’t let your child down. Your child can still learn Calculus even though you barely passed remedial math. And the good news is that it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Many people go into private tutoring, and they can be wonderful resources for helping your student(s) learn a subject that you might not be so strong in. My aunt, who has her Master’s in Early Education, found that tutoring after school hours was a wonderful way to supplement her minimal public teacher’s income. She tutored students in English as a Second Language as well as math and English. A lot of teachers and former teachers go into tutoring because they want to help students succeed and they have the knowledge and background to help.
Private tutoring can be expensive depending on the subject and how much time and teaching is required, but if you just don’t get a subject, it may be a small price to pay to help your student(s) learn something they need or want to learn.
I live in a very urban area so the options for local classes are seemingly endless. My kids could learn nearly anything they want from an outsourced local class. In fact, my kids have taken sewing classes, science classes, history classes, STEM classes, art classes, writing classes, and many, many more. The first step is just looking for the classes. Posting in local homeschool groups is a good place to start because chances are, someone has wanted to take the class before and has done all or at least some of the work for you. Another place to look is in your local Kids’ Life magazines. Where we are, there is a free publication of Carolina Child available in every grocery store. And honestly, just Google the interest with your location to see what comes up. You may have to make a few phone calls or send out a few emails, but unless your child is looking to learn something extremely obscure, you’d be hard pressed to not find something.
Of course, rural areas have fewer options available. Again, I would start with a post in your local homeschool group. You might have to drive if you want something quality for a subject more complicated like astrophysics or calculus. Then again, you would be surprised what you can find if you will take the time to look.
I am an artist while my friend Meagan is a cake decorator and my friend Cindy is an English teacher and my friend Clare is a scientist and my friend Paul speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Latin. So, why can’t we trade? I’ll teach art, Meagan can teach cake decorating, Cindy can teach English, Clare can teach science, and Paul can teach a foreign language.
However you view the words “Homeschool Co-ops,” it is first and foremost a “Co-op” or cooperative. I know the homeschool co-op looks like a lot of different things for a lot of different groups. There are so many amazing co-op opportunities no matter what it looks like.
Maybe you and some homeschool mom friends make a trade of teaching your own expertise to each other’s children or maybe you join a nationally organized group like Classical Conversations. Either way, tapping into your local homeschool community and sharing each other’s gifts, talents, and expertise is a great way to cover topics and subjects you may not be able to teach your own children.
Teaching Textbooks is one of many video-based curricula that you can use to teach your child a subject you may not be strong in. These types of curricula have pre-recorded videos of an actual teacher teaching the subject. They also combine a video lesson with a workbook so your student gets several ways to learn a subject. And depending on how you purchase your curriculum there may also be supplemental help available to you.
Khan Academy is also a video-based learning tool that might be a good place to look. My experience with Khan is limited, but I believe it would be best suited for when you are looking for something very specific within a broader subject. In other words, Khan might not teach your child “Algebra,” but may help your child understand “Absolute Numbers” while studying Algebra.
I stumbled upon Outschool recently and it has been a complete God-send for my kids doing more interest-led studies. There are a lot of different companies that offer online classes and cover so many different subjects that you really can not go wrong. For example, I can read literature all day long, but I can’t discuss it for anything. I signed the Princess up for several Literature studies and suddenly she’s excelling at literature discussions. I love that my kids can take live online classes and learn subjects I can’t or don’t want to teach them.
Abeka and Veritas also offer online classes. I have found these to be quite pricey, but since their curriculum is well-developed I can only assume that the online classes would be also.
Museums and Public Sites
Publicly-funded places like museums and historic and nature sites around the community often offer classes or will put together a class for homeschool groups. They often do this for minimal or no cost. Depending on the site, the classes often far exceed what you pay to get. My kids LOVE the history and science classes we take at the local museums. We have studied robotics, chemistry, biology, and many, many other topics.
I will say that sometimes the one-time classes are just a taste of the more in-depth (and more expensive) classes that my local museum offers. But if my kids were really interested in a subject that I couldn’t or didn’t want to give to them these places would be the first pick for us.
I LOVE online curriciulum. As you may remember I cried when GiftedandTalented.com stopped offering math. My kiddos used Gifted and Talented for 2 years and excelled. We’ve also loved Reading Eggs and Math Seeds for preschool years. I’ve heard rave reviews of Beast Academy, although I’ve never used it.
The bottom line here is that the internet is such a wonderful resource and going paperless with online curriculum is a great way for students to learn.
I’ve said this before, but private organizations want you to come in to their business. If they can get you inside their business, chances are you will buy their product. And if you have a positive experience with them, chances are you will keep coming back. So, if your child wants to learn something unique or individual like sewing or screenprinting or coffee roasting or beer brewing… why not call up a local business that does that and ask if they have or could put together a learning opportunity. Even if that business just gets your child started in their quest for learning, it may be the beginning to an awesome journey.