Ten Ways Teaching in a Homeschool is Different from Teaching in a Classroom

As many of you know, I am a former public school teacher. I taught in a rural county system in Maryland- the same school system from which I graduated. I used to teach sixth and seventh grade general and life science though my certification runs through twelfth grade.

I know there are many homeschoolers out there who are also public school teachers. Having a masters degree in curriculum and instruction does give me a lot of experience and knowledge to access as I teach my kids. I also had to unlearn a few things along the way. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list is all about what I’ve learned since homeschooling my kids that is different from teaching in a classroom. Perhaps my list will resonate with some of you!

Blog She Wrote: Classroom vs homeschool teaching

With a smaller set of students to teach, I don’t need as much transition time…or transition activities. In fact, we don’t really do transition activities. Unless you count reading or working on a project of their choice.

Science activities never seemed too messy in my science classroom. I’ve learned that some science activities really aren’t meant for my kitchen. Or the inside of my house at all.

Control of your classroom is key when you teach in a classroom. Teachers are made or broken by their classroom management skills no matter how talented with instruction they are. Homeschooling is much more forgiving when it comes to management. Although toddlers can give you a run for your money!

Blog She Wrote: Homeschool vs Classroom Teaching

Textbooks are not necessary– although I only had a text for one grade I taught. The other was mainly hands on. Still, I’ve learned the value of living books for our homeschool.

Filling out loads of worksheets is a great use of time in the classroom– especially in regard to labs and activities. In fact, it’s somewhat of a mainstay in classrooms everywhere. Over the years, I’ve learned that if my kids know a concept, it’s not always necessary to fill out a paper about it. What I mean is less is more. In the classroom, it was a way to assess the progress of many students at once. At home it often seems irrelevant- unless you need to hone a skill.

Blog She Wrote: Homeschool vs Classroom Teaching

Making sure all students are in the same place at the same time is important. At home making sure each student is keeping up with his potential is more important. Instruction can be varied and it’s a gift to be able to do so!

I don’t have to be the one in control all the time. In my classrom, I sure wanted to be the one in control- even if I gave the students some flexibility it was really an exercise in facilitating what I wanted to happen ultimately. At home, I teach my kids to think and come up with their own solutions and ideas.

Blog She Wrote: Homeschool vs Classroom Teaching

Teaching degrees do not magically make people good at teaching. Ok…I knew this one already. I have met some really awful educators. I had to mentor one back in the day. However, what I’ve come to learn since working and blogging with other homeschoolers is that a parent with the sincere desire to teach her children is a pretty powerful force. I’ve been privileged to see some in action.

Home educating allows us to individualize instruction. This seems pretty obvious. What I began to realize is how much classroom teaching really does not do this…and I was a huge public school advocate.

My homeschool doesn’t have to look like a classroom. At first it really did. And honestly, you cannot visit our home without seeing evidence of homeschooling. But, the longer I homeschool, the more I relax about what our school looks like. What’s important is what’s happening in our school to get my kids to their ultimate destination of graduation and further education whatever that looks like for each child. How we get there isn’t as important as long as we arrive with the right tools packed away for using later.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. If you taught in a classroom, what things have you learned along the way that are different from classroom teaching?

Other bloggers of iHN are participating in the 10 Weeks of Top 10 Lists 2013. We’ll be linking up every Tuesday and I encourage you to hop over and see some other blogger lists.

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  1. So true! Learning what school doesn’t have to look like takes a while.

    (Ugh, excuse the awkwardness of that sentence – I must need coffee this morning because I can’t think of a better way to phrase it right now).

  2. I’ve learned that grade levels are completely unnecessary. Moving forward with understanding is important ,grade levels not so much. What is a grade level anyway???

    1. That’s a good one! I keep track because NY state is pretty regulated, but we just keep moving forward around here too. My 9th grader’s new math courses begin in March now because one year we finished then and kept moving forward. So, he just started geometry in March of his freshman year.

  3. I’ve learned that you do not have to study the same things in the same order as everyone else – no one is going to give your kids a test at the end of the year comparing them to all the other kids their age.

    1. That’s very true Sunshine! You are in control of scope and sequence. Though, in some places testing is required…like in NY where I am. 🙂

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