Think back for a moment to some of your best teachers.
Whether you went to school or were homeschooled, there have likely been many who taught you along the way, both traditional school work and the host of other life skills you have learned. Which stand out and why? There are qualities that great teachers have that help them make a difference in the life of their students. And while some teaching ability may be innate, many of these qualities can be cultivated.
Cultivating Great Teaching Skills
Here are some skills great teachers have that can be developed.
Great teachers develop meaningful relationships with their students.
As a homeschool parent, you already have one of the most meaningful relationships possible with your students, so you are well on your way to being a great teacher! As you teach your children day-to-day, don’t forget that the relationship part of homeschooling is of primary importance.
Great teachers have clear objectives.
Spend some time thinking about what you want your children to get out of their education. What do you expect them to know and have experienced by graduation? Each year, develop a list of goals that you want to accomplish, then divide these up throughout the school year.
Great teachers are enthusiastic.
It may not be easy to show enthusiasm for subjects you didn’t like yourself, but your enthusiasm for the lesson will help set the tone for your children. If you hated science, try to find ways to make it fun using experiments, videos, and field trips. Math not your thing? Try a hands-on curriculum or use food for manipulatives!
Great teachers are organized and prepared.
Life happens, and with our children in the home 24-7 we are not talking about a perfectly clean and organized house. But it is important to prepare for each day and for materials to have a home where they can be easily found. If you spend half an hour looking for a textbook or can never find a pencil, you are going to waste time that could be spent learning and developing relationships!
Great teachers love learning.
This may sound cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Your willingness to learn yourself, both alongside your children and alone, will not go unnoticed. Make sure to keep your own learning going, even if you can only carve out a few minutes a day.
Great teachers are able to come at a subject from a variety of ways.
Study learning styles and use them in your assignments. Understand that a curriculum that worked perfectly for one child may be a disaster for another. Be willing to change your approach to meet the needs of each child.
Great teachers have high expectations.
Expect your students to learn. Be aware of your children’s learning styles and abilities, but expect them to work hard and learn skills and material they have never mastered before.
Great teachers are flexible.
School work is important, and we shouldn’t curriculum hop all the time or our students may end up with holes in their education. But we need to be flexible. There are days that need a reboot, days that need real life instead of school, and curriculum that just doesn’t work! Be willing to change things up when necessary.
Great teachers understand the role of school work in a child’s life.
School work is important, but life issues such as character and faith are more important. Be sure to balance the need to do school with the need to “do life.”
Great teachers know when to ask for help.
In a school system, teachers have other teachers and a variety of other professionals that they collaborate with. As homeschool teachers, we don’t always have this at the ready. But we can reach out to our homeschool community. Ask advice from parents who have gone before you. Attend homeschool conferences. Reach out to professionals in your community. The help is there; you just may need to look a bit to find it.
Great teachers have a good sense of humor.
There is nothing like something funny to help build a family culture. Long after you are done educating your children, they will remember the funny stories about things that happened during school days. And some days just don’t go the way we plan. Being able to have a laugh about it and start over is important.
Any of the skills in this list can be developed by a homeschool teacher. As with any other skills, practice is the key. You wouldn’t expect to be a star basketball player the first year you are on the court. Being a great teacher takes practice as well.