Nine years ago, when we first started homeschooling, I was nervous to take on the challenge of helping my kids learn the subjects I’d struggled with in school. Was I really qualified to teach math when I’d barely passed high school geometry? I bought an all-in-one curriculum and paid extra close attention to the math and science lessons. My oldest was seven at the time, so my fears were a little unfounded. I could, in fact, help him learn basic math facts and make baking soda volcanos, but by the end of the day, doing it all and being together all day long was exhausting.
At the end of our first year, I remember thinking; I could be my child’s one and only teacher…but did I really want to be?
The following year, I enrolled both of my children in a couple of homeschool classes. I didn’t need help teaching at this point, but I did need a break. They loved being around friends and became close with their teachers. These classes not only enriched our homeschool week, but they gave me the breaks I needed so I could be present with my kids during the other parts of our day.
As my kids got older I found myself also needing help to help them learn. When my son wanted to learn Greek, I knew I had to look beyond our home. At first, it felt a little like cheating. Wasn’t I homeschooling so we could learn together? Then again, I didn’t have time to learn Greek―or even know where to start. Outsourcing to the rescue!
Fast forward to today, I am so grateful for the many mentors and teachers who have helped my homeschoolers learn the skills I don’t have or don’t have time to teach. Thanks to outsourcing, my children have taken classes in engineering, foreign languages, and even magic! Even subjects like art and cooking, things I feel skilled in, we have outsourced. As an English teacher who teaches many homeschoolers each week, I’m also grateful to families who outsource in their own homeschools. I am able to do what I love and homeschool. It’s the best of both worlds.
Here are five reasons to outsource in your homeschool:
We can focus on our strengths
While we can try to teach every subject, we don’t have to be our child’s only teacher. Outsourcing allows us to focus our attention and time on the subjects and areas we love and feel confident facilitating.
If you don’t enjoy writing, chances are your child is going to sense it and may not enjoy writing either. Outsourcing allows our kids to learn from people who not only have interest and expertise in the subject but also enjoy it.
For example, I facilitate my homeschooler’s ELA lessons, something I’m passionate about, but I outsource math, something I do not enjoy. We use an online curriculum that my homeschooler loves and that does a much better job than I could do. No shame or guilt here. I own my dislike, and I am grateful for the help.
A different approach can make a world of difference
Sometimes, regardless of our interest and expertise, the approach we have to offer doesn’t work for our kids―or they’d benefit from new ideas. Outsourcing can allow us to find the methodology that works best for our kid’s learning styles.
When my son wanted to learn to cook, I set aside time each week for us to work together. Having never really thought about technique, I taught him the way I learned to cook: by trial and error. Being a tidy person, I also focused a lot on cleaning up, something I found important but that he did not enjoy.
We eventually connected with a friend who happened to also be a chef. He worked with my son once a week for a couple of hours. They made huge messes―and amazing food. My son came home happy, full of knowledge, and even taught me how to properly hold a knife.
Everyone needs a break
It’s worth repeating: Everyone needs a break! We need time to ourselves, with friends, and our partners―and our kids need a break from us. Needing a break doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. In fact, I think taking a break from one another is how we keep our love for one another strong.
Without a break, I am not a patient mother. I am also not a focused homeschooler. I find myself checking my email or phone when I should be focused on my child. I’m more easily distracted and not nearly as present.
Outsourcing not only gives us a break, but it also gives us more time to do the many other things we need or want to do.
Mentors are invaluable
My children use the word love when talking about mentors and homeschool teachers they’ve had over the years. They think of many of them as family. Thanks to small classes and one-on-one lessons, their mentors have played important roles in their development, as well as their skill-building.
There’s the saying, “It takes a village,” and I think that’s true. Outsourcing allows our kids to connect and build relationships beyond our home, which in turn can help our relationships with them grow stronger.
There are so many ways to outsource
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the number of options we have. There are a lot of outsourcing resources. From curriculums to classes, online lessons, and in-person workshops, the number of ways to outsource is endless.
While we have used many local, in-person outsourcing resources in the past, we also love learning online. Outschool has offered my kids classes in Greek, YouTube, and even Wings of Fire.
As a teacher on Outschool, I love being able to connect with homeschoolers from all over the country and the world. I also love being able to offer reading and writing workshops to kids and families.
If you’re new to homeschooling or have been reluctant in the past to outsource, consider giving it a try this year! You might just find the breaks, mentors, and different approaches to learning allow you and your homeschooler to love homeschooling even more!