Homeschooling: “Only the Experts are Qualified”?

globeThere are a few common questions I get from time to time about homeschooling that stump me–revealing the deeply entrenched LIE that so many believe about parents’ capabilities to provide an education for their own children.

The question is something like, “But how will you teach them chemistry (or fill in the blank)?” (And that without even knowing what set of skills or knowledge base we have.)

We’ve been told “only the experts are qualified”, to which I would sweetly reply, “Hogwash”.

An illustration nicely presented itself recently when my daughter brought the unfinished portion of the beautiful Regency era dress she is making.

My Grandmother turned to me and said, “Kelly, I didn’t know you could sew!” Assuming I had taught her.

“Oh my gracious I can barely sew a hem”, I said.

Then the epiphany….guiding our children to learn something–ANYTHING is not contingent upon my expertise or lack thereof. Is this so simple the doubting homeschool questioner misses it?

Can not parents simply endow their children with a thirst for knowledge, and then lead them to the people/resources/information from where they can freely drink?

Is this not the foundation of any true education?

Can not a mother, even with no literacy, love her children enough to learn to read right alongside them?  And can we not see that this is a right and good education?

Bria is also a violinist, and my son is becoming an incredible artist. My husband and I, however, are neither of those things 😉  How did they learn without an expert?

Perhaps I could challenge those who have asked this question to ponder a little more deeply?  Give the child, the parents, the miraculous capacity to learn and the pursuit of knowledge a little more credit.

You may even consider homeschooling after all!

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Are you a homeschooling mother who worries that you aren’t “doing enough”? Are you thinking of homeschooling but feel afraid that you aren’t qualified? If so, read more…

40 Responses to “Homeschooling: “Only the Experts are Qualified”?”

  1. Good points, Kelly. Not to mention, in many public schools, you’re not guaranteed that the teacher is going to be well-versed in the subject they are teaching. I was once taught Geometry by an English grad student because there was a shortage in the district. One of my friends who received her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology is now an English teacher, even though her Master’s in Teaching never included a single credit relating to English literature or grammar. Go figure.

  2. Mrs. Taft says:

    My mother is excellent at math, but for some reason she struggled to relate it to us. My daddy is also excellent at math, and for whatever reason, he related it well. So my daddy taught us higher math. Yay! At one point I even had a tutor, but I have a math-related learning disability…anyways, both my parents learn differently and have different strengths, so it was pretty neat how well-rounded of an education we received just between my two parents. 🙂

  3. Joanna says:

    I definitely see your points, but I also as an adult struggle with some real gaps in my education after being homeschooled all the way through in the “early days.” For example, foreign language is one area that my parents did not have expertise, and a lot of the language pathways are formed early on in childhood. A second language can be a real area of service to others–think about immigrants in your community, or sign language for the deaf community. However, there are so many options open to homeschoolers these days, co-ops (formal or informal), online resources, etc., that I think it would be much easier to cover the more difficult areas these days than it was in my own.

    Has your daughter learned violin on her own without an “expert” teacher? That’s wonderful, though not all children would be able to do that.

  4. Amber says:

    I have always heard that as long as the parent stays one day ahead of their child, then there really isn’t a limit to what a parent could teach. I’ll bet that the certified teacher does the same thing when it’s time to plan lessons as well. We all have to brush up on certain areas of study to make sure we present the material accurately. That is just part of planning. People who say things like (“How will you teach _____?), probably have come in contact with people who say “We homeschool”, but do nothing teach or inspire learning in their child, thus producing illiterate, ignorant children. They automatically assume we are all lazy like that.

  5. Belinda says:

    I hope I am not too abrupt in my wording, but this hits a sore spot right now.
    We were in the hospital with family in the ICU waiting room (because my SIL had an accident and we are all praying she can walk again) and another family member who teaches public school math approaches my children. The whole time I’m saying tongue-in-cheek “get away from him, he’ll be taking you home with him and putting you in public school by the time he is finished.” We are all upset sitting in there waiting, but he never misses an opportunity to grill my children!
    My point is: ask me what my children are strong at and then talk to them about those subjects. Do not ask them things that put them on the spot and make them question there own intelligence. He has no idea the method of math I use and he teaches High School math. My children are years away from High School and I don’t use the public school method. So, without realizing it, he has questioned my children on things they know nothing about(and would not know at this point even in public school) and made my otherwise confident children feel like dummies.
    I had huge gaps in my education from public school. Public school and college educated teachers are not superior to a drive and desire to learn. I have learned so much more,and retained it,as an adult than I ever did in school. This tells me that as long as I give my children a heart for learning, it will be life-long. I would never downplay intelligence, but intelligence is not academics. All wisdom comes from the Lord and that is our starting point.

  6. Word Warrior says:


    But let me ask you, is there even such a thing as an education without “gaps”? You mentioned foreign language being one of your gaps…I know very few people at all who learned a FL as a child; what if you have a major gap in HISTORY like I do! My public school education gave me so many gaps that homeschooling has been my only redemption as I learn so much alongside my children. 😉

    And yes, she taught herself; we now have her taking lessons twice a month with a young homeschooled graduate to further her abilities, but she had done REALLY well before any lessons–she now teaches some younger students herself.

  7. Word Warrior says:

    So true, Belinda. And it is also true but sad, that “the system” thinks it has prescribed the cookie-cutter education for all the non-cookie-cutter children. Education means many different things to people and even families; in my book, I emphasized that the first important step in homeschooling is to lay aside the preconceived notion of “what my child needs to learn” and ask God to reveal to your family what true education is…begining, as you said, with the fear of the Lord.

    It is ridiculous to think that every child will be strong (or even should be) in every subject; that rarely happens in any setting.

  8. Joanna says:

    You’re totally right, everyone has gaps! And overall, I think homeschooling really prepared me to go on with academic studies.

    But I do think there’s a place for people with training–even if they’re right there in your church (like the homeschooler teaching your daughter). Even while I was growing up, we had a couple of people in our church taught different subjects to a group of us homeschoolers, teaching a few of us philosophy/world-views, English, or chemistry. I thought it was a lovely way for people in the church to serve, and also there may be some lonely people who would love to spend time with children (and children could minister in return that way). Just some thoughts. 🙂

  9. Word Warrior says:


    Absolutely. Thus my whole point–as a homeschooling parent, my limitations don’t have to limit my child…as I wrote in the post:

    “Can not parents simply endow their children with a thirst for knowledge, and then lead them to the people/resources/information from where they can freely drink?”

  10. Kim M. says:

    What I was thinking the whole time I was reading this post and the comments was that, as homeschooling parents, we have a **CHOICE** when it comes to who is educating our children. That is the whole beauty of it. If we do not understand a subject, or if we have difficulty teaching it we can find someone that we **TRUST** and have confidence in to teach them.
    I want my sons to learn carpentry skills. My husband is o.k. in this area, but his greater talents lie elsewhere. We have friend at church who is extremely talented that we can ask to help us with this.

    I have to laugh, too, when naysayers point out that a homeschooling mother’s spelling is off.
    Does that really matter? The mother is not sitting around picking her own brain for spelling words. She has TEXTBOOKS (and spell-check on her computer as does the public schoolteacher).

  11. Speaking of gaps in History: my husband, who was the valedictorian of his large public high school had never even heard of Nelson Mandela or apartheid–among many other things!

  12. Word Warrior says:


  13. Quinn says:

    I can relate to Belinda, even when well intentioned strangers ask my kids questions I tense up, panicking that they’ll answer wrong.

    Most recently, my 11 yo was jokingly asked, “Oh you homeschool! Well then you should know what 5+7 is.” My boy flushed and blustered out-“11.” Ahhh, I’m a failure! (He really does know the correct answer, just not under pressure I guess.)

  14. K.B. says:

    “Oh so you homeschool?”
    There was a time I would eagerly respond with the joys and benefits of homeschooling, challenge widely-held assumptions (particularly regarding the socialization myth), etc. That was then.
    Now, unless I can tell that a person is GENUINELY interested in homeschooling (meaning, they are seriously considering pulling their own child from ps), I am far more likely to answer simply “Yes, we do.”
    Nothing more.
    After almost five years of hsing I’ve finally begun to realize that in some people’s eyes, there is no right that hsers can do. If my children are two years ahead in reading and math, they’re deprived of participating in team sports. If they enjoy learning about science and conducting experiments in the kitchen, they’re missing out on the “lunchroom experience” (HUH?)
    Therefore, I try to reserve my energy and time (both of which we’re short on, since we are awaiting #5) for situations where such discussions are likely to do some good.
    (Sorry if that sounded like a bit of a rant. The attacks are coming afresh now that family and friends know our oldest will not be not be enrolled in the public hs next year.)

  15. Word Warrior says:

    Smart girl 😉

  16. My daughters are finishing out the school year at our local small town public school, after which we will commence homeschooling the next day. It’s amazing to me that homeschoolers are questioned with regard to curriculum, qualifications, socialization, etc., but a glimpse into a day at a public school is eyeopening when you realize how little any real learning, encouragement of original thought, or appropriate play actually takes place. How watching Disney movies and playing in centers qualifies as school, I do not know.

    I can do that at home in my bathrobe. No special training required. Why am I (along with all the other dedicated homeschooling parents) the one being questioned?

  17. Rachel Falaschi says:

    I’m beginning to get this from people when then ask where my oldest will be going to school next year. (He’s kindergarten age). They make me feel like I must be some kind of idiot, how could I possibly teach him anything, I haven’t “used” my own education in years. I guess they think that everything flys out you ears and you know nothing once you begin staying home with your children.

    On Sunday a lady from our church asked me where my son was going to be going to school. (She is teaching a seminar on Kindergarten rediness.) When I told her I was homeschooling, she drilled me on if he was even ready for school, like can he sit still for long periods of time etc. I kindly explained that kind of rediness only applies to kids confinded in a classroom. At home he will have a greater opportunity to move about freely and release that energy that little boys have in abundance. Is she considered an “expert”?

  18. Missi says:

    Someone emailed me recently and had a really great quote, which I will now slaughter, as their signature:

    “Tell me what you can remember from your Physics lessons taught to you by a state certified instructor, and I will explain to you why I am more than qualified to teach my children myself.”

    That’s a good answer to the question of “But are you qualified to teach your children?” Personally, I am appalled that others think it’s their business at all. But if I ever have to answer this one, I plan to answer it in the above manner. Of course, with a sweet smile on my face. 😉

  19. Lori says:

    Quinn – your poor boy! How rude of that stranger! Dosen’t he/she remember how much all (well, 99%) of students hated the pop quiz? So interesting how in all areas of life, one only has to be a little different to for the people to throw good manners out the window – from comments about adopted children, to touching and rubbing of the prengnant belly, to pop-drilling of hs families.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Homeschooling can be a fantastic option for some families. And individual families have the right to educate their children as they see fit.

    However, asserting that an illiterate mother can give her child a “good and right” education is pretty far-fetched.

    Perhaps there are a few illiterate mothers who could provide a decent education. But they’d be the exception and not the norm.

    In fact, I know some children whose homeschooling experience definitely hindered them in adulthood.

    To promote homeschooling as the best option for every family is, quite simply, foolish.

    So is saying that there is a “deeply entrenched lie that so many believe.”

    Deeply entrenched? Really? I guess nothing drives home a point like a little exaggeration.

    C’mon, there is no conspiracy against homeschoolers.

    Misunderstanding? Probably. But there is a difference between an intentional cover-up and ignorance of the facts.

    Isn’t it possible that there are God-fearing Christians whose children attend public school?

    As Christians we ought to be mindful that there are other Christians whose lives might look different than our own.

    You don’t need an “expert” to understand that. 🙂

  21. wordwarrior says:


    And then there are those who love to misconstrue everything I say, add sarcasm and caustic jabs, to make a point…

    I assure you, there was no exaggeration in this post. The entire point of the post (obviously missed) is that a parent is perfectly able, REGARDLESS of his or her education, to impart a love of learning to a child, and then direct them to the endless sources of knowledge and experience to feed that love–illiterate or not–doesn’t matter.

    I mentioned NOTHING in the post about homeschooling being the best option for every family (regardless of whether I think that or not), so to be called foolish for saying something I didn’t say? Well, yikes, let’s watch our blogging etiquette, why don’t we?

  22. Katie says:

    And I have to laugh even more at that comment about a hs mother not spelling perfectly, because my ps second-grade teacher was prone to some mis-spellings right there on the blackboard. She was a delightful lady, a good teacher, but not the best speller. She also sat me down in a spelling bee when I gave the English spelling “grey”, which I knew wasn’t incorrect but I didn’t know that it was English and not American!

  23. Rebekah says:

    Amen! Amen! And Amen!

    One of the many, many beauties of homeschooling is that you can help your child develop in the areas they are most interested. Also, you can customize your plans and days based upon your goals for your children. Like Joanna said, the younger years is best for beginning and learning a foreign language. Like most everyone else who was educated in public school, I did not learn a FL until high school. I personally do see the benefit of learning a foreign language (not the one I learned, though), so my children are learning through Rosetta Stone. There are not too many issues and dilemmas that cannot be solved when the parent is the teacher. Your family’s goals are so much easier achieved when you are the teacher. 🙂

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Well, yikes, let’s call a spade a spade.

    If even an illiterate mom can homeschool, why wouldn’t everyone?

    After all, isn’t that what Vision Forum (an advertiser on your blog!) promotes?

    Homeschooling as the only God-glorifying option is precisely what you are advocating.

    Whether you say it in so many words or not.

  25. Word Warrior says:


    LOL! Yes! “Why wouldn’t everyone?” That’s a good question…

    Why don’t you just stick to arguing on your blog about why everyone shouldn’t homeschool, and I’ll stick to encouraging homeschoolers and challenging others to think about the myths of homeschooling before they make decisions about it. And I won’t come be nasty on your blog, I promise 😉

  26. Elizabeth says:

    It is a good question. One answer is: not every Christian is called to homeschool.

    And actually, I would never presume to tell anyone not to homeschool–here or elsewhere. I respect your readers’ integrity: they can make up their own minds about what kind of education is best for their children.

    Clearly, you don’t respect mine.

    Speaking of integrity: as a Christian, does it bother you that one of your Google ads was a solicitation for photos of hot, South American females?

    Because if we’re going to talk nasty….

  27. Word Warrior says:


    I guess you haven’t noticed that my google ads have been down? Elizabeth, move on.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    No, I hadn’t noticed today that the Google ads were down. Because as of yesterday they were up.

    But I get it. This is your blog and I respect that.


  29. Ann says:

    As the high school years approached I pondered How on earth would I teach algebra when I could barely remember how to work out a simple equation. My son taught himself and explained its mysteries to me! I just provided him with a good maths book and lots of encouragement. He was motivated to learn as he wanted to learn computer programming. I also fretted over whether I had given him enough essay practice – English was never his favourite subject. He is 16 and just coming to the end of his first university semester via distance ed and written his first academic essay. Friends do not believe me when I tell them he has started his degree. ‘But isn’t he too young?’ they ask me – it takes a lot of convincing them. I have to assure them that, ‘Yes it is a real degree from a leading university.’
    The beauty of home education is being able to tailor it for your children. It is unlikely that my daughter will need advanced skills in algebra but if she ever does she has an older sibling who can teach her! My homeschool support group folded when most of the parents put their children back into school when they reached high school age. Perhaps they felt they couldn’t teach more advanced subjects. Some did it for social reasons, others for facilities such as labs .. what’s wrong with the kitchen? mine has turned into a chemistry lab at times! I felt I was going it alone but it has been worth it. Not only were my children educated (and trained up in the Lord) I was too. I’m always anxious around teachers but one day I was telling a friend about our unit study on ecology and what we had learned about the word and its meaning. Her friend was listening in intently and said to me ‘do you know I never knew that and I’m a high school science teacher!’ I would encourage any homeschoolers who are approaching the high school years with trepidation, yes you can do it. Why go back to Egypt? Keep running the race – there is a prize and God will provide the strength to endure and cross the finish line.

  30. Kelly L says:

    I am so thankful for the things you write. Sorry that you have to bear the brunt of other people’s conviction from the Holy Spirit. Most times, when people don’t want to hear what the Lord is saying to them, they jump at the chance to tell someone how judgmental they are being. It is better than being reproached by the Lord in their eyes. (I personally don’t mind His reproach). Keep on being humble and bold—the dichotomy (in most Christian’s minds) is a pleasure to witness.

  31. K.B. says:

    Actually, whether she realizes it or not, a certain *acrimonious* poster in this thread rather proves the point, hum?
    I think the intention of most homeschooling parents is to do what is best for THEIR OWN families, not to dictate what is best for OTHERS. Heaven knows, when we assume the task of educating our children, we’ve got plenty to do…(regardless of educational background).

  32. Another point worth considering when thinking about our abilities to teach certain subjects is that not all teachers are trained in the SUBJECT that they teach. A Masters in Teaching or an MEd teaches you pedagogy: how to teach. It does not teach subject matter (at least not in the state certifications that I am familiar with). So, you might be lousy at math, get your Masters, go looking for a job, and wind up teaching geometry! Or, you might have been a literary dunce and find yourself teaching English to 90 kids!

    Contrary to this is the sort of homeschooling options that Kelly discussed: if you’re lousy at a subject and you’re a homeschooler, you can find someone who’s GOOD at it to teach your child.

    Moreover, in some states, you can actually send your kid to a regular school to learn a certain subject if you can’t find someone you know who can do it. I live in WA, and it is the law that your child must be permitted to attend any classes you wish at their local public school, even if they are not students at that school. So, if it turns out I stink at teaching chemistry, or I just don’t want to deal with turning my house into a lab, I can send my children to chemistry at the public high school, and continue teaching them at home for other subjects.

    Just some thoughts. It seemed like some commenters were drawing the conclusion that Kelly was saying “You don’t have to know anything to teach it.” What she was really saying was, “You don’t have to know it ALL in order to homeschool. You can either learn alongside your children, or you can seek out adequate teachers in subject areas where you struggle.” This makes perfect sense to me. And, unfortunately, seeking out a skilled teacher is not always an option in public schools: your child might get stuck with the math teacher whose undergrad was in social work and doesn’t know the Pythagorean theroum from Probability.


  33. Dee says:

    You all bring new meaning to the term, “preaching to the converted.” Hah.

  34. Lori says:

    Not all readers are commenters, Dee.

  35. Quinn says:

    If I was an illiterate mother in America today, I would ask myself, “How good could the public school system actually be?” I would see it as a failed system, because it failed me. Then I would learn to read alongside of my child. You only need to stay one day ahead. And what a wonderful example that would be to the child!

  36. Rachel Falaschi says:

    Hee, Hee, Kelli you sure have a gift for ruffling feathers. Remember there are many of us who love hearing you speak the truth. I don’t have any women around that encourage me in areas of being a godly wife, mother, educator, etc. Most of the women at our church work outside the home and send their children to public or private shcools. I find myself speaking the truth and being an encouragment to them, but I need someone to encourage me! Thank you for doing that.

  37. Word Warrior says:

    Oh Rachel, thank you for that.

  38. Hayley Ferguson says:


    I want to second what you said about needing encouragement. Sometimes I feel like the only homeschooling, homebirthing, God-family-planning, modest dressing mother around (not true though…I have other friends.) I still need to be encouraged because quite naturally even likeminded friends don’t agree 100% with me and that is life. Some things in the Word are clear while others are not. I think if you’re honest without an agender, then you’ll know (even if it’s not what you want to hear) what is the Lords Will; remembering there is no private interpretation (immoral relativism) in the Word. My parents “check up on me from time to time with hs” and my parents-in-law were both junior school teachers and I think it’s a threat to their purpose IYKWIM. Every so often my mil asks if it would be nice to find a “good Christian school?” To which I as sweetly as I can answer “no.” You see these sort of schools are the only type I ever went to and they are generally dens of iniquity. Mil gave up on encouraging us in the local ps. Plus it says train up thy children in the way they should go, ie. your own. And if we send our children to the ps we’re sharing the training of them with Egypt. Like the Isrealites going down to the Philistines to have their tools sharpened. Plus it’s an unequal yoke with the world. What fellowship hath light with darkness. Anyway let him who hath ears to hear….

  39. Leslie Viles says:


    Do you think all private Christian schools are bad? I am asking because I send my 6 year old to a private Presbyterian school and have so far been absolutely thrilled with it. However, I often wonder if we should be homeschooling. To be honest, I think they do a better job than I do. He has really learned a lot academically and about scripture and is developing a Christian world view. This is something I struggle with.

  40. Leslie Viles says:

    I meant to address the above comment to Hayley, not Rachel 🙂

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