Homeschooling Will Make You Really Appreciate Teachers

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
Father and son having trouble with homework
Scary Mommy and Imgorthand/Getty

I’m a mom of four who currently has kids in both private and public schools. Well, the currently part isn’t entirely true. Since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted our school district to shut down, followed by a state shelter-in-place mandate, I’ve become a homeschooling mom. Now, this isn’t my first homeschooling stint. I have homeschooled two of my four kids at some point. I’m also a former college teacher. You’d think my back-in-the-saddle homeschooling gig would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for me, but it hasn’t been. Not even a little bit.

Nothing could have prepared me to homeschool, or home-based-teaching, all four of my children at once and so abruptly. Two of my children have individual education plans due to learning issues. I’ve gone from being mom to mom and teacher. I’m preaching to the choir here when I say the task of homeschooling my kids has been incredibly challenging. Because of the many hurdles we’re attempting to leap over together, I’m more appreciative than ever of my children’s teachers.

Teachers are saints. There’s absolutely nobody who can tell me otherwise. I mean, where is the lie? Teachers are basically nurturing magicians who can turn nothing into something magical in five hot seconds. They have our angels from morning until afternoon, five days a week, nine months of the year. Whoa.

I’m sure you already know that teachers are superheroes, ones who are chronically overworked and underpaid. If you are friends with any teachers, they’ve told you summers-weekends-and-evenings-off is a total myth. All of my teacher friends work well into the evenings, all throughout the summer, and every weekend. Holiday weekends? Those provide dedicated teachers with an extra day to organize their classrooms, grade papers, and catch up on e-mails. They are not lounging on beach somewhere with a cocktail, even though they should be.

It has taken a global COVID-19 pandemic to teach us (pun intended) that teachers deserve all the praise and appreciation. Teaching our children is so incredibly difficult, even those children without any special needs and with a generally agreeable attitude. All the sudden, we’re up late at night trying to find videos on how to teach long division in twenty easy steps. In case you didn’t already know, the math rules have completely changed since we were kids. Our old school methods aren’t allowed now.

Do you know what D’Nealian is? It’s not a cool name. It’s a handwriting technique that prepares kids to learn to write in cursive. The worksheet reminds our child to use the proper pencil grip. Does your kid grip a pencil correctly? (Ensue more frantic research.) What are all these acronyms, like STEM and STEAM, and how do we make sure our kids are getting enough of each one? My brain hurts.

What about all the social skills? Just last night, my tween and her siblings were lined up by the stove with the plates, ready for me to dish out dinner. She grew frustrated and told her little brother to “get out of her bubble.” He knew what she meant, honoring her words and taking two steps back. Apparently, this is a school term used to describe personal space and boundaries. Who knew? Well, they did because of their teachers. Not me. Obviously.

There are no fewer than one dozen websites and passwords per child. How do teachers keep all this information organized? I can’t keep up with four kids’ academic goals. Four. How do teachers manage to keep order in a classroom of twenty (plus) children? My theory is that all teachers must go to some secret Mary Poppins/Supernanny school, because they have this maintaining order thing down pat. I’m imagining each one getting some sort of sacred anointing that stays with them until retirement.

Teachers not only ensure that all of their students thrive, but these educators from heaven then go home and take care of their own families. Ailing parents, young children, kids headed to college, partners. Because of their lack of income, many teachers have second jobs. They have so many balls in the air at all times, and they manage to almost never drop one. What sort of magic is this?

Being mom-teacher is super weird for me, even as a former educator. When I’m telling a child to please complete their work, am I mom or teacher? How do I blend or separate these two roles? How are teachers not over it by ten each morning? Ultimately, I just stand in awe of our educators. Truly, how do they do it all–and do it so well?

Even now, teachers are checking in on students daily. They’re conducting Zoom meetings, answering e-mails, and making personal phone calls They’re recording and posting videos. Some have given out their personal phone numbers. Even in midst of a pandemic, they haven’t stopped being our kids’ teachers. Despite all of their efforts, preparing and supporting us as our child’s temporary educator, we don’t hold a candle to them. They are the rock stars.

Teachers are molding the future. Yes, that sounds incredibly corny. Yet, it is still entirely true. They have a tremendous task, every day, to help us raise good humans who contribute to the world. We should give them all of the money, compliments, and support. They are everything, and we realize this now, more than ever before, because we are charged with the task of stepping into their shoes for a season.

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