Leading vs teaching: it’s an important homeschooling method concept that will help you become a more successful homeschool parent! Being a homeschool teacher is much different than being a homeschool leader and could mean the difference in helping develop self-directed, lifelong learners!
Leading vs Teaching in Homeschooling
Confused about homeschooling teaching vs leading? Being a homeschool teacher is much different than being a homeschool leader and could mean the difference in success for your kids!
Let’s first cover, Is there a difference between teaching and leading?
What is the difference between teaching and leading?
Teaching is the delivery of information for the purpose of education and transferring knowledge, while leading is the application of knowledge to achieve a desired outcome.
- Teaching is also the act of helping a person to acquire knowledge and students are passive recipients, whereas leading a student helps facilitate learning and students are active participants.
- Teachers are good at giving information and knowledge, while leaders give guidance on how to be more knowledgeable and continue learning on their own.
- Teachers have the power to directly teach, but leaders have the ability to inspire.
- Teachers can only help so much, it is up to students to apply that knowledge.
This is not to say that teachers cannot be leaders, only that it’s sometimes more difficult to teach and lead at the same time, especially in homeschooling.
However, you may find on some homeschool subjects you take on a more teacher role, while on other homeschool programs you take on a more leader role.
When I approached it as a homeschool teacher, my outlook of homeschooling was more of a “me” mentality and what I could (or couldn’t teach).
What makes a good homeschool teacher?
As a homeschool leader, it’s switches to more of a team mentality, where I facilitate learning by providing the best learning resources rather than transferring knowledge and facts as a homeschool teacher. It’s no longer about what I can teach, but rather the things we will learn together as a family and the resources I can use to help get us there.
A teacher tells and a leader shows. – John Maxwell
Example of Leading vs Teaching in Homeschooling
A great example of teaching or leading in homeschooling is to look at a homeschool curriculum vs unit study.
For most homeschooling curriculum, you are teaching your kids from a guide book and following a specific plan of learning set up by the makers of a curriculum. Homeschoolers have little say in what they learn and how they learn it when using these set curriculum. You teach; they learn.
With a unit study, you start by asking your kids, “What do you want to learn?” Then, you build in all of their required subjects (math, language arts, art, etc.) into that one topic. For example, if your kid loves cars, you can build a unit study on cars by:
- Studying the history of cars (history)
- Designing a car (art)
- Writing a story about cars or an essay on what they learning from a car documentary (language arts)
- & MORE
For unit studies, you’re leading them in learning by providing homeschool resources that will help them accomplish their goals and learning right along with them! There’s no need to be an expert in the area, have a teaching certificate, or even understand the topic.
Teachers say, “Here’s the information…”
Leaders say, “Here’s how you find the information…”
ALSO LEARN MORE ABOUT: Homeschool Curriculum Packages
Teaching and Leading: A Closer Look
What is leading in teaching?
Teaching a subject area is the act of sharing knowledge in that area with another person.
Teaching can be done more professionally or even informally, depending on your teaching style and what students are more comfortable with.
Leading, on the other hand, is the act of directing or influencing another person in their thoughts and actions by providing valuable and helpful resources.
A leader can influence by pointing out what a student can use to help them learn a topic, but doesn’t necessarily have to know how to teach that topic to their homeschoolers.
Homeschool leading is helping their kids develop a vision for what they aspire to be, then guiding them step-by-step how to attain that particular goal.
You may find yourself being a homeschool teacher at times and a homeschool leader at other times.
You can lead homeschoolers into a deeper understanding by providing interesting resources (leading) or simply just present information (teach) through a guided homeschool curriculum.
For example, you may “teach” homeschool math directly from a guided curriculum because that’s how you are more comfortable presenting that subject. Then, you may “lead” in art or writing because you are more comfortable in giving your kids say in those areas.
As you become more comfortable with homeschooling (and especially as your kids get older), you may find yourself gravitating more toward a leadership role than a teaching role.
What are the benefits of being a leader?
Benefits of being a teacher leader (instead of just a teacher) include:
- Helps guide students in quest for knowledge (and develop a lifelong love of learning)
- Focuses more on showing and not telling.
- Involves students in the lesson (and even lesson planning) so they can learn more effectively
- Focuses on when students do positive things (and not just right or wrong answers)
- Spotlights the student’s knowledge (and not their own)
- Put values into action (rather than just talking about things)
- Provides resources to to be able to do a task better or learn about a topic better
- Inspires skill learning and not just memorization of facts
With leadership, you are less concerned about grades and checking off tasks on a homeschool schedule TO DO list and more about providing resources and showing love and interest in children’s projects and things that they love doing.
Leadership is more of a partnership with your homeschoolers and encouraging your kids to think more for themselves, which helps them become more invested in their education!
How to Transition From Being a Homeschool Teacher to a Homeschool Leader
#1. Help your homeschoolers set goals.
Help each homeschool student develop their own goals and objectives that you can help them achieve, instead of setting the goals without your child’s say.
This is a fundamental step because it changes how we approach student’s behavior: going from being consequence dependent to goal oriented.
#2. Stop focusing attention only on academic performance.
Homeschooling is about so much more than academics, grades, and grade point averages and checking off tasks.
How can you also include their social, emotional and spiritual growth as well in your homeschooling for a well-rounded childhood experience?
#3. Trust your ability to lead and your child’s ability to learn.
Transitioning from teaching to leading can be uncomfortable because it pushes many of us out of our comfort zone. Once you become more comfortable in your ability to lead in learning, it will become easier.
#4. Move away from the “teaching homeschool subjects” mentality.
Instead, lead homeschoolers step by step towards the intended goal of learning. It’s not about transferring knowledge, but more about transmitting skills in more of a coaching role.
Instead of “Let’s learn about…” it becomes “I am going to take you through the process of learning about…”
These changes shift the focus from “What do I need to know” and helps homeschoolers think about “What am I going to do?” instead.
#5. Focus more on skills and less on fact memorization.
Instead, explain the needed skills, techniques, procedures and steps needed to accomplish the task and allow your homeschoolers the room to accomplish the task at their own pace and how they best learn.
#6. Practice skills to help homeschoolers become more self-sufficient.
Becoming self-sufficient is not only important in homeschooling, but is also an important life skill.
Help kids (of all ages) become more self-sufficient by discussing the goal with them and then asking how they would like to achieve the goal.
“Our assignment says we have to learn about turtles, what do you think would be good ways to learn about that? Could you pick out some library books about turtles?”
As they become more self-sufficient and better self-directed learners, homeschoolers will know that when they need more information or help, they will seek ways to solve those problems and answer those questions.
Why Being a Good Leader is Important in Homeschooling
I believe that as homeschoolers we should be more leaders than teachers.
I love the idea of teaching, but I understand it is very different than leading. As parents, most of us do understand how to lead our children and what leadership really entails because we do that naturally from the moment we have our child.
Leading is not just telling someone what to do but actually guiding our homeschoolers and showing them how to do it.
When my daughter was younger, I tried to be the teacher first because that’s the role I knew best and it’s what I had been conditioned to do with a traditional schooling background. (It did not go well.)
When she got a little older, I realized that my position was not as her teacher, but instead was more of a leader to her.
This completely changed our homeschooling!
It is much easier for me now that I understand what is really involved in leadership, to lead my daughter in her homeschooling than it was before.
My daughter is now old enough to take control of her learning, and I facilitate that (lead) mainly by helping her plan and finding the best homeschooling resources for her.
I know now that as long as I lead by example and use positive reinforcement she will continue to develop a lifelong love of learning and enjoy home school family activities!