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Who’s Going to Teach My Online Homeschool?

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Jeremy Newman, Director of Public Policy at Texas Homeschool Coalition
DeLise Bernard, homeschool mom, educational consultant, and Founder of Surviving Homeschool
Without teacher training or credentials, how can you give your child the high-quality education they need and deserve? In this episode, we talk about your options for both insourcing and outsourcing teaching in your homeschool classroom.
When your student asks questions, you don't have to be afraid to say that you don't know the answer. Or, better yet, have them research the question themselves and report back to you.
- DeLise Bernard
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Teaching Homeschool Lessons You Haven’t Learned

Are you worried about having to teach a lesson that you haven’t learned or a subject you’ve forgotten?

It’s absolutely okay to learn alongside your students! With online resources widely available, you don't have to feel like you need to know every lesson inside and out. If you have the time, join your child — follow along with their lessons, read the same books, and watch content together.

When your student asks a question you can't answer, remember: "I don't know" is a perfectly good response. Even better, have your students research the answer themselves to help build agency in their learning.

No matter what curriculum or model you use, your goal is to inspire a love of learning. So make sure you utilize growth mindset language, such as:

  • You can do this.
  • We're going to get there.
  • You just don't have it mastered yet, so let's keep working on this concept.
  • Mistakes make your brain grow.
  • Everything is difficult before it gets easy.

Encouragement is important because students can tend toward perfectionist thinking. They don't want to make a mistake. You need to help them escape that framework.

The parent’s role in the at-home learning environment is multi-dimensional. At the beginning, our role is encourager-in-chief.
— DeLise Bernard

Designate Your Role as Homeschool Parent

Homeschooling looks different for different families. Options run the spectrum from unschooling — where you create lessons based on a child's interest — to a highly-structured, all-in-one curriculum.

Choose the model you think will work best for your family. If it doesn't work, don’t be afraid to pivot and try something new.

Homeschool parents generally facilitate their child's education through one of the following roles:

  • Primary Teacher. This parent keeps a child organized and on track. They are responsible for developing classes or teaching classes developed by others.
  • Side Instructor. This parent assists the child but does not serve as the primary instructor. The side instructor model is popular with parents who have heavy time commitments elsewhere.
  • Curator. This parent finds curriculum, teachers, and learning opportunities to help keep their child learning. This model often works well for parents of middle school and high school students who can learn independently.

Like other aspects of homeschooling, know that your role may evolve and change as time goes on.

While serving in dual roles as both parent and teacher, number one is remembering that the relationship comes first.
— DeLise Bernard

From Parent to Teacher in Your Homeschool Environment

The roles of a parent and a teacher can be difficult to bridge. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind, from DeLise Bernard, founder of Surviving Homeschool.

  • Remember that the relationship comes first. Sometimes that means that if you're having a less-than-ideal day, it's okay to take a break, put school aside, and go do something else together.
  • Set clear expectations. Make sure that you have clear and consistent standards for your student's work and behavior while "in school." Be sure to share those expectations with your child often. Note that these may be different from when your child is not in school.
  • Save space for connection. Kids want time with their parents, so remember that it's okay to turn off teacher mode. Every ride in the car doesn't have to involve a math review. It's okay to watch a show just for fun, without dissecting the themes and the story arc. It's a good idea to be together without it being some sort of educational exercise.

Leveraging Credentialed Teachers in Your Homeschool

If you don't want to be the only teacher for your students, you might consider bringing in trained and certified teachers for this fall. In most states, you can hire a private tutor for your student without having to jump through a bunch of extra hoops.

Hybrid homeschool options, co-ops, and homeschool pods are also growing in popularity. A co-op is a group of families working together to aggregate their skills, where parents divide up the teaching for different classes. Co-ops often meet two days a week (virtually during a pandemic), and the rest of the time students work independently at home.

Your options will really depend on where you live and what resources are available. Try out different methods to see if they work for you and your family, and remember, keep the flexibility to change as needed.

Emergency Homeschool - Episode 4 Transcript

Narrator (00:00):
We've had so many parents reach out to us and say, "We're trying to be prepared for whatever happens this fall. Can you recommend curriculum for other subjects, like what you offer for Math and Language Arts with Beast Academy, AOPS Academy and AOPS online?" To help them out, we surveyed our Art of Problem Solving families to find out exactly what curriculum they use for their curious and motivated students. See their homeschool recommendations for yourself at That's

Eric Olsen (00:35):
What do you think about mom and dad as teachers?

Child (00:38):
Well, they're definitely less experienced than my school teacher. But since they did pass college, they do know enough to teach me. So I think it just matters if they know how to help me solve the problem like teachers have practice doing.

Eric Olsen (00:59):
Do you think we could be as good as the teachers you've had in school?

Child (01:03):
Yeah, definitely. Because once you learn how I learn best, you could definitely teach me as well as my teacher. Because even my teacher didn't know exactly how to help my brain learn best and the other 32 students. It took her a couple months, so I think my parents could definitely learn.

Eric Olsen (01:23):
I'm Eric Olsen with Art of Problem Solving, and this is the very first time we've ever considered homeschool options for our nine-year-old daughter. She loves her public school. She loves her teachers. She loves her friends, but we just don't know what traditional school is going to look like come fall and want to be prepared either way. So in this series, I interview some of the best minds in the education and at-home learning spaces to figure out our options and learn how to craft an at-home learning plan That's right for our family. This is Emergency Homeschool.

DeLise Bernard (01:55):
That's the biggest fear. Parents know they don't have the same teaching credentials, training or experience, and are rightfully concerned about whether or not they're going to be able to give their kids a high quality educational experience.

Eric Olsen (02:08):
This is DeLise Bernard, homeschool mom, educational consultant, and founder of Surviving Homeschool. How can I teach, assess and support my kid if they're learning things that either I don't already know, or learned 30 years ago and can't remember?

DeLise Bernard (02:27):
I've actually experienced that. I think the most important thing at this time is to know that it is okay to learn alongside your student. So if that means, if you're utilizing resources like Beast Academy, you also read the books. You can do the lessons alongside them. You can watch the videos. You don't have to feel like you have to know exactly what's going on beforehand. You can also utilize online video teaching resources. You can do searches to find a particular concept and find a video that'll help you to teach that to your student.

DeLise Bernard (03:01):
And then also remember that when your student asks questions, you don't have to be afraid to say that you don't know the answer and that you'll get back to them. Or, better yet, have them research the question themselves and report back to you the next class period. I am all about giving children agency, allowing them the opportunity to find the answers to their own why's and their own how's. And I think that when we, as parents, don't remember what we learned 30 years ago, we just are honest with them. And either we go try to find the answer or allow them to try to find the answer, and we can learn it together.

Eric Olsen (03:35):
I love that. I'm not being lazy DeLise says, I'm giving them agency. Deal.

DeLise Bernard (03:39):

Eric Olsen (03:41):
What is the role of the parent in an at-home learning scenario? And how does that role change based on whether you're homeschooling, doing online school or some sort of at home hybrid learning?

DeLise Bernard (03:54):
So our role is multidimensional. I think that from the beginning we are “encourager in chief”. Our goal is to inspire a love of learning, whether you're the primary teacher, whether you're facilitating someone else's teaching curriculum, or whether it's somewhere in between that hybrid scenario that you're talking about. It's our voice, their parents, that they're going to hear whenever they're tackling a new concept or some kind of unknown. And we want them to remember things like, "You can do this." We want to have them remember that we've been encouraging them.

DeLise Bernard (04:29):
I am really big on teaching children, utilizing the growth mindset model and utilizing growth mindset language. So things like, "It's okay, we're going to get there. You just don't have it mastered yet." So utilizing the "yet" concept, or I'll say things to them or have them repeat things like, "Mistakes make your brain grow." Because I don't know about your kids, but my kids can tend to get towards perfectionism and they don't want to make a mistake. But when that happens, I just tell them, "Don't worry, mistakes make your brain grow." Another growth mindset concept is that things are difficult before they are easy. And I think that when we give them these types of mantras, it allows those mantras to be in their heads so that when we present as “encourager in chief”, but then they can also remember those and encourage themselves.

DeLise Bernard (05:19):
But then to your point, there's that side of encouragement, but then there's the teacher side. But even that is on a spectrum, and homeschooling itself is on a spectrum. So, you can have that unschooler or what we call eclectic model, where you, yourself, are developing lessons, where a parent is developing the lessons themselves. It's keying in on a child's interest, all the way to those that are just implementing box curriculum. And both of those are fine. Parents choose those options for a variety of different reasons.

DeLise Bernard (05:53):
And so, but there's also the folks who are serving as education curators, what I call them. And so I think that a lot of our parents right now are in that mode, where they are curating educational opportunities. Meaning, "I found this curriculum. I like this teacher. I found this opportunity at this cooperative or tutorial. I found this tutor that I really liked." They're curating those opportunities for their student, and they're teaching fewer courses themselves, but they're facilitating that education. But in all of these scenarios, a parent can go from primary teacher, responsible for developing and actually teaching those classes, all the way to facilitating lessons that are already developed. All the way to keeping a child organized, just keeping them organized for something that someone else has developed, and keeping them on track for lessons that have been developed by outside instructors.

DeLise Bernard (06:46):
And so that role, that's why I mean by it's multidimensional or it's multifaceted, because depending on which of those models you choose, you serve a different role. And don't forget if you have a young child in the house, if you have a child that's a toddler or a preschooler, you're taking on a heavier load and a heavier time responsibility, than may be having a middle school child or a high school child that you have to facilitate their education.

Eric Olsen (07:16):
How do you maintain a positive parent-child dynamic, while also creating this new teacher-learner relationship?

DeLise Bernard (07:24):
You have such great questions, because this is yet another thing that I've experienced and had to work through. I've been homeschooling my kids for almost 10 years. And it's something that I did not anticipate starting when I first started homeschooling, but it's something that I've had to realize is a true dynamic, and figure out ways to manage against how it can challenge the relationship. Because it really can be tricky. As the parent, you're not just ‘parent’, but you're also ‘teacher’. You're, in my case, I'm mom. But in addition to mom and parenting and disciplining, I also have to be ‘teacher’. And how do I do that without destroying that parent-child relationship?

DeLise Bernard (08:08):
And so, I'll share some things that have worked for us. Number one, is just remembering that the relationship comes first, no matter what. So sometimes that means that if we're having a battle or not a great day, that I'm going to put the schoolwork to the side and we're going to have a conversation. Or maybe we just need a break and we're going to go do something together or watch a show together. That somehow, something has happened in our dynamic and we may need a break from school sometimes. And so I always make sure that I keep the relationship first and keep that relationship solid first, because that is a top priority.

DeLise Bernard (08:46):
Secondly, what I do from the beginning of our school year is I set expectations. And when I set those expectations, I find that it minimizes disappointments. And usually those conflicts arise because of unmet expectations. For example, my expectation is that, "I expected you to write that in your best handwriting. I expected you to come to class prepared. I expect you to have a good attitude." My child may say, "But I expect that you're going to give me a break because you're my parent."

Eric Olsen (09:15):

DeLise Bernard (09:16):
You expected that schooling from home was going to be more lenient or easier. So they're having an attitude because you're being so strict, and you're having an attitude because they're being so lax. And so I think that setting expectations from the beginning is helpful to manage this. And then when you do experience a disappointment, you can go back and renegotiate or re-discuss that expectation.

DeLise Bernard (09:41):
And then the last thing I think that has been really important for our homeschool, and I would encourage anyone who is having to school at home this coming fall, is really to save space for connection. And I think that that's where I made my early mistakes, because what I thought in my mind as homeschooling, I was like, "Oh, everything is an opportunity for education." So if we're walking down the street, then I want to say, "Read that sign." And we live in the DC metropolitan area, so if we're on a hike, I want to say, "Tell me about that plant. What do you know about that plant?"

DeLise Bernard (10:17):
And so instead of me thinking, "Oh, this is fun. And we're reviewing a concept from school today," my kids just wanted some time for me just to be mommy. And I think that it's really important to turn off teacher sometimes, that every ride in the car doesn't have to be a review of your math facts. And that it's okay to just have a conversation. It's okay to watch a show just for the show's sake and not try to pull out the themes and the story arc. And that it's okay to just hang out together without it being some sort of engaging educational opportunity. So, saving that space for connection, I think really helps to maintain that parent-child dynamic, even though you do have to work that role of teacher.

Eric Olsen (11:04):
So let's say you're convinced you don't want to be the only teacher for your student, and you want to leverage trained and certified teachers this fall as well. What are your options? This is Jeremy Newman, Director of Public Policy at Texas Homeschool Coalition.

Jeremy Newman (11:23):
So there are a number of different options. So in most states, you'll be able to get a private tutor for your student without having to jump through a bunch of extra hoops. There are some states that might classify getting a private tutor as its own specific type of education. But generally, the options are going to be things like getting a private tutor, possibly even taking some classes at the public school if you want to.

Jeremy Newman (11:45):
And then in a lot of states, like in Texas, this is a really big thing, there are hybrid options, where you don't necessarily have to teach every course yourself. And parents will set up, what's called the homeschool co-op, where basically they come and they aggregate their skills together and parents will teach different classes. And it's almost like a traditional private school, in the sense that one parent is teaching the kids of multiple different families, but normally they'll do it for maybe a couple of days a week. And then the rest of the time that students are doing their education at home. And then sometimes that will get semi-formalized and you'll have what is called a University Model School, where you're basically at a traditional private school, but only two days a week. And then the rest of the time you're doing it at home.

Jeremy Newman (12:32):
And so it depends on what state you're in as to which of these options are available, but those types of options, or certainly online options, where you might have teachers that are helping to teach the courses online, instead of just an online curriculum that you have to teach and direct yourself, all of those things are the types of things you might have available. It'll just depend on what state you're in.

Eric Olsen (12:55):
Jeremy, thanks for your time today.

Jeremy Newman (12:57):

Eric Olsen (12:59):
In the next episode of Emergency Homeschool, we'll dig into your curriculum options. How to find and choose the best curriculum for your students. All-in-one bundles versus best in breed curating, and how to make time for electives in your at-home learning environment. We hope you'll stay with us as we interviewed the experts and navigate our at-home learning options together.

Narrator (13:23):
You've been listening to Emergency Homeschool, an Art of Problem Solving podcast. Since 1993, Art of Problem Solving has prepared hundreds of thousands of motivated students for success in prestigious universities and STEM careers, through engaging curriculum, expert online instruction and local academies. To learn more, visit That's