Last week I received an email that made me smile. It was from a former student. Actually, it was from two students. Twin sisters. If teachers were allowed to have a list of favorite students of all time, these two girls would be near the top. I was thrilled to hear what they were up to and how I had played a small part in shaping their lives.
I occasionally hear from past students, sometimes even from kids who have moved away, but this email was a first. After leaving my class, these two girls moved to Norway. What a small world it is when a couple of teenagers can track down an old teacher a half a world away using nothing but the internet.
I've recently been reflecting on the power of relationships when it comes to teaching. I'm reminded of the time I was able to fly across the country to attend the high school graduation of an old student. Or the time a student moved an hour away and I made arrangements with his mom to visit him and take him out to lunch on the back of a motorcycle. Another student made the perfect babysitter for my kids when they were younger. All of these are kids I will never forget. They impacted me as much as I impacted them. That's what a relationship is.
And that is where you, as a homeschooling parent, have the biggest advantage known to educators. You have a built-in relationship with every one of your students. You can take them out for a one-on-one lunch any time you want. You can tuck them into bed at night. You can listen to them pour out their frustrations without anyone accusing you of anything inappropriate.
Without a healthy student/teacher relationship, curriculum doesn't matter. How well you present information doesn't matter. Textbooks are worthless, but you are valuable. Kids listen to you because they know you. They trust you and feel safe around you. There may be days when you say that your kids would be better off with someone else, and that may be true for specific subjects, but the relationship you have with your kids can never be replaced.
Cherish the moments you have with your kids. Shape them. Grow them. Guide them through their young years as you walk beside them. And always know that you are the perfect person for the job. No one could ever do it better.