Homeschooling Parent/Public School Teacher

It always amuses me when I talk to parents committed to seeing their kids succeed in school, say something to me like, “I just don’t know how you do it. I think homeschooling would be so hard.”

There’s not much difference between homeschooling and good public schooling. They’re pretty much the same thing. You just get to choose the material when you’re homeschooling.

Let me explain. My girls have had two days in public school now. We get home after they’ve been in school for six hours. We, like any parents committed to seeing their kids succeed, ask, “Do you have any homework?” Each night, all the girls except six-year-old Dagne answer yes. We have them pull out their homework and spend the rest of the night helping them finish it.

Looks like I’m homeschooling them anyway.

I’m still carefully explaining concepts, correcting mistakes, and encouraging them to do excellent work. Now, I just do it at the end of a really hard work day.

I ask them about what they did in school.

Answer: A little of math in the morning, a little reading later, practiced for a talent show, show-and-tell, three recesses, lunch, and a session of dodge ball.

Looks like the real teaching is left to us parents…

which I think is right. I just wish I could be more efficient about it.

My choice would be I would get my kids when they’re fresh in the morning. I would get my kids when I’m fresh in the morning. And I would teach them the way I want to instead of filling out these worksheets with half a dozen concepts on them that all require a half-an-hour explanation.

I can understand the teacher’s side of it too. For instance, I’ve got over 35 kids in my classroom. I try to explain a new concept. First, I have to get the class quiet — time lost: 3 minutes. Then, as I explain the new concept, the kid who’s been tapping the desk louder and louDER and LOUDER needs to be reprimanded. Then, there’ s an argument that he wasn’t tapping that it was somebody else and why can’t he just tap because he’s got ADHD and this is his work — which is eventually settled by threat of a referral and detention in which said tapper storms out. Time lost: 5 min. Then, teacher must get the class’s attention again. All explanation previously explained must be reexplained because everybody’s attention has been lost on psycho-tapper. Teacher gets the concept out, then tries to provide an activity for the students to exercise the new concept — in which most of the students decide to chat with their friends because they only get to see them in school and they can do the homework at home.

So, I send home a packet of worksheets for them to get the new concept.

And at home, for some, awaits a committed parent, who will whine over the dumb worksheets that take so long to explain.

I don’t really see a solution here.

But if I had my druthers, I think we should make public schooling at night.

That way we parents can do those silly worksheets over applesauce pancakes and coffee. We can do them cheerfully and carefully and send our food-satiated kids to public school to chat with their friend in the evening.

It seems so much more civilized.

Instead, Paul and I, bleary-eyed, try to be good committed parents while battling after-dinner coma, swilling our wine over worksheets.



  1. So this really doesn’t have anything to do with your post but I don’t have facebook at school, and that is usually when I think about it. I was wondering if you could send me a copy of the list of books that you and the girls are working through. Or at least a list of good books for kids to have. I was also going to suggest the Magic Tree House series for you and the younger girls. They have taken Isaac and I all over the world to many significant places and times in history. They are fiction but are often accompanied by a non-fiction research guide. Isaac and I started book one when he was 4 and have slowly worked our way through the series. Now he is starting read them to Lukie. The protagonists are a little boy and girl so they are appropriate for boys and girls.

    By the way, Isaac does come home with 30-45 minutes of homework a night in the 1st grade. Kevin and I feel the same annoyance at the fact that he just spent the entire day at school, he gets the concepts already, and we have to spend time reinforcing them at home instead of playing outside, exploring and riding bikes.


    1. A resource that I use is the Sonlight catalog. Almost every book listed in there is worth reading. The website for ordering one is Another great resource is The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. The book is incredibly thick, but if you check it out of the library, there is a chapter that lists all the great books. She recommends the classical method for educating kids — I agree with her on so much, but the method was overwhelming to take on as whole. I like the “gentle art of learning” better. Usually, we only choose medal winners or widely accepted greats. Books that last over time last for a reason. Another resource I used is Books Children Love. Hope that helps!


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