For All Former Home-schoolers Out There!


Please let me know in the comments why you chose your particular answer! I would love to hear from you.


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No, I Don’t Hate Public School

Lately I’ve had a few people delicately hint that they think I hate public schools.

If you haven’t already read this post I wrote several years ago, please do! And here are some more thoughts that I’ve had since writing it.


There are very few things that would make you a “bad” parent.

Abusing your child makes you a bad parent.

Neglecting your child makes you a bad parent.

Allowing someone else to cause harm to your child without intervention makes you a bad parent.

Thankfully, I’ve only met one or two “bad” parents. The vast majority of parents I’ve known all fall on the good side!

But, the good side isn’t just black and white. There’s plenty of grey.

So… why are we still judging each other as if we think we’ve somehow got this “good” parenting thing figured out?

There are so many grey areas of raising children.

Whether your child watches a television show (or two, or three) and your neighbor doesn’t even own a t.v. set….

Whether your kid is allowed to stay up late when his friend has to be in bed by seven o’clock…

Whether your family chooses to go to a specific denomination of church while another friend goes to a different church…

Whether you don’t force your daughter to eat more than one bite of a food she doesn’t like, yet her friend is required to clean her plate at every meal….

Whether little Jimmy down the street delicately munches on organic carrots and raw milk cheese while your own kids snack on animal crackers…

… none of those things make you a bad parent.

Adding to that list:

Just because you enroll your children in a public school…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

Just because you believe that your child will be learn best in a private academy…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

Just because you want to home-school your children…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

As long as you are making all these decisions for the good of your entire family and the good of your individual child, then you aren’t a bad parent or a better parent than anyone else: you are a conscientious, loving parent. And if that’s what we’re all striving to be, then shouldn’t we be uplifting each other rather than judging? Especially when we are in the same community together!


That being said, you WILL see my posts here focus on two things:

~ Arguing against educational practices that I personally believe are detrimental or questionable for a child’s learning/growing.

~ Presenting evidence and articles that strongly support alternative education and home-schooling.


Because this kind of attitude in schools frustrates me.


And I believe this instead.

Personal Qualities Not Measured By Tests

I believe that many schools focus far too much on academic skills. Succeeding in school is becoming an achievement that rewards children who take tests well and learn the way the school wants them to learn. But, as any teacher or parent will tell you, that is not the way every child is designed.

I also believe that many schools do not provide the instruction, environment, teachers, mentors, or free time that children need for their own individual, personal development as capable human beings with specialized gifts, interests, and abilities. Intelligence is not measured only with exams, computers, books, and numbers!

Some children function well in a classroom, thriving on the structured assignments, smoothly mastering new concepts in math, history, social sciences, and writing, and bring home report cards with top grades.

Many do not.

If a child is struggling in whatever educational situation they are in currently, then a good parent will do whatever they can to help their son or daughter succeed. That might mean talking with the teacher, or hiring a tutor, or assessing a learning disability, or cutting back on extra-curricular activities, or addressing bullying, or encouraging your child to build friendships, or giving extra help with home-work, or setting up a counseling session, or even placing their child in a new school or bringing them home to home-school. As a teacher, I’ve known families who have done each of these things as they seek to help their child succeed!

Because the majority of children are in public schools or academically-focused private schools, much of what I write here has to do with exploring alternatives for those who do not fit into those categories.

But I know that alternative education is not all sunshine and roses either.

Every single educational option has its pros and cons.

In upcoming posts, I’ll be going over some sticky issues, like the dark side of home-schooling, Common Core, and what religion has to do with education. These posts are not going to be easy to write, but I want to address and explore what they mean, both for my own benefit and to urge others to think about these hard topics as well.


To go back to the original topic, no, I don’t think that if you send your child to the local school down the road that you’re a bad parent. Just like I hope you won’t think I’m a bad parent for NOT sending my child to the local school. We’re doing what we believe is best for our children. And we can still be friends : )

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what parental or educational choices your family is making, to treat each other (and speak about each other!) with grace. What works for your own family may not work for another family. What works for one of your children may not work for one of your other children. What worked for you as a child may not work for your own child. Everyone is different, and we need to look at each other with grace.

As a final note, here is a book that portrays children who are in public school and children who are home-schooled getting along together and being great friends. Totally looking forward to reading this together when my daughter is older!

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Kids These Days….

… are probably not any better or worse than kids in the past. Even thousands of years past.What do you think HAS changed, then?Do you think “kids” are this bad?


“Our youth have an insatiable desire for wealth; they have bad manners and atrocious customs regarding dressing and their hair and what garments or shoes they wear.”
~Plato”The world is passing through troublesome times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint; they talk as if they alone know everything….”
~ Matthew Paris (13th Century A.D.)”Our young men have grown slothful. There is not a single honourable occupation for which they will toil night and day. They sing and dance and grow effeminate and curl their hair and learn womanish tricks of speech; They are as languid as women and deck themselves out with unbecoming ornaments. With out strength, without energy, they add nothing during life to the gifts with which they were born – then they complain of their lot.”

“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence [respect] for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint; They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.”
~Peter the Hermit, 1083


Asking questions, looking for answers, all the time!


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The Two Students Who Made Me Cry

Brendan has been my student for almost five years. Recently he had been working on a very challenging piece of music, one that pushed his limits of physical and musical development. For almost two months he had been on the brink of really “getting” it, only to come to his next lesson frustrated at lack of time to practice, an error in reading a measure of unfamiliar notes, an incorrect rhythm, a too-difficult section that needed spotwork, etc. But he truly wanted to learn it, so we didn’t give up. And finally, FINALLY, he came into his lesson and played the music brilliantly, with the deep passion and accuracy that he’d been working towards for so long.

I cried with joy.

He smiled from ear to ear, sitting up straight and proud with his guitar as tears dripped down my face.

I had never cried in a student’s lesson before, and I hadn’t planned on it that day, but knowing how much Brendan was invested in proving to himself that he COULD play this music, and hearing his wonderful success after so much struggle, was amazing. The tears came without me trying.

This week another student, Chase, came to his lesson. Chase has been taking lessons with me since he was seven years old. As he has entered the teen years, his interest in classical guitar, or any other kind of guitar, has waned drastically. Long story short… we decided to work on a pop tune that he liked, because he thought that learning to strum and sing would be a fun side-project.

At this lesson, Chase had finally reached the point where he could strum smoothly through the entire song correctly, navigating through some tricky chord changes. Satisfied with the progress, I told him that we would now begin singing and strumming, so that we could proceed to the next stage of learning the song. He flatly refused.

I was baffled. I tried questioning, reasoning, then expressing my confusion. There was really no reason except that he was terrified of singing in front of anyone, and had major performance anxiety that prevented him from singing. I remembered that anxiety had struck him before public performances, but it had never affected his lessons with me. So I honestly but gently told him that I could only help him with the song so far as he would let me, and if he would not sing, then we really couldn’t go any further with the music. He quietly agreed, his body wilting over his guitar.

I cried.

No tears trickled down my cheeks this time, but my eyes welled up and I had to turn away to compose myself. I could see the embarrassment, discouragement, and disappointment in his eyes.

If I wasn’t so invested in both of these students, I would not have cried.

Brendan’s success was due to his overcoming his obstacles. I was overjoyed to see his progress, because it proved that he had taught himself the most valuable lesson, that he CAN do what he sets his mind to do, and the look of triumph he gave was worth all the previous lessons of struggle.

Chase’s failure was due to him being plagued by one of his biggest obstacles: fear. As he looked at his music in defeat, I knew that this wasn’t really about me. It was about him being affected by a deep-seated, personal issue that went beyond music.

My unexpected tears came both times not because I was proud of what I had taught Brendan or disappointed at what I had not taught Chase. They came because I was reminded that the most important, powerful lessons a student learns come not from what the instructor teaches them, but from what they teach themselves.

*Both students’ names have been changed.



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A Different Kind of Easter Lesson, or What I Don’t Want to Teach My Child

On Saturday Harmony and I went to a local park after hearing that there would be an Easter egg hunt. She’d had a little practice already picking up a few Easter eggs, so I figured that with her cute basket that grandma decorated she’d have fun getting a few more. The Smarties candy she found in one of the eggs before had been a big hit!

Once there, it was evident that this was a big event. Hundreds of people crowded the cordoned off areas of a large soccer field. We found the designated area for one and two year olds (Harmony is twenty-two months) which had eggs neatly lined up in a straight row down the middle of a dining room-sized square surrounded by tape. Seemed simple enough! The bell would go off and the little ones would toddle into the area to get a few eggs, right?

I talked with Harmony about what would happen. She was excited to get the eggs, pointing out several yellow ones near the edge that she wanted (her favorite color). She held her basket and sat on my lap watching the other toddlers around her in various states of patience and impatience. As the bell was preparing to ring for the children to gather the eggs, the parents got their kids in ready position. I held Harmony’s hand next to the line.

The ringing bell startled the children. They all, including Harmony, looked momentarily surprised at the loud noise, many of them reaching for their parents for comfort. Then, to my shock, rather than reassuring their children that everything was okay, the parents instead began dragging the little ones into the ring, snatching up eggs to shove into their baskets, shouting “get them, get them! Pick up the eggs, quick! Grab that one before he gets it!” and causing utter mayhem.

Harmony dove for my arms, completely overwhelmed by the confusion. As I held her close, sitting on the sidelines, I saw only one child actively picking up eggs on her own. I was the only parent not hovering over the eggs. Several toddlers were crying as their mothers or fathers added eggs to their baskets. Within half a minute they were gone. Harmony and I sat bewildered. One woman came back and dropped two dented eggs into Harmony’s basket, saying that she saw my child hadn’t picked any up. I managed to thank her half-heartedly.

Fortunately, Harmony didn’t seem to care at all that she hadn’t participated. She was ambivalent to the two eggs given to her. I was feeling upset still, but once the crowd dispersed, Harmony calmed down quickly. We played on the playground nearby, talked with some new friends we met there, smelled the spring flowers, and enjoyed the swings. For my daughter, this was more exciting than an egg hunt, and it was a good reminder for me to see what really mattered to her.

Afterwards, I found out that several of the eggs had tiny X’s marked on them which meant that the child could exchange the special egg for a prize, such as a stuffed animal, bunny ears, or small toy. This explained a little more the mad dash for eggs that the parents had exhibited. But were their actions justified? Not in my mind. What exactly had been the point of the egg hunt?

As we prepared to leave, another volunteer offered Harmony a lollipop. Despite never eating a lollipop before (my child is super picky, even about candy), Harmony accepted it this time, and was soon happily licking away. She smiled at me as we left the park.


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The Number One (Very Personal) Reason I Am Home-Schooling My Daughter

There’s a good reason I chose the job I have now. My youngest students are usually around five or six years old, and the good ones stick around through high-school. The average age of my students right now is probably twelve. Children are so fun to be around!

The magical years between five and twelve are especially beautiful. Boys and girls alike are eager to stretch their wings. They want to find out what they can do, and do it better. They want to know how and why everything works. They begin to engage in detailed conversations. They want to absorb, to challenge, to improve, to re-imagine, to grow. They are finding out their talents. They are still attached to their families, yet beginning to create their own persona, eager to explore the world a little farther outside their comfort zone every day. Their imaginations are huge, their curiosity boundless, their energy vibrant.

So once my daughter turns five years old, there’s no way I’d want to send her away to school!

As Harmony approaches her second birthday, her personality is already blossoming. She is so intent on learning, so excited to wake up each morning and play. The older she gets, the easier it is to understand what she wants and needs, since her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. We still have our hard moments when I get impatient and frustrated with her clinginess (she’s still little, I need to remember), and she gets whiny, but with the help of my supportive family we are finding our way together in grace.

We have conversations (short, but fun). We go on picnics together. She helps me cook and bake in the kitchen, clean our home, and shop for groceries. We take trips to the library, hang out with our friends, go on walks almost every day, collect rocks, play endless imaginary games with her horse and pony figurines, and draw pictures. I can only see Harmony becoming MORE interesting to be around as she gets older!

Yes, I am a teacher for children, so I naturally love being around children to begin with. Yes, I have a unique situation where I can be at home with my daughter during the day because my job occurs in the later afternoon and evening. Yes, not all parents will find that home-schooling is the best option for their family. Yes, we have other reasons for wanting to home-school such as freedom to learn at the child’s own pace, ability to follow the child’s interests, less standardized testing all the time, etc.

But the main reason that I want to home-school Harmony is because I love being around her. And I hope that as we grow to know and understand each other more as she gets older, that she’ll love being around me, too.


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New Facebook Page!

I’m finally stepping out of my comfort zone to do something new with this blog: I created a Facebook page! If you ‘like’ the page, then you’ll get frequent updates, as well as links and quotes that will only be posted on Facebook, and opportunities for discussions about education. I hope you find it interesting and helpful!

Click here to like Life is the Teacher on Facebook!

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