Monday, August 26, 2019

Your Child Might Have A Teacher Who...

It’s the beginning of a new school year. The past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about why our family homeschools when I’m a public school teacher who believes public education needs to be an option. 

This year, my school hired four new teachers. Only one of them is truly new to teaching, but it got me thinking about how sometimes homeschool moms feel like they don’t know what they’re doing, and wonder whether their children would be getting a better education in public school.

I want to tell you - one - that you know more than you think you know, and - two - that putting your child in public school doesn’t guarantee that a teacher will know what they’re doing.

Your child might have a teacher who:
  • Is brand new, has never had her own classroom, is idealistic and inexperienced 
  • Has been teaching one subject for 3 years, and feels like she’s just gotten her footing, but due to the way public school works, is placed by administrators in a different subject
  • Has been teaching 7 years, but has never taught your child’s grade level and is new to your child’s school (which means learning where everything is, who everyone is, who to ask for what, how to ask, and how things work)
  • Has been teaching 14 years, but moves to a different subject in which she’s teaching seven different grade levels, and will have to learn the subject as she goes
These are not descriptions of the four new teachers we hired. These four teachers are all me at various points in my career. 

If you’re wondering if your child would be better off in school, with someone who knows what she’s doing, I’m here to tell you your child might not be in her class.

You know your home. You know where things are (except for times you don’t). You know who everyone is (too well). You know how to get what you need (by using Amazon and Instacart). You know how things work (and when they don’t, you’re a surprisingly good problem solver).

Happy not-back-to-school. You got this.😊

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Gemma’s Fourth Written Narration


“The goldsmith was very tricky because he was able to do a trick in which he takes some acid and quickly pours some into the anvil. He pours the acid so he can get some of the gold for himself. He works in a house and will work for an entire day, for just half a rupee.”

This narration is from The World by the Fireside. 

Now that Gemma is in 3rd grade, I decided to require one written narration per week. (In Form Upper IA, Charlotte Mason suggested “an occasional written narration,” and I consider once a week “occasional.”) Gemma likes having clear expectations, so I told her that because she is in 3rd grade, I want three sentences (one per grade). 

After writing the above narration, she asked if her written narrations could follow this book every week. I said yes. I like that she expresses her preferences to me and is agentically engaged in her education.

My goal for her for this year is just for her to get used to writing - weekly - about something she’s read. I’m not correcting spelling (though I will tell her how to spell a word if she asks), and I’m not correcting punctuation or grammar - which isn’t easy. I just want her to get used to writing as an assignment and writing nonfiction. 

Think about how big those expectations are in and of themselves. In school, we don’t let children master those two expectations first, and then give them two more. No. Instead we give them a lengthy checklist right off the bat. 

Indent two finger spaces. Capitalize what should be capitalized. Use correct punctuation. Make sure your sentences have subjects and predicates. On top of all that, be interesting.

Will I be able to keep from correcting her mechanics? From telling her to use an adjective or two? From telling her that her sentences need to be a minimum of x words? Can I manage this for a year?