Simple School

Okay, for real this time:  come see what I wrote for Faith and Family Live.  It’s about how, even though I have abandoned four of my children to the netherworld of not-homeschooling, I still have four kids at home, and I still know a thing or two about a thing or two.


  1. You said what Heaney said in “Alphabets” – here’s a snippet:

    A shadow his father makes with joined hands
    And thumbs and fingers nibbles on the wall
    Like a rabbit’s head. He understands
    He will understand more when he goes to school.

    There he draws smoke with chalk the whole first week,
    Then draws the forked stick that they call a Y.
    This is writing. A swan’s neck and swan’s back
    Make the 2 he can see now as well as say.

    Two rafters and a cross-tie on the slate
    Are the letter some call ah, some call ay.
    There are charts, there are headlines, there is a right
    Way to hold the pen and a wrong way.

    First it is ‘copying out,’ and then ‘English,’
    Marked correct with a little leaning hoe.
    Smells of inkwells rise in the classroom hush.
    A globe in the window tilts like a coloured O…

    (there’s more but its too long… )

  2. You bet… and I’ll one up you. After 8 years of homeschooling my 1st grade syllabus is: learn to read. The end. No phonics, not even writing. Unless they want to and I feel like it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that… ready?… kids learn faster and easier as they get older. Shocking, huh? Used to bash my head against the wall, kids crying- did they remember ANYTHING??? Nope. Just how to read, (and that mom can be really psycho) and even reading sometimes has to be put off for a year, depending on whether you’re dealing with one of those darn, stubborn, know it all’s who can’t take any correction. 😉 Been there, too. AND I use the easiest peasiest reading book that exists. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Which is really more like 50 or 25 lessons, they go so fast. It rocks.

    Arts and crafts? Science projects? Any projects? Well, if they want to hang around me once in a while, I’m usually doing something I can call a project. And if they want to grab a dusting rag and learn about pressurized stuff in a can that will make everyone fall down who dares to walk where they dusted- we go for it!

    I think the biggest critics of homeschooling are the homeschooling mothers. We’re just WAY too hard on ourselves!!!

  3. Yes- Martha I TOTALLY agree! We are hard on ourselves…but homeschooling or not- Moms are consumed with the education of their kids- homeschooling moms usually hang out together; schooling moms hang out together- so when a mom crosses ‘over’ there will be a time of mourning for a group of friends that she probably won’t see a lot of- My schooling friends have very little to do with me- different schedules, goals, etc- I don’t take it personally

  4. I wish the school educators could understand the beauty of simplicity. My kids are in Catholic school and they do way too much, especially in the lower grades. It’s far more complicated and intense than is necessary. It also bothers me that they expect parents to constantly send things in, help out, and come in to participate. (which is easy if you only have 2 or 3 kids, as most of the families there do. not me.)They bring home so much junk–worksheets, crafts, etc., and none of it matters to the kids because they know they’re going to make a gazillion new things tomorrow. All this serves to desensitize the kids to the value of their work, and the materials they use, and keeps them from stretching their minds and imaginations. But I guess simplicity would require attention spans of more than five minutes, and discipline of some kind. Kindergarten at our school is ridiculously involved. Multiple field trips, constant “family projects,” sometimes I think I might as well be homeschooling with the level of parental involvement expected. This situation does improve in the older grades.

    • I’ve heard people complain about that exact same thing, gussie, and I think the worst of it is that they’re so good at freaking the parents out if little Billy isn’t performing the way they think he should. I’ve had friends/relatives with kids in school who have called me in a panic about their 4 year old, in preschool, who has been ‘flagged’ by their teacher as having a potential learning disability because he can’t write his name yet. Usually, after I stop laughing, and tell them that my 6 year old can hardly write his name, they calm down. So sad. Do you remember how kindergarten used to be preschool? Now there are two years prior to THAT, I think!

      Homeschooling isn’t as scary as people think it is- like anything it’s only as hard as you make it. And it’s really not so bad having the kids around all day… once they’re old enough to fold laundry, help babysit, and do dishes- I wonder what I’d do without them!!! (Please don’t forward this to child services; they’d probably come get them). 😮

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s