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The public school parent’s guide to learning at home

Earlier this month, our family reached a new milestone: both of our daughters are now in public school – all day, every day.

It’s a bittersweet transition for us, but it’s been made easier with the fact that they both genuinely love school and are endlessly enthusiastic about learning. As a former public school teacher, I know that raising children who love to learn doesn’t happen by accident.

It is an unfortunate stereotype of the public school parent that we’ve chosen this approach to schooling by default, or because we’re lazy and want to leave the education of our kids to the paid professionals.

The reasons to be in public schools are as diverse as a public school classroom itself, and most public school parents I know want to support our children’s learning in any way we can.

Many families do all we can to nurture learning in the earliest years of a child’s life, as well we should. But when our kids begin spending their days in the classroom, we aren’t off the hook!

Building a home where learning valued is one of the best ways we can equip our children for life after graduation. Here are five ways to support learning at home.

1. Read, read, read

Creating a home with an atmosphere of literacy is the single most important step for supporting learning at all ages and stages of life. This is not just the bias of a Language Arts teacher showing—study after study confirms that homes where there’s a culture of literacy devotion are the homes where academically-successful students come forth.

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If your family’s schedule is too full to do the other ideas on this list, then above anything else, to make time for reading. Reading is the springboard for all enrichment possibilities: math, science, social studies, art.

Don’t view reading to your child as the act of getting from the front cover to the last; consider the treasures hidden in those pages that’ll excite your child to learn more.

 2. Explore educational approaches

I absolutely loved what I once had one of my (now closed) blog readers said in the comments section:

“We too are a public school family. (Though I often describe us as Waldorf-inspired life learners who supplement with public school.)”

The realm of homeschooling overflows with educational approaches. Just ask anyone who’s recently begun homeschooling, and they’ll confirm the dizzying array of philosophies and curricula from which to choose.

Why should homeschooling families have all the fun? Like Erin, I’ve always been drawn to a Waldorf-inspired approach to life. Even if my children don’t learn at home full-time, we can still choose the aspects of that particular educational approach as a filter through which we emphasis learning.

Take some time to explore different approaches to education. (The Methods and Philosophies page at Simple Homeschool is a great place to begin your research.) Anyone involved in public schools would agree that one of the biggest drawbacks is that teachers can’t teach to the specific learning style of every student in class.

The beauty of a learning-rich home is that parents can supplement their child’s learning in a way that meets their specific educational needs.

3. Provide balance to and supplement the classroom curriculum

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Whether your child is in early elementary or nearing the end of high school years, you can—and should—be familiar with what your child is learning in the classroom. And most any teacher would confide that there simply isn’t enough time in the school day to do justice to the learning material.

Ask your child what she’d like to  know more about and explore those topics together! A chapter on the formation of mountains might inspire a trip to a natural science museum. A fascinating work of literature might encourage a little digging to discover what popular culture was like at the time that piece was written. A unit on the color red could initiate a neighborhood scavenger hunt for all things red.

Listening and responding to a child’s interests further instills the idea that learning is fun and never limited to a classroom.

4. Collect home learning materials

Home learning materials sounds pretty formal, but it’s not. Homes where learning is emphasized contain tools that encourage education.

Build a home library. Invest in a diverse music collection. Display prints of famous artworks next to framed pieces of your child’s own art. Play board games that encourage critical thinking.

Fill blank spaces with bon mots: good words and clever thoughts that make everyone stop and think.

The number of ways to fill your home with good stuff is limited only by your imagination—you’ll never be disappointed by the returns on these investments.

5. Celebrate learning for the sake of learning

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As you might guess, I’m passionate about homes where learning is celebrated. I know first-hand the temptation to think that school is where we learn and home is where we play. The truth is, a playful approach to learning all the time is one of the best ways we can equip our children for lifelong success.

The best way we can instill in our kids the importance of learning for the sake of learning is to model lifelong learning ourselves. As you go about your days at home, model the fulfillment that comes from learning new things.

These are the treasures they’ll take with them long after tassels are turned on mortarboards and graduation gowns are hung in the closet. And more than anything they learn from a textbook, these are the lessons they’ll draw from when the day comes to start families of their own.

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Mackenzie

    Homeschooling interests me so much more since having my daughter. Although she is only 2, I do like the option of homeschooling and plan to look more into it as she gets a bit older.

    I am glad that she already has a love of books, and I continue to encourage that 🙂

  2. Kit

    Really nice post! We are currently not entirely happy with a our kids’ school, but not able to take on home-schooling full time, so it’s good to read about your approach. We have tons of books in our home and they kids are all avid readers, so that already fills in a lot of the gaps.

  3. Suzie Lind

    Love this! Thank you so much. I have three kids in public school but am always looking for ways to support their education and make our home a learning environment.

  4. Alia Joy

    Love this post, Megan! I homeschool my kids but I love that we all have options to choose what we feel is the best choice for our families as we approach educating our kids and that no choice negates a parents responsibility to help foster a love of learning. I have seen education done a zillion different ways and it looks different for each family but it is so true that my biggest hope is that their minds will truly love learning no matter how we school.
    I also love your tips for helping to create that environment.
    Much love to you and your kiddos (including the twinsies) as you enjoy all there is to learn together.

  5. Nicole Robinson @TheBookWormMama

    This is a treat and so timely for me. This weekend I bought my toddler some ABC and 123 books. She is just getting to the point where she will sit down and let me read a page or two to her. It makes me hopeful that she may someday enjoy reading and learning as much as I did as a kid, and still do.

  6. Johanna @ My Home Tableau

    I love this! I was a teacher and have lots of teacher friends. I definitely believe that the key to any education (home or school) is the parents approach to learning. If a parent loves to learn and passes that on to the children, the children can thrive in any school situation. Not to mention that the teachers will be forever grateful! 🙂

  7. Jill Robson

    I totally agree with read, read, read. I started reading to my son before he understood the words, before he could talk, before he could walk, and now at 10 he reads anything and everthing, we can’t stop him reading. He loves learning new things and loves school, especially library day! Go

  8. Steph

    “Truly, the best way we can instill in our children the importance of learning for the sake of learning is to be life-long learners ourselves.” This is so true and important no matter how you choose to “formally” educate your children.

  9. kristy

    As a former public and private school teacher this article was very refreshing to me. My oldest will start public school next year in a community surrounded by great private schools and homeschooling families. You put words and structure to my thoughts towards public school. Thank you for sharing your “steps ahead” of me. It was very encouraging!

  10. Rebecca

    Great post! My son is two and while I don’t think we would home school him full time, this is a great approach. It makes learning fun and engaging. Learning doesn’t just have to happen at school!

  11. Katie

    I’m homeschooling our kindergartener right now – just taking it one year at a time.

    I was feeling a little down and frazzled this morning with the whole homeschooling thing, honestly – this post helps a bit 🙂 I’m encouraged.

    Blessings to all,
    Kate 🙂

  12. Stacey

    I thought seriously about homeschooling because I worried that our local public school (an excellent school that was awarded a national blue ribbon last year) would provide our children with too much of a cookie-cutter education. However, my children get A LOT out of school and there is a lot to be said for immersing children in a place that is solely dedicated to education. But heed this piece of advice — support your child’s teacher and give him or her the space to do what they do best but, when necessary, fight vigorously for the education YOU feel your child needs and deserves.

  13. Liza

    We’re a public school family. My kids have thrived in that setting. We talk a lot about what they learned at school. If they have a question about anything, we look up the answer. We definitely are learners in whatever we do!
    The only thing I have not been successful with is reading. Starting in kindergarten, my oldest was forced to read every school night. If he did not return his signed reading log the next day, then he had to sit out at recess to read. It was horrible! Reading became something to do to avoid punishment rather than something to enjoy. He’s now in 5th grade and still does not like to read. We’re now in a different school district, where they are more flexible (the kids read a certain number of minutes a week, but it doesn’t have to be every day, and the only punishment is a conduct mark), but none of my guys have learned to read for pleasure. I haven’t tried to force it, mainly because of our earlier experience.

    • Anitra

      Hi Liza,
      My mother was a teacher who specialized in reading. To encourage kids who are able to read (slowly) but don’t enjoy it, the best strategy is to just keep looking for ANYTHING that they could enjoy reading, whether it’s history or comic books, and to try to lay off the pressure to read a certain amount at a certain time.

      It sounds simplistic, but that’s what reading for enjoyment is all about!

    • Bridget

      Hi Liza, one of the other things you could do is to find ways to make reading a treat for your family to help create a different experience for your kids, rather than the punishment they’ve associated with it. Maybe something like movie night once a week with special food, cuddle up in blankets and read aloud together? In a blanket hut? Anything that would make it fun. Thats why lots of little kids love reading, it’s the cuddle up with a special adult and be together that they love to start with and those warm happy memories become part of the joy of reading. You can re-wire the brain with lots of patient repeated actions, so it’s not all lots with developing a love of reading for your kids! All the best.

  14. Gina Detweiler

    I love this post! We are just now making the move from homeschooling public school, it’s a huge step but one we know is right for our family right now. But I can hardly begin to think of parting with all of our curriculum because I know I will most likely supliment their learning at home.

    Thank you for really life, workable suggestions to continue the education of our kids at home, even while they learn at school.

  15. Rita@thissortaoldlife

    Great post, Megan! My kids are starting public high school this year, and I’m about to begin my 22nd (yikes! how did that happen?) year as a public school educator. When my kids were young, I knew they wouldn’t get all I wanted from their public school; their dad and I consciously supplemented what they were getting there. BUT: There were things they were getting at school that we couldn’t provide at home. So the trade-offs were worth it. It hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns, for sure. The tips you provide here are all great ways to insure that kids in any school will learn as much as they can and to help them keep learning through the rough patches.

  16. Missy June

    As a single mother of three children, public school is our only viable option. Thank you for writing about ways to support and enhance the experience for our children. Often – especially in mothering circles – public education is considered the ‘less than’ approach, but I’m grateful for others who are willing to invest in my children and go out of my way to support their efforts. At home we engage in a great deal of learning activity supplemented with character training. As parents, we’re all homeschoolers, whether it is in a formal way or not.

  17. Sarah @ Fit Family Together

    This article really resonated with me. For years I’ve looked over at homeschooling families and felt a mixture of what-if and guilt that my children are going to public school. But we have an excellent school and it was the right thing for us. However, we didn’t make that become their learning in a vaccuum. We did all of the above plus . . . 1. We learn things together as a family after school and on weekends. We’ve been studying Japanese using Rosetta Stone for close to 4 years now. 2. I tutor my kids in math, science and writing. During the school year and in the summer I work with them in these areas and my husband works with them all the time on physical health, athletics, carpentry, etc. 3. They are busy learning through working on our farm – how to take care of animals and garden. 4. We have gotten involved in the school in different ways – for several years I did a Winter Solstice storytelling session with my children’s classes. And I also created a flu-prevention class for my son’s kindergarten class. Plus we try to volunteer a bit in general. In fact I believe the strength of the schools my children attend is due to the amount of parents involved as volunteers.

    Glad you showed this alternative that can be terrific for your children if you add your own element to it.

  18. Kelli

    This post was so refreshing and encouraging for me! We homeschooled our kids last year, but this year decided to enroll them in public school for a number of reasons. I hae had the hardest week adjusting and worrying and questioning whether or not we made the right decision. I was cleaning out our office and organizing all the homeschool materials from last year and feeling very emotional and nervous and worried, but you’re so right! I’m still a huge part of their learning. I still get to have an impact on who they are. And the truth is, we prayed a lot about this decision and I felt completely at peac with it untl I put them on the school bus the first day. I think I’m needing more of an adjustment to it than they are.

    Thanks for the reminders that our home is still the place where learning happens! 🙂

  19. Kimberly Robertson

    What a positive and encouraging post! We have chosen a faith-based school for our children. It’s rigorous academically and parents are patrons, not simply consumers. I have spent my career (20+ years) supporting and being a public education advocate. However, as we examined the educational landscape of our community, the choice became simple.
    With our youngest entering kindergarten, I am feeling the pull to grow more educational opportunities at home. Thus far, we have books everywhere. We read and encourage our oldest to read to earn his ‘tech time’ (i.e. time on video games). We do a 1 min.:1 min. approach. 1 minute of reading earns him 1 minute of tech time.
    What I learned on a recent day in the city to celebrate the end of summer, was the joy of learning ‘on the fly’. I asked them questions with open ends, such as “Why do you think….” or “What happened here…” I was able to engage in so many amazing conversations with each of my children.
    This is a bittersweet school year for me, with both my children gone. I do look forward to sweetening it with more learning and, the most important work of childhood, more play!

  20. Caroline Starr Rose

    “It is an unfortunate stereotype of the public school parent that we have chosen this approach to schooling by default or because we are lazy and want to leave the education of our children to the paid professionals. …Most public school parents I know want to support our children’s learning in any way we can.”

    Preach it. I’m a former teacher too, and this idea confuses me and makes me sad. Let’s celebrate learning in its many forms and those who do the hard work of teaching — at home and at school every moment, every day.

    • Tsh

      That was my favorite part of Megan’s post, too. I’m very, very tired of the traditional school vs. homeschool debates, especially since I tend to wave my flag in both camps at different times. 🙂

  21. Sharon

    I love this post! We have chosen public school for our kids (for now, anyway. The more life I experience, the more I realize that my plans need to be open to adjustment!). I have had a desire to do a bit of homeschooling over the past few years, but I don’t currently feel that I can school all 5 well for a variety of reasons. So, we continue on in public school, but knowing that learning at home is so important, too. We can still pour into our kids! At breakfast time together as a family, during homework and in the ways that we spend our evenings and weekends.
    I love your idea of hanging kids’ artwork next to famous paintings-that is great! I can’t wait to read through all of the comments.

  22. Ashleigh Baker

    As a homeschool graduate myself who has chosen to place my oldest in public school, I love this! Educational philosophy should be a strong ribbon weaving itself throughout our days and our lives, never relegated to certain hours or places. Great suggestions, Megan!

  23. Gina Detweiler

    We have just made the switch from homeschooling to public school, and this will be the first time ever all my kids will be in school all day. Because of that I really appreciate this post, I want to suppliment my children’s education as much as possible. One thing we do regularly is read to the kids in the evening, we’ve gone through some amazing books with them this way!

  24. Jadah {family sponge}

    This was such a great post! My daughter starts kindergarten at a public charter school tomorrow! I’ve been torn between homeschooling/unschooling, montessori and public school. We ended up choosing the charter school because it is a music conservatory where the students get 1-2 hours of music and performing arts education too. And although, I’m not a huge fan of large classrooms and standardized testing, when I look at my daughter’s learning style, she loves to socialize and looks forward to school. This post made me breathe easy and know that I did my best for setting a solid foundation for learning the first five years. And that I can continue to support fun learning opportunities even if my daughter attends a public school. I’m still on-call for homeschooling if the school does not gel well with my daughter’s learning style. Thank you! 🙂

  25. Raylee

    I love this post! As a momma with 3 kids in public school, I am always looking for more ways to expand teaching in our home. We read a lot at home. I love the idea of asking the kids what they would like to learn more about and making it into a fun adventure.

  26. creativeme

    For all the encouragement and good intentions, my boys (now aged 11 and 15) are reluctant students. Public school was our only option and it has been a serious challenge dealing with the limitations within the system when it comes to my boys’ particular learning disabilities (marked, noted, measured but not “serious enough” for help, certainly serious enough to fall farther behind every year). They are not stupid, and they are full of curiousity and wonder like sponges, but the public strategy simply isn’t working for them. Since that is the system that I thrived on, I’m not sure how else to do it at home after-hours either. They love watching and listening to and telling stories, but put the words on paper and they freeze up terribly (and are embarassed by it too). Sitting still is agony for them and I get lectured endlessly about how much they need to do to “catch up” to their peers. I am not prepared to send them to school all day and then strap them to a desk all night too. I know my boys, they learn best through experience, preferrably very active experience. The only conselation I get is that public school is a relitavly short part of their lives… soon enough they will be grown and can pursue their natural calling and thrive!

  27. Michelle Murphy

    I cannot begin to tell you how important this post has been for me. Our two oldest girls just began all day public school a couple of weeks ago and since then my soul has been in knots. There are truly no other options where we live and I had given it up to God, but I still struggled. This discussion has given me a peace that I sincerely needed. I hated feeling less than because we “chose” public school. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  28. Diana Trautwein

    This is beautifully put, Megan. Even if you choose not to homeschool, your home is always, ALWAYS a school for your family – the primary place where learning happens.

  29. Wendy Lawrence

    Thank you for this! As a former public and private school teacher, I think it’s really important for families to think about the learning that happens at home. I appreciate, as always, your insights and inspiration. Now, I’m off to help my four-year-old son clean our fish tank, which is teaching him a lot about biology, chemistry, and just hard work!

  30. Keya

    My oldest two children are also in public school and believe me when I say I have considered homeschooling (or cyber school where I live) because the district that my kids go to school is ranked in the bottom 15 of the state. However I believe that taking them out of the public school does more harm than good for them and the community that we live in. These ideas are GREAT and very well timed since my oldest really doesn’t like to learn the traditional way and I’ve been looking for ways to supplement his learning at home in ways that he can get excited about! Thanks so much for the resources.

  31. Julia A.

    This post is great, not just for my kids (currently 4 and 1 1/2) but also for how I grew up – both private and public school educated but always surrounded by books, and music, old movies, and parents who encouraged my interests and curiosity.
    My son (4) loves “reading” to his little sister and practicing writing his letters and numbers (when he’s not bouncing off of the walls). We go on scavenger hunts around the neighborhood for shapes, letters, colors to collect or take pictures of. We’re planning on sending our kids to our neighborhood public school for many reasons, but one is because it has an active parent community.

    One thing that I don’t think is given it’s place is boredom. So many wonderful, creative ideas come in the moments after a child says that they have “nothing to do.” I’ve seen children write the most creative short stories, pick books off of a shelf they never would have, build, make, dig, draw – create – some wonderful things out of boredom.
    From time to time, don’t be afraid NOT to give your child something to do.

    • michelle

      We have always been big fans of boredom. I think what made it easy to have was that we never had video games and extremely limited TV time for our kids. They would come home from school and there wasn’t a screen to absorb their attention. So they would play outside alone, or with friends or read or let their imaginations run wild. 🙂

  32. Tara Cochran

    LOVE this post! With so much written these days about homeschool and private school, it is refreshing to hear another point of view including public education! I am a product of both public and private schools and advocate for both. I would be an advocate for home-school depending on the child and the parent. Each age has its unique challenges and so we have decided that we will look at what solutions are right for our children (8 and 3 years now) on a year-by-year basis. There is no one absolute right fit. Which is why, the points you have written about, parental invovlvement is SO important. I supplement every subject and test prep at home. Yes, we incorporate daily lessons in the school of life. However, I think much of that comes from living. There is not enough time in the classroom/school day today to really teach (15-30) children for them to get it. We, as parents, have to provide more with one-on-one review and practice. That is what I plan to do in elementary to instill great study habits, resourcefulness, and hard work ethics in my kids. And I do feel more parents should do that. Why pay someone else? I work full-time, but I squeeze in as much of this as I can in the evenings and weekends. It is THAT important. Thank you again for a wonderful post.

  33. Shauna

    As an “afterschooler” is a former homeschooler, I’m so happy to see this post and can relate to so much of what you have shared. Learning at home can (and should, IMHO) be encouraged by all parents, no matter what educational choices they have made for their kids.

  34. Sherry

    Great post! Right now, we are public schoolers. Well, my 4 year old will be going to a private preschool this year, but she will go to public Kindergarten next year. My son is going into 1st grade at a public school this year. He went there for Kindergarten last year and had such a great experience. His teacher was PERFECT for him. I have heard amazing things about the teacher he will have this year, so I am praying for another great year. He is “twice-exceptional” – gifted and Sensory Processing Disorder … my sweet, quirky boy!

    We do a lot of the things you mentioned in the post …. lots of reading. I ask a million questions about what they’re learning and we’ll talk about that stuff and look up things online. We take a lot of trips and make parts of them educational.

    Parents should always be involved their kids’ education, even if the kids go somewhere else for actual school.

  35. michelle

    My kids start 8th and 9th grade this year and have excelled in public school in terms of grades, relationships with teachers and friends and outside activities like ballet, triathlon and more. I love the idea of the Waldorf approach supplemented by the public school. That’s essentially what we’ve done here. Our home is the first place our children learned and they have continued to learn here throughout their school years. We frequent zoos, aquariums, libraries, museums, historical sites, hydroelectric dams, farms, etc. Life is learning. I tend to agree with you. The number one greatest thing we did here for our kids was/is to cultivate a love of reading. We all read. All the time.

  36. Jacquie@KCEdventures

    My kids also attend public schools but we are very big on supplementing their ‘passions’, along with teaching things that the schools may not have time (or responsibility) to teach. I love you list – read, have learning materials on hand – it’s so important that kids feel learning is a fun, life-long process and not just something that happens when they attend school. Here’s to a great learning year!

  37. Jacquie@KCEdventures

    My kids also attend public schools but we are very big on supplementing their ‘passions’, along with teaching things that the schools may not have time (or responsibility) to teach. I love you list – read, have learning materials on hand – it’s so important that kids feel learning is a fun, life-long process and not just something that happens when they attend school. Here’s to a great learning year!

  38. Natasha

    Great post! What are people’s favourites for children’s music? I like Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb. I’d love more ideas, though.
    A site that is excellent for games and toys that encourage learning is (free shipping!!). This site is great for grown-ups too. I have a long wish list on it. ; )

  39. Jenny

    Wow! Do people really think that if you don’t homeschool you are a lazy parent? I’ve never heard that before and it blows me away.

  40. Megan

    This is so great! I’m going to share these thoughts with all of my friends who confide in me that they would secretly love to homeschool, but for whatever reason have chosen homeschool. They peer into our life and wonder what we are doing and just how we do it and I just want to say “You can do it to ya know!” And what a great reminder that parents choosing public school don’t necessarily do it out of default or laziness! I personally want to have the option for public school open for the future and I would be sorely disappointed if someone viewed my choice in that way!

  41. Laura@peacebutnotquiet

    I love the description of being Waldorf-inspired lifelong learners who supplement with public school! Exactly.

  42. Dana

    Love. Love. Love. I homeschooled last year and wanted to make it a permanent decision but alas, it was not meant to be. I am determined to take a more hands on approach to learning that goes on at home. One of things I fell in love with about homeschooling was that learning became such a focus of our days. There is no reason that has to end just because they go to school. I have said we decided to let school teach them the facts and we will do the real life learning at home 🙂

  43. Becky

    Beautifully written post! I am also a former public and private school teacher. We will be pursuing public schooling for our little with a lot of at home supplementation. I am looking forward to the field trips and journeys through the library that will be coming our way.

  44. amy

    This is just what I needed to read today! My daughter just started 1st grade at our local public school. After three years in Montessori, and one year homeschooling, it has been a difficult transition so far (for me, not her)! I am motivated now to remember to keep the learning going at home. I love the idea of expanding on what they are learning at school. Thanks you!

  45. Andrea

    Love this. I have a foot in each door as we have kids in public and kids at home. And sadly the public sch. kids do little learning at home. I am aware that homeschool won’t always be an option for us so great to read ways to merge the two. We do have friends who have kids in public but do far more learning at home than we do. They inspire.

  46. Rebecca B

    I give this two thumbs up. Learning should start at home and be supplemented at school =). I’d add: when I volunteer in my sons’ public school classrooms, I feel a lot more in tune with what they’re learning and am better equipped to help them.

  47. Erin Goodman

    Thank you so much for including me in this very inspiring post, Megan.
    (And thanks for sharing a bit of your beautiful space with me, Tsh.)

    This may have already been mentioned in the comments (haven’t had a chance to read through them all yet), but Eileen from Little Acorn Learning is a great resource for “Waldorf afterschoolers.”

  48. Amanda @ Serenity Now

    Excellent post! I started reading to both of my girls when they were teeny tiny, and by the time they could crawl, they wanted me to read to them all the time (I created monsters). 😉

    This was timely for me because we just enrolled our oldest in the neighborhood public school for 1st grade. We couldn’t afford the private school that my husband and I attended, and homeschooling isn’t in the cards for us for many reasons. I volunteered once in the classroom so far, and I was appalled by the chaos…and the lack of quality instruction. I gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt, because it’s still the beginning of the year and the kids are establishing routines. She’s a friendly lady and my daughter seems to really like her. But she seems bored because the poor teacher spends all day trying to keep the 1st graders under control.

    That all goes to say that this post was a great reminder that regardless of what she does at school all day, it’s my responsibility as a mom to enrich the learning process at home and to help her grow as much as I can. Thanks for the encouragement!! 🙂

  49. Nicola

    Great article! I have talked a lot on my blog about “before” and “after” schooling, but I love how you and Erin word it. We are always learning. Sometimes it is just helping ourselves and our children pay attention to those learnings! I appreciated reading this as we are struggling with our choices right now.

  50. Sarah

    Lovely post! As I breathe and exhale with relief…

  51. Christie

    We homeschool, and have collected quite a library of books. Books are good for learning, for refreshing and for entertaining. Love books!

  52. Julie

    I love this article. We have 2 children in public school and support our teachers wholeheartedly, not always the administration, but definately the ones with day-to-day contact with our kids. Last year at the school’s Open House we were encouraged to read the book “Read Aloud” and it opened up doors in my thinking that I never knew existed. My two school age kids are avid readers and have been required to read a certain amount each week since beginning school, I am all for it. Some nights it is a struggle between other commitments and homework, but by making education a priority our kids learn that even though it may not be fun at the time, the benefits definately outweigh the fun in the outrun.

    As we begin our new school year next week and after meeting with the teachers, I am excited that both kids have teachers that are reading focused in the classroom. One of their teachers is on the ELA Committee for our district and the other one is just a major reading buff and knows that reading is the foundation for any solid education. This is going to be such a wonderful year for the kids, I can’t wait to watch them bloom!

  53. Kelly Wiggains

    We just began homeschooling last year, and the main lesson I have learned from my experience so far is that my main job is to provide opportunities. I can’t learn for my children or force them to learn. I simply need to offer them ways to learn and time to learn. It’s my job to create boundaries and freedom for learning to happen in our lives. A learning environment creates learning moments, no matter where my children get the bulk of their education. Thanks for a great post!

  54. Prerna@The Mom Writes

    Oh.. I SO needed to read this.. My daughter has always ‘gone’ to school and while we do encourage learning at home, reading about homeschooling families and the success and fun they have while learning at home would sometimes make me wonder if I’m making the right choice. However, in India, homeschooling is not recognized and so, public/private school it is. I am glad to get a confirmation of my belief that the home can be a fertile learning ground regardless of whether you public school or homeschool and I’m also glad to see that the activities we do at home right now are all supporting her overall learning in some way or the other. Thank you, Megan. Thank you.

  55. Vanessa

    With a family focus on language our two boys have been in and out of public and private immersion schools. Private school is really expensive but we always felt well served as a family there, not just my children, but us too. Somehow I learned a lot as well. Public school has it’s wonders; it’s free, it’s balanced and they send a school bus (this must be the best idea ever). And in either place, I have always believed that the school does one level of teaching and the parents do another level. We go to the library at least once a week, go to museums, theatre often and try hard not to let electronics run our lives. The very frustrating thing I have had to deal with is that my teenage son seems incapable of picking up a book these days. He was a natural reader and benefitted greatly from all those books but it seems to be in the past. My suggestions are counter-productive as he does the opposite. I am hoping that “this too shall pass,” and that he’ll get back to it soon. Guilding a child is so different from guiding a teenager, I am still trying to find my way.

  56. Sarah

    I needed to hear this. Our son will be starting public school in a couple of days, and I’ve been mourning the fact that we’re not homeschooling him. I know absolutely that public school is the right place for him now, but I still wish we could homeschool. This was inspiring, especially since my husband and I are lifelong learners and hope to inspire that in our children.

  57. Margaret

    As a public school teacher, I’m so glad to read this post. I am passionate about the value of public education, but I would never, ever claim that it is a complete solution to a child’s education. I want and need my parents to be heavily involved in their children’s education, and I mourn the number of my students whose parents believe that education only happens at school. Thank you!

  58. AmyM

    Thank you so much for the encouraging post. Our children are in public school and we have been very fortunate to have had excellent award-winning teachers in one of the worst school systems in the country. My husband and I appreciate the experience, expertise and creativity these educators bring to our children every day. We do our best to supplement our family’s education at home, but feel blessed by the many things they encounter both through their teachers and their classmates. Even the things that are negative open the door to thoughtful reflection at home.

  59. Debra Mann Morton

    We tried Montessori, co-operative schools, two different charter schools, public schools, and home schooling. None of them came close to the joy and freedom that we found through Un-Schooling. We are a happier family, with happier kids, happier marriage, happier individuals since making this choice. We follow our joy wherever it leads us. We have found that learning is a natural outcome when the heart is open. Also, WHAT we learn, through this approach, is deeply relevant to WHO we are, and we can continue to build on that our whole lives.

  60. Stephanie

    Excellent pointers, Megan!
    We are fortunate to live in a school district that partners with homeschooling families. Our oldest daughter just started Kindergarten this year. The district provided curriculum free-of-charge…plus, she takes a weekly art class at one of the elementary schools. She also will begin piano lessons this month!

  61. Stephanie

    I like your idea of displaying famous art pieces throughout the home. Making a note about that… 🙂

  62. Andree Ramon

    As a former public school teacher, I know that raising children who love to learn doesn’t happen by accident.

  63. Manda Clem

    Great job on the blog, it looks great. I am going to save it and will make sure to visit weekly.

  64. Stephen Snipes

    My children genuinely love school and are endlessly enthusiastic about learning.

  65. Kirsten

    We just moved to the States from Canada and it has been a very hard transition for me.

    I had my daughter enrolled in a new Waldorf charter until today. I love so much about Waldorf, the arts, the music, the environmentalism, but as much as I tried to wrap my head around it and make it work, I just couldn’t subscribe to its dogma. I grew up in a fundamentalist household and I just can’t do that in any way or form to my daughter.

    So, after a very agonizing and painful week of self-reflection and disappointment, I enrolled her in public school. This was not a decision I took lightly, and it was not easy for me. I wanted so bad to want Waldorf, but after researching the opportunities available in this particular public school, coupled with the close proximity to our house and the fact that I need to be here, in this neighbourhood, making friends and feeling like I belong where I live, I decided that it was the best decision for us.

    I don’t knit, but I sew. I don’t play an instrument but we love to sing. I garden and my daughter has gardened since forever and can name seedlings and identify plants. We compost and recycle and talk about “locally produced”, organic, GMOs, and do our best to observe and discuss the world around us. But we also like to watch TV, and look things up on the computer, and eat ice cream and cotton candy when the (special) occasion arises.

    I want my daughter to feel comfortable asking questions and be supported to explore the answers; I want her to feel free to be who SHE is. And I am reminded through your post that even though public is not initially the way I wanted to go, through me, we will still get our Waldorf.

    Thank You for that.

  66. Lisa

    I am just finding this post and want to thank you for it. I have a foot in both worlds; homeschooling and school. I hope it is ok to link your post on my blog for veteran and former homeschooling moms. Moms who decide to put their children in school after homeschooling need to know there is a way to stay connected.

  67. Caroline Starr Rose

    So interesting I flagged the exact same quote to comment on as I did the last time this ran! Thank you, Megan, for this post and for championing all parents. I have to believe most everyone truly want what’s best for their children. Pointing fingers about how we educate doesn’t help anyone.

    • Megan Tietz

      I always approach conversations about education that way, too. We all really do want to do what is best for each child – to the extent that we are able. Thanks, Caroline!

  68. Bridget

    So excited to happen upon this post today! So many wonderful points. My friend and I are launching an online creative writing club for kids this fall. It’s an exciting journey! We just posted a freebie about writing and transitions (back to school) today!

    • Megan Tietz

      Thanks, Bridget!

  69. JayEssJay

    Oh, I’m so glad you posted this today… I’ve been so inspired by a coterie of homeschooling families on blogs and Instagram lately, but know that’s probably not in the cards for our family for a number of reasons. Even though my son is only an infant, I’ve been dreaming about what a public school day and a homeschooling/unschooling evening/weekend/summer might look like. And, although it seems to be early to be thinking about this, I can see myself integrating such philosophies and perspectives even today as a supplement to his day care experience. Can’t wait to dive into the links and read wisdom from similar experiences!

    • Megan Tietz

      Education always begins in and flourishes in the home, no matter what schooling choices you make. Sounds like you are already off to a great start!

  70. margaret

    i absolutely loved this post. my children go to public school and we love to learn together. learning looks different for each family and this post encourages that. thanks!

    • Megan Tietz

      Thanks for being part of the conversation, Margaret!

  71. Linda Sand

    When i was a young teen my Dad went back to school. Every evening he would sit in his chair and copy his textbooks. He said that was his best way of learning. It had not occurred to me before that people had different “best” ways of learning.

  72. Molly

    Ha! If public school were just a last choice option “default” education, parents wouldn’t research school districts so much and put so much emphasis on choosing one.
    I’m a public school debate coach. 🙂

  73. Lana Lou

    I really want to homeschool my son, but due to his language delay, we decided to send him to school. But just because we aren’t ‘homeschoolers’ doesn’t mean we don’t learn at home! I try to infuse learning and exploration into all of our activities, and this list is a great reference.

  74. Guest

    Agree with all of this but would have a respectful update that this isn’t limited to public school but also private school. Our children go to private school and every single one of these apply as well! I think you mean “traditional” in terms of sending your children to an educational institution other than home. 🙂

    Another thing I would add is be PART of the process at your child’s school! I’m really passionate about STEM so I’ve spent a lot of time researching STEM activities and volunteering at the school by leading/facilitating these activities in the classroom. Other parents have been super excited about this and helpful as well. Similarly, our elementary school did not have art as part of the curriculum (but did have music, foreign language, etc.) and my oldest loves art. I found a local SAHM who used to be a public school art teacher and worked out a scenario with her where those of us interested were able to pay for an after school art class with the school allowing us to use the facilities to do this. This year the school has added art!

    So anyway, not to be a cliché but…be the change you want to see!

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