Posted by: Tracy Barsamian | February 23, 2014

Homeschooling is NOT School at Home

licking bowl

SO MANY people tell me that they could never homeschool their children.  The words they choose to express why they couldn’t homeschool their children vary…”my children would never listen to me”…”I could never teach my children”…”I don’t have the patience”…but the sentiment is similar, it boils down to the idea of moving school into the home.  Having to be the teacher that fills the empty vessel, the child.  But education and learning are NOT synonymous with school.  WE as a society have created a model that assumes that children are blank slates that we need to fill up with information.  The model is wrong.  We as a society very recently created this idea of a core curriculum.  The idea that all people must know the same thing.  If you step back for a minute and let go of this incorrect assumption that the public schools have decreed to be a fact, the idea of a core curriculum makes no real sense.  We all have our own unique gifts and talents and INTERESTS.  Yes, children have unique interests and if they are allowed to investigate and PLAY, those interests and curiosities can blossom into life long passions.

As a homeschool parent, I really do not view my role in the girls lives as their teacher.  Rather, I am their guide.  I watch and listen to them.  I plant seeds…I bring home books that I think they might like from the library; I suggest that we use a map of Arlington to visit every playground in town; I mention classes that they might find interesting.  And if I get a bite, if they seem interested, I make it happen.  That’s not to say that I never do any direct instruction.  I do.  BUT I do direct instruction when they WANT it.  Keira wants to learn how to read, so we do Explode the Code.  It’s not a struggle at all.  She WANTS to learn to read and sees this as a way to achieve her goal.

I know that some families do “school at home”.  They essentially move the classroom into their dining room.  No judgment here on that one.  But the model has absolutely NO appeal to me.  For me, unschooling – or child-led learning – has changed our family forever.  Being my children’s guide is a joy and a privilege.  Assuming this role has changed our family dynamic so much.  By approaching my children and their education with interest, as opposed to authority, love and understanding and compassion flow so much more freely in our home.  I am grateful everyday that we no longer go to school.  Homeschooling truly does change everything.

To learn more about unschooling (child-led learning), check out OFFKLTR Unschooling 101.


  1. Amen 🙂
    It is truly a gift to be able to teach your kids what they want to learn vs what the core tells us they have to learn. With one child at home learning and one child at school learning I see a huge difference. My fourth grader memorizes and spits back the info to get a 100 on a science test only to forget the material next week 😦
    My sixth grader learns at a slower pace but remembers the content because it’s important to his life….. He has interest in it so he won’t forget 🙂

    • Oh how I LOVE that we are both virgin homeschool mamas together this year!! And for many years to come, I hope!! xoxo, Tracy

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