Thursday, March 05, 2009

What are you teaching your kids? Jay Mathews wants to know

Jay Mathews, Education Columnist for the Washington Post, published a letter from a mother with the headline "Parent Says Some Things Can't Be Taught At Home." Despite the misleading headline, the letter wasn't negative about homeschooling but talked more of the mother's ability to overcome the guilt of not educating her kindergarten son at home.

Homeschooling mom, Louisa Tran, wrote and called him on the headline in a letter published in today's Washington Post. In response, Jay Mathews wrote:
"You are right to note that the headline would have been truer to the spirit of the letter if we had added two words at the end: "By Her." She spoke only of her personal inadequacies and said she had nothing against what you are doing with your child. I like the idea of a list showing what you are teaching in your home, compared to what Smedile says would be beyond her. Please send right away."
I'm not Louisa, but I'll be sending him my list as well. Here's some of what I'm teaching in my children in my home -- in no particular order:

1. To love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.
2. To love their neighbor as much as they love themselves.
3. To listen to the instructions of their parents and others.
4. To get along with their siblings.
5. To become self-directed learners.
6. That with God and a supportive family they can learn and accomplish anything.
7. That life is not about impressing others with what you know, but humbling recognizing what you have yet to learn from others.
8. That the most important things to know in life will never be found on a standardized test.
9. That housework is homework.
10. That life is school and school is life, you never stop learning.

Along with teaching all of that for nearly 20 years, we've also managed to work in reading, writing, arithmetic (through precalculus), science (though physics), history (ancient to modern), home finance, business skills, computers, art, music, and drama. (In a large family there is always some sort of drama going on.)

I'm sure there are some subjects that I have let lapse and sadly, Latin has only been a recent addition to my kindergartner's schedule that the others missed out on. But as my daughter said before her high school graduation two years ago, those are subjects that she'll pick up and learn when she homeschools her own children someday. You can't argue with that logic.

If you'd like to post your list in the comments go ahead, I'll send him the link. Or you can send it directly to Jay Mathews at:

Extra Credit, The Washington Post, 526 King St., Suite 515, Alexandria, Va. 22314. Or e-mail

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