13 Questions for Parents of Homeschoolers

Mom Tested Family Approved Homeschool

Mom Tested Family Approved Homeschool (Photo credit: Simply Vicki)

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
Rabindranath Tagore

“I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
Ray Bradbury

 After attending TEDxHK, I have thought a lot about teaching practices, and curriculum, During the conference, Dr. Jadis Blurton challenged me to think about what learning that is done at school could not be learned online. Blurton writes” the great need for educational reform is coinciding with technological solutions and innovations.” She spoke about the fact that in fifteen years time, “educational leaders in schools will not be controlling the reformation, “so we educators better think about the value we add as institutions and professionals.”

Each day, I think deeply about what value I am adding to my students’ lives. I occasionally wonder if I am better suited to teach students through online teaching sessions using SKYPE or Google Hangout.

With this in mind, What about the parents that have already decided to offer an education to their children from outside of the classroom? These parents can give teachers a body of knowledge and experience. I feel teaching professionals would be wise to listen to parents of homeschooled students.

Below is a list of questions that I have for parents of homeschool students:

  • Are you presently satisfied with your child’s academic growth?
  • What lessons do you want your child to learn that they do not learn in a regular school environment?
  • What are three things that you look for when making curriculum decisions?
  • What would you want in an ideal online teaching service?
  • What are your first thoughts when you think of an online school?
  • Is homeschooling convenient?
  • What help do you need?
  • How is each learning day structured?
  • How do you give social and emotional learning?
  • How do you collaborate with others?
  • What teaching tools are most effective?
  • Who are your educational mentors?



  • Could I speak with you online to discuss this issue further?      My SKYPE address is barrymernin








Parent-Teacher Conference Ideas for International School Teachers

Having completed my Hong Kong school’s annual Parent Teacher conferences, it is time to reflect and celebrate. After twenty-three years of teaching, I find that I still get butterflies. Below are some thoughts about how I approach each individual Parent-Teacher Conference. If you are a new teacher or new to the international school scene, I hope this helps.

My administrator asks each teacher to focus on emotional, social, academic growth. I do this by inquiring what changes they have seen in the child in these areas. Specifically, I ask parents:

  • “Which kids in the classroom does your child consider to be friends?”
  • “How does your kid feel about school this year?”
  • “What changes in study habits have you seen this year?”
  • “What do I need to know about your kid?”
  • “What would you like me to do for your kid?
  • How has your child handled the move to Hong Kong?
  • How has your child adjusted to the classroom?

Few challenge this approach and I find that even fewer parents are hesitant to speak about their kids. This helps gets the conference started in a positive direction. It also, signals to the parents that I consider their partnership to be a priority.

I rarely set any predetermined goals for any of my students. Rather, I set goals with the parents while in the midst of the discussion. This tends to be more authentic and allows the parents to directly impact their child’s education.  I notate all agreements immediately after our talk and act on our shared plans as soon as possible.

I intentionally keep student work nearby but do not let it become a focal point of the discussions. The work is important and should be presented. However, I have found that it is easy to get bogged down on minutia when I rely too much on kid’s work.  Rather, I keep the conversation flowing by talking about the curriculum and the student’s positive reaction from my teaching.

I offer advice but I always ask before doing so. I have no kids of my own so I tend to stay away from trying to give advice to parents. Conversely, I view that it is my duty to support and to affirm their good work.

I give a “temperature check” of the parents’ emotional state as they enter the room. I sit in a comfortable chair and position myself at a slant in order to be as non-confrontational as possible. As parents leave, I bow, shake hands or give a hug depending on the situation. I always say thank you and plea for the parents to keep me updated on any pending changes or transitions that I would need to know.

Finally, below are tips that I have found to be useful:

  • Offer professional books to read.
  • Acknowledge the difficulties of living overseas.
  • Provide evidence of learning.
  • Stay balanced and fresh. No blogging, paying bills, or vacation planning.
  • “It is not about you.”
  • Be punctual.
  • You are an ambassador of your school, you are a professional, be true to your school’s mission.
  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Be reassuring.
  • Do not recommend outside tutoring ever.
  • Be realistic.
  • Brush your teeth after lunch.
  • Have a blast and appreciate the moment.