Sunday, November 16, 2014

'Who is teacher?'

I just read this exquisite piece by Kari Wagner-Peck, above with son Thorin, 8. Thorin attended Grade 1 at public school last year in Portland, Me. Kari is a fabulous writer who blogs at A typical son about raising her son with Down syndrome. Make sure to bookmark her blog. She always has a unique perspective. I can't wait for the next one in this series! Louise

By Kari Wagner-Peck

We started homeschooling or unschooling or what you might call practising loving and respectful learning in September.

This is the beginning of the next chapter in our lives. How we got to THAT is a whole other story I have not wanted to write about. Expect a post on that soon entitled something like: It Was Not Just One Reason.

When I explained to Thorin we were homeschooling he had two questions. The first was easy to answer:

“I call you Kari?”

“If that’s important to you, sure you can,” I said.

“Thanks you, Mom.”

The second question was difficult and painful and probably at the heart of learning at home:

“Who the teacher?” he asked.

“No one is the teacher,” I said.

“No! Who the teacher?”

“We could both be the teacher?”


“We are both the student?” I offered.

“No! Who the teacher!” he screamed.

“You need to learn reading, writing and math. I have to figure out how to help you by learning how to help you. Confusing, right?”


“Thorin, I am not sure what I am doing, yet.”


“I am your mom. I am learning, too. I don’t want to be a teacher. I want us to be a team.”


“Can we be a team? See if that is okay?”

Long silence.

“Can we try?” I asked.

“Okay, Kari.”

THEY say start with what your child loves. So, Thorin and I are writing a book together. My co-author and illustrator (see below) does not want to share anything but the central characters in our story although we have a title, character names and a plot. As a team member I have to honour his request.

Thorin’s word use has quadrupled, reading and math levels have increased more in two months than the entire first grade. Most importantly he is happy again.

I have learned that the greatest teacher is: belief.

Expect more on all of IT.

Illustrations by Thorin.


This is simply lovely. I look forward to hearing about their journey going forward...thank you for posting, Louise...

I was recently having coffee with a group of moms who all have kids with differences...and every single one of us mentioned that we have considered home schooling. I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THIS. Go Kari and Thorin!