RSS Feed

Why I’d Never Home School.

Reading with my 5 year-old is kind of like playing password.



The sentence is… “Mac can tag Mag.”

“Okay,” I encourage. “Let’s sound it out. What’s the first letter?”

“M” He shouts with confidence.

“That’s right, and how does M sound?”

“Mmmmmm” He says, making a funny face.

“Great! Now what’s the next letter?”

“Mmmmm” he continues, totally amused with himself and the sound.

“Yes, yes.” I say semi-patiently. “But what’s the next letter?”


“Right again!” My boy grins like he just bought a vowel and got four. But that’s a different game.

“And the last letter?”

“C. Cacacacacaca” He automatically sounds out.

“So we have Mmmm, aaa and cacacaca.”

He listens to me intently and repeats, “Mmmmmmm aaaaa ccccc.”

“That’s right!!” I say, bouncing a little in my seat with excitement. “Now put it together.”

“Mmmmaaaaccccc. Cat!” He says triumphantly.

“Cat?” I ask, incredulous. “Cat? Where the..” But I have to stop myself and regain my mommy composure. “Uh, no. What does cat start with?”

“C!” He says.

“Right! And what’s the first letter here?”


“Right. And how does M go?”

“Mmmm” He says and starts with the silly face.

“Right again.” I say, ignoring the fact that he’s still mmmm-ing. “So let’s sound it out again. Mmmmmm aaaaaa ccccccc.. Say it with me.”

Together we say, “mmmm aaaaa ccccc”  pulling it closer and closer together until we get…

“MAT!” He cries with happiness.

My face twists up in agony. “So close!” I say, gritting my teeth, “But the last letter is a C, remember? Not T. So it’s Maaaaaaaa…”   I feed him the sounds and stare at him bug-eyed, nodding freakishly. He looks at me and then looks at the word, and then to me and back to the word.

Finally, with uncertainly he says, “Mac?”

It mocks me

It mocks me

“Yes!” I jump up and kiss his face. He smiles warily. I think he’s afraid of me.

I lean back in my chair and puff out in relief like we’ve just finished Homer’s Odyssey. Wow. We worked our way through it and got it!

Oh wait. I come down off my reader’s high, look at the book and sigh. There are still three more words on the page.

Gathering my strength, I return my attention to completing the sentence.

Mac can tag Mag.

“Okay. So we’ve got the first word.” I look at my son expectantly and point to it. He looks at me expectantly, eyes wide.

Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it. My brain whispers.


Oh my God. Pass!

About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

64 responses »

  1. Oh my gods….dying here. We homeschooled for a few years. Many moments, just like this one.Usually with numbers but still….oh,so relatable.

  2. You had me in stitches with this one!!!! I so feel your pain. Homeschooling is not an option for us either. I really applaud those that do and I adore teachers!!!!!

  3. Crying with laughter! You have totally just 100% described the pain of teaching a child to read…or helping them learn to read! Oh my Lord, it is PAINFUL. Love this post!-The Dose Girls

  4. I’d just like to point out that, as a kid, I never knew anyone named Mac who had a dog named Mag. I can’t blame your son for changing the sentence to words that make sense to him.
    Not that this insight makes your job any easier. Glad I could help!

  5. Lol, this was funny and cute. I often think my 4 year old is just screwing with me when we have these little episodes. It must be a conspiracy.

  6. This made me choke on my coffee. Hilarious!

  7. I also cried with laughter…..!
    Your post is terrific ,and I was thinking , like cynkingfeeling , that your son was just looking for what made sense to him!
    Ciao, bella!

  8. Yep it’s painful. At least I’m on the last one now…

  9. Oh, yes, I sure hope my kids learn to read at school because OMG I don’t know if I can sit through that with the level of patience my kids deserve. HELP ME!

  10. Oh how funny!! Been there so many times with homework. I have always thought about homeschooling but this once again reiterates that I cannot teach my children or my family…other people’s kids fine…but my own family…nope

  11. Haha this reminds me of the vicious fights my mom and I had over my math homework for about 2 months when I was in 5th grade until she finally gave it up and called a math tutor.

  12. Ugh, maintaining mommy composure is SO HARD. Realistic telling here. Great story!

  13. My kids cannot, simply Can. Not. do phonics. Caroline could go “Sh-a-r-k” and look at you all day. Sam does the Cat thing still. Fortunately, their school combines phonics with sight reading, so they can learn to read the way they understand it, which is via sight reading, and let them come at the sounding out backwards.

  14. Ha, this was great. Guess being a parent has its frustrating moments. Yet I’m looking forward to it.

  15. Your little Julius could not be cuter. And you have the patience of a saint. I could never home school for exactly the trauma you described so beautifully! Love the password connections – great post, m-o-m!

  16. I feel you on this one! Teaching a kid to read is the hardest job ever. Teachers definitely rock!!

  17. Trying to teach my son to read was just like that. He still comes up with words that aren’t even remotely close to the one he’s looking at. Thankfully now that he’s started to get it, it’s going much much better. Good luck!!

  18. LOL!! I can totally relate! I remember those years. We used Bob Books too. He’ll get it. One day it will just click! 😉

    • the bob books are great!! but having him sound out a word, get it and then say a completely different word, 30 seconds later…? Arrrrggh!! toture!! hahaha. i don’t know how you do it!!

  19. You would have to be a glutton for punishment to home school! My mother did three of us at one time – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade and that was back in the early, early, 60’s so none of us had the advantage of pre-school or kindergarden. She had to start from scratch with me. I was the youngest. We were homesteading in Alaska and she had no choice. I always liked the closing of the door in the morning and the sound of peace and quiet for the next 8 hours when my children stepped onto that bus in the morning! Was that selfish of me? I don’t think so.

  20. Oh my God, this totally my kid too. It. is. MADDENING.

  21. Oh, my… That’s what it was like teaching my Kindergartener to read. My second grader just knew how intuitively, but my daughter? She thinks all words that start with “f” are “fantastic.” LOL! She’s better now, starting to read easy chapter books. Where every word that starts with “f” is “fantastic.”

  22. I could never home school my kids – I’m in awe of those who can and do. I was getting impatient just reading your post – you wrote so well that I could feel your pain. And I KNEW he was going to say cat at the end – ha!

  23. You hit on one of the secretly most frustrating things as a parent…remaining patient through the reading process. The hardest part, to me, was the constant “other” things I needed to do that would run through my mind. This hits home.

  24. modmomelleroy

    Oh man – I felt frustrated for you! I don’t think even Charles Nelson Reilly and Jaye P. Morgan could’ve helped you in this situation and I know Gene Rayburn would’ve been eyerollin’. 😉

  25. OMG, this was HILARIOUS! I almost died from laughing. What an awesome kid. 🙂

  26. totally hysterical, because I am doing that right now! I homeschool my son and we are in the 4th set of Bob books. Trust me, I have as much trouble as you do!

  27. I’ve been doing a teach-your-kid-to-read book with my five and three year olds (the three-year-old only because he’s around when I’m teaching my five year old–I’m not one of those one-uppers) and it’s JUST. LIKE. THAT. I like doing some stuff at home on the fly, but I don’t have the patience (or ability) to do this full time with them. No.

  28. nataliedeyoung

    Ah, yes, this took me back to my days as a tutor and the one student who hadn’t yet learned to read. Yep, that’s EXACTLY what it’s like!

  29. Cindy - The Reedster Speaks

    We have these exact same BOB books! It takes about an hour to have M aaaaa gggg tttt aaaaggggg Mmaaacccc.

  30. I could never home school… I willingly pay tuition to make sure others do this for my children. They can do it so much better then I ever could. I embrace my weaknesses… and this is one of them!

  31. Deliberately Delicious

    Oh…I feel your pain. My middle son got it into his head when he was quite little that he’d like to be home schooled. Even though I could cheerfully face down 120 teenagers a day as a high school teacher, the thought of home schooling one of my own was enough to nearly put me over the edge. I so admire people with enough patience to take on the task of home schooling. But I’ll never be one of them!

    • exactly! my oldest asked repeatedly, but i could not go there. it’s too much work and i really don’t have the patience. i think i’d wind up ruining our relationship. all power to the teachers!

  32. Pingback: I laff at the Inglish langwige | Icescreammama

  33. I have been a teacher for twelve years and this is what being a teacher is like, but with up to twenty kids in a class. When I reincarnate I want to come back as Kim Kardashian with better taste in men.

  34. I really like what you guys are usually up too.
    This sort of clever work and coverage! Keep up
    the wonderful works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.


Leave a Reply to Nan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: