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A Child’s Second Home

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By: Celeste Ezell   |  September 7, 2023

With school just starting, many parents are rethinking the best way to educate their children. Marin offers countless options, but this can be overwhelming. Often plagued with mom-guilt, we wonder if we made the right choice! Our family has paved an unusual path of non-traditional options for various reasons. It’s daunting to be different, but it was right for us, and we’re stronger and closer as a result!



We homeschooled our first two children for eight years. When Jocelyn, our oldest, was entering kindergarten, Daniel & I both worked evenings, tutoring high school students in math, science, writing & SATs; had she gone to school, we would never see her! And I just hated to miss out on experiencing all the special first learning moments with her. Feeling like rebels, we opted to teach her ourselves at home and supplement with classes a couple of days each week. We enrolled her in an independent study charter school that kept records, offered standardized testing and supported mom as the teacher.  We loved being involved. I was there when she read her first book, multiplied her first array, and won the egg protector competition. It was so fun…and so much work!


Homeschooling is trending in the US. In California a family can enroll in a private or charter school that allows them to teach at home or simply declare themselves a private school with just a few students who all happen to be siblings.  Families opt to homeschool for many reasons. Some follow a specific ideology and cannot find a school to match. Others prefer to compress school into a few hours so the rest of the day is free for other activities: competitive sports, travel, or hobbies. Some parents teach at home; others dole out the teaching to various classes & tutors. Some form co-ops to share teaching at no cost, participate in weekly park days, annual homeschool conventions or small group classes.


Small Classes

By the time Jocelyn was in first grade we expanded our business to include daytime classes for homeschoolers. During the previous ten years of tutoring, we were usually limited to completing the student’s assigned homework within a one hour session, and found there wasn’t enough time (or interest) to delve deeper in the topics. But when we taught homeschoolers, we had the freedom to create unit studies that integrated 2-3 subjects, on topics that piqued our students’ interests, some specifically with our daughter in mind. She learned in groups of 2-10, and we (and her other teachers) innovated flexible and creative lesson plans: geometry through art, history through song, and public speaking every week. In small classes, teachers met her at her level so she could learn at her own pace. She raced ahead in math and multiplied before she learned to read. Teachers offered her more individual attention, and her curiosity and divergent thinking was honored and encouraged.


Turns out class size is a hot topic in education. Research shows that smaller classes give students more individual attention and yield more successful students in general. Especially in early years, students in classes of 15 or fewer need less remediation and have improved discipline. Plus learning differences are identified earlier. But school budgets are already thin, so most of the time it’s not possible.


Multi-Age Classes

By the time our daughter reached 7th grade and our son in 4th, our class offerings had grown to a full week. So we transitioned our business to a private school. With 30 students spanning Kindergarten to 8th grade, it was necessary to arrange classes of 2-3 grade levels. Working with older kids kept them challenged and motivated. And Jocelyn still remembers helping a 1st grader take math notes. Teaching others makes students internalize learning.


In the mid-19th Century, multi-age one room schoolhouses were normal practice. Eventually grade level curriculum standards made single grade classes necessary. Multi-age programs with all their challenges and benefits tend to be more student-centric than single grade classrooms. Students can progress (sometimes without grades) at their own pace, and teachers work with them individually.


Grouping children in a single grade class as peers inevitably results in a competition for who is going to be the leader. Students who are not used to multi-age classrooms might lose patience with younger children and/or feel intimidated by older ones, but when everyone at school personally knows who the youngest, most vulnerable person is, they understand their own place as protector and helper. Families work this way. We all grow to maturity by emulating our role models and protecting our younger siblings. Add a strong culture of mutual care and respect, and children can go anywhere confident about how they should and should not be treated by others.


Home is school long before preschool and Kindergarten. Whether they homeschool or not, mom is the child’s primary teacher. So in my opinion, look for a school that feels as much like home as possible. We have, and that’s made all the difference.


Celeste & Daniel Ezell are parents to three children who have attended, attend or soon will attend their accelerated K-8 Micro-school. They founded Chronos Academy to integrate all subjects to a timeline with creativity, music and making. You can reach Celeste by email at Follow Chronos Academy at @chronoscohorts or learn more at 
More from this issue:

A Child’s Second Home HERE >>

In Defense of the Ordinary Barbie HERE >> 

Pilates You Can Do at Your Desk HERE >> 

Playgroup Spotlight: October-December 2022 HERE >> 

Sharing Financial Wisdom With Your Kids HERE >> 

Want Your Child’s School and Your Local Parks to Stop Spraying Pesticides? HERE >>