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Serving Your Students

Serving Your Students

Today I want to draw a comparison between business and homeschooling, with a focus on service.

Let’s pretend a company, “A-Z Widgetmaker,” is going to fire a lowly, underperforming salesperson. Sales girl, Jan, just isn’t the right fit for the company. She recites the script during her presentations, but hasn’t had a good day of sales in months. The leadership is going to give her a week off to think about whether she is going to try to refocus and come back, trying harder than ever to succeed. But everyone knows this week is really for her to go get interviews elsewhere because she doesn’t have what it takes to sell A-Z’s widgets.

A new Jan happens every month or two. Jan is not an anomaly, in fact, the company is built for new people to either work their way up or eventually just leave. The pay for Jan is so low, no one can stay there for long. Management understands and accepts this process. They fire Jans all the time for not hitting sales numbers because Jans don’t make them the real money. Jans barely help the company’s bottom-line and management just doesn’t have time to waste on unsuccessful salespeople. Jans are just a means to an end; the company uses them to produce sales for a short time until they peter-out and leave.

Most homeschooling parents aren’t like A-Z’s leadership, treating Jan like a cog in a machine instead of a person. But in some ways, it’s tempting to fall into the same pattern with our curricula. It’s awfully tempting during a hard day of wrangling multiple kids and multiple assignments and projects, to just bark at our kids, “Just finish that worksheet!” “Write your narration!”  “Check those boxes!”

And then parents get frustrated with their kid who is suddenly crying on her math papers.

Both the manager and the homeschooling parent face the same temptation: to treat others as their servants, when the best solution is for the manager and parent to become the servant.

Here’s the question both the leadership in our fake company and homeschooling parents should ask: “How can I serve this person best?”

The boss at A-Z Widgetmaker should certainly be concerned with his bottom line, just as homeschooling parents should be concerned with quantifiable academic progress, but both of those things will happen much more easily and with much more peace and joy if the boss and the parent take the role of servant instead of the role of dictator.

Service in the workplace means that if someone isn’t right for a sales job, it’s the boss’ duty to either help them get better, or let them know they’re not right for the job soon enough for them to find something else–not use poor saleslady Jan for as long as Jan will stick it out, before she gives up because she’s not making enough money to live on.

Service in the homeschool means that when a student struggles or there is major strife in the homeschool, the parent has the duty to stop being a slave to the curriculum. Who cares if you have to do shorter, more frequent lessons, stretching your school week out to include Saturdays? Who cares if you only finish 3/4 of your history text this year? If these changes mean your daughter doesn’t cry over 90-minute math lessons anymore, she’s definitely learning more math. If you spend more time going more in-depth on history, doing more projects than you’d like, but your kid loves it, isn’t she learning more? Isn’t that what it’s all about?

This kind of flexibility is what makes homeschooling so remarkable. We have the opportunity to treat our kids like people, not cogs in a machine who complete exactly one level of math per 180-day school year. (Whatever “complete” really means.  How much math did he really learn?)

Part of moving off the conveyor belt of public education is changing the questions we ask and the way we think.

Look your student in the eyes. What does he need most? How can you serve her best?

Instead of asking, “What will it take to finish this lesson in the allotted amount of time?” ask “Where is he getting stuck?  How can I help him figure out this concept?  Is the curriculum helping or hurting here?  Is there a better way to reach my student?”

Our children will learn more and grow better if we treat them like people, not malfunctioning machinery. I think if we do this well, they’re more likely to be servant-leaders, better equipped to deal humanely with their own Jans in their own widget companies someday.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts


  • One of the things I most love about #homeschooling is the freedom it allows us to love books. It is 9:30am. We just finished breakfast after getting up late because last night we had troop meetings for our scouting groups. The kids are all well-fed and well-rested. But before we start on reading the books I’ve assigned them, we’re taking some time to read our own choices.
When I was a kid, we had plenty of books in the house, but I never really read for pleasure. It didn’t matter that my mom was a librarian and teacher. I wanted to be outside. I thought reading was for school hours and school work.
I carried these thoughts through high school and college, where I read a lot of really great books, but not many that I chose for myself.
My kids will have a totally different experience. Not saying mine was bad, but I am saying that I missed out on worlds or great books and thoughts from great authors in my younger years that I am only discovering now as an adult: the middle books of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Arthur Conan Doyle, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter, and many more.
My kids have the TIME FREEDOM to get to know the thoughts of authors they CHOOSE. I don’t care how you school, all kids deserve this opportunity. All kids DESERVE to believe that books can be FUN and INTERESTING and MYSTERIOUS and LOVELY.
What can you do today as a homeschooling/private schooling/public schooling parent to help your kids love reading? Make no mistake: if ALL our kids take from their educations is a habit of reading widely and enjoying it, they will stand a great chance of becoming great adult humans.
#amreading #readaloudrevival #bravewriterlifestyle #homeschool #schoolchoice #charlottemasonirl
  • FINALLY! Everyone is well (enough) that we are back to school. No one is in bed with a fever #winning . Instead, we get to spend our morning with the Scottish Play. I 💛 me some Shakespeare and #MorningTime !
#homeschool #homeschooling #family #amreading #shakespeare #bravewriterlifestyle
  • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
#community #Navywifelife #momlife #sisterhood
  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?

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