Homeschooling: Opting Out or Embracing Progressive Education?

February 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm 6 comments

posted by Kyla Ryman ’92/’97, educational coach and consultant

As a person who has always been interested in how children learn and the many possibilities for how children learn and grow to be productive adults, I am looking to explore all forms of alternative education. Right now I am involved with a homeschooling community in Brooklyn which is doing interesting work. I am particularly interested in how educators (such as myself) could be supportive, coach, or assist people to ask the important questions as they think about how best to educate their own children.

What makes my experience as a Bank Street trained teacher, with fifteen years of experience with children professionally and two of my own children, helpful to people who are choosing to opt out of any form of formal schooling. How do they choose what to do every day? Are they clear that they are not just rejecting something for their family, but also embracing something more positive in the process? Are the old arguments against homeschooling valid in a city like NYC where there are plenty of resources and opportunities so rich in educational value, that just walking down the street can be educational. Where every moment being involved in activities is an explosive social interaction with the world in its kaleidoscope of cultures, economic realities, and personalities.

I often find that when I speak to my peers they dismiss the idea of homeschooling out of hand. I find that interesting. Just like in anything, we carry our own stereotypes about groups. For example, parents may homeschool their children for religious reasons; the people I am involved with have very different motivations. They happen to be creative, intellectual, and thoughtful people who have a gut instinct about what they want for their children and did not find those options in their neighborhoods. They are progressive in nature, at a time when schools are moving away from progressive education (I think) towards more high-pressured academic curricula.

I would love to communicate with others who are involved with or interested in this kind of education…

Kyla Ryman is now working on a set of very early emergent readers for families who are working with their children at home and do not have access to trade books. She taught in the NYC public schools for over eleven years before leaving to have her second son. Kyla has a masters in early childhood education and one in reading, both from Bank Street, and has always been interested in the many ways we “school” our children and why, having attended both traditional public and alternative public schools.

Entry filed under: coaching, collaboration, community, curriculum, dialogue, families, philosophy, school reform.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dyanne Kaufman  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I have a similar background and soon to be Kindergartner. I would love to home school in NYC but financially need to teach. Do you know of any homeschoolers in Manhattan who are interested in starting a “home school” for multiple families/children?

  • 2. Deborah  |  March 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I have 3.5 yr old twin girls. I’m looking for a “home school” with a bank street/attachment parenting approach in Brooklyn. Also interested in families wishing to start something. I live in Park Slope.

  • 3. kyla Ryman  |  March 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Here is the email of the group that I have been close to in Brooklyn, they may be helpful to you.

    They have some groups of different ages going on right now!

  • 4. George Buss  |  April 6, 2010 at 11:49 am


    My wife often points out that it is acceptable to choose to go against the grain of society for “religious reasons”, but the thought of someone making a similar choice for “intellectual reasons” is a larger threat to the foundations of that society. Homeschoolers are often dismissed as religious nuts because it is easier than considering that some are, in fact, making a highly educated choice to not participate in what they view as a flawed system, or as you point out, a system that is shifting from good educational theory to a more extrinsically motivated business model theory.

    Good luck in your search to find truth in all the voices.


  • 5. Michele Arsenault  |  April 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I am a Bank Street graduate (elementary and museum education) and have been working as a “private” teacher (homeschool other people’s children) for the last 4 years. I am have also homeschooled my own son for the past 6-7 years (he tried returning to school a few times but the trauma was too deep–he is classified as being Asperger Syndrome and school was a nightmare and completely shattered his sense of self)…he is now a different person, calm, controlled, reasonable, funny, etc. I have found there are a number of families out there who have given up on “special” education and have saved their children’s emotional and psychological lives.

    I love the home-school community (look at NYCHEA – NYC Home Educators Alliance) and Laurie Spigel’s site: Laurie is a long time home-school educator. I love this community and I believe they are preserving and invigorating progressive learning. I learn a lot from them and appreciate that I can teach the way I do (Bank Street). These families really deserves much more respect. Classroom teachers have much to learn from them.


  • 6. Kyla Ryman  |  January 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm


    I know you left this message a while ago, but I would love to be in touch with you. I am already in touch with Laurie, through AERO and am involved in an exciting project in Brooklyn. If you see this message, and are interested, please contact me!


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Some of Our Past Bloggers

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David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
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Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
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Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
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Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
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Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
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Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
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Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
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Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
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