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On Home Schooling the Future Heights Boy

Lower School Head, Colin Gleason, offers some high level thoughts and general considerations for homeschooling families during this, a year that has seen an unprecedented number of new homeschooling families. In particular, Mr. Gleason bears in mind the 2nd graders who are soon to be Heights-bound. What are systems that can prepare our boys for the adventures of the Heights Lower School? Listen in!

A huge number of parents are home schooling for the year. We offer some thoughts here for parents finding themselves in the teachers’ seat.


  • Know your boy; know yourself; don’t stress. Anxiety is the number 1 enemy of education. Don’t let it creep into your homeroom.
  • Protect the process–don’t worry so much about the product, and trust the system you put in place.
  • As far as processes and systems go: keep it simple!

Day in the Life of the Second Grader’s Day

  • Enjoy that flexibility while enjoying your schedule! There is no “right” way for every boy;
  • But do set a schedule that is informed by your boy’s natural strengths and rhythms;
  • In the 6 part cocktail: 3 parts reading, 1 part math, 1 part grammar, 1 part… other things (writing practice, art, etc…):
  • A second grader shouldn’t be doing academic work for more than 3 hours a day, ideally broken into 30 minute chunks.
  • The 3 parts reading (1 part read to himself; 1 part read to you; 1 part–the most important part–YOU read aloud to him)
  • The Magic Tree House series is a great benchmark for the end of Second Grade–they should be able to read these to themselves and enjoy;
  • The Saxon Math approach has worked well for The Heights and for its incoming students–3rd Graders begin with Saxon 5/4, so Saxon Math 3 would work beautifully for a rising Heights boy.
  • Parents should not see home schooling as a means to “get their boys ahead”–there are pedagogical reasons for this (in addition to social/logistical).
  • There is no need to start cursive before starting at The Heights–by the time our 3rd graders get to Christmas, we’ll get them there. Consider refining manuscript and print; cursive could be helpful, but in general there is no need to rush this.
  • Note, if you have given your sons enough time for free play, then they will want to be around you AND some of the things you do in the ordinary course of your day can be teaching without teaching.

About the Guest

Colin Gleason

Head of Lower School, The Heights School

Colin Gleason serves as Head of the Lower School at The Heights, where he graduated in 1999. After college, he returned to his alma mater where he has taught a variety of classes: 3rd Grade Homeroom; Natural History; Chess; Storytelling; and currently, Moral Theology in the Upper School. He served four years as the Director of Admissions before taking on his current position as Head of the Lower School in 2010, overseeing his beloved Valley where he began as a student. Colin has also served as the Head Varsity Soccer Coach since 2010, and has been named Coach of the Year by the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and All Met Coach of the Year by the Washington Post. During the summer, Colin directs The Heights Soccer Camp and The Dangerous Camp for Boys. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from Washington and Lee University and a Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife, Nicole, and their five children live in Kensington.

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