How to Enjoy Homeschooling {A Few Things I’ve Learned Along the Way}

howtoenjoyhomeschooling

I finally, finally enjoy homeschooling.

After failed attempts, neglect, tons of curriculum, comparing, sage advice, and a settling in, I can finally say I enjoy homeschooling. Thank God. Because I was starting to think about how I could save to send my babes to private school.

My heart’s desire has always been to homeschool; I loved the idea of learning with my children, filling their minds with beautiful things, being with them as they learn about the world, and choosing what they study, based on what I thought was best and what suited their personality and bents. The problem? I didn’t take it seriously enough. I had built up an ideal (sort of like I did with motherhood), and it all came crashing down. I learned that homeschooling wasn’t easy, or always fun, and that it takes discipline, consistency, and hard work (all of which I lack, and all of which are obvious…except to me). I also compared myself with other homeschool moms that I admired, which just about did me in. I would look at pictures and read posts about their craft-filled, lap-book-filled days and feel like a loser, totally inadequate to homeschool my babes.

Some of you may have felt that way about me.

The truth is, it’s been an uphill battle for me. I can be lazy and unmotivated and undisciplined. I also fear too much: “What if she hates homeschooling? What if I push her too hard? What if I don’t push her enough?” I am a seriously neurotic mother. But I am teachable, and I have heart, lot’s of heart, and I want to be with my babes as they learn. So I’ve had to learn a few things, I’ve had to discipline myself, and I’ve had to serve hot chocolate to get Ella to smile while she does her work.

Some of you are struggling to enjoy homeschooling. Some of you are comparing yourselves with other moms, and some of you are barely hanging in there. I don’t have the wisdom of a seasoned homeschool mama, but I do have a few things for those of you who might need some encouragement to keep going.

How to Enjoy Homeschooling {A Few Things I’ve Learned Along the Way}

Know You Want to Homeschool

Do you really want to homeschool? Do you feel that’s where the Lord has led your family? Is your husband on board with it? It’s going to be pretty difficult to enjoy homeschooling if you feel like you have to do it, or your husband doesn’t want you to, or whatever other reason. You homeschool because you feel that’s what you’re called to do, and there is a desire in you to do it.

Figure Out What Works for Your Family

Break out of the mindset that homeschooling must only be done one way, or that it needs to follow a school model. Find what works for you as a family! Maybe that is a school model, or maybe it’s homeschooling in the evening, or at a park in the middle of the day. Maybe it’s two hours of work a day, maybe it’s five. Maybe it’s field trips and living books, or text books and desks. Maybe your husband does the homeschooling. Every family will have a style of their own, and that’s great! Find yours, and go with it!

Stop Comparing {And Stop Reading Blogs That Make You Feel Inadequate}

I really think that a big reason parents give up on homeschooling is because they feel inadequate due to comparing themselves with others. It’s one thing to stop homeschooling if you feel the Lord leading you somewhere else, but it’s another to stop because you are comparing yourself with another mom or homeschooling lifestyle. You have your own unique personality and bents and limitations and strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what your strengths are, and move in confidence in those areas. If you know you struggle with not feeling like you’re good enough to homeschool after reading certain blogs, just stop reading them! There are wonderful bloggers out there that I cannot read on a regular basis because I know my weakness (and sinful tendency) is to compare myself with them. When I compare, I get in a funk, everything all of a sudden feels overwhelming and hopeless, and I want to throw in the towel. But when I’m walking free in how the Lord made me, and when I put blinders on and keep focused on where the Lord is guiding us, I’m okay, and in fact, I’m happy. I love our family and where we’re at with homeschooling, and I want to stay in that place. I want you know find that sweet spot as well.

Find Support

We all need support, and we all need grace. Find friends or a co-op or a mentor  (or all of those things) who homeschools or has homeschooled to encourage you on the journey. Having supportive people in your life will help tremendously in persevering.

Have a Talk with Your Babes

I called Sally just about in tears of frustration one day and said, “Ella is always complaining about her work! I don’t know what to do!” Sally said, “You need to sit down with her and tell her that this is what we do, every day, Monday through Friday. School work is non-negotiable.” Well, I did what she said, and what do you know, it worked! I sat down my sweet Ella and gently but firmly laid out for her the fact that we will be doing school work every day. We talked about why, we talked about our attitudes, and I agreed to hot chocolate (see below).

Serve Hot Chocolate

My Ella gets through her school work by having some sort of treat half way through. In the winter, it was hot chocolate. Sometimes it’s tea, currently it’s just a snack of some sort. Find something that brings your child a smile during their work time.

Have Fun!

For real, have fun! Go places, dance, sing at the top of your lungs, go on field trips, make your own schedule, talk, live, create, and relax! Your babes can be your crew – do life with them. Remember, homeschooling is just living life and learning together.

At The End of the Day…

As Sally Clarkson says, “Read to your children a ton, have them around adults, and listen to good music. If you do these things, they’ll be brilliant.” ;)

Keep on!

Love, SM

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  • Jamie

    What a blessing this post was to me! I am going to start homeschooling my son in the fall. I have also made myself crazy with all the blogs, and then I just stopped and prayed about it and tried not to think about it so I could hear God. Since then, I’ve had such a peace and direction and excitement (instead of anxiousness). Why do I always wait until I’ve made myself a fit of nerves to hand something over to God?! sigh! :) I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

  • Jessica Bish

    oh I needed this today. as we are finishing up our first ‘unofficial’ year of school and I’ve felt nothing but a failure almost every single day I know what I’m doing is not working and we need to find something else that will work….. would appreciate the prayers.

    • Allison Redd

      I am right there with you — my oldest is in K and so it was sort of a “trial” run. Lots of things happened to throw us off this year, but mostly I found out my tendency to be lazy, selfish, and generally not excited by what I was teaching. I feel this desire to “finish the curriculum” we were using but we’re so far behind that’s pretty much impossible. I’m just going to start afresh next week with a stack of books, a loose schedule and “this is what we do every day” attitude. I needed this post, too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/raventhreads Rebecca Ray

    I enjoyed this very much. This was our first year moving from a university model schooling to traditional homeschooling, and it took me almost the whole year to relax and enjoy the journey with them. I’ve also had to sit down and explain to one of my children that our homeschooling is like Daddy’s job, what they have to do every day, even on the days they don’t feel like it :-)

  • Stefanie

    Thank you for sharing! We had to take this week off because I’ve been so burned out. Thank you for the motivation to keep going.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daphneboyd1 Daphne Rodriguez Boyd

    I absolutely adore your post today, as always. In fact yours is the only post I can read on a daily basis :o) I’m a perfectionist through and through and I am easily overwhelmed and frustrated by all the things I’m “not doing right”. You echo my heart. I have been homeschooling my strong-willed, left-handed right-brained, beautiful little perfectionist for the last 3 years. He’s so incredibly intelligent, but I always have this thing in the back of my mind that I’m not doing enough. He’s six and is adding fractions. (I’m crazy!) Thank you for your honesty, your sharing of life, and your beautiful words. Thank you.

  • Angi Schneider

    These are great reminders. I really think the comparison game is what kills homeschooling joy. When my oldest (19) was in kinder I remember calling an aquaintence who had teenagers. I felt like such a slacker – all my homeschooling friends didn’t have time to go to the park or the fun p.e. class that was offered at the seminary my husband attended. They were “schooling” – spelling tests and all. This sweet older mom told me that she doesn’t talk about what she does in her homeschool with many other people because she either feels inferior that she’s not doing enough or prideful because she’s doing so well. Neither of those attitudes glorifies God. I am so thankful for her sharing that with me. So 13 years later we’ve never had a spelling test and we’ve done lots of fun stuff. My oldest was accepted into the college he wanted to go to just fine. I completely agree with the quote from Sally Clarkson!

  • http://twitter.com/kchae7 Kara McGee

    Thank you so much for this wonderful, honest post. We are planning to homeschool (with the help of the Lord) and I appreciate you for sharing your heart. It is easy to compare ourselves to others in so many areas in life, but it usually leaves us feeling insecure and inadequate. So thankful that the Lord gives us what we need when we need it.

  • http://lemonjellycake.blogspot.com/ Claire Printz (LemonJellyCake)

    Haha, Sally is SO right. My mother did all of those things for me and I like to think I’m (if not brilliant) at least a functioning member of society! ;)

  • me.burke

    Thank you for sharing and being honest with us. It is so encouraging to know that someone I look up to (even without meeting) feels the same as I do. I have felt (and still do feel) like such a failure this year, it makes me want to just give up. Yet I know that it is what I am supposed to be doing. This was just what I needed. Thanks!

  • Michelle Martin

    I am new to the homeschool world. I had my daughters in a private Christian school since my oldest daughter was 4 (she is 8 now). However, the school had low enrollment and made the decision to close its doors this June. I had planned on keeping my Ladybugs there until then, but many toxic things began to happen. After much prayer and thought, my husband and I decided I would homeschool them for the rest of the school year. However, I really love the possibilities homeschooling brings. In four weeks, we have attended an opera, made our own brass candlesticks using a lathe from the 1800s, and cracked open geodes on our front porch.

    I am looking forward to your post tomorrow, as it appears I am going to continue homeschooling in the fall!

    Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  • Beret

    Love the Sally Clarkson quote…especially the part about being around adults. We call it “apprenticeship” for life. Our culture is very peer based, but we learn more from being around people of all ages, both older and younger. If being raised with peers was best, God would have given us our kids in “litters” :-)
    I’m in my 11th year of homeschooling, and this is my best advice: when you feel inadequate, think about who you want them to be when they grow up, don’t think about what our society’s standards are. As a culture, we value algebra over character, getting into college over being family oriented. Academics are important, but not everything. I relaxed a lot when I realized that by about 4th grade most kids have all the math they will actually use in life…budgeting, etc. We have to put blinders to the world, and only listen to God’s voice…which of course is a never ending battle. :-)
    (I was just sitting here thinking how much fun my kids are these days, ages 11-16, when I looked over and two of them, who are supposed to be working on school, were playing tic tac toe by scratching with a pocketknife on a notebook cover….it’s not always perfect…:-))

  • kaitlyn

    Thanks for this! I had a baby 6 weeks ago and am feeling discouraged because I’m not yet back in the homeschooling routine with my preschooler. I’ve also been worried about how I will manage to fit in homeschooling now that I have 3 little ones. So I really needed to read this encouraging post today!

  • http://twitter.com/CSElkins christie elkins.

    I feel like you totally wrote to me when you wrote this post! I’m in the 1st year of homeschooling (5, 3, and almost 2 yr old kiddos) and I think I am also FINALLY to the point where I can take joy in the ups and downs of homeschool. Truly one of my fave posts you have written. See ya in October at Allume!

  • Rébecca

    Thanks for your post. I was wondering what that book about 1rst grade science that’s in your side bar is. Would you mind giving me it’s title. It looks very interesting !

    • Loretta

      Hi Rebecca, I can answer your question. The book is “A Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. I have this book too and love it! It helps me to know that I am on track with my kids. Jessie lays out everything you need to know to teach your child from pre-12th grade and has lots of valuable advice on resources and how to get your child into college. My local library had a copy so I checked it out first. If you can, try to get your hands on her latest copy the 3rd edition. Best Wishes!

  • http://joyceandnorm.wordpress.com/ Joyce (and Norm)

    “Read to your children a ton, have them around adults, and listen to good music. If you do these things, they’ll be brilliant.” <— Love it. Sally's great! :)

  • http://www.kmlogan.com/ KM Logan

    Excellent advice. My bribe is when we finish reading time my little one can play “Where’s my water” on the Kindle.

  • http://lifeyourway.net Mandi @ Life…Your Way

    Ah, such a great post, Sarah Mae! I’m *finally* at the point where I enjoy homeschooling, my kids enjoy it AND I feel like we’re doing it successfully (for our family) as well. The key for us has also been letting go of my preconceived notions of what homeschooling would look like and accepting that because of my work schedule and our family’s personality types, independent learning is what works for us. I’m still envious of moms who do the crafts and fun learning activities, and we’re working hard to reclaiming our read-aloud time, which got shoved to the side at some point, but it’s freeing to accept that what’s best for some people may not be best for you.

    My favorite moment was after I made the decision to move toward more independent learning (which felt like a selfish one). A few weeks later my 8yo looked at me, “I really like school now, Mom!” It was such a relief to know we’d found a groove that was working for all of us!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawn.paoletta1 Dawn St Amand Paoletta

    Yay! Love this…and love the peace God has given me despite my inadequacies…which include dropping out of school at 15-not due to a lack of inquisitiveness or desire to learn but instead due to a number of complicated circumstances. Love the end quote especially…of course I did return and get a degree etc. and continue to love the learning adventure called life! Thanks, Sara Mae!

  • Becca

    I absolutely adore that Sally Clarkson quote. Reading, good music, and being around adults older than me are all things I STILL need and that get me through life.

  • Carrie Jo

    Thank you so much for writing this!!! I haven’t started as my oldest just turned three a few weeks ago…. but we plan to homeschool and lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the thought of having to be The One now! So thank you because I feel so uplifted and encouraged and more peaceful about the journey ahead! ;)

  • susan

    I homeschooled for 13 years. Loved it. I agree..stop reading blogs, websites with these perfect looking mom and kids that look like they just stepped out of a beauty parlor or the JC Penny catologe. My encouragement to young parents is that you often do not see the results/benifits of homeschooling until the children are older. Even when it is hard, keep going. Remember you are imparting life long treasured memories. The big question in the early 80′s was “What about their sociolazation?” I would respond “That is why I am homeschooling”.

  • http://twitter.com/KirstenJoyAwake Kirsten Torrado

    Sarah Mae, I love your thoughts here. So true. I give my oldest pretzels just so he’ll do his math worksheets. (Snacks seem to make everything better : ) We did cyberschool last year, but this is my first full year of homeschooling in PA (one in kindergarten and one in second grade). There’s been times where I’ve had to turn off the blogs, stop comparing myself to others, and reach for my own opinion verses someone else’s. My poor husband, he’s been my everlasting sounding board and my greatest support in this journey. At the end of the day, it’s true, you just have to do what works for you. Thanks for sharing so transparently…it helps me feel a little bit more normal : ) Kirsten.

  • Ruth

    You always say everything I feel, and its so comforting!

  • Amy Logsdon

    Ok…can I cry now…I have had a desire to homeschool for years now. I have prayed and prayed and felt lead but would always “chicken out” with feeling there is no way I am good enough, structured enough to do this. I would do the same things read blogs, look at other homeschool Moms form Church and think wow they have it all together. My boys want to be homeschooled, my husband has gave me his blessing…now it is just up to me to do it. I have been so stressed… I feel like I don’t even know where to begin on finding a curriculum. But reading this I need to just relax and take a deep breath and do what I know I need to do. Start proclaiming all the things I can do through Christ that gives me strength. So sorry to ramble but this post was like a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

    • http://www.The-How-to-Guru.com/ The How-to Guru

      Oh Amy, I just read your reply and I had to stop and say…if God is leading you to hs, then go for it. Like Sarah said, it isn’t easy but wow oh wow, it is by far one of the best decisions we have made within our family. There are too many blessings to list here and I want to blog more about JUST that in the future to help Moms like you to know that you CAN do this.

      HE is there to help and so are us Moms,
      Shan
      http://www.The-How-to-Guru.com

      • http://faithfamilyfashionfood.blogspot.com/ Amy Logsdon

        Thank you Shan, just wanted to let you know that I did it, we are signed up and now working on getting our curriculum. I am just taking it one step at a time. I have had so much peace and God has been So faithful through this process. Again thank you for your encouragement!

  • Lillian

    Awesome post Sarah Mae. I have been homeschooling for 3 years now and have had such resistance from family and friends and I have felt so alone and of course feeling at times that I may be hurting my children by not sending them to school. Yet, my heart pulls towards homeschooling and doing what I feel God has told me to do. Thanks for your posts it is very encouraging. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. <3

  • Sarah Peloquin

    I am ABSOLUTELY that mother who lacks discipline, consistency, and a hard working attitude. I feel like homeschooling is the path God wants us to take as a family and I’m not enjoying that concept due to the above weaknesses in my character. That and a lack of patience…

    This article really encouraged me and I thank you for the simple wisdom that makes so much sense in retrospect… :)

  • jane

    just stumbled upon this link as a friend “liked” it on Facebook. i’m struggling with whether or not i want to homeschool my kids. as a former elementary school teacher, i initially thought i’d rather have my own children (3, 2, and 10 months) homeschooled rather than in a traditional school. but i don’t know where to even begin. also, i’m tired of people asking me when i’m sending my daughter (3) to school since most of our friends sent their kids to school by the time their littles were 2.. by God’s grace, this past year, i was able to “regretfully resign” from my 8-year teaching position to stay at home with my children full time. i am eager and excited to dive into homeschooling, but only know a few mamas who do it and enjoy it and see the benefits of it. so for now, i feel lost, but still motivated. i am disciplined, but my struggle is finding the approval of others, which homeschooling does not seem to be favorable amongst the majority of our friends. i’d love to find out more information on how i can get started, where i get started, and how a mama even begins to homeschool. if i could contact you somehow to get more info or you could direct me to a link, that’d be great. thank you so much for this post. it was incredibly encouraging to me!! ;) blessings…

  • Amy F ;)

    hugs!
    We totally did/do hot chocolate for school time too…summertime, once a week we have chocolate chip math;)

  • http://www.The-How-to-Guru.com/ The How-to Guru

    What a wonderful and timely post to remind me as we are finishing up week number 2 for this year. Which is our 6th year hsing. It is a joy, really. But when my mind gets working…and worrying…oh boy.

    Thanks for these transparent and wonderful reminders.

    blessings,
    Shan
    http://www.The-How-to-Guru.com

  • Michelle Clinton

    Sarah Mae,

    You inspire!! You bless!! Thank you!!

  • Mel

    I really feel god leading me to hs but my husband isn’t on board :/ I’m praying for him to see this is gods will for us. He isn’t in Christ so it’s difficult. Please everyone pray I hate my babies being in the common core system :(

  • Heathahlee

    This is our 9th year to homeschool, and I still feel like such a newbie! At the end of Kiddo’s 8th grade year (this past April), I was stressing completely out because I didn’t know what to do with his high school years. I wanted to make sure he had a good foundation for college, and had no idea if I could provide that. Reading blogs about needing to do this or that to prepare him for college completely stressed me out, and I felt like a horrible mother for not feeling like I could be that kind of teacher. My husband and I talked, we prayed, we talked some more, and I never had a peace about doing anything but what we were already doing, so that’s where we are. And I’m happy with that decision because I know if the Lord says to do it this way my son will be successful no matter what the future holds.

  • Michelle

    This was just what I needed going into the new school year! Thank you.