Saturday, August 16, 2014

Strategies and Stuff for Successful Homeschooling Parents

It's that time of year again when we all begin looking for the best way to homeschool, educate, parent our children. I am finding tons of great links myself and thought I'd go ahead and throw my hat into the ring...because I really do know some things about what has made our journey such a success.

Getting to be a great homeschooling parent takes time.  That first year of homeschooling, be prepared to go to bed each night with some fear in your heart.  Fear of messing up the very kids you are trying to free.   Fear of failing your most beloved children.  Fear of being inadequate.  I remember feeling anxious much of the time.

It took me about a full year of nocturnal fears before I realized that we were
doing it:  We were homeschooling!  (We had been doing it all along!) 

There is no silver bullet for homeschooling a child, of course.  Part of homeschooling our kids is knowing that each child is unique and wanting to preserve and celebrate that uniqueness.  So why do we think there should be a known, prescribed way to teach our children?  It makes perfect sense that homeschooling this child will be a unique journey! (good point, eh?)

I'm sure you found this blog post quite late, late at night as you are surfing the internet for advice on how to best educate your child at home.  Imagine those early parents who didn't have the internet!  How did they do it????

Anyway, on to the wisdom, hey.  (grin)

1.  Use this evening time to research learning theory, learning styles, and how kids learn.  Figure out what it means to be educated. What are your real goals for your child's education? How does your child best learn? What would you consider true knowledge and wisdom? In doing this, you will learn that your ideas of homeschooling will change over time.


I loved having an appreciation of learning styles and learning theory as I entered the homeschool lifestyle. But you might have the need to educate yourself in another way. So do that! Use your me time in other ways.

2.   Maintain your own willingness to learn and grow.  The more you educate yourself, the more confident you will become as a parent who homeschools. 

The learning theories are absolutely fascinating and will inform your role as a homeschooling parent; take some time to learn about learning theories. I took time and read about these people and concepts:  John Watson, Howard Gardner, Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, John Dewey, Jerome Bruner, David Kolb, B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov, Albert Bandura, Abraham Maslow, Cognitivism, Behaviorism, Constructivism. I'm sure there are many more things you can research. My point, even if you don't read materials by these people or about these topics, I felt informed from my research and so will you. And I'm sure I missed some of the best; these are just the things I recall from memory from my research a hundred years ago... granted, I am a research hound.  lol

Again, this is MY way, not necessarily yours.

3. Allow yourself and your family flexibility to keep humor, independence, current activities, and innovation in your day. I am not a big fan of structure, though I appreciate the place for it. In a given day a family can find so much time for enjoying the world around them...the news, the weather, impromptu walks or activity, dance and song, hobbies, unstructured play, tangential activity of all kinds...  Consider these moments well spent.

4.  For me it helped to avoid most curriculum talk with other parents. No two families homeschool the same way and the choices that other families make are fine and great, for them. There is simply too much going on out there to continue to second-guess yourself on materials. At some point you have to tune out all of the noise and just get on with it.

Anyway, it was essential for me. 

5.  Learn to live with the fear and the trust. Homeschooling is such a unique approach to family life. One day you are quite certain your children will be living in your basement forever and you start to wonder if they like bean bag chairs and the next day you are bursting at the seams with pride. Some days I felt certain that I was on the wrong track and other days I was even more sure that these children were getting the best upbringing possible! 

Life really is like that. 
Parenting is like that.
And over time, you will have far less fear and far more trust.

6. Change is the norm. Change is a part of every single day, homeschooling or not and that can be quite difficult for many people, adults and children. I think there may be an art to accepting change while relying on the steadier parts of your life at the same time. 

Both of my children appreciate knowing what to expect each day. They love knowing where things are, what is going to happen, what the change points of the day are, things like that. I provide that as much as I can because the truth is, I can't always predict what our day will be like. We have all learned that having those tried-and-true parts of our days help us to feel in control and grounded.  For us, we love the gather on the bed and talk, the sit at the table with lessons and snacks, time in our yard, certain TEDtalks that we love... 

Having those touch points, whether we are talking about crazy weeks that are too busy or the onslaught of changes that life can bring, help each of us to feel connected to one another...our bedrock.

7. Live with the failures and the successes. Again, life is full of these moments every single day. Keep your cool and accept each moment as a life lesson.

8. Expect people to not understand. During those times when you are ill, someone will suggest sending the kids back to school. When you are caring for an ill loved one, someone will recommend calling up the school bus driver. When the summer nearing its end, Some Person will say that this is a good time for thinking about sending the kids to brick and mortar. When you are stressed out, busy, traveling, ill, tired, out of contact, or a million other things, SOMEONE will always suggest that you change the way you educate your children.

I don't think they mean it as a rude suggestion, I think they simply don't understand that it isn't your lifestyle that needs managing. Life contains difficult times. 

I mean, REALLY, when a schooling family has an ill person does everyone say, HEY, is THIS a good time to homeschool????

9. Love them. Your children will bring the craziest things in to your home and, somehow, you will be enriched for all of it! 

The kids and Grandma JoAnn

So anyway, my real wisdom to you:

Please, other homeschooling parents:
Please comment below with your suggestions!

You may also enjoy these posts:
Thirteen Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Homeschooling When I Got Started
A Willingness to Learn
Top Ten Habits of a Happy Homeschool Mom
Advice from Expert Homeschoolers
Five Battles I No Longer Fight
Strategies for Your Homeschool


  1. I've been at this homeshcooling stuff for 23 years (yikes, I'm old!) and I still am feeling stressed out and uncertain this year. I really needed to read this post! It definitely helped to put my mind at ease. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom!

    1. Maureen, with your 23 years of homeschooling, I would LOVE to read YOUR words of wisdom. <3


  2. Love this! We're going into our third year of homeschooling, and I don't go to bed with that fear in my heart EVERY night (but I still do, sometimes...) At what point did that pretty much go away for you?

    1. I'll let you know when it happens, Bridget. <3


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