14 Homeschool Lessons Learned Over 14 Years

14 Homeschool Lessons Learned in 14 Years of Homeschooling

14 years ago The Well-Trained Mind appeared in the local bookstore. I devoured it and started teaching my 4-year-old to read. Thus began my homeschool journey and in that time I’ve learned many homeschool lessons.

Now, my oldest is 18 and attending a local college. My youngest is 4 himself and learning to read.

I’m halfway through my homeschooling years.

1. Read Aloud More

One point I wish is that I’d spent more time reading aloud to the children in a group setting. It’s amazing how much you and the children learn slowly reading through books.

Reading aloud also provides a bond as we enjoy the same book and discussions as a family. It’s a fun activity in the car, in the evenings, over lunch, and during our group time. Share great books with your children.

2. Counting to 10 Works

Children do not sit still. They do not appreciate their parents’ dedication. And children do not listen.

I can not tell you how many times I’ve counted to 10 before responding to my children’s antics, and I’ve never regretted taking the time to pause, count, consider, respond.

3. Just Keep Swimming

Homeschooling does not progress smoothly. It’s full of bumps and frustrations. There are times you despair of your children ever minding their manners, much less becoming educated.

No matter how impossible it seems, don’t stop. Keep trying. Eventually, children learn to mind their manners. They learn to read. Children do grow up.

4. Festina Lente

Along with Dory’s idea of just keep swimming, it’s also important to keep Festina Lente in mind. Education can’t be rushed. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

That might seem trite, but it’s the truth. We’re educating our children over the course of 12 or more years. Just keep swimming and don’t rush the process.

5. Homeschooling Is not the Solution 

Some families I’ve run across claim just by homeschooling all sorts of problems will be solved. Your kids will be awesomely educated. Your kids will be perfect.

Sorry, but homeschooling succeeds because the parents put time and effort into their children’s education and lives. Public schooling succeeds because the parents put time and effort into their children’s education and lives.

No matter what you choose, you’ll need to commit and put time and effort into your children. No one can do it for you.

Don’t choose to homeschool just because someone guaranteed it would solve all your problems. Choose it because that’s how you wish to invest in your children’s education and lives. Choose it because it’s the best choice for your family in the here and now.

6. Scholé

Scholé, or restful learning, is a new concept I’ve run into while homeschooling. It’s the realization that we can’t teach our children everything. There will be gaps. But we, and what we teach, are enough.

There is value in time spent daydreaming outside. Value in curling up with a good book on a rainy day. Value in making an effort to choose the best and let the rest go.

Restful learning means we give our children time to simply be.

7. You Grow with Your Homeschool

Another important homeschool lesson is that you grow with your homeschool.

Because of the one-on-one tutoring of my homeschool style, my education has improved and grown with the children. I’ve reviewed rules of grammar and geometry and delved into world history.

I’ve played with literature concepts I’d forgotten years ago. Homeschooling is a process through which parents learn just as much as the kids!

8. What Goes Around, Comes Around

We started with a group time to study history and science back when my oldest children were little. The Story of the World was read. Science was learned. Experiments were attempted.

We had a blast. Then they grew up and I was put on bed rest with baby #5. The older kids learned to complete their schoolwork independently with a bit of help from me. Our homeschool changed.

Now the homeschool is morphing. Group time is starting up again. I have a little one gleefully absorbing every word and older kids who give the mandatory grumble but don’t truly complain.

We’ve gone full circle and returned to our beginnings!

9. Sometimes We Need a Break

Everyone needs a vacation sometimes, even homeschool moms. Taking a planned or unplanned week off can sometimes be just what you need to inspire yourself for the next phase of homeschooling.

Don’t feel guilty for taking a needed break. Enjoy it, dream about your perfect homeschool, and inspire yourself to begin again.

10. Solve One Problem at a Time

Don’t try to solve everything at once is another important homeschool lesson. Instead, sit down, list your problems, and what needs to be done. Pick your top 1-3 items and concentrate on those. Trying to do it all will drive you insane. So pick your battles carefully.

My rule of thumb is one battle per child. One child may work on handwriting, another on diligence getting schoolwork finished, and a third on reading.

Remember, how do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

11. Apply Seat of Pants to Seat of Chair

While there are times we need a break, many times we need to apply a bit of discipline to our homeschool. Be wary of taking too many breaks.

If you do find yourself taking too many breaks, crack the whip, sit down, and make certain the homeschool happens. Apply seat of pants to seat of chair and get it done!

In short, be diligent.

12. Be Adaptable

Another homeschool lesson I’ve learned is that life doesn’t happen as we plan. children end up gifted or with learning disabilities. Husbands get fired or find a new job. We move. Life happens.

When it does, we have to return to the drawing board and rethink how we homeschool. Assign a room, homeschool throughout the house, homeschool in the morning, homeschool in the afternoon.

We have to be adaptable.

13. Have a Plan and a Vision

That being said, it helps to have a plan and a vision of what type of education we want our children to receive. Do we want to read through great books together, memorize poetry, spend time outside?

Perhaps we want children who are well-versed with grammar and Latin, or who can actually read Latin like the classically educated men and women of yesterday.

We need the vision to keep us on track during the hard and chaotic times.

14. Enjoy the Journey

Most importantly, enjoy the journey. Too soon your oldest child is 18 and talking about going to college in a different state.

Homeschooling may be hard. It may be difficult, but it’s also wonderful. Enjoy the journey because it ends too soon.

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46 Comments

  1. This was a wonderful post. Some of these I’ve learned through my homeschooling journey with my kids (5 years going strong!), but I loved hearing some new ideas. I think I should do #2 more lol and remember to count to 10- as you said homeschooling can be difficult at times and being with your kids 24/7 can sometimes make your head want to explode lol. For us though, it’s been an amazing journey and we’ve grown so close because of it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. This is lovely, and reminds me of all the reasons that I, too, have hung in there for the long haul. Whenever I “count the cost” of homeschooling, I always come back to the truth that we are giving our kids a great gift of time and choice and family which they would not have in abundance otherwise. Blessings! Found your post at Titus2 linkup.

  3. Goodness, I could have written that first paragraph (except my daughter is in 5th grade).

    Wonderful tips and advice. Homeschooling is hard work but we’ve seen so many great benefits.

  4. I can relate to what goes around comes around… I did a weekly co-op with my older children when they were younger, then was on my own for many years, now am thinking about getting back into one with my youngest. I love that homeschooling can adapt to our seasons in life. 🙂

  5. Great post! I’m in year one of hs with my 6 yr old and this is great to read and know! Thanks 🙂

  6. I love this post! Thanks for the great reminders that kids do eventually grow up and we just need to give them grace to be who they are right now. There are so many encouraging points here, I’ll have to return periodically to be refreshed :).

  7. Thanks for sharing all your words of wisdom. These are the types of things that I could probably advise other homeschool moms with, but actually remembering to apply them in the heat of the day is a different matter! Thanks for the encouragement!!!

    1. Applying them in the heat of the day is the trick, isn’t it! Practice makes perfect, so just keep trying and trying and trying, and eventually you do start to apply them most of the time. 🙂

  8. “Homeschooling Is not the Solution “. Oh, this is so true! After 20+ years of homeschooling I have seen too many people think homeschooling will produce perfect children. I have seen public/private school parents pull their children (or the children were kicked out) from school and think homeschooling will solve all the problems. Nope, the problem is much deeper. Great advice here!

    1. Thanks, Karentrina! I don’t think anything produces perfect children… mine keep ending up with too many of their mother’s bad habits! 😉

  9. I like the reference to just keep swimming. I began homeschooling my oldest from the beginning. We have had our ups and downs, but overall have loved it. Last year he began high school work and I suddenly felt we were both being sucked under water. I spent the year struggling to resurface. Suddenly, a few months into this school year (his Sophomore year), I discovered that we had not only resurfaced but were swimming along at a good clip. Looking back, I can see all the lessons we both learned and now I am looking forward to my second son beginning his high school years this fall. It will not all be a bed of roses, but I love having this time to spend with my 4 children.

    1. It takes a while to make the transitions, doesn’t it. I know it took me time to get my feet under me when it comes to homeschooling and again when it came down to high school. Thanks for sharing, Nancy. 🙂

  10. I love this. While my oldest is almost done with his kindergarten year in public school, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I CAN homeschool, because I really think it is best for us. But I guess I’m afraid of not giving my kids the proper education by not teaching them everything they need to know, and also focusing on all the things that could go wrong. Thanks for this, it definetly help me see I’m not alone in doubting myself on occasion.

    1. There are many things that can go wrong, but also many things that can go right! Just do your best and keep swimming. Best of luck with your decisions about what to do next year, Nicole. 🙂

  11. This is exactly what I needed to read today! I’ve printed it out to add to my homeschool planner for this coming year, to re-read each time I need a little reminder that it will all turn out well in the end.

  12. Thank you so much~this is soo encouraging! I’ve been homeschooling now for 6 going on 7 years, and it has been so difficult at times finding proper encouragement and support as I’ve advanced from schooling Kindergarten to 6th grade. Your 14 Homeschool Lessons have solidified what I have already been doing; they have also reminded me of a few I have been contemplating and will now pursue. Many blessings to you and yours!

    1. I’m thrilled to hear 14 Homeschool Lessons encouraged you, Kelsey! You’ve been homeschooling for quite a while. 🙂 What changes are you thinking about making?

  13. Oh this article is SO good! As a mom at the beginning of our homeschool journey, I can’t express how grateful I am for other moms’ wisdom. This has been so encouraging to me today, thanks for sharing!

  14. Thank you for so eloquently expressing what I have felt all along. I sometimes feel frantic to cover everything, and make sure there are no gaps. But the “real” side of me sees the superiority of Schole’ and similar principles. When we carry on our homeschooling in the later fashion it just feels right. It is right! 🙂

    1. The no gaps is a real issue. I always feel like I need to cover everything to make certain nothing is left untaught, but it’s impossible. There’s simply too much information out there to learn it all! Instead I’ve come to love schole, relaxing, and concentrating on teaching the kids how to learn. Like you said, it doesn’t just feel right, it is right! 🙂

  15. Thank you so much for this. It is just what I needed to hear. Many of these things I knew deep down but have been doubting myself due to lack of inexperience (this is my first year homeschooling). I feel more confident now to move on from the frustrations we have been experiencing and just keep swimming!

    1. Cristen, that first year of homeschooling is hard! There’s so much to learn and unlearn. Just keep swimming, enjoy your kids, and it’ll all come together. 🙂

    1. The holidays are fun, but they do make homeschooling hard. You can always try extra reading aloud time during the holidays, with hot chocolate and cookies. 🙂

  16. I love this post! We took our son out of public school during 5th grade, 14 months ago. Many of these ideas have crossed my mind over the past year, but it is reassuring to read this from someone who has been in the trenches for so long. The gaps thing continues to stress me out from time to time, but I try to remind myself that gaps are unavoidable. I had gaps, yet continued on successfully through college and graduate school. He had gaps in public school and he will have gaps with homeschooling, but with homeschooling we get to decide what to prioritize. Part of what makes homeschooling fun is we get the opportunity to fill our own gaps.

    1. You’re right, Beth, gaps happen no matter where your kids are educated. There’s simply too much information to absorb in 12 years of schooling. I love being able to choose which areas we emphasis and teaching kids research skills. Whenever they discover something they want to learn more about, they know how to find the information themselves!

  17. Thanks for reminding my golden days! I really enjoyed your post. With all the difficulties, homeschooling is really fun. Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. I”ve learned with six years of homeschooling not to want #11. The less mine do seatwork/curriculum, the more they learn. I’ve learned to trust that children learn everything they need to and that linear, prescribed learning only slows them down.

  19. So much good advice! We just took our eldest off to college yesterday, and our 3yo is picking up her letter sounds already… they keep us on our toes at every age, don’t they? Hope you have a great homschool year!!

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