Lesson Number One of Homeschooling

I’ve been talking to a lot of new homeschoolers lately and while there has been lots of excitement, I’ve also met up with so much fear.

If you are new to homeschooling, I have something I have to tell you.

There is absolutely nothing to worry about.


Do you know what you need to have a successful homeschooling environment for your children?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Access to a computer
  • Nature
  • A public library
  • Love of learning
  • Love of your children
  • Curiosity
  • Some good people to support you (even online)

Really, that’s about it.  And even some of those are optional.

Think about it…

What did you need to teach your child how to walk?  To talk?  To ride a bike?

How many things do you teach your children as a natural part of their lives…

How to make pancakes

How to swim

How to use the lawnmower

How to set the VCR

How to use the computer

How to fix it when you hurt a friend

We teach our children every minute we spend real time with them.  When we tell stories, answer questions, read books, take them to new places (or old!), play games, give advice, talk about that TV show we just watched together…

Homeschooling is no harder and no easier than parenting or living.

It is simply an extension of both.

Listen, there are about 85 million free resources on the internet alone that will help you do anything from explaining reproduction to teaching algebra.

There are web sites, email groups, local coops, books, newsletters, magazines and Facebook pages devoted to nothing but helping you find more than you could ever need to homeschool.

There are historic sites, parks, nature centers, science museums, art galleries, trails, beaches and other places to discover that can teach your children more than any classroom.

If you cultivate an atmosphere in your homeschool where learning is fun, it will be easier than you’d ever believe.

Treat it like the adventure it is.  Let the kids take the lead.  Go places.  Do experiments.  Make messes.  Follow rabbit trails.  Be a team.

Last week, my friend Tiffany told me a mother put her small child in time-out at their gym day care because the child had one of her arms inside her coat against her body instead of inside her coat sleeve.

If you are that sort of parent, I guarantee your child will hate homeschooling.

If you make it a battle, try to force a school atmosphere, dictate, punish, nag, belittle and create absolutely meaningless rules, then it ain’t gonna be easy.

So don’t do those.   🙂

Relax, moms and dads. You probably felt much the same when you first brought these children into the world.  And you’ve handled that pretty well, without anybody from the government having to come and teach you how to do it right or do it for you.

You are about to embark on an adventure.  It won’t always be easy (what adventure is?) but it is something you are absolutely capable of.

This is an opportunity to reconnect with your kids, to spend real time with them, to pass on some pretty amazing bits of knowledge that only you possess, to learn along with them, and to show them that education is actually a pretty fabulous thing.

Have faith in yourself.  Have faith in your children.  This is going to be fun.

Okay, most of the time.  😉

Want to read more of my yappings?  Here’s my most recent post over at Examiner.com:

20 Ways to put more joy in your homeschooling day

Happy weekend!

12 thoughts on “Lesson Number One of Homeschooling

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with every single word! 🙂 Except that I think there are now 85 million and one free resources. 😉

    Being cheeky. I love your thoughts! Hope the morning sickness is almost over?

    – Suji who’s taking a “day off” by listening to her kiddo read aloud idioms from his silly little book and laughing along.


    • True, Suji! And yes, the morning sickness is a tiny bit better. I’m hopeful it will end before too long. And the sinus infection, cough, cold, etc. could lay off too!

      Sounds like a lovely day!


  2. The good old sleeve-obsessed controller … how sad for her child! Great article, Alicia!! I think it’s one of my favourites.


  3. The thing that scares me so much – the thing that keeps me up at night, even though my little guy is only a year old – is the standardized testing. In PA, we can’t opt out of testing, and the state could take away my right to homeschool if my son doesn’t perform well.

    This just terrifies me. It also angers me. I don’t believe in testing, but here in PA I don’t have the right to forego the insanity. The state is taking away my freedom to create a totally relaxed, stress-free, pressure-free educational environment for my son. It’s infuriating.


    • Oh, that is frustrating! I can understand the fear that causes, but let me really reassure you… He’ll do okay in tests! Even without teaching to the test, even without sit-down and structured teaching, he will do okay on those tests!

      We have to do standardized tests here in MN. Now here we don’t have to report the results (only get further evaluation in case of special needs if they score in the bottom percents), but it’s a yearly hoop we have to jump through. I have always been amazed at how well my children score with absolutely ZERO test preparation, drilling or anything remotely like a school curriculum.

      I would suggest looking for some homeschooling and unschooling groups in PA and asking their members for some reassurance. I am sure they will have lots of good advice and BTDT stories to share.

      Just really try to believe this — children learn naturally in an education-rich environment. They learn to read, write, speak correctly, add, subtract, multiply, figure out what 10% off that sweater is…

      What subjects are kids tested on in PA? Many tests these days are really only math and language arts. We do the CAT and most of the subjects are truly so easy it’s almost hard to believe. Victoria tested above high school level by the time she was 8, I think. What exactly does the law say? I assume the kids must fall below a failing percent for the schools to intervene? I really would not worry, especially at this early stage! I know that is easier said than done, so perhaps just research it in the meantime. Knowledge is power. 🙂

      Hugs to you!


  4. Love, love, love this article. Most of the beginning homeschoolers that I have met seem to be terrified of doing something wrong. I always tell them to take a deep breath and relax, it’s not that hard. You summed it up wonderfully.

    Welcoming New Homeschoolers. Come Join The Party!


  5. Great post. I tend to be a more “relaxed” homeschooling parent. My child is an average child. We do our subjects but we don’t stress over finishing all of the book or every page. We read alot and talk about it. Since it has warmed up our science learning has come from raising baby chicks, painted lady butterflies and gardening. I think she has learned more and remembered more from these activities than she did working in a science textbook about the human body. Most of the time I have to remind myself to relax and go with the flow. I am much more worried about teaching life skills and our Christian faith than anything else. Testing is required of us every three years and those years tend to have me a little more stressed than others.


  6. We have to test, too, and I do keep the tests in mind as we move through our math curriculum, but I don’t let it stress me out! I look at the test as a diagnostic tool, not a true assessment of my kids. And our experience has been the same as yours–the tests aren’t particularly challenging (just long and boring!)

    We are not unschoolers. But we are not school-at-homers either. We spend lots of time reading, being outside, making stuff, and going on field trips. So much of our learning seems to happen naturally. In fact, the more I push it, the less effective it is! When I ask my kids what they remember about a topic, it’s almost always the project they did or the trip we took–it’s NEVER the worksheet.

    “Homeschooling is no harder and no easier than parenting or living. It is simply an extension of both.” Awesome quote!!!!


  7. I just wanted to respond to the mom from PA who stated that the state can take away her right to homeschool if her child does not perform well on standardized tests. THIS IS WRONG. You have received incorrect information. It is stated in PA law that the results of the tests cannot be used to show that a homeschool program is not providing an appropriate education. If your evaluator attests to the fact that you are providing an appropriate education by accepting your portfolio and signing off on it, then that is all that is needed. The results of the tests are inconsequential. Please read the law and reduce your anxiety.



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