What I Wish I Knew About Homeschooling When I Began

This post would be more accurately titled, “What I Wish I Believed About Homeschooling When I Began.” It’s not that people didn’t tell me. I even went to the Homeschool Convention so that professional homeschoolers could tell me some of these things.  I just didn’t believe it. I was too busy listening to the voice in my head. Ya know…the one that sounds a lot like insecurity. But, you. You’re different. You’re gonna “get it.” You are gonna learn from my worrying, is what you’re going to do, because I did enough of that for all of us.

If you are thinking that homeschooling may be an option for your family – Good on you for being brave! After you check out this post on homeschooling {…and this FAQ post…and this one about the good, the bad, and the ugly}, I want to talk to you even more! I’m serious. These are those times when I want more than a blog post. I want food and drinks and a face to face chance to tell you all these things that I didn’t believe. But since that isn’t an option for most of you, let’s just get on with it.

What I Wish I Knew About Homeschooling…

DSC_0009Your education was not perfect. Newsflash :: Your kids’ education won’t be perfect either, regardless of your choice. Let’s just get this one out of the way. There are going to be gaps. One year, I had a teacher who was going through a divorce. We took notes, did worksheets, and she gave us study guides and allowed us to use them on the quizzes and tests. I learned NOTHING that year in Science. This was not the norm, but the point is, that would be considered a less than awesome experience.

Curriculum works for you. C’mon, say it with me, “The curriculum works for me, not the other way around. The curriculum is not the boss of me.” Boom. When a concept is mastered and there are 4-6 enrichment lessons, I don’t have to do them! Which brings me to…

Teachers do not do everything in the textbooks. In my mind, I really knew this. I was just determined to do it better, so in my mind, that meant doing every single thing in a textbook. Nope. About four years of homeschooling down, and I finally got it. I’m stubborn like that.

“School” really does only take a fraction of the time. When the teacher/student ratio is 1:2 or 1:1, it doesn’t take as along for the student to grasp a concept. Not only that, you aren’t having to teach to all different learning styles. Homeschoolers only have to teach to their own kids.

Homeschooling is not a marriage. You are not in a covenant relationship with homeschooling. There are options. Each year, our homeschooling has looked different. Now, we are in a season of planning for high school. We are looking into all the options, including re-entering school! Gasp! It’s not that homeschooling is failing us, it’s just that we want to be in prayerful consideration of all the options, for which we are so grateful to have.

You were your children’s first teacher. You’ve already been teaching them {ABCs, manners, head, shoulders, knees, toes…}. You know your child better than anyone. You are the expert on “All things Your-Child’s-Name-Here.” Trust your gut, not the State Standards. In 20 years, will doing State History in 3rd grade or 5th grade really matter? YOU decide if it does.

You don’t have to re-create “school at home.” Many classrooms in schools have little reading nooks or relaxed areas to create a more home-like feel. Home’s cool! {See what I did there!?}

They will, they will, TEST YOU! {I don’t know where that came from, except that we’ve recently watched A Knight’s Tale on Netflix.} Anyway, when the honeymoon is over, your child will test you. It might look like “I don’t get this” or “You’re not a teacher” or “I want to go to real school”. They will say and do nearly anything in order to do what they want in the moment. You will be tested. Pass this test. WIN this war.

“Gifted” students will not get bored. In fact, homeschooling opens up the world to the student with a high aptitude. Not only that, but the notion that a student with high aptitude will be stunted by homeschooling is just crazy-talk, too. If a child is truly gifted, nothing can stop her. Nothing.

1/2 an hour per grade level is a good rule of thumb. Because we would get through our book work so fast sometimes, I would just keep going, for fear that if we were finished in two hours or less, that meant we weren’t doing enough. As I said before, it just doesn’t take that long. In addition, you can do too much, resulting in burnout for you and your student. I might argue this is worse than not doing enough. One could leave them wanting more and one could leave them DONE.

Rest and play are necessary. Play time is not a reward. It is part of learning. Rest and play are important for mom and kids. Now listen, I definitely advocate using a trip to the cool park as an incentive to get school done. At the same time, I advocate taking school to the park! It all works! Especially when the weather’s good!

Bad days are redeemed.  We have seen this over and over. My meltdowns or theirs. From the completely unproductive days to the completely combative days, God redeems them all. I believe with everything I have in me that God restored lost time for us over and over. Believe it.

I know there is so much more. I just hope this information resonates with somebody!

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Melissa is a native Floridian currently making Houston home. She has a background in English education, but ended up teaching sex ed to middle and high school students. This passion for teaching healthy relationship education transformed into a ministry of teaching parents to speak early and often to their kids about healthy sexuality. {Which she says was way more fun than teaching poetry.} But that’s all “Doppleganger Melissa” now. These days, she is a full-time homeschooling mama to two future world-changers, Meghan and Maddy. She is an unapologetic sanguine who loves having people around her table eating off of paper plates and drinking sweet tea. When “Mel’s Diner” {the kitchen} isn’t open, she may be working off calories at the gym, driving her girls around town, or trying to round up some twenty-somethings to feed and mother. Melissa believes in a few things pretty strongly :: Jesus, her spouse, the power of Diet Coke, and that traveling should be a sport. You can find her over at Spouseisms, or on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook {@Spouseisms}.


  1. Thank you for this! We’re going to start homeschooling our oldest this Fall and this article has some great advice!


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