And Then I Realized I Was Doing It All Wrong: Lessons in Homeschooling

And Then I Realized I Was Doing It All Wrong: Lessons in Homeschooling | Homeschooling Tips | Homeschooling Hacks | Homeschool | Printable Planner | Study Plans | Study Tips | Education | Learning Last spring, as I prepared to take on this crazy adventure called homeschooling, I read countless books and articles and websites, most of them helpful, a few of them scary, but almost all containing phrases like this:

Every homeschool family is unique. 

You’ll start out doing one thing and end up someplace completely different. 

You won’t know what works until you start. 

What works for other families won’t necessarily work for you.

Or something to that effect.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the books or even that I thought I had it all figured out.  But after reading extensively about all the different methods of homeschool I felt certain that I was, at the very least, committed to the idea of a Classical Education for my kids.

It just seemed to fit everything I believed in, and besides, nearly all the homeschool moms I knew were taking a Classical approach.  I had been stalking reading Edie’s homeschool posts for years and was always so inspired by everything she had to say, by the amazing education she was giving to her girls.

So I dutifully read The Well Trained Mind about 47 times, highlighting and re-reading and shouting “YES!,” and then eagerly ordered most of the recommended books for first grade.  I was excited to start and we jumped in with both feet, and for the first couple of months, it was okay.  I spent a lot of time preparing for our lessons and could inject my own creativity and passion into the curriculum even though I often found it somewhat dry and repetitive.

But then in the fall, as work obligations piled up and then I took on our 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero project, I suddenly found myself stretched a little thin.  It was all I could do just to squeeze school into our day at all, much less make it fun.  It started to become a chore.  It was so boring!  And if I was bored, I knew my kids were bored too.

I hated that I was boring them, hated that it was a chore.  I hated that I couldn’t seem to figure out how to teach 2 different ages at the same time, and that we spent more time fighting then learning.  I hated that everyone else was getting the best of me and all my kids got was this crazy stressed out Task Master.

But I didn’t know what to do or how to change.  I had spent all this money on all these books and I felt stuck and scared.  And honestly, I felt like a failure.  Why couldn’t I be more like Edie?  Was I not cut out for this?

One evening, desperate and in tears, I picked up my Kindle and did a search for homeschooling books.  I don’t know what I was looking for, exactly, I think mostly I just wanted to find some hope.  I stumbled across a helpful-sounding book called Homeschooling for the Rest of Us and one click later (gotta love that Kindle instant gratification), as I read words of comfort and validation that I so needed to hear, I was soon crying tears of joy.

And then the very next day Edie wrote this post about why she almost gave up homeschooling and suddenly, after realizing things weren’t all sunshine and roses for her either, I had an Epiphany:  I was doing it ALL WRONG.  I was trying to juggle all these different balls called “school” and “home” and “work” and “mom,” not realizing that they are in fact the same ball.  I work from home.  I school from home.  This is where we live.  This is what we do.  This is our life now.  School is who we are.

My most important job–especially at this stage of their life–is to be my kids’ mom first and everything else second.  To raise them to be confident and loving and inquisitive and passionate and spiritual, to have good manners and to build strong relationships.  And, to quote my dear wise friend, “The curriculum is there to inspire ME so that I can inspire them.”

I read that line and realized I wasn’t inspired, I was bored.  The fact is that I prefer the practical to the cerebral.  I would rather read a book about organizing than one about The Odyssey.   I also realized was that the reason Edie inspires me so much is because she is truly passionate about what she does.  It works for her.  Because she would most definitely pick the Odyssey.  And that is okay.  I can be inspired by her without being her.

Isn’t that true of so much in life?

Judge me if you must, but I revolted.

The girls and I abandoned our rigorous and systematic approach, we eased off our hectic schedule, I stopped trying to teach them separately, and we simply began enjoying our time together.

I focused on sharing with them the things I was passionate about.  Rather than trying to separate our “school time” from my “home time,” I just started including them in whatever I was doing, whether it was cooking or cleaning or crafting.  And then, after lunch each day, we retreated to their cozy bed where we would cuddle up together reading aloud favorite books from my own childhood like Charlotte’s Web and The Hundred Dresses and Ramona and the Little House series.

Homeschooling is all about including your children in your everyday activities like cooking.

I’m not sure what that approach could even be called.  The Slacker Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling I suppose, although in my defense I did create a home-school planner to help me at least feel like we were accomplishing something.   And while there will probably always be a small part of me that feels a twinge of doubt–what would parenting be without a little self doubt after all–I realize now that the best thing I can do for my kids’ education is to give them ALL of me.

Fun craft projects like needlepoint can be great homeschooling activities.

That is no small feat. All is a LOT, which means in order for that to be sustainable for any length of time, I have to be passionate and enthusiastic and excited about what we are learning.  I have to WANT to do it every day–not only in theory, but in practice–or I will burn out.  They will burn out.  We will fail.

Learning to pickle vegetables is a great homeschooling activity kids enjoy.

With that in mind, I was ready this month, after a few months of our free-for-all homeschooling approach, to try something slightly more structured.  But only slightly.  Knowing better what works (and doesn’t work) for our personalities, I began re-researching the different homeschool methods and curriculums.

I ultimately settled on a Unit Study approach, and although in the future we will quite possibly be using a curriculum called KONOS, for the forseeable future–probably at least the next 6 months to a year–we are using a unit study called The Prairie Primer to delve headfirst into the pioneer world of the Little House series, which has already captivated us.

Classic books like Little House on the Prairie are great homeschooling reads.

The Prairie Primer–which was recommended to me by another homeschool mom and which has incredible reviews–looks amazing so far.  It is very clearly laid out, which I love, and incorporates all the different subjects (except math) into the study.  We have just been getting started this week, but we will be doing many of the activities we read about, like making butter and corn cob dolls and learning to sew and embroider, as well as studying various animals and things like how to grow crops and how maple syrup is made.  It is really interesting, and it is fun!  Not just for them, but for me!

A personalize homeschool planner is a great way to stay organized with lessons.

To stay organized and keep better track of what we are doing, I expanded my  homeschool planner to include student goals, a quarterly outline, and a weekly game plan.  I made it myself because I couldn’t find a homeschool planner that also included LIFE, and if you are looking for a way to plan your homeschool days, you are welcome to try it–just keep in mind that all homeschool families are unique and what works for me might not necessarily work for you! 🙂

Eight months in, we are still just beginning our homeschool adventure.  And who knows, eight months from now I may have a whole new perspective about it all.  For now all I can do is take each day as it comes and simply pray for the grace and wisdom to give my kids the best education–and life–that I can.

Sharing this post at:  Weekly Wrap-Up


  1. January 11 at 08:36AM

    Oh, how I loved this! We are on our fifth year of homeschooling yet we are still “figuring it out”. 🙂 Every time someone in interested in beginning homeschooling my first advice is, “Find what works for YOU!”

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:26PM

      Thanks Laurie! And AMEN! 🙂

  2. Emily
    January 11 at 08:58AM

    This was so helpful! My oldest daughter will be starting Kindergarten next year and I have been agonizing over whether or not to homeschool. I’m curious what ultimately made you decide to do it. I have a 2 year old as well and I am so nervous about trying to teach them both at once.

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:32PM

      I had always wanted to homeschool but last year I was so busy running multiple websites that we decided to put our oldest daughter in public school. It is a really good school but we just didn’t have a very good experience–I wrote more about it here:

      Figuring out how to juggle 2 kids at once is definitely something I am still learning! I often wonder how those moms with 6 or 8 kids manage it all!

      • Angel
        January 16 at 07:28PM

        By the time we have 6 or 8 kids, the older ones are pretty independent in school, chores, life in general. My goal with homeschooling is independent learning, so by the time they are in 7 th grade or so, they are doing most of their school by themselves, with me overseeing it and answering questions, etc. The older ones also help out a lot with chores, laundry, dinner, so it’s not as hard as it seems having more than 2 kiddos and homeschooling.

  3. January 11 at 09:56AM


    What a great post! We too homeschool and we have homeschooled for the last 6 years. We now have 4 school age children and one infant and life is crazy between this, being a wife, a mother, running businesses, blogging, and trying to be frugal (which we all know takes time and organization). I loved reading this. I was homeschooled as well all the way through highschool. I have realized that the most important part of homeschooling is focusing on my kids, their strengths, their weaknesses and their character. When we first started, I was quite ambitious and thought we too had to have such a strict schedule and plan. We had each child in their grade level doing each subject and then by the time we added #3 in the mix and each child was studying different sciences, different history topics, etc. I found it impossible to teach a dozen different lessons in one day and wasn’t sure how others do it. I still don’t know, but after talking to Alex to help me figure it out, this is what we do. We have two different homeschooling times during the day – group school where all 4 kids from ages 4-9 participate in Bible, history, science, geography and art. We rotate through those subjects doing Bible everyday and then the others 1 – 2 times per week and everyone studies the same topic and so I teach one lesson. Then the activity is age-based. The older ones might get additional self-directed reading with a report and the youngest might just color a picture and everything in between. The second part is where the older three are given their workbook assignments for math, phonics, spelling, handwriting and English. They can all read and their workbooks are self-explanatory with Alex or I needing to do quick one-on-one lesson when needed (we also simplified this by sticking with one company’s workbooks at each grade level, so all of the kids are doing the same type of workbooks, just in their grade). Then during that time, the 4-year old needs someone to sit with her and teach her while she does her workbooks. We actually accomplish so much in a small amount of time now! We don’t really have a schedule, it is just time allotments and whatever we can get done in that time. Surprisingly, we are moving at a much quicker pace, much happier mom and that means much happier kids! Now I can’t say it is perfect as I have to get up at 5:30 am, be very strict and precise about my blogging, cleaning, couponing and more as school is our top priority, even amongst those extras we have. It is humbling, but very rewarding experience. Thanks for sharing Ruth and God Bless!! Cassie

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:37PM

      Wow Cassie, I am always so amazed by moms who homeschool more than 2 kids! I get up really early too–I’ve found that that is the only way to have time to work and write without distractions. I also just enjoy the peace and quiet of the morning time!

  4. January 11 at 10:24AM

    I think we’re “right there”. I totally feel you, Ruth. Thank you for sharing. I needed this encouragement.
    I ended our stint in a virtual public school about a year ago and have had a much more relaxed approach to homeschooling; but when I first started I “thought” I needed to give my kids a more rigorous learning experience to more closely model how I was educated.
    However, I know longer feel that way. They’re having so much more fun and so am I with our “do what works well for us” approach to homeschooling. I am glad to know I’m not the only mom entrepreneur who has experienced this type of transition.

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:38PM

      Thanks Donna!

  5. January 11 at 11:31AM

    I love this post. I’ve been homeschooling for eleven years and every single year I think “this is the way” to do it and then I quickly revert to life as our homeschooling. We burn out otherwise and I can’t incorporate all the kids together and we lose the love of learning.
    I’ve found it to be a balance and it all ebbs and flows depending upon the season of life we’re in.
    Wonderful words. You will bless many.


    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:39PM

      Thank you Rachel. It is so good to know I’m not the only one! 🙂

  6. January 11 at 11:32AM

    LOVE this post! And welcome to the Prairie Primer clan – there is an excellent and active Facebook group, including the PP’s author, if you didn’t already know. We changed our approach this year as we added in another student, and it’s been a great year so far.

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:40PM

      Oh my goodness, I had no idea there was a Facebook group! Could you send me the link? Thanks Eddie!

  7. January 11 at 11:36AM

    Oh this spoke volumes to me!

    My favorite quote “I can be inspired by her without being her.”

    Thank you! I am going to go forth in my life and find ways to be inspired BY others with out trying to BE the people that inspire me.

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:40PM


  8. January 11 at 11:49AM

    What an awesome post! We started out with traditional curriculum, a school room, and scheduled subjects. That lasted about 2 years. Then we evolved into what we are now – which is Charlotte Mason-esque unschoolers. But really – it is life. We live and learn! <3

    • Ruth
      January 11 at 01:41PM

      So true! Thanks Aadel!

  9. Cindi
    January 11 at 02:03PM

    Great post! As a fellow homeschooler, we do have some bookwork and a whole lot of life learning. With all the retired people down here, we have a massive wealth of information available. We can make learning fun and instill that love to learn in our children. Kids, as well as adults, learn at their own pace, not as a mass group. Just because a child may learn something at a later age than a different child doesn’t make them stupid or dumb or slow. That is my biggest peeve with large classrooms. Putting kids in the “slow learners” classes destroys their ability and desire to learn because it’s a negative experience. Standardized tests do not reveal an accurate picture of what any child knows. Living life, learning how to think critically, and reading, reading, reading will do so much. May I also recommend Lucy Maud Montgomery with her Story Girl series as well as Anne of Green Gables, Louisa May Alcott with the Little Women series, and Frances Hodgson Burnett with A Little Prince, The Lost Prince, and The Secret Garden (which is what we’ve just started now.)

    Read everything in which they express an interest. My elder daughter, who is 11, keeps talking about being a paleontologist. I didn’t even know what that was at 11!

    You’re doing great, and remember that all homeschoolers have down days, just like “regular” schoolers and teachers do. We’re not perfect. No one is. But you love your kids more than anyone else, and you can instill a massive love of lifelong learning better than anyone else can as you show them how enthusiastic you are about constantly learning regardless of what the subject matter is. You can do it!

  10. January 11 at 03:02PM

    I loved your post. I’m glad that for this season you have found something that fits. With homeschooling its kinda beautiful that way – Seasons come and go – Books and curriculum will change. Homeschooling is trial and error because every child is different. Keep trying and you can totally do it perfect for your family!! Hugs & Kisses fellow homeschooler!!!

  11. January 11 at 04:31PM

    Sounds like the normal progression of a homeschooler! ::wink:: This is Year 9 for us…and every year…sometimes every few months…I have to tweak something that just isn’t quite working. Different kids, different stages, changes! Right now we’re a little “afloat” with Science, searching for a new curriculum or interest area for us. We’ll get there! Enjoy the rest of your year!

  12. Michelle Williams
    January 11 at 05:04PM

    So glad you are figuring out what works for you! That is one of the hardest things about homeschooling-not doing what everyone else does, but customizing to fit your kiddos, their interests, abilities and personalities. Love the Little House books! When you get to the maple syrup making stuff, there is this fabulous picture book about making maple syrup called Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter. I would loan you my copy, but I am afraid you are too far away! 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  13. January 11 at 07:47PM

    I found your blog through weekly wrap-up. I loved reading through your homeschool posts today and hearing about your first year journey. You’re not alone with finding out through trial and error what’s best. That is the beauty of teaching in the home, finding what works for your individual family.

  14. January 11 at 11:10PM

    I loved reading your story. I started out homeschooling with a very structured approach when we began nine years ago, but I , too, was quickly burned out. I’ve come round and round lots of times through the years but finally have decided that not only is each family different, but sometimes each year is different. And the great thing about homeschooling is that we can adapt, and adapt, and adapt… 🙂

  15. January 12 at 07:11AM

    Something in me still can’t seem to take homeschooling off the table for my little one. Here in England they start at 4 years (full time) and I worry that they are just so little! Wish we had the sort of programmes you guys do to follow!

  16. January 12 at 10:10AM

    I have been homeschooling since last January and the main thing that I felt was seriously out-of-control of it all. Ya know?? It’s definitely gotten better, I have learned that co-op is not for us. My kids love it but I feel “crazy” trying to keep up with all of the assignments from the different classes. Maybe next year we will just do one. Home school though has gotten soooo much better. I just now feel like I have a handle on what the kids need to know and how to get that information into their little brains. thank you for posting this though…home schooling is such a great community that we all can share and gain from. thanks again.

  17. Angie D.
    January 12 at 11:43AM

    As usual, I really love your insightfulness. I don’t even have kids, but I enjoy hearing about your journey with your girls. When I was little, we lived out in the country, and daycare didn’t really exist (well, it existed, but not where we lived). When my mom went back to work, I had the pleasure of spending several years with my grandparents “babysitting” me each day. They had a farm. Grandma would read to me, and include me in her daily activities (like canning, sewing, cooking). I didn’t even realize I was learning, because it was so much fun to have her undivided attention. Grandpa would come in for lunch, and sometimes he’d take me out with him to feed the hogs or to plant potatoes. Life was good!

    When I started school, I cried all the time, because I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be back with grandma. Homeschooling wasn’t something you did back in the late 70’s, so I had to suffer through it. “It’ll get better,” my mom would tell me. But you know what? It never did. My spirit was crushed over and over by mean kids, mean teachers, etc. I found it traumatic to be surrounded by all those other smelly little strangers.

    So, protect their tender little spirits! When you include them in your daily activities, like canning, crafting, etc., you’re not only teaching them, but you’re also giving them a really good foundation of love and security that will help them in the future.

  18. January 12 at 04:10PM

    I used the Prairie Primer for my 3 oldest– it took us about 2.5 years instead one one! Then check out Further up and Further In (Narnia in a similar approach for a little older kids) In High school we did a huge study through Lord of the Rings (Literary lessons from Lord of the Rings it’s called) — I love our cozy morning together, lots of reading and following our passions. Now we’ve adopted an 8 year old and starting again on this journey– finding what works for him and how I can work that with the teenagers. I love how you expressed this, though. Classical would never have worked for me either. I call our style eclectic, relaxed and real life!

  19. January 12 at 09:59PM

    What a great post! It took me a lot longer to figure out what was best for my kids. We are more eclectic… we keep what works and pitch what does not work.

  20. January 14 at 04:50PM

    Ruth, I found your website looking for coupon info and fell in love with your blog. I call myself the accidental homeschooler and after 5 years we learn something new every year. We are very eclectic . We have loved KONOS unit studies the most. This year is more of a challenge as I battle stage 3 breast cancer. (I was touched by your post about your sister in law who was ill ). I am never more thankful for the gift of homeschooling when I reflect on our memories. I have never been a strict curriculum mom but my husband was at the beginning and I tease and say I am a closet unschooler but he keeps me on track . It is always my goal to keep it simple. We are in co-op this year for science and math because my son is in high school and support for me with my illness. God has blessed beyond measure with support and inspiration on this journey. I have tested my children because of self doubt and always been surprised and amazed. Keeping our home a learning environment limiting TV and games helps. My older 4 children were in public school so I have many years to compare . It is such a relief and joy to have the choice to homeschool . When I remember the stress and anxiety sending them to school I thank God everyday. The worst day homeschooling isn’t even close to the best day not knowing what they were learning or facing. My youngest is 9 and the only one who has been homeschooled from the start. We are reading the Little house series and unit study. We have visited the Mansfield Wilder home last year. She is an American Girl fan and I loved your post on the bed and wardrobe and your honesty . (Thankful I didn’t find them ) I found a chest wardrobe at Hobby Lobby and used a coupon to keep it simple. I could go on on other ways you inspire but that is enough for now. Keep writing and blessing with your words.

  21. February 8 at 11:41AM

    After homeschooling for just over 5 months, I am in this place. Your post really encourages me today. Thank you!!!

  22. February 9 at 09:58AM

    Thank you so much for this article. I am in my second year of homeschooling and I can totally relate. I am currently using My Father’s World but we sometime interject other things in when I need a change of pace. I also work from home and can relate to the challenges of trying to do it all. This is my first time on your site and I am thankful I found you.

  23. February 12 at 05:42PM

    Ruth – Thank you for your amazing post about Home Schooling your girls. 🙂

    Our son is only 2yrs old and we have a #2 due later this year, but we’ve already discussed and are determined to home school them as well. I personally am the oldest of four myself and my parents (with the God’s help) managed to home school all four of us for about the first 8yrs (at least for me it was 1st – 8th grades). They too had to figure our curriculum that could work for all of us. Even though us first three kids were each about 5 years apart, all girls, my parents found that “Far Above Rubies” was a great one that she could teach on different levels to us. For my brother (the youngest), it was a lot more “out doors” and math/ science focused. But that’s him and shortly after he started we all wound up in public school because of a family matter that did not allow my parents to continue to home school. Which was fine, but a real culture shock. We also found that because our parents had home schooled us for so long, we were all “smarter than the average student” or “gifted” to put it nicely. One of the reasons my husband and I very much want to home school. Coming from families who have always pushed us to achieve the highest we can can, we want to do something where we can control what our children are being taught and take a relaxed but more advanced approach for teaching. I have no idea how this will work out, but we’re still praying about it, he he.

  24. March 3 at 07:55PM

    i searched for konos on pinterest and found your blog….just wanted to say thanks for this post!!!! lifeschooling for us is indeed a journey!!!

  25. julie
    April 17 at 07:05PM

    We r in our 2nd yr of homeschool of our two (11 & 9 yr olds) & our youngest who is 2. I know right. CRAZY……but it clicked one day after I witnesses my father dying of stage 4 colon cancer on christmas day. This is our life. You get one chance at raising your children & if I could give my beautiful children anything from my life & they could be there for me when it is my time to leave this earth then I had succeeded as a Great parent asy father had done for me. Is it easy no!!!!! Are there those days that I am pulling my hair out & re thinking about my efforts in homeschooling of course……..BUT I WOULDN’T TRADE IT FOR THE WORLD BECAUSE WHEN THOSE EYES LIGHT UP WHEN THEY HAVE FIGURED IT OUT. NOTHING BUT PRICELESS & I was apart of that learning process. ……I don’t even know how I found this link. But I love YOUR HONESTY; why is that not taught more honesty. Thank you for doing this blog.

  26. Cindy
    April 24 at 08:58AM

    My family has been homeschooling classically for six years now, and I have to say I HATE Well-Trained Mind. Mostly I hate that so many homeschoolers think that is what classical education has to look like. I am a Type A perfectionist and I knew 15 minutes into the book that her approach would drive me and my children crazy. We got involved with Classical Conversations instead and it is perfect for us. It is just the right combination of rigorous and flexible. We’re now in 7th and 8th grades and can really see the fruit of doing classical education without the stress of WTM.

    I am so glad that you found an approach that nourishes your girls, and that also nourishes you and your relationship with them. The stress of doing homeschooling the wrong way is so detrimental to that relationship, but the strength of that relationship will be crucial when they hit puberty 🙂

    I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your blog. Blessings to your family!

  27. Alyse Groves
    May 7 at 10:29PM

    You are a goddess! My husband and I have been talking about curriculum and unit studies and what works and my college schedule with the little one. I was beginning to think I had this all wrong and what was I thinking! Your post is exactly what I needed to read at this very moment! I am coming to a point where I have a planning break from my school and homeschool. I have been worried I am doing it all wrong and now a little one in the mix! After reading this, I am not doing it wrong. I am simply still trying to figure out what works for us and right now what doesn’t work is me compartmentalizing it all! THANK YOU!

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  30. Andrea Dillingham
    May 28 at 04:02AM


    I enjoyed your article! I think it’s great that you’ve found your own way in homeschooling. I was homeschooled K-12. My mom took a very similar approach. Our “school” time was everywhere and everything! We were doing chores, crafts, going to the library, playing outside, and it was all part of our education. We’d be talking in the car about something… say… how a camera works, or the American Revolution. My mom would “lecture” though we didn’t know it. She’d encourage us to go look up answers to questions, or definitions of words we didn’t know. Later, she’d ask us to write (an age appropriate) paper on the subject. And then I would realized we had learned all about *insert subject here* and I didn’t even know it! The point is we were ALWAYS learning! But the most valuable thing I learned was HOW to learn. How to teach myself things. How to be an independent researcher and study things that interest me.

    In my later years of education (particularly in high school), I would sometimes wonder if I was getting an equal education to my peers in public or private school. I was happy with my freedom and lifestyle, but it was also a question in the back of my mind. Because I couldn’t be 100% sure that I wouldn’t get to college and realize I had “missed” some really major thing. How would I know? When I was 16, a junior in high school, I decided to take concurrent classes at my local university. My mom turned in my transcript which reflected a 4.0 GPA. And still, I wondered if maybe she was being a little biased. I went on to maintain a 4.0 all through college! I found that I was OVER prepared, and that I didn’t struggle (even when some classes required more strict methods of study or testing), because my mom had given me the gift of teaching me to be a self-learner, a self-starter, and to use my imagination and mind in everything I did. I believe it was her method of incorporating school and learning into everything we did, and encouraging creativity in every aspect of life. Just as you mentioned… home time, mom time, school time… it’s all one in the same!

    Good luck to you and your kids! I believe it’s completely worth it, and a wonderful, fulfilling way of LIFE. I am married now and have a 6-month old son and I can’t wait to start homeschooling! 🙂

  31. May 29 at 03:41PM

    Loved reading your post…as a “graduated” home educating momma of two girls it brought back many memories. My girls are now almost 19 and 21 and I do not regret any of our home education journey. ENJOY every minute, structured or not. 🙂

  32. May 29 at 06:28PM

    I’m in my 6th year (really?) homeschooling. Three kiddos, and this year my youngest join us as an official kindergartener. Fitting it all in has been an adjustment! And I’ve been there with the WTM. I take what I can from it and try not to get overwhelmed. We found a good fit with Five in a Row in the early years, then found My Father’s World. It’s so good you have found a fit for your family early on. Thank you for sharing; it’s encouraging.

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  34. Sara
    July 8 at 10:58PM

    It was Edie who originally introduced me to Thomas Jefferson Education. You’d love TJEd! It reflects this blog post perfectly. Inspire, not require. Teaching what you love, while not using kill and drill textbooks. It’s classical, but not Greek classical, Hebrew classical. It’s developmental and personalized education. If you haven’t read the book yet, you’d love the freedom it gives you to be the expert on your own children. Jamie Martin @ is also a Christian TJEd homeschooling mom and an inspiring blogger like you and Edie.

    • Crystal
      January 22 at 12:32AM

      Ack!! That’s exactly what I was going to say… you said you didn’t even know if there’s a name for that type of education and I wanted to shout “THERE IS!!! Its A Thomas Jefferson Education!!!” It’s EXACTLY what you’ve described, and I was shocked to not see you write below that that’s what you’d found! You did it on your own and it’s exactly TJED (for short). PLEASE look it up! You’ll fall in love!!!

      • Crystal
        January 22 at 12:34AM

        Oh, and it’s all based on classics! JUST like you mentioned above!… Little House, Charlotte’s Web, Ramona, etc.

  35. Anonymous
    July 13 at 01:37PM

    This line really spoke to me: “I school from home. This is where we live. This is what we do. This is our life now. School is who we are.” <<— That is it, exactly. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

    I was scrambling my first year trying to figure out why it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine…with a happy child thanking me for teaching her sooo much. 🙂 And WHY couldn't I keep the house clean?!? Then I realized…we are here all the time…we are LIVING in this house constantly…and I was trying to cram too much into a day: old life plus homeschooling. I'm still figuring out how to streamline more and go with the flow…but it makes more sense now that I've accepted we have a new life and we're all in this together.

  36. Suzie H
    August 8 at 04:17PM

    I am so glad I found you through Pinterest! I have really been struggling with homeschooling. I’ve been teaching my stepson for a few years and last year my middle son started Kindergarten. I also saw it as a chore, something we just had to battle through. And let me tell you, it’s been a battle. Reading this post really encouraged me. I hope that this year, with a new perspective, we can have a truly enjoyable year of learning.

  37. September 2 at 08:58PM

    thank you for sharing!! i needed to hear this.. i am trying to figure out what works best for us also and feel like i am just getting frustrated and frustrating my children.. thanks for the encouragement!!

  38. September 9 at 12:21PM

    We used the Prairie Primer twice! Once when my oldest children were 3rd and 4th grade and then again when my younger ones were about that age. It worked even for my older girls the second time because they could relate to the stories and activities on a different level. I love the Prairie Primer, even after 20+ years of homeschooling.

  39. Sarah Lentz
    September 11 at 09:29PM

    Oh, boy, did I need to read this today! We’re in our second week with K12 on-line “school at home”–schooling three kids with a tw0-year-old getting into everything whenever I’m trying to help one of his older siblings with schoolwork. I’m seriously questioning the idea that alcohol is strictly a luxury item, but, honestly, life shouldn’t be like this! We’re spending most of the day doing school just to get through all the assigned busywork, and I’m ready to kick it all to the curb and go back to homeschooling on my own. I signed up because my husband and I both recognized my limitations when it comes to record-keeping (consistently) and time-management. My kind of homeschooling doesn’t look like school at home; it’s just living and spending time with our kids and learning together as we go. I’m not one of those moms who make homeschooling look good. I tried the Classical approach, too. Total face-plant.
    Another day has gone by, and I’m still wondering when I can sneak in a shower and get more of the housework done.
    I’ll say it again: life shouldn’t be like this. It doesn’t have to be THIS hard.

    • Anonymous
      October 16 at 01:01AM

      Exactly how I feel right now!!!

  40. September 18 at 12:58AM

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post! This is exactly what I needed at this point. Thank you for your honesty. We’re just on our 1st quarter of homeschooling and the task is quite overwhelming!!! Like you, I want our homeschooling to be fun and spontaneous.
    I will try my best to be better on the second quarter. 🙂

  41. megan
    September 18 at 10:24PM

    Look at the ABEKA program. It truly is the slacked moms version of homeschooling. LOL

    It is a video of an actual class at Pensacola Christian Academy and so long as you have 2 tv’s in your house totally solves the issue of 2 grade levels! Plus it allows you to have some more time to think up awesome projects to do with your girls. I’m sure what you are doing with them is going great, this program will just allow you to have time for yourself as well…seriously you don’t even have to do the grading!!!!!

  42. Journey00
    December 3 at 09:18PM

    I soooooo needed this today! On my 3rd year of homeschooling 3 kiddos ages 14, 9, and 8. For the first time, my oldest is enrolled with a long distance Catholic Classical School…..we are NOT having fun at all. I was just like you, I wanted my kids to read Beowulf, The Odyssey, sound cerebral…lol. I, also, rather read a book about organization. 🙂 Yeah, we are hating classical education because it really is not us. Praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me in how He wants me to educate my kiddos. I’m going to read the book you read on your Kindle. Thanks for this post. God bless.

  43. January 29 at 06:57AM

    Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  44. March 16 at 01:18PM

    Oh how I know exactly how you felt. You just have to do what works for you and your family. I been there.

  45. ryoko
    March 19 at 10:23AM

    Enjoyed Your Post.
    We Homeschooled For 13 1/2 Years.
    We Called It A Lifestyle Of Learning Approach. Turning Everyday Doing Into Opportunities For Learning. Journaling, Unit Studies Time Lines. I Required More From The Older Ones Longer Or More Detailed Responses. Lots Of Doing Including Grocery Shopping With Them In Charge Of Planning, buying With A Budget For Lunc Extra.
    Our JoB Is To Equip Them For Life, As Godly Stewards And Life long learners Using Their Gifts And Talents And Yours.
    It Is An Adventure Worth The Tough Spots- Enjoy!
    You Are Off To A Wonderful Start. (I Have No Idea why My Blog Responses Automatically Change To Title Case? Guess As A Lifelong Learner I Need To Find Out 😉 )

  46. Anjolee
    April 26 at 12:45AM

    Thank you! I really needed to read this right now. It was so encouraging to me. I had never heard of the Prairie Primer, but I cannot wait to check it out! We are Little House fans for sure! Thank you so much!

  47. Mary
    July 18 at 11:47AM

    I started in February of this year homeschooling my three daughters ages 10,7,and 5,i had taken them out of public and just jumped blindly into homeschooling, they finished 4th,1st,and kindergarten and started 5th,2nd,and 1st with me with the addition of their brother who is 4 in preschool. I thought i could do classical because i love to read, but months later realized i was eceletric homeschooler. You are right what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for mine, took a long time to figure that out. I found your blog on Pinterest, i think you are doing a wonderful job.

  48. Sarah Span
    July 24 at 02:58PM

    Oh my goodness! I am so RELIEVED AND HAPPY that I have found your blog. This post is so encouraging, I can’t be more thankful that I came across it. I wan initially researching organizers, bc like yourself, I could not find one that fit “life”. To be honest, I was also nervous about diving into our second year bc last year started well, but boy did we hate the end of the school year. It did become so boring and a struggle. I can’t wait to read more of your blog! Thank you!

  49. July 24 at 06:32PM

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website.

    Keep up the good writing.

  50. Kelly
    October 16 at 12:58AM

    As a mom just starting to homeschool my 8 and 10 year old this year, is what I needed to read!!! I also work from home! So I have been a bit overwhelmed at juggling it all and trying to separate school, work, and home! I have been feeling like my kids are getting a much more grumpier me!! I’ve been thinking I need to just change it up!!! Reading about your experience has me feeling like maybe I can step back and breath a little!!! And give my kids their happy mom back!

  51. October 16 at 10:57PM

    I just wanted you to know how thankful I am for this post. I have no idea how I found it (probably through Pinterest) but it changed the way we do things and I love homeschooling now!!! I have two boys currently doing school, ages 4 and 6. We LOVE the unit study approach and have really enjoyed taking our time learning and incorporating other subjects as well. Thank you!!!

  52. June 7 at 10:55PM

    My sister is very structured in her homeschooling approach, which works very well for her. She does school at home, complete with desks, hand raising, and basically all the things that I hate about school (lol). And you know what, that’s perfect for her.
    I started out trying to be like her, but was feeling so burned out and bored of it within a couple of months! I hated it!
    So this last year I backed off, like you, and basically just stopped with the schoolwork. After several months of a break, I’m feeling energized and excited about actively teaching again. We will be doing Classical Conversations this fall, and I feel excited about that. But I also feel confident that if we try it and it’s not the right fit, we’ll just keep trying things until we find the right fit!
    And I just have to tell a funny story. I have a book that tells what kids are supposed to learn when, and I glance through it periodically to remind myself what the kids should be learning. Well one thing I realized we hadn’t formally worked on was patterning. So I thought that I needed to do that sometime, but didn’t write it down, so I didn’t do it. Several days later, my daughter came to me with a picture she had colored and told me that she made the animal have stripes in a pattern, and she had done it perfectly! So it seems that sometimes certain things are just picked up at certain ages and don’t necessarily have to be taught. 🙂

  53. Anonymous
    June 7 at 11:06PM

    I’ve been homeschooling for years and still have a long way to go, and I still don’t have it figured out.
    Our daughter did the Prairie Primer and she loved it. Thanks for the post.

  54. Alycia
    June 25 at 11:53PM

    Thanks for this post. We just finished our first year of homeschooling and I thought I knew exactly how to do it – I am trained as a teacher after all – so planning and following lessons should be easy. However, I quickly learned that my special needs son doesn’t work the same way I do…so we have had to drop curriculum, change curriculum, and find our way through. Now, instead of planning ahead, I jot down what we did for each subject after we have finished it for the day. So I have my good records of what we do but it’s not specifically planned ahead of time. So far, this has worked great for us because it means I am less tied to a schedule and more free to follow his lead on how our day goes. It has made homeschooling so much fun! Thanks for the encouragement!

  55. Victoria
    August 14 at 10:48PM

    hello and thank you so much for sharing your story. I am beginning my homeschool Journey for the 1st time in a few weeks. I’m excited and extremely nervous at the same time. I’m so grateful I cam across this story. This and reading all these amazing comments truly helps to put me at ease!

  56. Melissa
    August 15 at 07:12PM

    I absolutely love this! Im just starting my first official year of homeschooling, and have been reading/researching/gobbling up all I can on homeschooling and all the various approaches, styles and methods. Reading this post gave me wings! Its exactly my heart, knowing that I feel like Ive been homeschooling my girls since the day of their birth and that life is really the classroom! The box of “conventional” structures and rigid schedules has given me great anxiety and its so awesome to hear another mommas heart wired similarly to mine. I crave the organic nature of homeschooling and the creative lifestyle to be had, but still need structure and resource to make each day a success, so I really appreciate all that you have take the time include on your blog. THANK YOU! The Prairie Primer sounds like an amazing unit study right up my alley too.

  57. Twyla
    September 19 at 10:04AM

    It really is about finding who we are and who or children are and then fitting learning into the space around us. I’ve found that lapbook create passion in my children like no other activity. It’s their own creative evidence of learning and they go back to then time after time.
    To those who are still finding their home school stride, I have 4 children (11,10,8,5) and am in year 7 of home learning and I think I may have finally found it! …maybe…

  58. October 18 at 01:25PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I am only a few months into my homeschooling journey, and I enjoy reading about other mom’s experiences. We are using a classical program now, which is actually working for my daughter. But I do agree in taking a very broad approach to learning – everything we do with our kids can be an opportunity to teach and learn!

  59. November 24 at 06:55PM

    Thanks for sharing! While I feel like I have the most things in working order, I’m struggling with teaching 3 different levels of math (K, 1, & 3)! You have helped me to take that step and find something different! Thanks for sharing!

  60. Anissa
    January 4 at 07:44AM

    Stumbled upon your site as I was looking for a planner. I like that your post really mentions choice and personal preference. We are all so different. We have been blessed with different interests, talents, capabilities and life circumstances. How and why should we expect to follow exactly the same pattern as someone beside us. Thanks for sharing the planner templates. It is helpful. 🙂

  61. Kayla
    March 6 at 08:46AM

    I just want to say thanks for the motivation. Also Iove this blog because I now have many answers to my questions about the curriculum I will use, how I envision my home school and shear excitement about homeschooling. Thank God for waking me this morning and directing me to this blog!

  62. Dodie
    May 24 at 04:42PM

    This is a great article. I wanted to say, though, that the Laura Ingalls Wilder books are listed as fiction for a reason. They are not the truth of her personality or even of the story. I did not find this out until after more than 10 years of teaching! SMH. Did you ever wonder why Ma and Mary seem so perfect in the books, so pristine and angelic? It may be that she was trying to work through the guilt of refusing to visit or talk to them after the death of Pa. After her father died, she went to visit her mother and sister, took Pa’s fiddle, and never saw them again. It’s not that she didn’t travel; she went all the way to San Francisco to see Rose, so that wasn’t the issue. Twenty years. For twenty years Ma and Mary lived together in their house and Bess (Laura) never visited or called them. She was also quite prominent in her town, where she and Almanzo were both busy with the Masonic Lodge and active in the Eastern Star. Also, Nellie Olsen was not a real person, but a conglomerate of several different individuals. It’s very interesting to think about.

  63. Julie
    September 26 at 04:14PM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is our first year homeschooling and I did EXACTLY what you did and encountered the SAME thing with my kids. They would buck me and complain that it was boring. Thankfully, I knew enough to back off. Lately I had been feeling guilty about not having a routine or more structure even though we are technically still in the “de-schooling” stage and it has only been less than two months since I quit my job to stay home with my boys and homeschool. Having worked all of my adult life, I’m not used to being home every day, especially with them (between jobs, my kids were still in school) so I feel clueless on how to establish a daily routine. Reading your post helped me give myself permission to continue what we doing and just relax and spend time with my kids. Thank you!

  64. February 3 at 06:56AM

    nice post. I like it. Thanks for sharing……….

  65. Alison
    June 24 at 04:12AM

    Is your daily homeschool planner no longer available? None of the links are working for me. 🙁

  66. Jessica Black
    September 25 at 03:33PM

    You would love a Thomas Jefferson Education! It goes so well with what you’re already doing. Our home is thriving with it!

  67. Kim
    February 24 at 04:36PM

    I stumbled across this on Pinterest while trying to figure out how to even start homeschooling with my almost 4 year old. We tried a “structured” approach a few months ago but life happened and she’s 3 lol so that went belly up real quick. This post right here just made my brain click. Thank you so much! I needed this!

  68. Heather
    May 21 at 11:33PM

    Hi I am a mom of 6 I work and I go to school. I have 3 daughters ages 13, 11, 10 .They are dyslexic. We have a real take it easy attitude towards life. But they all have a large vocabulary and the willingness to learn. I am confused on what route I should take. Eclectic is what I read that sounds more like us. Can you all please give me some insight of other avenues or what might suit us.

  69. December 9 at 09:52PM

    Thank you so much for this!! I have recently changed our book learning over to a computer based and have felt such guilt and defeat over it. Even though my son is more excited about learning and soaking everything up like a sponge! This post was a breath of fresh air. Think i’ll give myself a little grace. 🙂

  70. Magnificent web site. Plenty of helpful info here. I am sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks in your sweat!

  71. Elizabeth
    January 10 at 02:33PM

    I am currently in the planning mode of homeschooling. Both of my children are currently in the public school system and we plan on homeschooling this next school year. I have stumbled across the Little House Unit too and haven’t looked into it yet. My state is not very strict but does require 180 days, 4 1/2 hours a day and the basic subjects, math, reading, language arts, science, and social studies. I know you said the unit doesn’t involve math, but does it hit on all the other subjects? My biggest fear in all of this homeschooling madness is, am I doing enough? Are they learning enough? When it comes time for them to do their standardized testing, will they do great? I am so anxiety stricken and I guess overwhelmed.

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