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10 Things I’d Change if I Could Have a Homeschool Do-over

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If you could have a homeschool do-over, what would you change? After more than a decade homeschooling, here are a few things I wish I could do over.

I’ve had people ask me if I could live my whole life over again would I do it to change things? There are good times that I’d like to relive and painful memories that I’d like to erase. There are moments in time that I would live differently if I could do so with the wisdom I’ve gained from living life.

However, all those things have happened to make me the person I am, so, good or bad, I don’t think I’d want to change anything. Still, it’s sometimes fun to daydream about what you’d change if you could have a do-over.

If I could have a homeschool do-over, I’d…

Focus less on academics and more on play when my kids were younger

Don’t get me wrong, academics are vital, but so is play. Sometimes, as homeschool parents, we get so excited about starting school with our kids that we forget to enjoy the days when everything is new, and play is learning.

Sometimes we get so worried about proving to Grandma and Grandpa or nosy Aunt Sue – or ourselves – that homeschooling is really an okay choice for our kids that we push academics too early or too hard.

Read more

Sure I read a lot to my kids, and I still do. We have some favorite children’s books, and I don’t regret those at all. I just wish we’d read some of the original classics, like Bambi or A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. I wish I’d have enjoyed the Little House books and Farmer Boy with all my kids instead of just Megan.

Be a little less classical and a lot more Charlotte Mason

There are some things I appreciate about a classical education. But I think that the more natural approach to learning that is Charlotte Mason would have done a better job of preserving my kids’ love of learning than the more rigorous classical style. I wish we’d had a lot more music, art, and nature appreciation and a lot less rote memorization.

Not send my oldest to public school

Our public school experience wasn’t awful, but – oh, my goodness! – the kindergarten and first-grade years are so much fun. I wish I’d had Brianna home for them. In addition to missing the joy of learning with her during those years, there were also some learning struggles that caused frustration. We could have handled them with much less annoyance at home.

Use All About Reading

All About Reading wasn’t around when my kids were learning to read, but I wish it had been. We love the spelling program, which is written based on Orton-Gillingham principals. I’ve seen enough of the reading program to know that it meshes perfectly with the spelling. I can only imagine how effective a combination that must be for struggling readers and spellers.

Oh, and those Classic Starts books. I love those!

Create a different high school experience for my oldest

I got so caught up in what “should” be on her transcript that I sucked the fun right out of learning. We recouped a little at the end, but there were definitely some wasted years. If I could do Brianna’s high school years over, we’d focus a lot more on her interests and her learning style and a lot less on what a piece of paper should or shouldn’t say. It would have been a much better experience for both of us.

Use Trail Guide to Learning when my kids were younger

In my defense, Trail Guide to Learning wasn’t around when my kids were younger. If it had been, though, I’d have used it. Learning history through great books? Hands-on learning? Having lesson plans written for me? Yes, please!

Start Lexercise sooner

We spent so much time struggling with dyslexia, and Josh endured more frustration than was necessary. I tell everyone if you even suspect that your child might have dyslexia, have them take the free online dyslexia screening on the Lexercise site. At the very least, you’ll know what you’re dealing with.

Josh progressed through the program so much more quickly than I expected and experienced amazing results. I wish we’d done it five years earlier.

Be an earlier riser

Yes, I see you sitting there, in front of your computer screen, rubbing your eyes trying to see if you read that right. You did. As much trouble as I have dragging myself (and everyone else) out of bed early in the mornings, the day is so much more productive when I start early.

Honestly, I like mornings. It’s just the getting up that I have trouble with. I wish I’d just gotten us all in the habit of getting up earlier when the kids were younger.

Savor it more

That expression, the days go so slowly, but the years go so quickly is so very accurate. It’s hard to believe that we’re entering our 11th homeschooling year. I think, if I’d realized how fast the years were going to zoom by, I’d have at least made an effort to savor the days a bit more.

I’d have tried to look at the meltdowns as an opportunity to grow my children’s character. We’d have added in more of the “extras” that aren’t really extras, but, instead, part of making learning fun. We would have snuggled on the couch more and baked more cookies. We’d have taken more walks (you know, thanks to all the cookies). I’d have made more pictures and stored up more memories because those years? They fly by.

What would you do differently if you could have a homeschool do-over?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Oh my I’m already evaluating changes. One major change – I wish I’d started homeschooling my kids much sooner. Just started with a 4th and 7th grader. Recently graduated my oldest daughter who would’ve been considered a 10th grader (well she was if she was in public school).

    1. Hi so i am exploring homeschooling starting in grade 7 with my daughter. Good idea?. Suggestions? Seems like so many do the opposite and put them back into school at this point

  2. This is our 3rd week of homeschooling, and I really appreciate this post. I find myself getting caught in the academics and forget why we decided to homeschool (to preserve that love of learning in the kids). Thankfully my husband is the opposite of me and injects the fun into their days (he does the teaching). Thanks again!

  3. My 7 year old son Kevin was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. He has been using Lexercise for a month now and is already making great progress. Thank you for promoting such a amazing resource as this is how I found out about it. My biggest homeschool regrets were going all textbook for the first two years(1st and 2nd grades) with my eldest Nicole now 15. She learned but learned so much better when we were less strict about curriculum and spent days engrossed in books and lapbooks. this is how my younger children Kevin and Tessa age 10 learn today. Nicole now a sophomore uses textbooks but not an all in one program. I made the mistake about letting Nicole’s interest in art fly last year because I was worried about transcripts. This year(and beyond) we will include art into our curriculum. Have a great rest of a school year.

    1. That excites me so much to hear that your son is using Lexercise and seeing progress! I so wish I had found out about it when Josh was Kevin’s age. I feel like we wasted so many years floundering and being frustrated.

  4. Some thoughts on NOT getting up earlier? πŸ™‚ You’ve mentioned this in several posts lately. I don’t think we get up too late around my house. But my daughter is getting closer to those teen years and I see her sleeping patterns changing – she goes to bed at the same time but sleeps later. As I have been struggling with it, things have happened to remind me that sometimes sleep is best! My sister, who is very against the fact that I homeschool, even told me about an article (a “mainstream” article, not a homeschool friendly type one) that discussed sleeping patterns and needs of kids. They theorized that one reason homeschoolers do so well statistically is because they don’t have to wake up so early – they are allowed to get the sleep required for full rest, growth and even brain development! Their recommendation – especially for high school – was that schools should begin and end later to accommodate teens’ natural sleep patterns. Now, if your kids want to get up earlier then tell them to go for it! If they thrive with it then great. But if they don’t? Trust they are getting the sleep required. One day they’ll probably have a job that requires a consistent early rise and they can form the habit then.
    Also you mention getting up earlier simply to be more productive. Again, I get what you’re saying. I think it daily. But truthfully, the push for doing more in less time is culture driven. You will never have “it all” done – but our society wants us to and we feel that tug. If you truly can’t get the basics done ever (because we all have times like that!) then decide if there are some things that need to go or if some priorities need to change. (dust weekly? In utopia only!)
    But, as long as everyone feels rested when they wake (so there are no health problems to look in to) then trust your kids need the sleep and enjoy the functionality it gives you all in your waking hours. Sleepy heads aren’t productive nor can they learn.
    Those are just my thoughts. πŸ™‚ Love your do-over thoughts. Especially on Charlotte Mason schooling.

    1. Yes to all that and my own thoughts for many years, but we’re at the point where even my kids have started talking about wanting to get an earlier start each day. Don’t miss understand: “earlier” doesn’t mean “early” the way the majority of the work defines it. πŸ™‚

    2. I let my littles sleep as much as they need, but I have felt a need for me to get up earlier. I don’t wake sleeping kids unless necessary because that always makes for a rotten day. However, if I am up an hour before they are, I am able to drink my coffee, read my Bible, and fully wake up before the noise of the house starts. This helps me to personally put myself in the right frame of mind before working with my kids.

  5. This is great! If I had a do over, I would relax and enjoy the early years more. I made them more stressful then they should have been. Like you said, trying to prove that I am doing a good job educating the kids at home. Thankfully, I relaxed but it took a couple years.

    I also would take back the times I raised my voice. It didn’t happen often but the memory of it pains me. My son doesn’t even remember, thank the Lord because if he did I would feel even worse. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being but it still bothers me.

    I also agree with the Charlotte Mason statement. I would have started it right away. I try some of it with my kids now and they think I’m a dork, LOL. I do take them on hikes and we check out things together but I let it flow more naturally then “hey, get your nature notebooks”.. if I say something like that I get the eye roll, LOL

  6. Thank you for your post today. My son and I have begun our homeschool journey this year with kindergarten. Reading posts such as this remind me to stay focused on what is most important – enjoying this journey and learning gradually, as learning is a cumulative process, together.

  7. I homeschool my daughters Kayla and Mariah who are 14 and 16. This will be our 6th year homeschooling.
    My biggest regrets (all from the 1st year)
    1) Worrying too much about socializing. The 1st year we homeschooled we were so busy it was extremely overwhelming.
    2) Reading too much. I read so much stuff about homeschooling and methods that I began to have a serious case of self doubt.
    3) Becoming too much of a teacher and not enough of a mom. This is my biggest regret. In May of our first homeschooling year when I was choosing curriculum Mariah then 11 said to me.: “I don’t want to be homeschooled anymore! I want to go back to public school even though I hated it.” When I asked why she said,” I want you to just be my mom again.” We continued homeschooling and Mariah and I mended our relationship. I am now very close with both my girls.

    1. Wow, what an eye-opening comment from your daughter. I’m glad you were able to mend your relationship and continue homeschooling.

    2. Yep. As a former homeschool student, this was one of the things I didn’t like about homeschooling. I missed my mom. EV-ER-Y-thing turned into an “educational experience,” even a trip to the circus. But as a homeschool mom, I see how easy it is to start acting like THE TEACHER instead of the mom. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God put children in families, not schools.

  8. Thanks so much for this post! We are starting our homeschool journey with our 2 boys, ages 7 & 9, after some miserable years on public school. After talking with you at the NC book fair, we chose Trail Guide for our core curriculum. We are starting next week, but frankly, I’m scared to death! My oldest has some learning issues while my youngest is advanced. So basically, they meet in the middle. I’m thinking I need to supplement the reading and language arts and All About Spelling and Reading look interesting to me. How do you incorporate that with Trail Guide? Do you just skip those portions in TG? Again, thanks for all the inspiration. You’re definitely a confidence builder! πŸ™‚

    1. I hope you all enjoy Trail Guide as much as we do. I do the same thing with my younger two – meet in the middle. My middle has dyslexia, so this works well for us. Yes, we skip the spelling in TG and use All About Spelling. Hope that helps!

  9. Thank you for this post and all who commented. As a new homeschooler, this has already helped me to get right in my heart about our homeschool mission. Have a blessed week. Tara.

  10. I am just beginning my homeschooling journey with my 5 and 4 year olds. I’m a little daunted by it all because I also have a 2 year old and a newborn and I have been trying to establish a curriculum to follow. We purchased some workbooks to try to pace us a little which have worked great for my oldest, but frustrated my second when he didn’t do it JUST right. How do you work through competition? My oldest is proud of how fast he is working through his book and my second is frustrated that he only gets one or two pages done at a time. It’s encouraging, however, to read some of the articles you have cited above. I am excited to DO more. We will definitely be incorporating a lot of activities and exploration into our days. Thank you for sharing. Hopefully we will be able to enjoy our journey a little more.

    1. If the workbooks aren’t fun for your 4 year old, I would ditch them. I understand what you’re saying that you’re trying to establish your routine, but there are so many years ahead of you for formal learning. To have a little guy frustrated with learning so early on is counter-productive. There’s no competition in listening to Mom read or exploring nature together. As you go through their school years, though, a little feeling of competition among siblings is probably inevitable, even when you try to squelch it. I remind my kids that we all have strengths and weaknesses – nobody learns or works at the same pace. “Let each one test his own actions, then he can take pride in himself with comparing himself to somebody else” (Gal. 6:4) is an oft-quoted scripture around here. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Kris, I came across your site via Google. Although, I am not a mom. I am an educator. I admire your courage to admit what you wish to do over. As as educator, there are things that I wish myself that I could do over. I think that is why we call teaching an art. And as an art is takes practice and reflection to make it successfully. Thank you for sharing your wonder blog. I look forward to commenting on more posts in the future.

  12. I have a dyslexic son myself and while I don’t use Lexercise (we did Barton Reading and Spelling but right now I’m using the Toe By Toe book per another blogger’s review) I enjoyed your review on it. We are probably going to do free tutoring with the Scottish Rite in our town – they do free dyslexic tutoring if you have a diagnosis. I am so thankful for my son’s dyslexia. I was using K12 but it sucked all the joy from our day. Now I’m just straight homeschooling my son and we are slowing down and enjoying it. While we don’t do a lot of books because I have learned to do things the way he learns best – by watching videos, listening to books on CDs and having him narrate things back to me instead of writing them – I do like the Charlotte Mason approach and especially the nature study. I had a friend talk to me about Classical Conversations but I told them I am not into forced memorization of any kind. I don’t make my son memorize math facts because I have learned that if we just do them enough and take it slow he will eventually know them and we use Math U See so I don’t feel like I have to drill him with those facts. I definitely relax more. There are days that I say out loud – “relax, enjoy, relax, enjoy”. I don’t write down the lessons we need to complete for the week I just do the next thing. I have a schedule for the day but I don’t write times on it because I just “do the next thing”. That way I don’t stress. We’ll get there eventually. I want them to enjoy it way more than I want to cram information into them and dyslexia has taught me that. It has taught me to slow down. We have to slow down anyway why not enjoy it?

  13. I was so excited to read this review. This is absolutely perfect for my daughter. I do not feel qualified tot teach her art but she never wants to take classes and feel compared to other students. This will be a perfect fit for us.

  14. Thank you for this…I’m a rookie 2nd generation homeschooler and I have been FREAKING OUT over the curriculum I chose at the end of last year and completely rearranging. I realized my mom did “too good” of a job picking curriculum so I’ve had a paranoia worrying that if I choose something different from her, I will destroy their education (which obviously is not true). I’m totally soaking up advice from all of you veterans and slowly calming down. πŸ™‚ Also, I really think I may do All About Reading and All About Spelling because of your recommendation. Thanks!

  15. My Mulligan would be reading even more than we did. I wish I hadn’t stressed about “subjects” so much especially when they were little.
    I also would have encouraged more drawing and painting with my boys.

  16. I am a classically bent momma still figuring all this out but I echo your heart about the Charlotte Mason thing. I am trying to think of ways to blend them well.

  17. What wise and loving words, Kris. My oldest is nine and I can’t get enough inspiration and reassurance like this from more experienced homeschoolers.

    It’s funny, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone look back and say “I wish we’d done more academics and played less”! Maybe because play IS learning, and by learning through play our children are learning to love learning … which they can spend the rest of their lives doing. It reminds me of what they say about people on their deathbed never saying “I wish I’d spent more time working” πŸ™‚

  18. I’ve been holding this one in my email until I could find the time to read it all & I stopped after the first one. I needed this today. I had a talk with my mom this morning & spent too much time justifying my teaching methods. I have a 6yo & a 4yo. First grade & pre-K. They play games, color, draw, pretend, write, and even read to an extent. I’m really proud of my girls and I think they are very smart, but we aren’t to the point where I feel certian hours of the day need to be for “work”. We sit & do worksheets together, but not every day. Most days are filled with so much “nothing” that we find endless opportunities to learn something new. So thank you for your regret, because I’m making sure it’s not one of mine!

    1. I loved seeing this comment, as my two boys are also 2 years apart , like your girls are. The boys are 3 and 1. Been looking into introducing the idea of homeschooling them. Right now my 3 year old is attending a montessori prek 5 days a week half days. Lately, I have been praying if I should wait until he is 6 to start homeschooling? idk.. i love montessori but im afraid i wont be able to afford it for two kiddos.

  19. I just started home schooling my youngest daughter last year in October. She was so frustrated with public school and even though she was getting a little extra help, she was hating school and feeling very dumb Her words not mine). I felt so bad for her, but I have to say that switching to homeschool was the best thing we ever did. She is an ADHD child, so she has a terrible time sitting still for to long, but she tells me when she has had enough and needs a break, and she has just made so much progress that it is truly amazing. She now loves school, loves to read, which she used to loathe, and always asks me what we are we going to do today. The change is wonderful. I am now looking into bringing my 10th grader home, but I’m having a hard time finding curriculum. It is all very overwhelming, so if anybody has any suggestions, I am totally open to hearing them.

    1. It’s so wonderful to hear about the positive changes that your daughter has enjoyed. We love the Uncle Eric books for high school. I’m also a fan of Apologia for science and Teaching Textbooks for math. We love Easy Grammar all the way up through high school.

  20. We get up now in the morning before school and take a LONG walk. That is new this year and it really helps.

  21. 1. I would assign studies to myself, follow through, and keep records on my own learning.
    2. I would write up an annual description of progress and content for each child and the family. I never gave grades but I wish I had done some regular verbal and written assessment. I think my kids would enjoy looking back at it.

    1. I love this!!! I started homeschooling my oldest when she was 5 (she’s now 7). We had a somewhat rough start because she has ADHD and severe insomnia. Our first year was centered around getting her insomnia under control. During that time I was also diagnosed with ADHD so last year was a big learning curve for both of us. I have always loved learning and so has my kids. I felt guilty that I let my kids play more than “do school” but I have seen the benefit in all 3 of my girls playing together. My oldest loves to teach her sisters how to do things like “ordering” at a restaurant or “going through the drive-thru”. It stills amazes me how much they learn by pretending to be mommy and daddy. This has reminded me that we all learn by having fun. I have decided to include me as a student. I already included some personal goals in my lesson planner as the first thing I see so I will focus on them, but I need records too. Learning is lifelong. As an aunt says often, “You stop learning when you stop breathing.”

  22. Me too, with Fox. I want a do-over of his high school. I made the exact same mistake. Trying to redeem it now, but yeah, hindsight. I also was too worried about academics around middle school and completely burned him out with “school”. We’d do much more interest-led study like we did when he was younger.

  23. All About Spelling is great! That program taught my middle daughter to read and now there is All About Reading. Looking forward to using it with my bonus baby blessing, now 2 yrs old.

    High school can be a scarry thing. My oldest daughter is in ninth grade. Wanting to do more of a Charlotte Mason approach, but am not totally. I have relaxed A LOT since she was in Kindergarten…expected so much from her.

    Thanks for your honesty!

  24. I started homeschooling my oldest at 6 years old in 1991. My fifth child is now a senior in Homeschool High School. We’ve been through so much! However, we were surprised (shocked actually) by number six last year. (I was 48!) My second daughter posted this for me and it made me laugh because I do get to do it all over again, with so much less energy! She gets to join 10 nephews and nieces in activities though, so although she’ll be an “only child” she’ll have as much fun!

    1. On the one hand, the idea of really starting over makes me want to curl up in a corner and probably need some good, strong sedatives. πŸ™‚ On the other hand, it sounds like so much fun to go through it all again with hindsight. I bet it’s going to be a blessing for you. Enjoy!

      1. Oh, I curled up in a corner, trust me. πŸ™‚
        To add experience to the conversation though, I’m now very relaxed. I have a huge library of classics, biographies and other educational and edifying books at their disposal. But mainly I find that reading to them creates readers, learning basic math facts by rote enhances their ability to do higher math later, and writing can be a natural, fun and rewarding way to create and communicate. Every student is different, and the earlier you can identify their needs the better.
        This is a great site, I’m glad my daughter led me to it!

  25. A wise woman in my local homeschooling circle frequently recommends using joy as a guideline in homeschooling and family life. As I look at her 3 grown or nearly grown children who are happily and bravely out on adventures, chasing their dreams, following their interests and exploring the world, I remind myself that joy is definitely worth seeking as a long term homeschooling goal.

    1. So true!!! That’s why we added it to our family vision:
      We seek to uphold the authority of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, and to edify, encourage, love, build up and equip each other through homeschooling with joy and laughter to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

      (My husband is a pastor if you couldn’t tell ;P)

  26. Thank you so much for this honest list! Definitely one of the most helpful I’ve seen. What a blessing to have mothers like yourself sharing your hindsight with those of us just starting out. Definitely bookmarking for inspiration as I go…..

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am on my second year of homeschooling my 6-year-old daughter. I am thankful for the fun we have and we still enjoy our snuggle time. I am a big fan of Charlotte Mason. Some people question me and I find myself saying things like, “She is only 6!” I am a certified teacher and I do want her to “be on track” but her learning does not have to look the same as it would in school. Thanks!

  28. I love this post! I have been homeshcoling all 4 since the beginning and my oldest is a 10th grader. I want so badly to focus more o n interest-led learning for him, but I have no idea how to do that and not worry about making sure all the “necessities” are on his transcript. Don’t i HAVE to make sure he meats all of our states requirements to graduate? I am constantly saying things to him like “You have to have a science with a lab, do these experiments!” “You HAVE to be a good writer, write more!” How do I balance the interests with the requirements? Help, I at least want his second half to be less stressful. and hopefully get it right for the younger ones. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m approaching high school for the second time with my younger two (currently 6th and 8th grades) and trying really hard to avoid making the same mistakes again. Lee Binz has a great book (The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships) that offers some good, practical tips for using a student’s interests to help design their high school course work.

  29. I’d do it how “Willow” was educated in Past Forward. The natural infusion of knowledge when it comes up, planning for it to come up when it won’t naturally, and making life choices that ensure things will occur and without allowing the distractions of modern living to crowd out the important things that are timeless. That’s exactly how my father would have taught me (and did to some degree) had we been isolated like that or if he could start today. It’s natural, normal, and has purpose. I love the idea. And if I have another child, I’m totally doing it.

    1. Can I just say how excited that I am that you stopped by, Chautona? It’s been ages since I’ve talked to you. πŸ™‚

  30. It’s funny to read this post (which I do appreciate, btw) and see you mention “All About Reading”. My 10 yo has done great with All About Spelling, but just today I regretfully made the decision to put away All About Reading (after using it for quite a long time with my 7.5 year old, it is just not the right program for her, I have come to realize/accept) and choosing to go in a different direction that we are both excited about. So I guess I would probably say choose the reading/spelling program that is the best fit for your child; be willing to choose something different even if in your heart you just LOVE a certain program, if you realize it is not working for your child.

    (All you All About Reading folks, have fun! πŸ™‚ It really is a good program worth checking out.)

  31. Your first one is the advice I give to new homeschoolers starting out. I am about mid stream with mine now and still have one that isn’t school age. I learned my lesson with the first two. I wish that I had done a lot less academic stuff when they were little and done a lot more fun science experiments, nature walks, field trips, and art projects.
    I have eyeballed the Trail guide on more than one occasion. It looks great.
    And I am going to keep in mind the advice about high school.
    Thanks for the post.

  32. I am 60 years old and now looking at helping m,y daughter home school her daughter. I know I will think of more but here is what pops up. If you can afford it hire a housecleaner so you are not constantly worrying about your messy home. My husband is a doctor so now and then we have dinner between 7:00 and 8:00. Then there was play time and downtime. So bed time was around 10:00. My one daughter received a full ride for a scholarship at BSU in Idaho. The other started her own photography album designing company after graduating with a photography degree. Was it worth it. Oh yes! Every day you need to re-evaluate, that is how you keep on tract.

  33. I just loved this. I saw a bit of myself in so many of them…some I would do over, and others I am so happy to say I realized, changed and am doing differently now. Yeah, those first born kiddos get the brunt of it, don’t they? But in other ways, I see things my youngest doesn’t get to experience because of his birth order as well. I try to remember it’s the journey that counts, and it is different for and with each child…we just need to be paying attention and enjoying it as much as we can. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree with what you said about the youngest, too. I have to constantly remind myself that even though I did something with my oldest, doesn’t mean that my youngest shouldn’t experience it, too. That field trip or hands-on experiment that may seem boring to me because I’ve already done it is still new and exciting to the one who hasn’t experienced it yet.

  34. I was the home schooled child. My parents stopped teaching me anything when I finished the eighth grade. At age 28, I taught myself the necessary high school subjects, earned my GED, went to community college, went to a state university, graduated with a 3.5 GPA, got accepted into medical school… and flunked out due to poor study skills. What could I have been had my education been even substandard? Mine was non-existant. Where would I be in life now? I am very against home schooling because of my experience. I have felt stupid my entire life and that has done irreperable damage to my self-esteem. I am what happens when you are an irresponsible parent. Don’t home school unless you actually DO it.

    1. I’m sorry that yours was such a bad experience. It sounds as if you’re far from stupid, but rather a very self-motivated, determined learner. I appreciate your word of caution. You are absolutely right that parents who take on the task of homeschooling their children should take that responsibility very seriously.

  35. So very blessed by your blog!!! This is our first year of homeschooling, and it has been quite the journey! We took our children out of private school after 5 years, so as I’m sure you can imagine, the transition from a traditional classroom setting has been the hardest part. We (or really, I) have struggled with finding consistency. I seem to go from being too “loosey goosey” to trying to recreate a more structured setting, which I hate, and never wanted to begin with. I’m very intrigued with The Trail Guide program! How does it compare to sonlight? We have finally figured out learning styles (kinetic, multi-sensory), and would love to know if Trail Guide would be a good fit! Thanks again for sharing your heart!

    1. I’ve never used Sonlight, so I can’t really compare the two. I’m sorry. Edited to add: I shouldn’t be multi-tasking because I hit enter and realized I probably sounded rude. πŸ™‚ I do appreciate you reading and am so glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. The only thing I’ve really heard about Sonlight is that there is a LOT of reading. I like that Trail Guide focuses on only 2-3 readers (usually biographies and historical fiction) each six weeks. It’s doable without being overwhelming.

      Truthfully, though, I haven’t used Sonlight, so I other than that, I can’t compare the two with any knowledge or accuracy.

  36. These are great tips and advice. We are seriously considering pulling our two oldest kids (currently 4th and 1st) out of public school, once this year is done, and homeschooling. I won’t go into all the details/reasons as to why, but I’m getting advice from several friends and acquaintances in the homeschooling community where we live, and I genuinely appreciate it all. These are great things to consider – so I, hopefully, won’t have too many regrets about decisions. I think home will be a better learning environment, but I don’t want it to be “all work and no play” either. Thank you so much for posting this, and reminding me that this venture won’t just be about teaching my children (4 in all), but about building relationships with them and just simply ENJOYING them!

    1. That is a great attitude with which to go into homeschooling – making sure that building relationships and enjoy your kids don’t take a backseat to academics. Best wishes as you make your decision.

  37. Kris, thank you for your openness in this post. I am only in my second year of homeschooling and already have had those “I wish I would have..” moments. My trouble is that I am not a ‘fun’ person by nature and while I think my husband would be, I don’t know how to get him involved. He is supportive and likes our decision to home school, but he is otherwise aloof to the whole thing. My kiddos are little (K and 1st) and I do focus mainly on academia because, I think, I am overwhelmed with what to do if not a scheduled worksheet. Plus, I like that stuff. However, at their ages, the academia is over within an hour or two, then it’s lots of free time. We don’t live on a farm, or in the country; we live in a small suburban home with a little suburban yard…boring…LOL. I do want to have more fun with them, but I just can’t seem to ‘cut loose.’ I am contemplating putting them into public school for one of the reasons I kept them out; so their spare time is occupied, even if it’s just with standing in line or waiting their turn. Is there a book or resource on how to help “mom” be more fun πŸ™‚ ?

    Thank you again for the post – great to read a “let’s get real” post!

    1. I think kids having unstructured free time is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives them a chance to think, play, invent, and use their imaginations. Have you checked out your local homeschool groups to see what kind of activities may be available to you? I wouldn’t advise filling up all their free time, but maybe having some activities lined up a couple of afternoons a week would be beneficial to you all. You might try planning an outing or field trip once or twice a month or making sure that they have access to things like art supplies or things with which to experiment. Something like a science box would probably be a huge hit with two young kids. I hope that helps!

    2. Great post! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
      Just a thought for ‘Not-so-fun,’ have you considered a fun “boxed” curriculum? I struggle with creativity at times & googling exciting projects etc… takes time!
      My Fathers World has been a life saver for me! Homeschooling is sooo fun!!! My 6 year old daughter retains a lot & loves learning. I’m sure there are others out there that may appeal to you (if MFW doesn’t), that would schedule your “fun” in your day πŸ˜‰

  38. I loved reading all your do over tips. I have homeschooled off and on through the years but my daughter decided that she wanted to try high school and did that for a yea and a half. She loved her freshman year but by mid year her sophomore year she was just over it. She came back to homeschooling but her dad wanted her to have an ‘acredited’ education. So this year we have been finishing all her classes that she started in high school using the Texas tech curriculum. I have told her dad that in Texas any Homeschool is considered a private school and is fine but he has insisted so far. We are working on getting a more eclectic curriculum going for next year. I admit it doesn’t hurt to have the official record for the complete sophomore year but I hare some of the classes. Trying to learn a foreign language on the computer has been difficult I feel like we need a different curriculum to pass this one.

  39. Okay…I have one in high school and one in middle school, and I feel stuck in the ‘gotta have XYZ on the transcript” mode. HELP ME! πŸ˜€ I sooooo want to be Charlotte Mason-y, but I am afraid of *not* having the required classes on that sheet of paper. Convince me that I can use the Charlotte Mason method and my kids will still get into college…

  40. I planned to take the month of January off this year, because my older daughter had a baby Jan. 3. I’ve been visiting the new family for a few weeks. While I’ve been off, I’ve been thinking about how we are doing high school for my youngest daughter. It is just not fun any more, and feels so dry for both of us. I’ve been thinking about tweaking it to be more interest-based and not worrying so much about a traditional transcript. I’m not sure how that will look, but I’d really like to try.

  41. hi Kris

    I’m about to start homeschooling our 3 children 11,9, and 6..also have a 2 year old. My 11 year old son is very social and very excited to go into the 6th grade next year. He keeps trying to convince me that he’d be missing out on way too many things if he gets home schooled (seconds at lunch, play a band instrument, etc.) i know i can tell him that he’d be getting those also if he’s home schooled but for some reason i’m afraid of promises i can’t keep just to make it seem glittery right now. I’d been home schooled on and off during my growing up years and i have a fear of disappointing my kids. my homeschooling experience wasn’t the best due to lack of parents not being one in the decision to home school all of us (8 kids). my husband and I both agreed to it (only God made that happen) πŸ™‚ my husband was not a “home school” believer 12 years ago. long story short i’m afraid of the first year and the fact that my 11 year old will be very sensitive when it comes to getting “bored”…sure he’s homeschooling whether he likes it or not but i don’t want to come across that way i want it to be a positive experience for him. i had a brother who was pulled out of school before his senior year and has always regretted it and felt that he wasn’t good enough. i’m all over the place now but you get what i’m saying i hope! πŸ™‚ thanks for reading

    Abeka accredited curriculum (expensive but reputable) or k12 free online WA state curriculum (cause free laptops are nice)?

    1. I would very much caution against making promises you can’t keep in order to make homeschooling seem appealing. That just sets you both up for disappointment, mistrust, and failure. If you and your husband are committed to homeschooling next year, I’d just sit down with him and your son and realistically, honestly, and openly discuss your son’s concerns and ways that you can address them. Seconds at lunch shouldn’t be a problem {grin}, but what about band? Are there local options? Private lessons or a homeschool band?

      I think that, at 11, your son needs to know that he has some input in the direction his education is going to take. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily let him decide whether or not he’s homeschooled, if you and your husband are committed to doing so, but maybe he gets some input on the curriculum choices, his extracurricular activities, and how he schedules his day. Hope that helps!

      Sorry, but I don’t have any input on your curriculum choices – I don’t have any experience with either. Best wishes!

  42. Hello, newbie here, and so glad to find your site. It is truly a blessing and a lifesaver. I’ve read this post, and all of the comments. Many of them from very experienced mothers. I have a 4 year old turning 5 at the end of September. I’m a stay at home mother and also have a 1 year old daughter. My husband and I are on board with homeschooling. The problem is, I don’t know when to start and what to do when I start. Some of our main goals are: developing good character, developing a true love of learning, establishing good relationships with our children.
    What you stated about letting the children play really hits home with me, but when domi teach my 4 almost 5 year old to read? Andany suggestions as to how. I try to read different things online however it’s all too much and a lot of is contradictory. Can’t wait to hear back from you. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi, Serenity. It can be hard to know how and where to start. There are a lot of contradictory things online because homeschooling styles and family dynamics can vary so much. I’d suggest you follow your child’s lead on learning to read. There are so many good options out there. Some families teach their children to read by simply reading (a lot) to them. Others like a more systematic approach. A couple of gentle, inexpensive methods are Phonics Pathways or Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I also love the looks of the All About Reading products. They didn’t come out until after my kids were reading, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but we did really love their spelling program, All About Spelling.

      If you’d like to discuss your particular situation in greater detail, I’d be happy to set up a time for homeschool consulting with you. You can find out more about that here: https://weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/homeschool-consulting/

  43. Wow, am I ever thankful for your post. I Googled: I’m homeschooling my 6 y/o and all she wants to do is play…
    so ur post made me realized, I don’t have to compare myself to all the moms who attend coops and seemed perfect.
    My sweet girl just wants to have tea parties and play all day long, her imagination doesn’t stop, so when I’m trying to teach her something she has a 15 min adventure to share and I get frustrated that our 15 min lesson becomes 1 hour.
    The truth is I choose to homeschool her, so she can let her artistic side take off.
    So we did some history today, chinese homework (yes she’s on her 2nd year of learning chinese ) and then we play the rest of the day. ..she kept saying she was sooo happy, when I asked her why, she said I just am!
    I loved your personality, I read other posts and it made me think of my family…we are not the average. We travel, we speak 2 languages, we don’t make our bed everyday ;)/
    Thank you so much, this made me evaluate my thoughts, as I was very discouraged today, for not having a curriculum that will teach her more. I don’t need more curriculum I need to get on the floor more and enjoy my time with her.

    1. You can’t even know how much your comment made me smile. Thank you! You will never regret that time spent on the floor playing with your daughter. Kids learn so much through play anyway. It’s a shame that we stifle that so early in their lives. Have a wonderful homeschool year!

  44. I wish I had started at homeschooling at the very beginning. I started homeschooling at the beginning of 2nd and 5th grade.
    I wish I had not taught at our tutorial and focused more on my lesson plans at home.
    I wish we could take advantage of the fact that we homeschool and travel more with the kids.

    I am in my 7th year of homeschooling and still have several to go. So my challenge now is how can make some of these changes going forward?
    Thanks for making me think about those things.

  45. I loved homeschooling my daughter, we did it prek-3rd, we tried public school for grades 4-5, but it just wasn’t challenging enough, so I pulled her out and finished 5th grade myself. I then enrolled her in a private Christian school for 6th grade where after 4 days they bumped her up to 7th grade. I spent my Sundays planning the weeks curriculum, cross platforming the subjects, and we kept a pretty rigid schedule. We had field trip days, reading days and reflection days. I did buy some books, but I mostly used a ton of websites for my information and that cost a lot of printer ink. I do miss homeschooling her, but I know she is getting a great, socialized education, and I am saving a ton on printer ink! πŸ™‚ Have a Happy Day.

  46. We plan to use the All About Spelling and Reading next year. My question is what language would work well with that? We have been doing all Abeka, so I worry about language/phonics. We are first grade now, and plan to start those next year for 2nd grade. Thanks

    1. We really like Easy Grammar/Daily Grams. Their 2nd grade level combines the two in a format similar to Daily Grams and is a wonderful, gentle introduction to grammar. I also like the first edition First Language Lessons 1st/2nd grade combo. It may not be in print any longer though, since it’s now available as separate editions for 1st and 2nd grade.

  47. I wouldn’t change anything. I did the best I could during the 22 years that I homeschooled my kids and try to live in the moment. All of my kids are young adults and turned out to be productive, loving, God fearing people. The advice I give to those starting out is to instill a love of learning in your kids, focus on shaping their character and have as much fun as possible. Your kids will remember all of the good times and know you loved and cared about them.

  48. I looked into Lexercise a couple of years ago and felt like it was over priced and not what my daughter needed at the time. I am circling back, in part because of your post, but I am still a little overwhelmed by the cost. My daughter is now 8 and is still struggling to progress. We have been using All About Reading level 1 but haven’t made it all the way through because we got to a point where if she was not reading with out a struggle, we were instructed to review. I feel a little stuck because I don’t know how to help her break through this wall. She is so smart but just has so much trouble accessing information that is written. I would love to hear a little more about your experience and how long it took. I am not sure I can swallow years of $400 per month. Thank you for your insights!

    1. Hi, Shanda. I completely understand. The cost of Lexercise was a deterrent for us at first, too. As far as similar services go, I’m sure it’s quite reasonable, but it definitely is expensive for most single-income homeschooling families. However, it was so worth it for us! Something that I didn’t realize when we were first considering it is that it’s really months of therapy, not years. My son started in July and completely finished the program by mid-January of the following year. A friend of mine had a daughter who did the program. She started about the same time as Josh and finished a couple of months later. She was younger than him, so I think that may have been a factor in it taking her a bit longer.

      From my experience and what I’ve been told from the folks at Lexercise, most kids’ therapy is measured in months. That makes the price tag a little easier to swallow. I know that they used to work out a payment plan through PayPal, too, that lets you make payments over a longer period of time. I’m not sure if they still offer that or not, but it’s worth checking into.

      I hope that helps! I’m happy to try to answer any other questions you may have.

      1. Shanda, I also noticed that Lexercise now has a guarantee for their services. On their site it says, “Lexercise guarantees that your child will improve one grade level in reading after eight weeks of Lexercise therapy. If your child does not make a grade level of improvement, Lexercise will give you an additional four weeks of therapy for free.”

  49. Wow! This article is exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately. I feel as though I’m grieving for those first few years…yes…too much academics!! But now…I have a 7th, 4th, and 3rd grader and I’m wondering how can I make it more enjoyable…it’s not horrible but…not amazingly awesome either!! Any suggestions? TIA!

  50. I am going to start homeschooling my 2 daughters this coming 2016/17 school year. They will be in 3rd and 5th grades. Since I am just starting out, I have a couple of questions! My oldest daughter used to LOVE to read. She would devour a novel in 2 days. The older she gets, the less and less she reads for pleasure. Can I bring this love for reading back when she’s home? Any tips? And second, my youngest daughter is a worksheet junkie! She loves busy work! I am torn whether I stick to our schedule next year and let her enjoy the more free time that homeschooling allows, or do I let her work ahead and school longer days? Do they retain the material moving cramming it back to back, or do I force her to take a break from the material? Thank you in advance for all your advice!

    1. Hi, Beth. How exciting to be beginning your homeschool journey with your daughters! Why does your daughter read less and less for pleasure? Is it because other activities and interests are taking up her time or has her love of reading been tempered by making it an assignment (such as analyzing books, writing reports, etc.). If it’s the latter, allowing her time to read without making it an assignment will probably spark her love again.

      You may just wish to let your younger daughter work at her own pace and see how it plays out. It may require tweaking your schedule or altering your expectations.

      I hope that helps! If you’d like to discuss your specific circumstances in greater detail, I do offer homeschool consulting and would be glad to schedule some time to discuss your situation via email. You can find out more about consulting here: https://weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/homeschool-consulting/

  51. Thank you so much for this post. My daughter is going in 12th grade this year. But I keep hearing the Lord tell me she is not ready to graduate. We have done very eclectic homeschooling – leaning more towards unschooling and Charlotte Mason. But as I read your words – they resonated so much with what the Lord has been ministering. And I too have a Joshua with dyslexia. And I have a 4 year old who I am just now seeing in a different light of SAVORING every moment as it truly goes so fast. Thank you!

  52. I’m so glad I came upon this post at this exact moment. Lol. We’re entering into our second yr homeschooling and I’ve been going through a stressed out phase trying to figure out what/how to teach my now 3rd grader and Kindergartner. Definitely taking all your “regrets” into consideration. Thank you for sharing!

  53. I have decided to home school my soon to be 7th grader. I have never done it before so I have 1000 questions even though three of my best friends do it.
    The main reason I want to do it is to offer some calm in my child’s life. The stress of school, the pressure, the challenges and all the negativity and disconnection that comes with it. And of course, in hopes to restore our relationship. We both succumbed to the stress of regular school and “single mom” life that seems like a good idea.
    Now, his little sister is doing fantastic in elementary school and does not want to hear from me anything about taking her out and homes schooling. Mostly because she is a straight A student and has many friends. Life is good now.
    How hard will it be to accommodate two kids to different schedules and lifestyles.
    Please help be before I make a mistake.

    1. I’ve never been in that situation, but I know many families who have one or more children in public/private school while homeschooling others. Most of them follow the public/private schooled child’s schedule so that they’re homeschooling while that child is in school and are off when he’s off.

  54. I just read through this whole thread- I have been homeschooling since 1994, and my youngest son will graduate high school in 2019. His 5 older siblings have all gone on to college and are branching out on their own. I was looking back at all the different programs, curricula and texts we have used. It seems like I really relaxed when I realized after the third year or so, that I did not have to use any one curriculum-but could spend time looking for books and programs that each individual child would respond to. I am a planner- so every spring I would get a calendar for each child- and plan out their upcoming year. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of homeschooling- and will admit that often we would get through part of the school year, or part of a particular resource and decide it wasn’t working for us- and thankfully , we had the luxury of switching it out and finding something better. My kids liked having the plan out there in writing, and it gave me a sense of peace knowing we had a plan. But we always had the understanding that we would change things up as needed. I have truly enjoyed this time with my kids, and as I prepare Kevin for college, I am really grateful that I have had this opportunity- an incredibly understanding and supportive husband, and a love for learning that my parents passed on to me. It will be interesting to see where this takes me when I hang up my hat next spring!

  55. We started homeschooling in January of 2000. Fast forward to today and our youngest of 5 sons just graduated in May. During this last year I often reminisced back over the past 18 years of home schooling wondering β€œwhat I would do if I could do it all over again?”, did I do a good job?”, β€œdid I choose the right curriculum?”, among many other endless questions. Well we only thought our home school years were over! God has a different plan for us..yep, we are starting all over again! But this time with 2 little girls we are adopting, 6 and 3! We are in the process of ordering our curriculum for the oldest, which brought me to this article. If I could start all over again… your article is spot on! The boys learned so much more when we relaxed, had fun and just read more together! We love to travel, so school will be on the road a lot. I plan on doing all our favorites from the years past.. Five in A Row, Thruthquest History, Math U See, then add from there.

    1. Congratulations! How exciting to be welcoming two daughters into your family! I think it would be so much fun (most days) to homeschool another child knowing what I know now. Blessings to you and your family.

  56. I have homeschooled my 9 children from the very beginning, 18 years ago and I have 18 years left and you have spoken right to my heart and soul here. I highly agree with every word you said and I have the chance to do the next 18 years differently, and I plan to do just that! Much love to everyone here!

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