Are you a homeschool mom who needs inspiration and encouragement?
While homeschooling isn’t always easy, and there are certainly challenging days, there’s a reason you keep homeschooling your kids. But sometimes, you need to feel like you aren’t alone and tap into the wisdom of other homeschooling moms.
In this article, you’ll find multiple podcast episodes, videos, quotes, and homeschool stories to feed your soul and uplift you. Enjoy!
Failing & Succeeding as a Homeschool Mom
This comes straight from my heart. It is about a time when I failed as a mother. My name is Jackie. I’m a homeschool mom, and I’m the founder of HomeSchool ThinkTank. In this story, you’ll hear how I coined “Connection Before Curriculum.”
Before my children were school-age, connecting with my daughters felt simple. However, as each child reached Kindergarten age, it was easy to shift my focus from connecting with my kids to the educational aspects of homeschooling.
It’s not easy to share experiences like this. However, this is an important lesson to share because it can make or break your homeschooling journey. Before I share my failures, though, let me share what I did right.
When Connection Before Curriculum Came Easily
When my children were young, I think I was an outstanding mom.
I read to my kids multiple times a day, did arts and crafts with them, and met other moms and kids at the children’s museum for playdates. I sat on the floor and played with my daughters. We ran and played in the backyard together.
We went on fun and educational outings, including activities like going to the park, swimming, visiting museums, exploring the library, and more.
While my kids were generally having a great time, they were learning nearly all the time.
Compulsory Schooling: The Golden Age of Five
What do children do when they turn five years old?
In most states and many countries, the magical age of five is when children begin compulsory schooling. If homeschooling is legal where you live, you are fortunate to have the choice to educate your children from home.
When my oldest daughter turned five, I didn’t send her to school. I had known for years that when my children reached school age, I would homeschool them.
Homeschooling My Kindergarten Age Child
Since children use textbooks in school, I bought curricula and workbooks for my kindergartener. Isn’t that how children learn? Isn’t that what good homeschooling parents do?
While in my heart, I wanted to unschool my kids, I couldn’t bring myself to use that approach completely. As a product of the public education system, I had been well-trained and understood what school should look like. And that is nothing like an unschooling approach to education.
Shouldn’t a Homeschool Mom Do “School at Home?”
As a homeschooling mom, I felt pressure to do school at home. So, subject by subject, I began adding more and more curricula to my children’s day.
Education shifted from a natural and everyday part of life to a curriculum-based methodology.
Since our routine now had this doing school component, I thought getting my three-year-old in the habit of doing school made sense, too. I bought her workbooks and wanted her to work on them daily.
Gradually, my focus shifted from connecting, learning, and having fun with my kids to having them complete various curricula.
I was so focused on ensuring my kids checked all the boxes and did all the curriculum that we might not take time to go to Grandma’s house or get together with friends. Before my oldest daughter was school-age, these were things that we did multiple times a week.
What Happens When Curriculum Comes First?
So, how did focusing on curriculum over connection work out?
Not very well.
It led to tears as I tried to teach my children how to diagram sentences and learn concepts they weren’t ready to learn.
Let me ask you, “When was the last time you diagrammed a sentence?” I write nearly daily, and I never – ever – diagram sentences.
If you are a grammar geek, you can probably tell I don’t diagram my sentences. But for the rest of you, I believe I write well enough to make my point.
Listen to This Podcast Episode: Connection Before Curriculum
Taking (some) Teaching Out of My Hands
Over time, I realized I had focused on curriculum to the point of damaging my relationship with my daughters. As a result, I began prioritizing my connection with my children again.
During difficult moments of homeschooling, I would think to myself, “Connection Before Curriculum.” Where I consistently had challenges teaching my children, I found other ways for them to learn. After all, the point was for my kids to learn, not for me to be the teacher of everything.
While adjusting our approach to education worked for my oldest, my relationship with my youngest child was severely strained. In fact, our relationship was so delicate that I could not imagine homeschooling her one more day. This realization was the most difficult moment I’d ever had as a homeschool mom. I sat on my bathroom floor and cried like a baby.
A Transition to Private School (for one child)
It was August, and the school year had just begun.
With the devastating realization and acceptance that homeschooling was not working for my youngest child, we found a good private school and enrolled her.
Along with enrolling our daughter in private school, I asked a trusted confidant for a recommendation to a therapist. I quickly scheduled our first appointment.
Family Therapy: Focusing on Connecting with My Child
What did our therapist focus on?
You guessed it.
He told me not to help my daughter with her homework.
I asked, “What if my husband is out of town?” He responded, “She does it alone, or she doesn’t do it.”
I couldn’t believe it. Did he want me to let her skip the homework???
If necessary, absolutely.
Our therapist believed the relationship between my daughter and me was more important than her homework.
He was right. How would I teach my daughter if she was upset and I was tense?
When I stopped to think about this, I realized when my daughter was agitated, she wasn’t learning anyway.
Each week, our entire family went to therapy.
Over time, it became abundantly clear that our therapist’s number one goal was to help me re-establish my connection with our youngest daughter.
A Transition Back to Homeschooling
We likely would have kept our youngest daughter in school, but factors beyond our control were happening at her school. So we cautiously returned to homeschooling again.
When we resumed homeschooling, my number one goal was to maintain and improve the relationship with my daughter.
Again, “Connection Before Curriculum” was my mantra.
My Most Important Lesson As a Homeschool Mom
As a homeschool mom, I’ve had ups and downs. However, if there is one overarching lesson I’ve learned, it’s that your connection with your child must be prioritized over curriculum.
Like most people who are products of the public education system, I had been very well-socialized to believe that schooling equals education. It has taken me years to unravel the belief system I grew up with.
I now see a distinct difference between education and schooling. In fact, I prefer to call the public education system by a different name. I call it the public schooling system.
There are many ways for children to learn. And your home school does not need to resemble a public school classroom.
While it is important for your children to learn and be educated, in my opinion, schooling is not important.
Why I Shared This With You
Believe me. It’s not easy to share my failures as a homeschool mom. However, I see how my experiences can help you avoid or overcome some of the homeschool challenges I have experienced.
I want to help you learn from my mistakes and my successes.
As homeschooling parents, I believe we have very good intentions. However, I am not the only homeschool mom who has made the mistake of putting curriculum before my connection with my children. When you feel the weight of the public education system on your back, it is easy to fall prey to this pressure.
As a society, we have been very well conditioned to believe that school is the equivalent of education. As homeschooling parents, we often feel we should educate our children in ways similar to the public education system. We have been so well trained that, in the beginning, most homeschooling parents actually try to emulate the public school system in their homes.
I urge you to remember the mantra, “Connection Before Curriculum.” And I urge you to learn about the many different styles of homeschooling. While you can use a “school at home” approach, it’s important to know there are other methods of homeschooling that may be more effective.
Connection Before Curriculum
While I believe curriculum has its place and can be beneficial, I recommend you prioritize your connection with your child above any curriculum.
This doesn’t mean that you give up when your child is challenged. However, it does require you to stay calm and patient. And sometimes, it means you help your child learn a concept in another way. And occasionally, you must acknowledge that your child is not developmentally ready to learn what is being taught.
The best thing you can do to help your child learn is to prioritize your connection with your child. Have fun learning with your child. And remember also to let your child guide their education by exploring the things they find interesting.
To get help homeschooling your child, click here and schedule a free homeschool consultation with me.
How I Failed and Succeeded As a Homeschool Mom
- As a homeschool mom, I failed when I let the curriculum come between my children and me.
- I succeeded when I realized homeschooling wasn’t about school but about family, community, education, and learning.
In the end, I believe each child will benefit more from a strong connection with their mother than they will from mastering any curriculum.
Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
Each week, we share two podcast episodes with you. On Mondays, you’ll hear a podcast episode that’s designed to inspire homeschooling moms like you. Each Wednesday, we share an episode that’s about homeschooling and parenting.
Follow us nearly anywhere that podcasts are played.
Also on the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast…
- Just a Mom
- Playing In the Rain with Dad
- Self-Care Tips for Moms: Set Yourself Up for Success
- Create a Vision for Your Future and Your Family
- Connecting with Your Kids: Interview with Therapist Linda Wiebe
Meet Alyssa Wolff: A Homeschool Mom Who Was a Homeschooled Student
Alyssa Wolff is a homeschooling mom who was previously a homeschooled student. In the video below, she signed up for a coaching session with Jackie. Watch this video the video below to see how coaching is helpful to homeschool moms.
Coaching Session for Homeschool Mom: Alyssa Wolff
Meet Alison Schlagel: A Homeschooling Mom Who Was Home Educated From Birth Through High School
In this podcast episode & video introduction, you’ll meet Alison Schlagel. Ali was homeschooled from birth through high school and says she wouldn’t trade her homeschooling years for anything.
She and her husband, who was also homeschooled, plan to homeschool their 15-month-old daughter.
In this episode, Ali shares her experiences with homeschool curricula, some of the pros and cons of homeschooling, her homeschool routine, and other homeschooling memories.
Video Introduction with Homeschool Mom: Alison Schlagel
Snippets From Our Interview with Alison Schlagel
While Alison’s daughter was only 15 months old at our interview, Ali already considers herself a homeschool mom. Alison recognizes that education doesn’t just happen in schools or when a child is of compulsory school age. Education is happening all of the time.
While Ali’s daughter isn’t school-age, she is always learning. That’s why Alison is already laying the foundation for a solid education. As a result, Ali looks for opportunities to teach her daughter simple concepts like identifying letters and numbers.
Reading to her daughter, playing with her, and loving her, are exactly what a 15-month-old toddler needs.
Alison’s Homeschool Experience
In many ways, Alison was self-taught. She did a lot of school work independently and, as a result, is very independent. While Ali sees the benefit of being independent, Ali also believes she could have benefited from more one-on-one time. In addition, Alison also believes it’s important for parents to have conversations with their kids to help them retain the information they are learning.
As Alison steps into homeschooling her child, she plans to have a more active role in homeschooling her daughter. However, Ali also recognizes that as she and her husband have more children, she must learn how to balance instruction and managing a homeschooling household.
Ultimately, Alison wants her kids to seek out knowledge for themselves and have the ability to learn on their own.
Alison’s Homeschool Schedule
When asked what her school schedule looked like, Ali said she got up around seven in the morning. After having breakfast, doing chores, and having family faith time, she and her siblings completed their schoolwork.
Ali’s family didn’t try to fit subjects into specific time slots because the time needed to complete a lesson didn’t necessarily match a specific amount of time. Instead, they had a rhythm to their day, and the kids were expected to complete certain lessons by the end of the day.
According to Alison, one of the beauties of homeschooling is its flexibility because each kid learns differently, and each family has its own style.
Another Benefit of Homeschooling
When asked about the benefits of homeschooling, here is what Alison had to say.
“I think one of the greatest advantages is that you build a stronger family. You’re not split up during the day, most of the day you’re together. And yeah, I was in my room, and my sister was upstairs, and another one was at the kitchen table. But we were all together at mealtimes. We all had to do our chores together. We did our daily Bible reading together. And it builds a stronger family culture – I would think – because you’re interacting more, you get to know each other better, just by the virtue of – you’ve got time to spend together.”Alison Schlagel
During our interview, Alison also shared, “You need to be willing to change something if it’s not working, but also find the things you like and stick with them.” This, too, could be construed as another benefit to homeschooling your kids. As a homeschooling parent, you have the ability to be adaptable.
When Alison was in third grade, her mom was very ill. Alison’s mom passed away when Ali was only ten years old.
Throughout this timeframe, Alison and her four siblings continued to homeschool. The family’s pastor’s wife stepped in and helped with the children’s education.
Later, Alison’s father remarried. Alison’s (step) mom brought much-needed structure to the family’s home. Ali says, “I am eternally grateful for her being willing to come in and take on five kids that weren’t hers and be a mom.”
Parenting: Strive to Live Your Best Life
As we continued our conversation, Alison stated the following.
“Our kids are always watching. There’s a proverb: ‘Little pitchers have big ears.’ Our children are listening to us, they are watching us, and what they see seems to have even more of an impact than what we say.
As parents, I think that what we should strive to do is live the life we want our children to live, and that’s not easy. We’re humans, we make mistakes. But if we are not striving to live our best life, then our children will also not strive to live their best life.
And by homeschooling, by being together as a family, we get so much more of an opportunity to show them, to show our kids, who we want for them to be and that is probably the biggest and most important reason for me to homeschool.”Alison Schlagel
Meet Homeschool Mom: Carrie Strong
Carrie Strong never thought she would homeschool her kids, but now she homeschools all of her kids. In addition, Carrie also wrote a book to encourage other moms to homeschool their kids too! Watch this HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast interview to learn how you can homeschool too!
Watch Our Video Interview with Carrie Strong on YouTube.
Videos, Podcast Episodes, and Blog Posts for You
- Homeschool curriculum for your kids.
- Self-care for busy moms.
- Coaching for homeschool parents.
- Learn how to plan your time better!
- Help your kids make friends.
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