My Reasons For Embracing An Out-Of-The-Box Homeschool Education

I recently submitted this article as a commentary in the Delaware State News, but with our homeschool year just underway, I thought I’d share it here as well for you mamas who may be contemplating or questioning this school option. For the original article, please visit

Family Photo copyAfter fifteen years of homeschooling, I still find it difficult to wrap up the “whys” in the 30-second sound bite people are often looking for. My reasons are so many and so evolving that no answer-in-a-nutshell exists. Still, I am aware that many people are curious about homeschooling, while others are contemplating this venture, and still others would rather pluck their fingernails out one by one than take on this counter-culture form of education.

I almost don’t remember when homeschooling was foreign and when I believed I was disqualified because I wasn’t “patient enough” or “organized enough”. But with two children who have graduated, I’m relieved to say that despite my fears of messing up my kiddos for life, they are happy, competent adults who both plan to homeschool their own children some day.

However, with an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, I’m far from finished. While I do have a short list of reasons to quit homeschooling, which include the fact that I’m still not patient enough or organized enough, my list of reasons to homeschool continues to grow.

The Family Dynamic and Focus on Relationships

I have a passion for my family, and homeschooling lets me savor the moments with them. Instead of whisking my children off to school and coming home to a chaotic night of dinner and baths and homework, we all get to slow down and enjoy each other. After years of life together, we still like each other, stand with each other, and feel blessed by each other.

The Socialization

This is definitely the concern I hear most and once had. However, I now know that if you can put siblings in a room or a house or a yard together every day and they all live to tell about it, that’s socialization at its best. Really though, despite fears of raising kids who couldn’t look adults in the eye or play kickball with the neighbor kids, I have found that because my children join me on nursing home visits, trips to the grocery store, hospitals to see newborns, as well as take part in sports, co-ops, church events, and park outings my children mix well in any gathering. It didn’t take me long to realize the “unsocialization” fear is unfounded and my oldest children have lifelong friendships with age-mates and adults alike.

The Freedom

This is huge! As a homeschool mom, I have the freedom to choose our curriculum and our schedule. We are free to travel, pursue individual passions, and learn whatever interests us. My children are free to master a skill before moving on or skip through easier topics. I may not be as free to chat on the phone or lounge with a cup of coffee, but I am free to read to my children all day when it rains or shelve the books for a walk in the park on a sunny day.ID-100203595

The Education

I may not know Calculus, but that doesn’t mean my children can’t learn it. There are curriculum options to suit every learning style, such as traditional texts, video and online learning, and even satellite classrooms, so opportunities for learning are limitless.

Besides academic education, my husband and I have the advantage of directing our children’s moral education, which ensures consistency and provides a sense of security. Our children will one day have to make their own choices, but we want those choices rooted in our value system.

The Opportunity to Work

It takes effort to run a full house and a family business. My children learn that work is part of daily life. This instills competence and subsequently confidence. We are a team and depend upon each one doing his part, so our children learn not only the value of work, but also that they are a valuable part of our work.


Even after all these years, there are times still that homeschooling overwhelms me and doubts wash over me. Did we cover enough material? Am I pushing them too hard or not enough? But one thing I am certain of; this journey has taken my family down invaluable roads. For us, for now, it is not just a choice, but the best choice.


Back-To-School Checklist for Homeschool Moms

I’m excited! I’m back home from our summer of fishing in Alaska and I’m sorting through all my materials for the school year, which officially starts on Monday for us.

Every year is different, and this one will offer new challenges as I learn to balance our home-based business with my blogging hobby and the flurry of activity that homeschooling brings. But one thing that never changes is our passion for homeschooling and our determination to make each year the best ever.

I’ve found that the most fulfilling and successful year starts with the right attitude, a little planning, and a lot of flexibility.

So, if you’re reading this and you are about to embark on or continue your homeschool journey, I hope my back-to-school checklist will help you get prepared, stay on track, and look forward to an incredible journey with your one-of-a-kind kiddos.

Chances are, you’ve already done a lot of these things, so enjoy being able to scratch something off the list (one of my greatest enjoyments)!



Pray. I don’t even start without seeking direction greater than my own.

Write out your goals (and ask your children for their input)—academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope you don’t skip this step. It is critical to clarify what it is you want to accomplish.


Choose your curriculum based on your homeschool style, as well as the personalities of you and your children.

Make a list of curriculum and supplemental material used for each child. Order now if you haven’t already.

Begin a portfolio for each child, especially if your state requires it. I prefer a binder with divisions for curriculum lists, book lists, field trips, extra-curricular activities like sports and co-ops, and samples of best work (especially writing samples), but you can include anything that gives an accurate picture of learning.

Roughly plan your yearly calendar, marking breaks throughout the year.

Make a daily schedule and have your teens make their own, coordinating it with yours of course :-). I know not everyone plans everything like I do, so this can be as detailed or loose as you like, but without it, there’s no real direction for the day. Don’t forget naptimes if you have toddlers and work around their basic needs. Also a must is to build in flexibility for the unexpected. And don’t forget to include blocks of time for family fun. Every day can’t be about just hitting the books or you’ll have a mutiny in no time.

Make a chore schedule for you and your children. This will absolutely fall apart at some point, but it is one of the greatest organizational tools in my home. My kids know what is expected of them every day, so I don’t have to constantly look over their shoulders which frees me up considerably.

Create your supplies list and take the kiddos shopping.

Prepare your space. Whether you use the dining room table or a schoolroom, you will need to ensure each child has a place for their books and supplies that they can get to themselves. And you will need your own space where you keep necessary records, teacher supplies, and curriculum. Spend a bit of time now to ensure you don’t waste time each day hunting down pencils and paper.

Pray again for good measure ;-).


Re-visit any one of the above planning steps at any time. Without a doubt, life will hit and throw you off course. It’s okay. Just re-assess, course correct, and jump back in. It won’t be perfect. You’ll likely swap out curriculum or re-work schedules along the way, but the beauty is, you can.

So, let’s get started shall we? Next week, you’ll likely find me on the couch sipping tea and reading a Dear America book with my girls and loving every minute of it.

I hope this helps a bit. Let me know, will ya?

On Being THAT Homeschool Family

More help than Poppop needs.

More help than Poppop needs from Samara and Avielle.

When I first felt the tug to homeschool, I resisted. I didn’t know many homeschoolers–or so I thought–and the ones I knew were a bit different. I had the notion that all homeschoolers ate only what they grew, wore only what they made, and didn’t know how to throw a football.

With the silkies.

With the silkies.

After homeschooling for thirteen years, I have met those families, but the majority are like us. We eat some of what we grow, wear some of what we make, and we can play a mean football game. But today, I laughed when a customer came to pick up a fish order (we own Alaskawild Seafoods) because I knew they probably left with the notion that we are THAT homeschool family and yet I was perfectly okay with that. I homeschool by choice and I no longer feel the need to offer up reasons for it. There are so many.

My youngest girls’ favorite time period to study is the Colonial Period and today they were living out their studies. In their simple dresses and caps (not to be confused with coifs that pilgrims wore or bonnets which pioneers wore as my girls just informed me), they were picking radishes with their Poppop and collecting eggs from the backyard chickens,

Samara collecting eggs.

and I got a little chuckle as I realized just how odd that must have seemed to a stranger. At the same time, I experienced freedom as I felt no need to apologize for it. It is a wonderful life. A life spent together doing things that are not only beneficial and productive, but fun and memorable as well.

As homeschoolers, we are free to spend the day reading on the couch or picking strawberries for a pie. We are free to labor over our math lessons at the kitchen table or to pick it all up and visit a lonely widow for an even greater lesson on compassion. And we are free to wear period clothing or jeans and a t-shirt. As homeschoolers, we are simply free.

I’m not sure what everyone else envisions when they think of homeschoolers, but unless they experience it first-hand there is no way to have an accurate picture. Whether or not we fit the mold in others’ minds I’m not sure.

Avielle can't leave the strawberries alone.

Avielle can’t leave the strawberries alone.

What I do know is that after graduating two and still two more to go, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. So if we are THAT homeschool family, I will embrace it and wear it proudly. I simply love it.

And now, I think I have a paper, or rather a slate, to grade.

Where It All Began–Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown 2011:P1020570IMG_0351P1020595