Homeschooling Held Hostage


I remember the day we decided pull our daughter out of school. The day we “made it public”—this decision to homeschool.

I.Was.Terrified.  Really.  My knees were knocking as I walking into our oldest daughter’s grade school.  I liked her teacher. I had no complaints, really, except that we knew in our hearts there was something

We longed for more.  More shared experiences. More tailored education. A greater focus on the Creator of the beauty that surrounded us. A desire to dig deeper into family life. More story time. More field trips. Less rushing to go our separate ways every morning. More LIFE.

That was fifteen years ago. Our beautiful second grader is now a beautiful wife and is expecting her own child this year. Time goes by fast.

In the past fifteen years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the homeschool community.  There is much more pressure being put on homeschoolers to excel academically. We’ve gone from a few brave moms who, without access to mainstream “curriculum”, managed to give their children an excellent education—but we’ve forgotten what made it excellent.

It was excellent because these moms had a vision for homeschooling—they weren’t trying to re-create school at home. They were simply being obedient to the One who had called them to be different. They knew that if He had called them, He would equip them. And they were right.

When I was brand-new to homeschooling, I did the only thing I knew how to do: I set up a classroom in our home—complete with desks like the ones I had in school.desk

We soon began to understand that those desks, however, were not going to work over the long haul. What we really needed was a comfy couch, where we could curl up and read about the life of a hermit crab named Pagoo or discover the mysteries of the Island of Capri. Yes, a couch was what we needed.

For years, I notebooked with our children. We took nature walks and studied the seasons together. We did copy work and read stories of brave men and women who followed God with an abandon that most only dream about. And we spent a lot of time on the couch.

My husband (the patience of this man knows no limits) hauled the desks back up the stairs and out of the house. We sold them at a garage sale in the spring of 1999.

And today, as I look closely at our homeschool, I have to ask, “What makes me different?”

It’s easy to be held hostage by the expectations of the world.

I see it all around me—and I feel it myself.  The pressure is enormous. Why don’t my kids know Latin?

Am I doing enough?


Most of us took our children out of public school in search of something more, only to be hijacked by the world’s system—right there on the couches in our living rooms. We’re putting our kids into hyper-academic “homeschooling” programs and we’re allowing the pressure of the “what ifs” to determine what we teach our children. Yes. We’re falling for it.  Does this sound familiar?

We can’t read today, kids.  We have too much math to do.
Mommy would love to play with you; but you need to finish your schoolwork first. And don’t forget about yesterday’s work.
We’ll do that later, after we do school.
Where is your list of assignments from the co-op?

Our Bibles gather dust—or worse—become just another thing to check off of our curriculum checklist.

*   Read one chapter in Hebrews.  *check here when done*

So many homeschool moms today are suffering from burnout—and I get it. The pressure to do more is enormous. But I wonder … is all this “more” really what God had in mind when He called us to be different? Somehow, I don’t think He meant for us to bring our children home only to have our home life hijacked by a worldly philosophy of education. I don’t think God meant for us—or our children—to struggle under the weight of someone else’s idea of a “proper” education.

I think—just maybe—He meant for us to be free.

Free to read aloud. All day if we want to. Even with our high schoolers.
Free to draw and create.
Free to discover the beauty of Creation—unhurried—and without the expectation of a report that is due about our “discovery” at the end of the next day.
Free to forget about preschool.
Free to take a hot chocolate walk for no reason.
Free … to know Him more.



It’s hard to do that when we’re always on someone else’s schedule.

If you are being held hostage by a burdensome curriculum or a program that promises to get your kid into college—and if you’re wondering if this was really the life that God had designed for you, I challenge you to look at those first homeschool moms. They set the bar—and they did it without expensive “all inclusive” programs. They did it by faith. They did it because they knew God would provide for their every need if they would only trust Him to guide and direct them.

These precious moms found out that God is faithful. He can be trusted. His mercies are new every day.

His yoke is easy. His burden is light.

Ask Him what He has for you and your children.  If you are not experiencing the “life” you were looking for when you began your homeschooling journey, it may be that you’re not giving the Lord permission to lead you there.

I know—because for all my trying— and even after I have experienced the freedom that comes from a more relational approach to homeschooling,  I often find myself a hostage of homeschooling rather than a mom who is enjoying the gift that she has been given through homeschooling.  It’s easy, even for a mom who has graduated a few children, to wonder if she’s doing enough.

If you’re being held hostage today—ask the Lord to show you His heart for your homeschool.  Because in following Him, you’ll find the LIFE you’re looking for.


Heidi St John Homeschooling Guide to Daylight

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Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.

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265 Responses to Homeschooling Held Hostage

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Congrats to your daughter!

  2. heidi says:

    Wow!! I’m not even homeschooling yet with my 2 year old and 5 month old and I already needed to hear this! As a homeschool graduate I am already feeling pressure to get with the program and not feeling free to just enjoy my kids and allow the future homeschooling years to be even more filled with seeking God (instead of wordly achievment) than mine was. Thank you so much! I will be bookmarking this for future reference! This is what my heart longs for!

    • Jessica says:

      I am right there with you! I have a (barely) 3 year old and a 20 month at home. High educational standards run in my family, where everyone is in education. I started school at 3 and was wondering about mine already! But this was SUCH a perfectly timed article. :) What a relief! “Be free!” <3

      • Susan & Mark Wolf says:

        Heidi and Jessica.. Let your children be children. Don’t rush into schooling until you know that they are ready. My oldest was ready at 5 where my younger one was not. Let them play and use, use, use their imagination! Mine did and I’m glad1 God’s blessings on you both!

      • Danielle says:

        I felt so similar when my kids were young because any mention of homeschooling always brought the barrage of “how will they learn to…” questions. I was so scared to derail from the one-size-fits-“all” educational checklist that “guarantees” success.
        But I had some great mentors that told me to relax, encourage curiosity and a child’s natural desire to learn about the world around them. And in that I’ve found the strengths of each of my children and the grow in the areas of their weakness without shame or comparison.
        My 9.5 year old reads at a high school level but has handwriting worse than his 4 year old brother and can’t ride a bike.
        My preteen excels at math, but struggles with phonics.
        Each of the six children have individual giftings that we nurture. The rest falls into place. When I doubt, I look back at my public school education and think about how many things I learned that I no longer remember or ever use in my daily life. It’s more about teaching them how to find answers and never stop learning.

      • Karolynn says:

        I agree! My husband was not homeschooled so he is nervous about doing it ourselves. Our almost 4 year old is longing to learn. He is trying to read already and LOVES math to the point of counting his trucks that he put in a row and subtracting some and counting what is left. Everyone around us keeps saying we need to “put him in school so he can reach his potential” and stuff like that. I want to scream NO! NO! He actually LOVES learning! Why damage that with a program where he must sit all day and learn on someone else’s schedule.

  3. LL says:

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder. Three years into homeschooling I finally discovered the joys of “couch time.” I invested in cushioned lapdesks so they can color while I read. Bliss. :)

  4. So good. Thank you, Heidi!

  5. Katie says:

    I sure needed this today:)I was going through this in my mind last week,very heavy on my heart:)I’m only one year into homeschooling and it feels like I’m not doing enough relaxing and enjoying as I should.Thank you for this reminder!God Bless!Katie

  6. Chrissy says:

    This is funny because today my daughter decided to read About half of her book instead of the one assigned chapter. My husband comes home listens for a while a and says didn’t she have other work she had to do. My response no if she wanted to read today let, her read she can always have a social studies or math day, tomorrow 😉

    • Mindy says:

      I feel the same .. If my Daughter wants to read the book she just got from the bookstore straight through , I let her … to see her so excited in reading and not TV .. DUH! My Husband comes home and asks “How much did you get done in Homeschool today? I say “enough !” … He says she should have put in 6 hours of schooling …Then turns on his TV!
      I believe if She is learning things … than that’s all part of Homeschooling and NOT being schooled @ HOME and her learning what will stay with her & in her memory for a lifetime! Not just to get her by through Schooling then forgetting it as she gets older!!! Thank You for your comment!

      • Pepper says:

        Even when they go to a brick and mortar school, they do so much messing around that they don’t get in 6 hours of schooling a day. Home schooled kids don’t need 6 hours of bookwork a day. Making cookies, nature walks, taking care of the animals, helping with the baby, helping with housework….all of these things are learning.

        • Lori Smith says:

          I am so excited to have found this site. Alot of questions I have are discussed right here..this is exactly how I feel about the schools and homeschooling. I see my child learning for real and not just enough to pass a test. I love this..thank you for your insight…

        • Kathy says:

          As a certified private school teacher, I contest the “messing around” idea: in addition to a rigorous curriculum, my school offers opportunities for collaboration and higher-order thinking reinforced by technology and projects, religious instruction, and numerous extracurricular activities. While schools aren’t for everyone, we produce an excellent education for many students.

          • Lacey says:

            I don’t think Pepper meant to insult private schools, just to defend homeschooling parents who don’t do 6 hours of traditional academics per day. It is just a matter of course, at least in public schools, that a lot of the time during the day is spent in transition and tediousness. 20 kids to the bathroom, 20 kids to and from P.E./Art/lunch/recess/music, 20 kids separating into their station, getting supplies, etc., etc. It just takes a lot of time. Then there are kids who draw you off topic, or who you have to stop in the middle of a lesson to discipline. The whole day isn’t spent on academics just by consequence of having that many kids to teach.

          • Kel Way says:

            I’ll see Your rigorous curriculum and raise you some common sense on how kids learn and why.

          • Lisa says:

            Kathy, I think that the “messing around” reference is probably in regards to the lines that are stood in, the waiting that is done before being served lunch, the time taken away from teaching so an instructor can deal with a disciplinary probablem… I don’t think the assumption is that there is no education happening in the environment you offer as a caring teacher.

            Heidi, I have fallen into the trap of “doing school at home” off and on for years. And I’ve been homeschooling for 20 years now. Thanks again for putting my focus on Him, the Author and Finisher. 😉

      • Cindy says:

        Six HOURS? We rarely spent more than 1 or 2 on anything that resembled actual curriculum, at least until our daughter was in late middle school/high school. They don’t even do six hours in public schools when you take into account all the breaks (not enough breaks, but it does eat into their time, lunch, waiting in lines, and lots and lots of time for the teacher to teach every single thing more than one way. Kids have different learning styles – I knew what my child’s learning style was and I taught her that way, not 3 different ways.

      • Traci says:

        I so understand what you are going through with you husband. Mine used to do the same, ask how much we got done, then proceed to turn on the tv to “relax”. I was one of those Moms that struggled with homeschooling at first, did all the things that we were “supposed” to do and got frustrated. My daughter was very good at doing most of her school on her own while my son, who has dyslexia, would have problems with just sitting for half an hour to try to read. I wish I had known then what I know now! My two older kids did just fine and now have very rewarding careers, my daughter is a med. tech and put herself through school and graduated with honors, and my son is a mechanic working for a man who honors those who strive to work hard. He is top man in the shop, with only a couple months behind him and no school under his belt, while the boy going to school next to him is struggling…
        My youngest is now in her last year of high school, is only going to be 16 in June and is now home schooling the way I wished I had done with the other two. We do life application for the most part as most of her “curriculum” has been done. She loves to bake and is learning cake decorating, loves to read and loves nature! My baby girl is finding the way we home school now is pretty different from the way her sister and brother did and she loves it! No headaches, no worries, and no frustration. She is her own person, not someone that “school” teaches her to be. My husband stopped saying I wasn’t doing enough when I told him “when the tv stops going on at the end of the day, and you get your butt off the couch and help with teaching then you have something to say about what gets done and what doesn’t get done for school during the day, until then I am the teacher and what I teach is not something you can complain about”, that sure shut that down in a hurry. My advice to Moms out there just getting started…relax, your kids are only little for a short time and in the blink of an eye they will be out on their own. Don’t stress about what they are not learning and let them learn what they love, time and experience will take care of the rest, I have seen that with my youngest.

  7. Inger says:

    Thanks for this blog! I couldn’t agree with you more :)

  8. Rayanne says:

    Thank you for this inspiration to keep it simple. Last night I was laying in bed thinking about all that needed to be accomplished this week in homeschool and how I could possibly integrate ALL.OF.THAT into a kindergartener’s curriculum. She wants to play, she wants to learn through play, she wants to run, she wants to “pretend” with her stuffed animals, she wants to go to the zoo and learn about things outside in the snow…she does not want to sit at the table ALL.OF.THE.TIME…the couch is definitely a lot more comfortable and takes less effort to “coach” a young mind to sit on the couch and read. Thank you for reminding me that less IS more and that this journey is so worth it. Thank you for reminding me that our loving God is the leader of this journey…you have reached my heart.

  9. shevrae says:

    I would love to sit on the couch and read aloud to my kids all day (my 10-year-old would love it too), but my 2-year-old would never stand for it. My 5 and 7 year old would get pretty bored after an hour as well. I really look forward to the day when they have the attention span for a marathon reading of something great. In the meantime, it’s mostly regular 1-2 chapter sessions while they color – with many interruptions – for the foreseeable future.

    • Kelly Stevens says:

      Check the blog ‘preschoolers and peace’ written by Kendra Fletcher. It may prove helpful to you with your dilemma of couch time and what the preschoolers (or just younger ones in general) need so you can enjoy this journey of homeschooling the way God is possibly leading your family. : o)
      Because of Christ,

  10. Lynn says:

    Thank you for the reminder. In our 3rd year…. and questioning the more. Needed to hear this!

  11. Becky Gupton says:

    Love this post! Thank you for the reminder. Getting ready to have a senior next year and there is so much pressure. Thank you, thank you.

  12. Susan Willis says:

    This was perfectly said. I am a homeschooling mom of 19 years and I still struggle with this. My last child home is special needs and I still fall into the trap of trying to make him “normal”. We have just been re-evaluating our home educating (which is what I prefer so as not to just school at home) so that we are not being pushed into the trap of more science, math, etc. I need to continue to spend time on character more than equations. It is what one really needs to succeed.

    • Kristi says:

      I love this post. I struggle with the “am I doing enough” some days. And others I don’t give it a second thought. I’m glad I’m not alone :)

    • Kristi says:

      ps- Susan, I have a son with learning disabilities. And I fall into that same trap, trying to keep him on target with his twin brother. Then I remember that is one of the very reasons I started homeschooling. I can truly individualize his education at home. And go at his pace. But the character building and every day things like cooking, cleaning and etc are things he will need when I am gone. Not learning AP math!! 😉

  13. crystal says:

    I was just thinking of that this weekend. My mother started homeschooling in ’91. It was so simple and now it seems so complicated most of the time in many homes. I hope to keep a simple, quiet home where love and peace are, and Christ reigns, while teaching the daughter I now have and any more that God chooses to give… thank you so much for writing this article!

  14. Natalie says:

    This was such a great post. Thank you so much!! Just this weekend I woke in a minor panic because I was thinking of what’s coming next year….and we haven’t even finished this one! Grateful for the encouragement!

  15. Teresa says:

    Mom of 14 — Feel like I am drowning! Home schooling 9 of them! Needed this! <3

    • Marjie says:

      I know a little bit of your angst! I have home educated ten children for 28 years; am sad to realize I have less than 10 years left. Gone are the baby/toddler/preschooler days, except 2 days/week when 10-month-old granddaughter comes to our house while her mom is at work. I remember well the drowning feeling, like the dog paddling was not going to be sufficient. Consider yourself hugged! Something that has helped me when I have felt overwhelmed is that regardless of the holes in the education I was giving the children (even for the high schoolers/college prep students), our home education was better for my children than any they would receive anywhere else. Period, end-of-story. That puts the smile back on my face and the skip back in my step when I remember that. Give each of your 14 children a hug from me (yes, from non-huggy me)–cause they are blessed to have a caring mom like you!

  16. Rosanne says:

    Starit talk, with simple ideas! God’s way, well ofcourse that’s best (duh). Thanks for the gentle reminder 😉 You’ve encouraged me today to allow more of His faith to be maifest in my daily walk!…TO put my feet where my faith is (I think you’ve said that before).
    Thanks again <3 God Bless :)

  17. Karen says:

    I have been keeping my 14 year old daughter who has severe CP home for a few weeks because of illness and am frustrated with her program. She is so smart and is just not getting anything from school except therapies. Academics just aren’t there. I think I could do much more for her at home and the school is going to provide her therapies at home. I am going to home school her but I don’t even know where to start….

    • Kelly Stevens says:

      Karen, pray, and maybe see if you can find a homeschool group in your area where other homeschooling moms have ‘been there, done that’ and come along side you to mentor you on where to start, or e en God will put in your path a mentor who has a child with CP … Wouldn’t that be cool and so like God to do?
      Because of Christ!

  18. Molly says:

    I love this! However, what happens when you have had so much couch time and play over the years that now algebra feels like torture? I don’t think you can just skip
    Math because it is not fun (if that we’re the case my bathrooms would never be cleaned) but I guess I am just terrible at making math fun!

    • Judith says:


      Thank you for voicing a different point of view than most people here! Math and science are so important, but often are ignored by home educators because of their focus on spiritual things – as if God doesn’t care about creation! Until we really learn about how the world works as a related whole, and our proper place in it (not as “lords” but as “nurturers”), our problems will only continue to get worse.

      • heidistjohn says:

        Hi Judith! I have to say, I don’t know many home educators who “ignore” math and science. If anything, I’d say the tendency in recent years is toward MORE math and science. For goodness sake, we’re teaching Latin as if it were necessary to succeeding in school. In other words, we’re taking on a Greek philosophy of education rather than a Jewish one—in other words, we’ve bought into the lie that we have to pile all these academics on our kids or they won’t succeed. It’s important to have our priorities correct—and to be listening for the Lord. Some of our kids need a stronger academic track. But when we do it out of fear, we miss the opportunity to really savor the richness of the homeschooling years. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

        • shevrae says:

          I can see you haven chosen Latin as the point at which you think homeschooling families have gone overboard. As a family that studies Latin for several reasons (most importantly because we enjoy it,)I would like to submit that you can follow a classical education model and still have a balanced approach to education and life in general.

        • Sandy says:

          Greek philosophy rather than Jewish one? We use the classical model–and yes, that includes Latin. It is a HUGE help in learning English grammar! And the Classical Conversation model is not based on just “Greed philosophy”, but a biblical one. We use the grammar, dialectic and rhetoric method–which in biblical terms is knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Even though we use this method, my kids have TONS of free time for reading and creative play. I don’t think we should go overboard. But I think things like learning Latin can get a bad reputation when it shouldn’t. I expect a lot out of my kids–but yet they spend maybe 3 hours a day on school work. Even with the Latin. 😉

          • Sandy says:

            oops–GREEK philosophy, not greed! :)

          • Heidi says:

            Hi Sandy! Yes, Greek and Jewish are two very different models. I tend toward one but that doesn’t make it better. That makes it better … for us. :) I’ve got lots of friends using classical education so I’m not knocking it—but I urge moms toward balance. Plant with the harvest in mind.

    • heidistjohn says:

      Hi Molly :) I’m not saying that we should shelve every text book and just play all day—but I have seen over and over … and over that most moms sacrifice the simplicity that is naturally found in homeschooling for the pursuit of academics. And usually, it’s driven by fear.

      The worst year we ever had in homeschooling was a year that I struggled through a difficult pregnancy and birth—and I was so worried about our kids! Instead of my canned curriculum I was literally forced to do simple math with them and then simply read on the bed. We read great books, and immersed ourselves in rich literature. We also had great conversations and just enjoyed each other. There was simply nothing else I could do.

      That spring when the kids were tested, they scored THREE GRADE LEVELS above where they were supposed to be at. I believe God was using this time of testing to show me that if I would be faithful to Him in teaching and training our kids, He wouldn’t let me down. And He didn’t.

      That was the beginning of a new approach to homeschooling in our home. Yes we do math. When our kids are in high school, they take all the upper level courses that are required for graduation. But I believe in the results that come from relaxing and allowing yourself not to be driven by what the world tells you “education” is. Education is discipleship first.

      When we keep our eyes on the goal of raising kids who not only know the creation and how it works but also the Creator, amazing things happen.

      • Rachel-Mom of 5 says:

        To Heidi and then Yvette (one that had the difficult pregnancy and birth like me)
        Thank you—this was straight from Gods heart to me

      • Colleen Woodcock says:

        I love this idea of not forcing education. My only question is how do you do it? I mean how do my kids learn math if I don’t sit down and teach math? I struggle even getting my daughter to the table to do a math lesson. How did you kids score 3 grade levels higher when they didn’t do math, or did you do math but you thought they weren’t doing enough?? I am stressed frustrated not sure I”m doing it right and sometimes feel like just packing it in its just a huge struggle getting any school work done. Could use some help and ideas or a pointing in the right direction of how to educate at home, I don’t want to do what school’s do but I don’t know what else to do. I think because I educated by the school system I just don’t know any other way. God bless!

        • ColleenInWis says:

          Colleen (lovely name!), my advice to homeschool moms is to define your goals and set a vision for your family’s schooling. You say you “don’t want to do what schools do.” What specific “school” things are you against? Maybe make a list. What “school” things are not bad that you do need to include in your home? What does your daughter need to grow up and function as a citizen in today’s world? Make a list of those. How can you teach those things with the resources available to you? What is her learning style and can you go with activities that help her learn naturally? I hope you can find some help from the Lord, from the web, from local support groups. I’ve linked one of my friend’s homeschool blog that may give you some ideas–she is a great homeschool coach!

  19. I started out – free, then became a hostage. This year – I threw it out of the door…. we still have friends, go to the park, but the schedule we have is based around us. I still get caught up in it at times, but am so blessed by Moms like you – who paved the way, who have been there and share the truth.

  20. Amanda says:

    SPOT-ON!!! Bravo! Thank you Jesus! Freedom! Thank you so much, Heidi. I can see the chains breaking off of so many homeschooling moms right now. Me included, even though I “get it” for the most part. You are such an inspiration. This is exactly what God has been putting on my heart.

  21. Bev M. says:

    I’ve gotta lol at this, because my first foray into homeschooling was an online homeschool, I was very schedule-driven, because I didn’t know what to do, other than to just follow the directions. That was 6 months ago. I’ve since learned that the online school doesn’t really fit my kids. I’ve already paid for a full year of books, so I’m using the material that works (math book, science, etc.), and I’m winging it on the rest. They have a table for school, but they prefer my bed for schoolwork. Whatever works is cool.

    It’s not all fun and games, though. Let’s not pretend that every aspect of homeschooling should be. Some kids are going to hate certain subjects, no matter how you teach it. I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to search for the method that’s going to work best for your child. I’m just saying that maybe you’re kid’s never going to be thrilled with solving quadratic equations. Moms and Dads shouldn’t feel down on themselves if that’s the case.

    • Bev M. says:

      D’oh! Substitute “your” for “you’re” in the last paragraph. I always do my best proofreading after I hit Send.

  22. Becca says:

    Such perfect timing for me today. My girls have to do state testing for the first time and today I read the learning objectives and tried not to freak. Your words are very timely for me thanks for sharing.

    • Jennifer G says:

      Don’t be afraid of standardized testing! I had to do that with my son for the first time last year…and I was a nervous wreck. (That didn’t help my son to calm down much either..) Anyway, he did fabulous in spite of not knowing math very well. The standards for testing are ridiculously low and I am sure your daughter’s are well able to exceed them!

      My only tip would be to prepare your daughters for the format of the tests: multiple choice, word problems, fill in the bubbles, etc. He had the hardest time with the format because we don’t do tests like that at home. But even with that, he still aced it. :)

      Take heart, you can do it and you will be amazed at how much your daughters have learned!

  23. Kelly Thompson says:

    What do we single parents (who have to work to provide for our families) do about the restrictive school system? I can’t home school my daughter, but I really don’t want her to endure the public school “education” that I went through, also can’t afford private school. Are there any other options for us?

    • Lily says:

      I am alos a singe mom and I home school. I work in a 24 hour service industry so there is always work. I choose to pack my hours into a 3 day weekend. My daughter spends the weekend enjoying activities with our extended family.

      I definitely feel that even a 9-5 working schedule could accommodate homeschool. You could work on projects/assignments in the evening and on weekends. Whoever takes care of your child while you work could provide assistance with school. You could also join a homeschool co-op group. It can be done but not likely entirely by you. It takes a village even if you are not single.

      • KD says:

        Yes and Yes! I am a single mother, I work full time, and I homeschool my son. I am fortunate to have a schedule that is 12-9, so we do school in the mornings. Often I send him off to the sitter with work to do as well, after we have gone over concepts ourselves. One thing that struck me when I made the decision to homeschool (because the public school nearby was not going to meet his needs) was a comment I read on another blog – YOU SET your OWN HOURS! You do NOT have to only do school from 8am – 3pm. If we don’t finish our weekly curriculum, Saturday mornings we haul out the books. Make school fit into your life, don’t make your life fit school. Some folks I know have grandparents actually doing most of the schooling at home because the parents work. I couldn’t afford private school either, and I knew it would be a disservice to my little guy to sit him in a classroom at the local elementary. I was terrified of “screwing up” his education by homeschooling so I was led to a cool coop. They set the curriculum and order the books and we do the work. It has been a great fit for our family. Look in your area, you may find resources you never knew existed. Best of luck!

    • Kelly says:

      Can you work from home? Is there family nearby that’d be willing to help? I know a few moms that work outside the home and homeschool, but aren’t single. However, they work the same shift as their husband so still have to find child care during the day.

      I’m not familiar with this program enough to tell you anything about it, but the HSLDA has a support program for single parents. It’d be worth checking into.

      I imagine it’s tough enough to be a single parent, but also trying to homeschool brings an extra challenge, but be encouraged, we serve a God that is bigger than all of the problems. Ask Him for help and see what He does!

  24. Mary says:

    Thank you! Unfortunately, I didn’t homeschool my own children, but I am the mother of a homeschool mother! I am so proud of my daughter and am blessed to be able to support her homeschool efforts in spiritual and practical ways. She is an inspiration to me!

  25. Thank you for sharing this Heidi! It was such an encouragement as we look to finish my son’s 11th grade in the next few months. It seems the closer they get to graduation and college, the more the pressure grows to “fit it all in.” As if somehow, by 18 he will have fully arrived and be done with learning. I appreciate the invitation to ENJOY him and our homeschooling, while still keeping us moving forward. Thank you for a wonderful reminder to keep first things first!

  26. Holly says:

    Loved it Heidi. I had to smile because my boys and I still dream of seeing Capri.

  27. Tabitha Jernigan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought such joy to my heart to read it.

  28. Teri says:

    Yes, I absolutely needed to hear this. It’s been a rough year for me and my three seventh graders. I think I forgot how to have fun! We are going on a Disney cruise this Friday, so hopefully we will all discover each other’s “funness” again! Thank you always, Heidi, for all your encouragement!

  29. Sheila says:

    Lord, I thank you for this message from this woman of God, this is my prayer for him to show me, guide me into to what he wants for my son as well as myself!

  30. Trudy Callan says:

    This is such a freeing post. Thank you so much. I have been schooling my children at home for 20 years now and have graduated two. I have four left at home. After all these years, I still feel that pressure; so it was so nice to read this today.

    • Connie says:

      I am right there with you. I’ve been homeschooling for 24 years, and have graduated 3, and I still need this message broadcasted loud and clear my direction. We can get lazy in actually looking at what each unique child needs. They are all gifted differently, and we need to discover what makes them enjoy learning. Striving to schedule more fun.

  31. Kristen says:

    Beautiful words and the perfect reminder. Thank you for reminding me why we started homeschooling. :)

  32. Sylvia says:

    My boys are grown and gone but I still get stressed remembering how I struggled with this issue. How close to the schedule do we stick? How much time should be spent on each subject? How do I get my boys to LOVE reading? Will I get enough into thier heads? My boys BOTH graduated late. One by six months. One by a year. However, they both recieved far more than they were getting in the government school system and they BOTH scored well on ACTs and went on to college. Homeschooling was a struggle at times but the only regret I have is that we didnt pull them out of public school sooner!

  33. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is what I needed to hear. I am homeschooling 3 (second, first, and kindergarten.) and have 2 more coming along. And I needed the reassurance that this has given me that I am doing the right thing, and that it is o.k. to go by our schedule and not what I think others will expect.

  34. Amanda says:

    P.S., Our oldest is a senior this year and only has a few months left at home with us before she goes 1,320 miles (but who’s counting?) away to college. This is motivating me to set aside the ACT test prep, the scholarships apps, the schoolwork, etc. for just a bit and focus on just being together as much as possible. She’s strong in the Lord and His Word, and has much to teach US before she goes! :-)

  35. Nedra Patton says:

    Beautiful Heidi!!! Thank you so much! We began HSing 18 years ago and I hardly recognize homeschooling these days. We are giving up BEST for other things and really missing the boat.

  36. Starr says:

    I have been homeschooling since 1997 and what you describe in this post is the way I have always done it. It WORKS! It is FUN! I have a son who is 23 and loves his job. He graduated from homeschool in 2008 and is successful and follows The Lord every step of the way. My 10 year old son whom I now homeschool loves life and doesn’t fight me every day. Why? Because we LIVE our life and learn as we go. Life is a teacher. Every moment of it does not need to be accounted for or scheduled. My prayer is that young homeschool families will heed your message and lay down the “schedule” and live before their kids get all grown and leave the nest.If not, they will look back and wish they had enjoyed homeschooling more. Great post today!!

  37. Nan says:

    I read this because someone posted it on Facebook. Wonderful blog post!

    I home-schooled my son and daughter, now 25 and 21. Just like you I thought we had to have the desks and make our home a mini-school. Just like you I did away with the desks and opted for the comfy couch, the dining room table, and even the bed, curled up in our pjs.

    My kids did as little “paperwork” as possible because they hated it. They did participate in music at school because we lived in an area where a home-school music group was not available and they were both very musically inclined.

    My son enlisted in the Navy at 18, after scoring in the top 25% on the ACT and in the top 10% on the ASVAB. He had his choice of jobs. He spent 6 years in the Navy and is in college today, looking at a pre-med or a poli-sci major. All this without doing every exercise in every book that the public school system would say is essential. He learned by reading and observing. He was a voracious reader. He is a compassionate Christian man who loves life.

    My daughter, while not inclined to go to college, is married to a wonderful man. She can’t wait to be a mommy in a few years. She is studying, via correspondence, to be a licensed minister in the Assembly of God. She is very artistic and one of the most compassionate women that I know. She is very involved in her home church.

    • Kristi says:

      Thank you SO much for sharing your story as well. I keep telling my kids that learning is more than worksheets! When I see them really understand a concept, that is wonderful. But when I see them help themselves to learn something, that is the miracle I had hoped for!
      I think in this world we are so wrapped up in “going to college” and while is it a great thing, it isn’t for everyone and nor should we pressure our kids to go if they are not inclined. I want my kids to be HAPPY first and foremost. I want them to get a job they love, not one that makes the most money. I believe that if you are happy in your work, you will be successful because it won’t be “work” if you love it.
      I also feel that teaching our daughters to be wives and mothers is important. I understand that in our world most women do go to college and have a career but it’s also OK not to go that path either. I worked for 10 yrs before having my three children and there is nothing more than I wanted but to be a mom and my husbands wife! But I grew up without that option. I want to make both available to my daughter. :)

  38. Lenora says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. It brings me back to what I know God wants in OUR homeschool! We first started with “school at home” and quickly went away from it as God led us. We do use books – Math U see, Pathway Readers, McGuffey speller, Easy Grammar, Mystery of History. It’s easier when you have kids who are “special needs” sometimes to use textbooks. But, right now? My kids and my hubby are gathered around our table with my best friends’ kids (all but the one who mostly lives in his own little bubble due to being very autistic) and playing Apples to Apples and I LOVE hearing the laughter and giggles! :)

  39. Kim M says:

    As a mom who started homeschooling 28 years ago I can say amen! We had a lot of fun in the 26 years I homeschooled. The acedemics often played second place to creative fun yet each of the five have excelled in various universities. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to home school.

  40. April says:

    Thank you for this reminder. I needed to hear this today:)

  41. Netta says:

    A mom shared your link on a FB HS page and I agree and thought I was the only one seeing this crazy academic movement in the HS community. I wrote this same thing on Sunday. I really thought am I going crazy, but God told me to write it and share it. It’s not always a popular message with other moms. —-Academic Excellence or Spiritual dependency?

    begin home schooling our children with the notion that academic excellence is
    of high significant value. I would have to respectfully disagree with that. I
    believe that educating a child is a huge responsibility, but as Christians the
    greater calling is to raise a child who loves The Lord. Raising a child who loves the Lord is the most significant part of home schooling a child. We tend to get it all mixed up from the beginning.

    conditions us to think that knowledge equals worth. Remember What Paul said in Philippians 3:8 ? Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. What about 1 Cor. ?

    —“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”—

    A person can have all
    the knowledge they want but it will puff them up like a marshmallow. They may
    be of value in the world, but not in Gods kingdom.

    —1 Cor. 13 says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.—

    I have a child who is excellent in every subject, a self learner (praise God) and as useful as that may be its not what I put the highest value on. We have learned that God brings experiences in life that brings out the character and teaches us about humility, integrity, compassion, love, and forgiveness. This is the excellence in home schooling.

    Remember, It’s all a sounding gong without love. We all have beautiful gifts
    that are natural and spiritual. We should all sharpen those gifts and not be
    afraid to ask for the gift of Gods Holy Spirit. We can be used mightily in Gods
    kingdom, but without love there can be dangers with our gifts. Pride creeps in and we tend to see ourselves above others who may not have the same gifts that we possess. Our character flies out the door and when we talk we sound like the nails on a chalk board.

    Personally, God has given me the gift of being able to remember scripture and dissect His Word and comprehend it very well. I believe God gave me this gift because of the cult background I came from. However what value is it if I’m not learning humility, love, and respect? If I’m up on all my current events, and have
    insight about something that no one else has, but lack gods love, it’s

    We certainly live in a self absorbed world, as a society we have become more narcissistic in nature. A dependency on Gods wisdom has become a second resort. His wisdom is different from worldly wisdom and even a “lifetime”of worldly experience. Young Solomon asked for Gods wisdom, and in James (1:5). If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. We are encouraged to ask god for HIS wisdom.

    The reality is wisdom is a great thing we hope to pass to our children. So what should our priorities be if we believe that homeschooling is a ministry, as
    opposed to academic endeavor making sure they go to college? It can be a
    huge mistake if we think our kids need to simply cook, sew, play an instrument,
    and learn how to sing, spell, read, and write, wanting them to learn and memorize hundreds of scriptures. Then they begin to feel inadequate when they fail or make a mistake. They live in legalism and condemnation and never learn the grace of God. The curriculum becomes a god, and we end up trying to live our dreams through our children rather than allowing them to be placed in Gods perfect plan. We expect these kids to be so well rounded that they strive to be square pegs. Rebellion sets in and we wonder why. I’m not getting preachy, I’m talking to myself, and sharing by experience this unrealistic expectation on my own children and writing this by the prompting of Gods Spirit.

    We wonder why our homeschooling kids constantly test the boundaries. For one they are kids and second, allot of us have set the bar too high. Lately a few of my fellow homeschooling friends have been sharing this phrase – “God will fill in the gaps”. We should do our best onto Him by the power of His Spirit and for His glory. Colossians says, And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Things will go wrong and that’s ok. The Christian road is tough. This world is scary. My belief is that homeschooling is a privilege, and a calling. I share with people that I don’t believe “home school is the way the truth and the life.” Sometimes we can get this notion that our kids will be better than the kids in public school. Not so. I’ve seen many home school kids go the worldly way, and many public school kids go the way of The Lord. So as Christians should we be homeschooling so we can preach excellence in education? If that is the only goal of homeschooling then we are in trouble as christians. If we are called in anything, we have to fully depend on the Lord, and should teach our children to do the same.

    If our children are called to push a broom for minimum wage with a full dependency on and love for the Lord, then that is true success. If our children are called to serve the president as ambassador, but without a strong dependency on the Lord, as great as the world may see this, it is of no eternal value. When our kids start driving, they need dependency on the Lord. When they have to get up every morning to go to a mundane job, they will need dependency on the Lord. When they get a flat tire, or when the car breaks down, or when they aren’t getting along with the spouse, or when their child is sick, when they are taking an important test, or when their own children go wayward they will need to depend on the Lord. Prove 3:5. The Lord is putting it on my heart to teach excellence in dependence on HIM and HIS wisdom. (John 15) I think the expectation for home school kids can be overwhelming to them and actually turn them away from not only wanting to be taught by the parent, but also to follow and depend on The Lord.

    May The Lord BE our wisdom as we fulfill the calling He has placed in our lives, unto His glory and for His purpose.

  42. Netta says:

    It’s just SO beautiful what you wrote! And you have a grown adult to prove it!

  43. W Howell says:

    Thank you for such an encouraging blog. I am grateful to have read it.

  44. Jenny says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was a homeschooled kid back in the day when it was still pretty “new” in our area & my mom did such an amazing job!! I now homeschool our two kids (7 & 5) and it is such a blessing but as I read your blog post I realized that I am trying to push this schedule into our days and it is only stressing us out. I am not good at schedules and I don’t know why I do it to myself (or our kids) except that I feel like compared to everyone else my kids aren’t learning enough. Thank you for reminding me that God had called me for a purpose & that I need to be listening for HIS guidance daily, so if in my heart I know God is saying its a good idea to sit on the couch and read a book(s) with my kids for longer than we had planned I can do it!! How freeing!!! Thank You Father for this gift, help me treat it like the gift it is, every single day!!

  45. Mamie P says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. It is easy to forget sometimes, the blessing that we’ve been given as homeschooling mothers.

  46. Gail says:

    This sounds nice but I don’t see the “how to” to making this simple life you described. Is this the “normal” daily life your children experience or is this maybe once a week living? I would love to catch a glimpse into the “how” you make this work.

    • heidistjohn says:

      Gail, I’ll write about this soon. I hesitate to do so, because I don’t want to suggest a “formula” that will work for everyone. But I’m praying about how to share how we ame to “do” what we do. :)

      • Cindy says:

        I would also love to hear some suggestions. My cover school requires an academic plan, attendance, and grades twice a year. I have often struggled with the desire to loosen up and enjoy our learning journey, while meeting the requirements expected of me. My cover is not strict nor is my state; I just don’t know how to plan, schedule, and report while we learn as the days lead us! Help! I so want to savor this time with my girls.

  47. Cathy says:

    Thank You. This was so beautiful and an incredible reminder of why I chose to homeschool!

  48. Kristine says:

    Thank you for this. I needed to read this. I am in tears right now. My husband and I are so divided regarding this, but I KNOW in my heart that homeschooling is what is best for my family. I have 4 children and every school morning I get them to 4 different schools (Yes, really!) The idea of homeschooling is so foreign to him that he can’t even wrap his mind around even a small part. I wasn’t even homeschooled, but it just seems right for us. I have presented it to him so many different ways to no avail. This makes me want to attempt it again. Thank you for the continued encouragement and insight!

    • Christina says:

      Oh Kristine, I would love to encourage you about your husband. My husband thought I was crazy!!! He said “what if it doesn’t work?” I replied we could put her in school. (She was three at the time.) Anyway, As we continued to live life God brought tons of amazing people through our lives. He would comment on how neat a kid was and I would casually state “Oh hes a home schooled kid.” Wheel turned thoughts happened. The one year my husband, without me asking him to, decided to go to the home school conference with me. I was very please even if I was flabbergasted. The most amazing thing…, he tells me all the time what an amazing job I am doing with the kids. This article was a huge blessing to me because I hit a wall this year and was wondering if I was crazy but I know God want me home with my kids. I will pray for your husband. And I will pray for your husband to meet some other husband guy person who he respects and looks up to that is also a home school dad. That will go a long way to encourage your husband. Lord Right now I list up Kristine to you and her family. You are the one who calls us. And those you have called you will give the tools to do your calling. Please speak to this family and whisper you plan to Mr. and help him see your purpose in this. Lord, I pray you would cause rest to come to Kristine as she waits on you. Amen

  49. I love this line; “Somehow, I don’t think He meant for us to bring our children home only to have our home life hijacked by a worldly philosophy of education.”
    Sometimes I wonder if homeschoolers are doing more harm than good when they allow the curriculum to not only dictate their child’s education but really to dictate the atmosphere of the home. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making all of life revolve around the pursuit of an “education”. Which begs the question; what is an education?
    I pray that more and more families will dare to let God determine what constitutes an education for their child and not the state, or their neighbor, or mother-in-law.
    I have to admit that I swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, doing too much, to not doing much at all. I love the idea of a learning lifestyle but haven’t quite figured out how to do it. Thanks for reminding me how simple it can and should be.

  50. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this…it brought me to tears…we are having a year like this, so rushed, feeling constantly that we are behind and we must somehow catch up…but I keep wondering catch up to what? I find myself often saying no we cant read that right now we have to do math, or whatever… I need to take a step back and hand our lives and learning back to God.

  51. OH man…. I could have written this post! Well…. almost… I’m still IN the midst of it with 4 kids K-4th grade. I well remember the feeling for “more” and occasionally still struggle with that, but I am trying to keep my eyes and ears open to the Lord’s leading- even if it means NOT doing more! Thanks for a great post!

  52. Yes, exactly this. I need this reminder at least once a year, precisely when the winter has gotten too long and I still haven’t gotten over how much time we “took off” for the holidays…and I’m thinking about next year’s curriculum and how we really “should” be doing so much more. And so on. Thank you.

    • Bonnie says:

      That was exactly what I was thinking. I stumbled upon Heidi’s site (we were neighbors once at the lake, but she may not remember?) while I am facing discouragement. After reading your comment, I realize I tend to do this about this time EVERY year! I think I am not doing enough (reading 3 grade levels ahead isn’t enough, my husband asks?), that MAYBE they’d behave better with a teacher they aren’t related to (or end up in the principal’s office?), that I don’t make them read the Bible enough. The word, “enough” creeps in an awful lot! LOTS of ppl weighing in their comments, here, and of COURSE some people have to think Heidi was saying to never do math! Holy cow, it’s that kind of thinking that stresses me out. I am honestly tired of feeling that I have to prove myself when I question myself already. BTW, Heidi, have you seen what they did to our shack on the lake? Your house and my house got a huge makeover!

  53. pamom says:

    Such a refreshing aproach… I have 3 speical needs kids one of the main reason we pulled the oldest from the public schools was becuase we felt they were falling through the crack.. 6 years later we have had our ups and downs but I have mostly been a go with the flow mom… till this year.. It is a testing year our state requires every other year.. my son is in his second year of HS and is prepping for the SAT’s becuase he wants to go to college… so the Pressure is ON… my dd 10 we strongly suspect has dislexia in addition to prolly having ADHD she has to be tested this year and is behind in reading… My DD 14 has learning gaps from having lyme diease several years ago and it has caused her delays.. Also my Son who has been acedemically gifted for many years is now struggling with increased workload of Highschool subject… we have been forgoing our family bible time for Geometry.. were not doing family walks cause we have to do math or spelling or whatever… and our family has been struggling becuase of it.. the kids are fighting more.. my Son has been defiant and oppositional to both me and DH :( and incresingly aggressive… we have considered putting them in school… or doing therapy as a family and at times we have even considered having my son placed outside of the home due to increased violent behaviors…. we are overwhelmed and this was a refreshing hope to help us focus on what really matters

    • Kimberly says:

      Please do not think that your son would not qualify for scholarships based on “homeschool” diploma, family income (no matter how high or low, or because of taking two years to work in a camp. He can. He also can get accepted in many, many colleges as long as he markets himself with a honest transcript and an essay/CV/ or interview to highlight the lifeskills that he learned. My son was told by a university prof that, although he is a A-/B Bio major, he will be more valued as an employee than the A superstars because of his work ethic, integrity, and the fact that he helps struggling kids in his classes. He has gotten a variety of scholarships as a result. Just make sure your son takes the SAT’s while his algebra skills are fresh in his mind.

    • Kimberly says:

      My replies don’t seem to be matched to the posts that I click. My prior one was for Melissa. “This” one is for PAMom. I sense a cry for help from PA Mom, especially ” increased violent behaviors…. we are overwhelmed.” Get your son to a child psychiatrist ASAP. Many support homeschooling and provide cognitive behavioral therapy that will help your son manage anger. It may be that he is acting out because of all the special need children you are caring for or because of depression, it may be the natural pent up need of teens for socialization, or it may be bottled up frustration with the effort it takes to learn on his own when a good co-op teacher can ease that path. It may be that he has more serious issues. None of us here on this site can assess that, but an excellent therapist can. My own husband is a child and addiction psychiatrist, and we gifted our daughter with sessions with a different psychiatrist due to depression resulting from multiple moves, loss of friends, and living closer to perfectionistic grandparents with expectations none of us can meet. Many homeschoolers use therapists to facilitate healing in their children. Under no conditions should you ignore the fear of violence from your growing son. It usually does not mean the end of homeschooling for him; it can mean a much healthier relationship for everyone. Not all “Christian” psychiatrists are excellent. Some are horrible. Same with “non-Christian” psychiatrists. Ask your pastor, other pastors of different churches, and anyone you can find who had family difficulties who they had good help from. If a name repeatedly comes up, give them a call. If you are currently experiencing violence, cold call someone and assess for yourself whether they are good. Don’t wait.

  54. MJ says:

    This is an excellent reminder. I think too often we can get caught up in many traps, snares of the one who desires our destruction. We can focus on academics out of fear, certainly, and we can abandon anything that seems to create tension or frustration, and focus on reading aloud and “life lessons” and I have done both. Thankfully, after 5 and a half years, we are beginning to settle in, but we need these gentle reminders and encouragement. I LOVE learning with my kids, sharing the experiences, and showing them things that excite me (which for me happens to be mostly in the wonderful way our Creator orders things, and puts them there for us to discover in Math, Grammar, Word Etymology, and Latin). I also LOVE when they show me what excites them, and with 5 of them, it covers and re-covers the surface quite well!!lol It is exciting to share a “one-room schoolhouse” where the little ones are hearing things and later on, since they have heard the terms like “emporer” or “variable” or are singing helping verbs or Latin endings with me and with the older ones, those terms won’t be so foreign and scary to them. I also love learning history now, even though I hated all “Social Studies” in school. I love putting things in a timeline, so we can see how history has influenced other things happening, both in Bible times and now. I never “got” that when I was in school. I just learned something well enough to spit it back on a test, got great grades, and left with a diploma, but feeling like an idiot. I love how God is redeeming the years that the locusts of public institutionalized education have eaten.

    I think we, as homeschool moms, can fall into other traps too, on both sides, of feeling superior or inferior because we are or are not doing this or that. God has given us each such unique gifts and talents and while one mom may cringe at Latin, another LOVES it, and since it is so useful in the worlds of science, medicine, law, and history, it isn’t an altogether bad thing if a mom wants to share that with her kids and we shouldn’t give each other a hard time if we find out a mom is (gasp) giving her children violin lessons, or (double gasp) teaching her child greek and latin roots. We should just uplift each other and praise the God that makes so MANY different types of flowers!

    I think we miss out also on giving our kids some basics that will help them later. I taught all of my children to spell their names when they were very young, by singing a tune, spelling it out,while we changed diapers or dressed. It didn’t take long and since they are sponges those early years, especially before the get to about 10, they can memorize LOADS of information. Certainly Scripture is the best of the best, but why should we limit them? They can learn all kinds of things, especially when set to music, and then they can pull all of that out when needed.

    I think you are right. God has made us a beautiful gift in this place and time when we are allowed to homeschool and we need to enjoy it and appreciate it, not get stressed out over a schedule, and assignments that are due at the co-op.
    Thanks for writing this.

  55. MJ says:

    emperor, sorry. And I second what Bev says about proofreading!

  56. Tina Rojas says:

    Thank you for this message….it was as if God spoke to me through your post. God Bless You.

  57. Lolene says:

    Thank you Heidi. and a great big thank you to a lady who shared this link on our local facebook homeschoolers page. I have been wrestling and fighting for the past few months, feeling sooo discouraged and the only advice I’d get would be things like “do you have a morning routine to get ALL their school work done?”, or “maybe its too much for you, maybe you should put some of your kids back into the public school.”
    Hearing these things tore me up and broke my heart all the more…
    What you have written here was my original vision. The vision God gave me when I decided to go back to homeschooling in the first place. I had such joy! And I was hijacked.
    So I lay my heart out to Him again this morning, praying to let go and trust His lead, again and asking Him to rescue me from my own hijacking.
    So thank you!
    Thank you.
    Thank you.

  58. Andy says:

    I’m a dad who was directed to your site. I’m encouraged by your post and we have a desire to have the right focus in homeschooling, and it’s the same as what you’ve described. Your post leaves something to be desired in the way of practicality, however. How have you had this focus but still helped your children have a well-rounded (according to Biblical Christianity, not the world) education? Any tips for those of us who are just getting started? You can probably remember the overwhelming feelings we’re having regarding how to “do it correctly.”

    • heidistjohn says:

      Hi Andy—That’s a good question, and it’s probably another post, too. :) I’m encouraged to see you eager to get off on the right foot… and a lot depends on how old your children are. When I begin homeschooling, I’m looking for readiness, mostly. I start with very basic things … reading and math. Keeping the focus on relationships, and in nurturing “wonder” in younger students is the way we do it around here. My focus is on giving the kids a real love of learning, not cramming a bunch of workbooks at them whenever possible. But do have a specific curriculum that I like for teaching phonics and for math. Outside of that we do a lot of reading and writing … drawing and pursuing the children’s natural gifts. I’d say don’t purchase too much for younger kids. It’s not necessary and it adds an often unnecessary burden.

  59. VJ says:

    Thank you so much for this reminder. As I read, I squirmed because I can see myself in the “please get your math done,” and “You need to get this done before….”

    It easy to get into this rut as we try to “prove” to our skeptical friends and family and neighbors that homeschooling is really the best option available.

    So, to myself, I say, “Breathe, relax, and continue deschooling myself from the years of classroom teaching experience I had before I had a family.

  60. Melinda Smith says:

    My husband & I followed God’s calling for our lives to homeschool our 4 children. We got the call before our 1st child was a year old back in 1983. I too had school desks for awhile. In the very beginning the kids loved working at their desks. Over time though we used our den as our main school room. We had a couch, a computer desk, and a farm table with a bench & 4 chairs. Since most of our subjects were done as a unit study, we sat at the table & went over the material. Then they were free to do their reading & writing wherever they wanted to. Sometimes it was on their bed, sometimes on the stair landing, & sometimes outside. They had plenty of time to roam the woods & collect “treasures” & play “park ranger”. We took camping trips all over the country where we visited museums, battle grounds, & caves. We never really had a formal science curriculum yet they all scored way above average on their mandatory standardized tests. At 10 years of age they scored at the upper end of high school equivalent in reading comprehension. My youngest finished up in 2006 & I miss those days. They all plan to homeschool their own children.
    Your post here brought back a lot of good memories. And, yes, we all had a vision back then. I don’t that much in today’s homeschool community & that is sad.
    Thank you for your testimony!

  61. Judette says:

    thank you thank you thank you. i sooooo needed this right now. I have felt like a drill sergeant this last year. comparing public school attending friends of my dd and feeling like we haven`t met the mark. but if i truly look at my dd i would see she is doing just fine with her studies. she has stronger interests in some subjects than others just like most students. we do have to work on her time management though. Thanks again for this article.

  62. Amy says:

    This brought tears to my eyes as I read this! Thank you for posting! We might take our girls out of public school next year. And your story is identical to the reasons I would pull them out! My heart is empty as I leave them in the morning, and as I drive away I know there has to be more to this life… This life The Lord called me to… To not just parent, but to teach them differently then the world does… I long to one day soon keep them home, unite, build character, learn, laugh, love, and spend quality intentional, time together as a family! Thanks again!!! I am leaving encouraged! Hugs!!

  63. sharon says:

    Good article! I would just like to say though, that how lax or strict you can be in your homeschooling will depend on your state’s laws-although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states-some states highly regulate it and really make it a pain in the neck for parents to comply. I’m glad that I don’t live in one of those states!!

  64. This is very similar to a post I wrote six years ago, only more beautifully written. I love what you said about having our home life hijacked by a worldly philosophy of education. As a second generation homeschooler, I have experienced this as both the student and as the teacher. It is an easy trap to fall into. Thanks for the reminder.

  65. Tanya Holt says:

    Thank you so much for this! One of the things I’ve loved most about homeschooling has been actually having the time to nurture relationships with my children and to teach them Biblical truths we were hard-pressed to squeeze into their days before. But sometimes the pressure to perform academically can be pretty intense. Maybe I just seek validation for my decision to educate my kids in this way, but I also realize that homeschooling isn’t about my validation, but about nurturing my children in the faith. What could be more important than that?

    Thanks so much for the reminder!

  66. Sarah Stinnett says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that!!! I am in my first year of homeschooling and have been feeling pressure about how much we do and what we do and how – it has almost gotten me off track of the vision God gave me that led me to this – Thanks for letting him use you to refocus me!

  67. Robin says:

    Can I just say that God does not make mistakes. I read this, then again with tears. It has been a really bad at my house the last few weeks. I have a Kindergartner, Preschooler, 6th grader and 7th grader. We bought SOS on the computer for the older two to work on for school. It seemed like all was going ok, they were getting it accomplished, mostly and were making good grades. When I began grading it last week I noticed it was verbatim. UGH not MY kids, they wouldn’t cheat??? I found out the hard way that by keeping them home and taking them to church it did not keep them from lying and cheating. Upon further inspection we noticed that they had been cheating from day 1 of the school year.
    For me, I am and have been so sick about this. How can my kids deceive me for 5 months. It has really hurt and been a tough road to walk down. They have lost MANY privileges and it has become a home school boot camp around here. They are now forced out of bed early and were told they have to do 2 days work in one. Not attend church camps until school work is completed etc.
    After reading your post this morning, I am reminded why I chose this road to begin with. It was to love my kids, to know my kids and to help them guard their hearts. I want to be the one with them day in and out. I am torn between throwing my hands in the air and trying a new concept, such as togetherness and studying great books verses forcing them to do computer work.
    If I chose the couch then I would be able to incorporate their sisters as well, and my biggest fear has always been that because they are separate genders and have a huge age gap that we will become two families in one. I have forwarded your blog post to my husband and have been in prayer all day. Thank you for being the gentle reminder I needed and sharing what was on your heart. It does matter.

    • KD says:

      I read your post and it weighed on me… With 4 children I am sure you have your hands full! Maybe so you can keep a guarded eye on the older ones, could you have them work while you ‘play’ with the younger 2, and then have the older ones ‘teach’ the little ones while you have time to check over the work done? Kind of a montessori approach. Just to free your hands and your mind :) It would give the older ones a good sense of accomplishment to help the younger ones understand some concepts, and they could translate that to their own lessons.

  68. Tim says:

    I’m a homeschool graduate (k-12) and after college I returned to the homeschool community to teach at our co-op while I serve in a local ministry. After a few years of teaching, though, I’ve been sort of fading out of the scene. Honestly, it’s because of what you wrote about. The homeschooling I felt like I was supporting wasn’t the beautiful homeschooling I knew from my childhood. I was prepared exceptionally well for college without the incredible regiments the kids now days are toiling under. They’ve got special classes every night of the week. Their parent’s are less their teacher and more their driver. But beyond all that, the opportunities that the old-school form of homeschooling afforded me are part of why I’m in ministry today. With the loss of flexibility is the loss of this responsiveness to the passions and needs of the child. I feel like we’re nailing the academics and missing the heart. I can’t help but wonder: at what cost?

    I’m glad to hear some folks still weighing this through. As a child that benefited significantly from a freer form of homeschooling, let me say “thanks” to all you moms who are bucking the flow. I know it isn’t easy. “Thanks” on behalf of your kids. Don’t worry, they’ll come around to saying it themselves at some point. Until then, hang in there and trust the One who called you to this task when He gave you these precious children.

    Thanks for posting this.

  69. Wow. HE is always right on time. I needed this so badly today. I broke down in tears at a home school soccer program ( our first time) I just couldn’t hold it in tears were rolling. This is my first year “home schooling” I wanted structure so I went with k12 ( tech an online public charter school) It is like I am a full time public school teacher. I also have a 2 yr old and go to college full time 1/2 online 1/2 in person. I have really been lost at what is my calling. I feel that it is to home school and put as much of myself into my children as I can. My husband is trying to be dentist and while he is in dental school I will have to work which is why I am going to school so I can support us while he is going to school. Im just so confused!!!! What is my calling… what should I do. I feel like we are in the rat race and thats exactly where I DONT want to be. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I hope I can convince my hubby that homeschooling is still the way to go, we were planning to quit after this year. I think I just need to let go of the curriculum and let go and let the most high take care of it.

    • KD says:

      Sarah, what you are describing was one of my own fears when I first started researching homeschooling. It did seem the full online school chained you to a computer monitor, and with odd work hours myself I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Do some searching for any of the local coops. We go to an actual school 2 days a week and then work at home the other 3. There are also great enrichment programs and field trips offered on Fridays through the school. It helped me because I was freaking out over what curriculum/what books/what do I do!!!! At our coop, they set the curriculum, order the books, and the tutors there teach the concepts. At home we reinforce the concepts and do the worksheets or write the papers. This format gives us the structure of a curriculum but lets us decide when to do it. Of course there are deadlines for work and tests are given (by the parent) but we aren’t told that on Thursday from 9am-10am YOU WILL DO YOUR MATH. We might do all the math on Friday because we wanted to do our language and history on Thursday. With so much School going on at your house I’m sure you will find the right fit :) Best of luck!

  70. Sara says:

    I’m wondering how to balance this with your state’s requirements? I recently moved to a state with much heavier requirements than where we were before. I would love to relax more but we had to file an outline of the curriculum we would be using for required subjects and file a portfolio for each child at the end of the year. I’m having trouble balancing this this year.

  71. Sonja says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope my story will help as well. I wish I had heard this 20 years ago.

    The first couple of years of homeschooling were fantastic. I LOVED teaching my little ones to read, seeing the wheels turn in their little minds as they started to add and learn about the world we live in.

    But, I was dealing with three very different children with very different needs, and my husband’s work schedule constantly changing, and being a person that likes structure, I piled it on. I became one of the mom’s that got hi-jacked and spent time saying, “No, we can’t do that until ______ gets done.” I did not come to my senses though until we were almost done.

    I got burned out pretty quickly, as did my kids. But I knew I couldn’t quit. After all, they had to learn, right? There were tests to take, and people that were wondering if we lost our minds, and my own expectations that my kids would excel academically like I did. And, “It doesn’t have to be fun, it just has to get done.” So, we didn’t stop. Didn’t take a break. Didn’t breathe. Just push. and push. and push. On and on and on every day without end, Amen.

    Yes, I got all three kids graduated. But my memories of school are not happy, and I am quite certain my kids memories are not as happy as mine!

    Oh what I would give to be able to go back and tell myself to loosen up. Stop being so busy “doing” that you lose what you started “doing” this for! Take time to make sure your kids know you love them more than their algebra. Let them doodle on their papers. Do puzzles with them, let them do something FUN sometimes.

    With my last one, I got mysteriously ill and she was on her own. She finished up the last two years of school with very little involvement on my part. We did sit on my bed or the couch and work algebra problems together, or discuss geometry. But mostly, we just talked about things she read. And, I think she learned much, much more than the first two had drilled into their heads.

    So, for all of you that are just starting, or are part way through this journey, PLEASE take time to be your kid’s mommy more than their teacher. Read to them, play with them, spend time with them doing things together. Do math together, or science experiments or discuss the events and people they learn about in their history books.

    By way of encouragement, my wonderful sister-in-law shared a thought with me during one of my dark moments that is the only hope I held on to at times, and that still gives me hope that I didn’t do irreparable damage to my kids. I would like to pass it on to all of you. “You can’t screw them up so badly that God can’t fix them.”

  72. […] Homeschooling Held Hostage – Are you free to homeschool or are you being held hostage? Homeschooling Using Movies Homeschooling and Going Beyond Minimum Legal Requirements – Are we as homeschoolers giving too much to the public school? How to Inspire Your Reluctant Child to Write […]

  73. […] early years. My interest was especially peaked when I read a post by Heidi St John on her blog The Busy Homeschool Mom. I could relate to her description of transitioning from a picture of public school to the reality […]

  74. Kimberley Sherwood says:

    Thank you for this article. I am Brand new to Homeschooling and have taken the learn through play approach. So far it working well. It is amazing how many activities we do on a daily basis that is very educational even though we are playing.

  75. Nancy says:

    Our youngest of four “graduated” over ten years ago. We homeschooled for seventeen years. I was greatly encouraged by Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s books (Home Style Teaching, Home Style Discipline, School Can Wait). I recommend them still. Especially for younger children, declare your freedom from the bookwork and the busy work. But don’t allow that to be an excuse as children grow older and need to be challenged. When they go out “into the world,” they are not going to be coddled (“Oh, honey, just do what you feel like doing today”). They need to excel in whatever they choose, whether they are in college or plowing furrows. Good manners, good grammar, good reading comprehension, good logic. So don’t throw all those textbooks out the window! Your children should see all these qualities in you as well as good organizational skills and attention to your responsibilities.

  76. Kristina says:

    Thank you,Thank you,Thank you! I really needed to hear this and I am so glad that you felt the need to share this with us all!:)

  77. I wholly agree with this post about being held hostage by the ideals of the world. I realized this about a year ago and recently took my kids out of the cyberschool they were attending. We are now enjoying life a lot more and my kids are significantly more inspired and it can be difficult to get my kids to put down what they are working on to eat or go somewhere they’ve talked about for days.

  78. Saira says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I always keep adding to our curriculum because I’m afraid something is being left out, but then everything suffers and we’re worse off than before.

  79. Heidi,

    Do you allow your blog to be reprinted and credited? I’m the editor of the Minnesota Association for Christian Home Educators (MACHE), and with your approval I would love to print this for our readers. You can contact me as follows: traciehenkel (at) gmail . com

    Thank you for your encouraging words to mothers!

    — Tracie

  80. Melissa says:

    Two years ago, my oldest son was about to graduate from our homeschool. I was at a womens’ Bible conference and met a woman whose son was the same age and about to gradute from public school. She was not bragging but just telling me about her son. He had been accepted into the engineering programs of several well-known universities and colleges. His favorite had not accepted him yet but they had no doubts he would be accepted. She was telling me about the scholarships he was being offered and all the honors he had achieved in high school. When she finished, I started talking about my son; how when he was in public school, he also was in the gifted and talented program. How discouraged I was at 5th grade teachers who said all they were teaching that year was how to change classes smoothly, they did not care to academically stimulate him. He was so soured by that, he said he would NEVER go to college. Then we decided to homeschool. I gave over my dreams for him academically and trusted God would lead the way. I told her how he worked Algebra problems in his head faster than I could work them on paper. I told her how he had been working for several years with various craftsmen by day and doing schoolwork at night. I told her he had discovered he did not want to build fences and patios, lay carpet or tile, nor did he want to rebuilt diesel crane engines for a living. He had not found what he DID want to do; he was sure of what he did not want to do. He had learned enough to never be taken in by shoddy workers as a consumer, and that was enough for him. I told her how he had decided to spend at least two years working at a Christian camp putting in 40-hour work weeks without any financial profit because he loved the summer he volunteered. He also decided college would be okay. I told her how excited I was at him learning so young what he did not want to do so he didn’t waste time as a man. As I finished talking, this lady and I both sat in silence for a moment. I though “What kind of opportunities did my son lose out on because we homeschooled? We don’t qualify for any financial aid, we don’t take out loans for college, so paying for college will be hard. What more could he have done if I had left him in public school?” As I sat there thinking, she kind of sighed and said “You know, as I was sitting here listening to you talk about your son and all the things he has done and can do, all I could think was ‘When my son graduates, the only thing he will be able to do is mow grass.’ It’s kind of sad.” I realized how funny a change of perspective can be. I look at my son now and I am so grateful I did not try to push him into my goals or the world’s standards of what a ‘real’ education should be. I have had people say my kids don’t go to ‘real’ school; my response is that I think my 4 adult children would disagree. They did ‘real’ school; it was just different school.

  81. I applaud all those who home school their children! I feel the kids get so much in that entire experience that can never be duplicated and whatever social experience they may have not have had because of not being in a public school – they will certainly “catch-up” in college! I am a public school teacher and both of my children attended public and private schools – we did as much exploring, camping and appreciating the blessings of this world as possible. There are tremendous benefits of both – our situation was awesome – just as many of you wonder is you are doing enough – based on what I have read and discussed with home schooling moms – you are giant steps ahead of the average public schooled child. You are very blessed to be able to provide such learning experiences with you child. May God bless all of you for making this a better world through your children!

  82. Yvette says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just started homeschooling a few weeks ago. My daughter is in 3rd grade. The way you described how you felt walking into the school the day you pulled your daughter from school is exactly they way I felt! Scared out of my mind! I guess I was scared of what they would think or if I would be questioned to death. It ended up being easier than I thought and I received a lot of support. When people ask me why I decided to homeschool my daughter, I always have trouble wording it to where they would understand. When you said “something was missing”, that is exactly it! I wasn’t so much disappointed in the school or teachers, and my daughter was always on A or AB Honor Roll, but as you said, “there was just something missing”. I have seen a total turn around in my daughter. There is no more frustration and anger in her over school work or homework. We have a wonderful time learning together, and spending quality time together. I prayed and prayed about homeschooling before making my final decision, and kept getting the same feeling and words in my mind…Just do it!! So I followed what God was telling me after praying about it, and took the leap. I am so glad I did! It fills my heart to see my daughter so happy again. There is no more stress in her life, we learn at her pace, and we learn each day. So many feel like they have to follow that tedious schedule. I also felt that way on our first week, but now after only a few weeks, we have learned together that we can accomplish so much by doing what she’s in the mood for that day. Of course, I don’t let her rule that schedule all the time, but some days, she may not want to do math, but wants to learn Science, or READ, she loves to read. We are working on a series now called What We Believe Volume 2. Not only does she get a lot of reading and defining words while doing this, but she’s also learning the Good Citizenship our state requires, and the big Bonus…God’s Word! She applies this in everyday life and I love seeing this in her. Thank you for your article. It feels good to know I’m not alone in how I felt the day I took her out of school. Also, last week, I took her to her old school to attend the Valentine’s Day party. The day I checked her out of school, her teacher came to the car to tell my daughter good bye and give her a hug. Her teacher invited us to come for the Valentine’s party, so we did. She was all smiles when all her friends were lined up to give her a hug because they were so happy to see her. Her teacher also invited us to come visit any time as well, and she told me if I ever needed any advice or any help, to please call or email her and she would help me with anything I needed. How awesome! God is so good! Also, for anyone that might tell you home schoolers are isolated, and don’t do very well socially, and miss out on so much as far as making friends and extracurricular activities…this is NOT true! My daughter has kept her friends. We have play dates all the time. We have kids on our block that she plays with, and since starting homeschooling, we have met new friends! Some days, we go to Barnes & Noble or the public Library to do her work in a different environment and to have resourses we may need for a certain assignment, and I was so surprised to see other mothers there doing the same thing. She has made friends that way also. Not to mention our local support groups where she will have an opportunity to meet more home schooled kids. So don’t let anyone tell you they will suffer socially, they won’t! Thank you again for your post. It has given me even more confidence, and I know deep in my heart that I have done the right thing for my daughter.

  83. Rebeka says:

    Thank you so much for this. Just this week my husband and I withdrew our son from public school to homeschool. I know God has been calling me along this journey for some time now and I wasn’t ready to give up my worldly ideas and follow until now. My eyes are wide open and I feel like I am seeing education in a totally different light. What, learning is supposed to be fun?! I want my children to LOVE learning and reading. I myself am finding a love for education and reading that I have never had until now. We live in a small town and I fear my family will be labeled. I too was extremely nervous to walk into the school and withdraw my child. Actually, I don’t think nervous even compares. More like terrified. I prayed the entire drive to the school and asked God to calm my fears and still my heart. I felt him guide me the entire way. Reading this today made me feel like I am NOT alone. Looking forward to this wonderful journey ahead.

    • heidistjohn says:

      Rebeka! This.Is.Awesome! What a testimony to what happens when we quiet our hearts and listen for the Lord. Bless you, busy mom. God will see you through. You’re not alone. ((hugs))

  84. Michelle says:

    I thank God for giving you the wisdom to speak life and freedom to all the homeschool parents. This posting has blessed me, and I am forever grateful to you and the almighty God. His word decree that we are in this world, but, not of this world. There has to be a difference if we are to be like Jesus. Again thank you so much. I have forward your post to friends and families around the world. Some of us have cried and repented to God and our children for teaching the same way they taught in the public sector. However, we are free to enjoy homeschooling because of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ gives us his peace as we continue to build a relationship with him in prayer and worship daily. My son and I enjoy reading the Bible and various other books. We sing together as we learn each day. Having fun and knowing what the Lord requires of me is a promise. “The Joy of the Lord is our strength”.
    Be Bless

  85. Amy says:

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today. And I am going to share this post with several of my friends who are also being held captive by that fear that we aren’t doing enough. We forget to rely on God and to trust that He will give us what we need to do what He has called us to do.

  86. Chris says:

    Our 3 home-schooled through high-school & started college early. 1 still in college with a 4.0 in music, 1 triple-majored and does social justice work, 3rd got Fine Arts degree teaches dance in NY at the Joffrey and other schools. Home-school days were not structured, some days only math if they wanted. Boy/Girl Scouting played huge part, 2 Eagles, 1 Gold Awardee. Kids not pressured on subjects, dad taught his strengths, nature & biology, usually nights & weekends. Extremely rewarding experience & happy kids.

  87. Becky says:

    Thank you for sharing, I have been stressing on if I would be a good homeschool mom… I have a hard time trying to figure out which schooling is the best, how i will afford all the Required State requirements… How i will manage to keep up with everything attached to todays homeschooling.. and i was completely swamped just by the though of it all… You have brought a new light to this, and have given me things to think of.. thank you

  88. […] Homeschooling Hostage – encouraging article for homeschooling families […]

  89. Lisa V. says:

    I want to thank you for sharing this post. I have been at such a crossroads in my homeschool. After 6 years of trying to recreate school at home! I am searching for a way to make it better. I want learning to be delight lead and relational. Yet, I keep feeling I am selling the kids short if I don’t stick to a program and make sure they are learning all the grammar rules and forcing them to write and do math. After all, I don’t want to raise the village idiots. At the same time, as a public school grad, I know I am forging new territory that is unfamiliar making it easy to fall back on the familiar. I guess I needed your reminder to go to the Great Teacher and seek his wisdom for how to proceed. Thanks again for posting.

  90. Melissa says:

    This article was like a breath of fresh air. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  91. Amy says:

    This article was the exclamation point on what I believe God has been whispering to my heart. As I was reading it, it was like a light bulb clicked brightly on! Thank you!

  92. Pamela says:

    Wow, this was me! I wanted to do it right… Whatever right is. This was a gentle nudge to do what works best in your family and if you are getting all worked up because someone ask ” Are they socializing?” Just say yes. No more no less. Thanks for caring .

  93. Nikki says:

    I just got around to reading this. A homeschooling friend posted it on our support group’s fb page. Everyone’s comments about it (there) made me make a mental note to read it when I got the chance. Life got busy, but 2 more friends in my circles brought it up…so wow…it has really affected a lot of us. Will we remember it? Probably not (sadly). It’s one of those things that I should have myself re-read yearly. While the choices in curriculum out there are a blessing (in one way), they also bring the pressure that you speak of – and so do the ones writing it. While I know most of them really just want to help make homeschooling easier and more successful, we have to remember that it is a MARKET. To sell some of it, I wonder if they play on our insecurities. I think our insecurities are what drives us into some of our choices. I am finding the pressure to be the greatest now…as my oldest is getting ready to transition into high school work. So many choices out there – it feels like the academics have to ramp up quite a lot more (just in case they want/need to go to college). Very very difficult to discern what truly is priority in the high school years and to tune out the choices that others are making. It is a consequence of wanting the best for our kids, and wanting to do our best to give that to them. But the ONE who made them knows what they need, and it is through much prayer that we SHOULD enter each decision, each year and each day. Thank you for posting your wisdom!

  94. Angie says:

    Wonderful!! I really needed to read this today…
    Thank you!

  95. […] Homeschooling Held Hostage. Here’s an excellent article on the standards homeschoolers hold themselves to… and an […]

  96. Shelly says:

    Wow! Thank you for this timely reminder! It is difficult, and I also have graduated a few, to stay the course that I believe in my heart is God’s best for my kids. Even the one with learning challenges…do we really need to “catch him up to grade level” right now? NO! There is time, time and more time for him to meander the path that his Abba created him to meander. He is bright and lively, excited about learning to speak Spanish; is it necessary for him to be able to read English before tackling another language? This momma doesn’t think so! Thank you, thank you for reminding me!

  97. J x says:

    I’m a homeschooling mum of one year, but struggling with debts. Now faced with the fact I might have to go back to work to solve the problem. Great anxiety around my children and having to go back into the mainstream education system. Confused over what God sees as priority since the bible says – “owe no man”. Having to make a decision is tearing me apart. I don’t want to send them to school if there is another way out. Any guidance or experiences you can share is much appreciated. Thanks J x.

  98. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for this post Heidi, I really needed to hear this today!

  99. […] year with the same building blocks: but it can, and will, look very different from year to year.  Don’t let yourself be taken hostage by someone else’s idea of what your homeschool should look like, either.  Make it your […]

  100. […] @ has a great post here on being a hostage to homeschool. You should read it. She says very eloquently how I felt. I […]

  101. […] Homeschooling Held Hostage | The Busy Mom remember the day we decided pull our daughter out of school. The day we “made it public”—this decision to homeschool. I.Was.Terrified. Really. My knees were knocking as I walking into our oldest daughter's grade school. […]

  102. Ashley says:

    On our 1st year homeschooling. Already getting the winter blues I think. Thanks for the articale.

  103. […] my homeschooling friends, here’s a happy link for your weekend: Homeschooling Held Hostage. Read it! It’s […]

  104. -Inspiring!!! As a new homeschool mama, this is encouraging to hear. Thank you!

  105. Love the line “ask
    Him for His heart on homeschooling”.

  106. Loved this. I have one that graduates from public school this year and I plan to homeschool (my 4 and 2 yr old). I am overwhelmed by all the available curriculum and I live in NoVA (hopefully not for long) where the academic climate is so high pressure.

    • Louise says:

      If you home school under the religious exemption,
      much of the pressure is off.

      Ask HSLDA how to file for this.

      It is incredibly simple.

  107. Paula Turner Ables Veronica Rivera Graham Stephanie Marie Asleson RandyandAngie Williams BillyandShannon Davis

  108. Kathleen says:

    Thank you! I have three kids (4, 2, and 3 months) and have been doing a home preschool this year with my oldest…and let me tell you, I struggle with what homeschooling “should” be. I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because I’m not doing the 10,000 things I pinned on my Pinterest boards last week. Or that I chose to take the kids to the zoo and not also do a zoo animal scavenger hunt that ties in counting, letters, colors, and days of the week at the same time. Or that with a 3-month-old, sometimes life is just too crazy for “school” to be anything other than sitting on our (not-so-comfy) couch and talking about why babies throw up so much. I appreciate your honesty and your perspective as I contemplate the journey ahead!

  109. Myrna Paige says:

    Thank you! We all, no matter how long we have homeschooled, need this reminder every now and then! I find that every time I feel overwhelmed, overburdened, or like I/we are underachieving ( & the list goes on) I only need to do one thing, pray! Like you said, when we ask him what Gods heart is for our children, it puts it all back into perspective.

  110. Sarah Jo Spiridigliozzi, you may want to read this.

  111. Azia Bird says:

    Thank you. I’m in tears. I literally had just put my 9 month old down for a nap after our walk home from my daughter’s school. I had to talk to her teacher about whether or not I should hold her back and have her repeat first grade. So many decisions, whether to repeat her, let her slide on to second, or yes…. Homeschool. My daughter WANTS to homeschool. keeping her in our state’s education system is frustrating. It lacks so much, and I can see her creativity and need for experience and adventure being boxed in. I have three children under the age of six. Can I do it? Am I capable? Will I do a great job or will I fail? Do I listen to that fire burning in me to do what I think is right for my daughter? With Him ALL THINGS are possible. Thank you for this blog, it really was a sign from our Papa, and an answer to my questions.

  112. Laura Guidry says:

    Thank you so much! So many around me are in fairly new programs ( not around when my mom successfully homeschooled me ) that are very exclusive and make you feel like a failure if you don’t fork over $1000s to join them, I needed to read this….

  113. Oh how I needed this! It’s no coincidence when I start to question our decision to homeschool, I come across articles like this to help reaffirm that we are doing the right thing!

  114. Keri English says:

    Just what I needed!

  115. I printed this post out last year. It’s in our homeschool area on a tackboard and I read it about every two months. Priceless words! Thank you.

  116. Erin Trudeau says:

    wow, I think you’ve read my mind and put in to words (better than I ever could) how I want our homeschooling to be. So good. THANK YOU!!!!

  117. Courtney Lea Logston, I haven’t read this yet but I thought of you when I saw it

  118. Bethanie says:

    I have been pulled in to believe that I’m not doing enough for my children, only to find out that I have. I fell into the re-create school at home ideas. Both have strengths in areas that academia has no claim on. I thank you for this post. I am going to share so others will see. Maybe what they are doing is enough!

  119. Laura Johnson Wright, great encouraging read :-)

  120. I can’t even describe how much I needed to read this at this exact moment! As I think about next years curriculum, I need to remember this and pray diligently about it.

  121. Really blessed by this. First year of homeschool starts in August!

  122. Thank you for this…this year has been rough-I’ve just about given up…I actually filled out school applications yesterday for my oldest two kids…I feel overwhelmed and that I lack the resources I need to be what I need to for them…gonna keep praying about it…

  123. Thank you, thank you, thsnk you!! Very encouraging words :)

  124. I love this. As I’ve been researching for my first year of homeschooling I was thinking to myself that I could get really bogged down from all the options we have now.

  125. I love that we take breaks in the garden. Today my youngest and I found a whole robin’s egg. We love to identify flowers and the need for dandelions for the bees and butterflies.

    Thank you for reminding me to notice :))

    My oldest is now a senior in college. Whew!! Time flies. I am so glad I spent time with her.

  126. Aaawwww…such an amazing reminder!! Saving for times abt Nov n February when I’m busy stressing over “what’s left to do”…not as crucial today when we r counting down the last 3 days of school!! :) Yes!!! Summer’s coming…

  127. Emily says:

    Ha! When I first started out, ten years ago, I actually started keeping scores with the intent of putting out a report card.

    That lasted about two weeks, then I realized that report cards are to tell the parents how the kids are doing, and I had no idea who the report card would be for.

  128. Well said! Thank you for sharing! I definitely need this reminder some days :)

  129. Momma to 5 says:

    Thank you for redirecting us to what is ‘best’… a timely reminder as I begin making plans for thie next school-year!

  130. Janet says:

    This hit home today! I am struggling with plenty of couch time with lengthy discussions vs. High School requirements…foreign language, science…I need to spend more time in prayer, seeking God’s direction.

  131. Nancy Hale says:

    Yes, I know exactly about this hijacking that can occur. I will be entering my fourteenth year of home schooling, and even with one near graduation, fear and wanting a checklist approach still rears it’s ugly head. Lately, I have been reciting that scripture, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” I can’t remember if those are in order. See you in Orlando this weekend Heidi. :)

  132. Yvonne says:

    Loved.every.word. I’ve been homeschooling for seventeen years and I have noticed this hostage taking trend. Praise God for women like you who call it what it is! Great encouragement!

  133. susan b. says:

    I totally agree with everything in this article, but I am finding homeschooling high school is trapping me back into the world’s expectations. How do I prepare a child for college without making our entire family miserable because we are tied to textbooks and required work? Help. I just don’t know how to recapture the beauty of those early years. My kids are 15, 12, and 9.

    • Lindsey Swinborne says:

      Maybe read The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding that just came out? I am planning to read it this summer!

    • Louise says:


      Feel free to e-mail me at

      I am in my twentieth year of homeschooling, have graduated four, have run the gamut of programs, and
      I would be happy to share tips.



    • Melissa says:

      I also feel trapped. I want to homeschool “out of the box” but feel so pressured to jump back in because I have a son who wants to go to college. We also live in PA and I feel like there are so many rules about what needs to be covered that it cramps our freedoms. I want my kids to have a heart for Christ. I also want my boys to be able to have jobs where they can provide for their families and their wives can be at home raising the kids. I want my daughter to be able to support herself should God not call her to be married. How do we do our best to prepare them to meet the expectations (college entrance requirements/job application requirements) of the world yet not be conformed to it? My boys are 15 and 11 and my daughter 13.

  134. Lindsey Swinborne says:

    Maybe I’m unique but in our geographical area, we struggle with the opposite problem. Many of my friends just do nothing for their kids because they are overwhelmed, overworked, or just lazy. They don’t do much, if any, school and they don’t have time to read to their kids because they are on fb or Pinterest so much. So many of my children’s friends can’t spell basic words, do basic math, or read very well. I agree that there is much wisdom to be taken from this blog post for the high-achieving moms (I tend to fit in that category), but I want to say to the low-achieving moms that homeschool schedules, routines, or co-ops can be a HUGE blessing to help you homeschool consistently and avoid laziness.

  135. Alicia says:

    Hello. This was a very well written post with beautiful truths to. I am not called to homeschool but to be a public school teacher. This is the mission field God called me to. But I can appreciate that God calls each of us to someone different. Thank you for pointing that out

    However, I do want to say that when you wrote that some are being high jacked by a “worldly philosophy of education” it has the connotation of “sinful philosophy”. I know this probably is not your intention, but it could easily come across that way.

    Also, for those out there who have said that students in public schools don’t get a full 6 hours of education, this isn’t a fair or even accurate statement. I’m not necessarily championing public schools because Lord knows we don’t have everything perfect or even right most of the time. However, we work hard and so do our students. In fact, you will often hear teachers say that we no longer have the time to do the fun stuff because of academic expectations and pressures.

    I can appreciate and agree with the message. And I’m glad that you were able to encourage so many people through it.

    • Melissa says:

      When kids are in school for 6 hours, they don’t get 6 hours of education… they are doing potty breaks, lunch, recess, etc. That’s what she means. All of those little breaks add up.

  136. I loved this post, Heidi! It is so true and what a joy to homeschool our children.

  137. Jeanni says:

    So well said! Two years in and I am finally beginning to see that when I calm down and let God lead, our children learn so much more.Thanks for the gentle reminder that we need to trust the One who started us on this journey and trust that He has given us all we need to complete it.

  138. Deirdre says:

    I am thankful for your encouragement. I am a first year homeschooler to my two girls. I put away our curriculum guides about six months ago. They just were not working for us. I have since read every day with my girls, cooked with them, practiced new skills together. It has been the best time I ever with my family!

  139. kaci says:

    I totally agree with all of this. My question is how? How with all the homeschooling laws? We are in our 5th year of homeschooling and we tweek each year to fit our needs but within the laws. Suggestions??

  140. Preslaysa says:

    This is just what I needed to hear. My oldest is 4 and I am just starting out on the homeschool journey. Sometimes I feel like I need to overload my 4 yo with lots of stuff because I think he’ll miss out on what I think kids in preschool are getting.

  141. Joy O says:

    I am a former homeschooler (1993-95). I had to for health. Now I am home schooling my son (K-5). This is our first year. I did traditional – using the same program we did at the private school I attended. I basically taught myself, as my parents worked full time. I taught myself Greek and Hebrew (already took Latin at the private school), Chemistry and Physics, even wrote a book. Mom added early childhood education (I was an assistant teacher in the Preschool class at my church), my dad added car repair and maintenance (as he was a mechanic). I completed 3 and a half years of school in 2 with 6 more credits than needed.

    For my son, I am using a Public school program that is online. So far he loves it. I am a single mom through adoption. Still have a lot of health issues (even more than I did when I was in school). I went on to complete college, even taught private school for a year.

    We feel rushed some times, mainly because of many dr appointments out of town (for myself and my son). We might not do anything for a week – then in 2 days catch up. We don’t do everything in the work book. I have heard that most of the teachers don’t require sending in completed work. If the student passes the tests, then we can mark lessons complete whether the work was done or not.

    He attends every one of my dr appts, goes to Physical therapy with me, I show him any x-ray, CT, or MRIs that I have and discuss the results and what parts the tests shows. He can already name 10 bones in their scientific name.

    He just had his assessment – scored between 5th and 7th grade in math. Academics is very important to us – and to his bio-family (several PhD’s in his bio family). But also his Spiritual growth is most important. He loves God with everything in him. Elijah has told me that he wants to be a dr and serve God through helping people.

  142. […] I read Heidi St. John’s blog post entitled “Homeschooling Held Hostage”, I was reminded that I chose to homeschool my children because I wanted freedom. Freedom from the […]

  143. Lea says:

    Your post is a timely reminder and inspiration :) We homeschool to be free!

  144. Angela Curnell says:

    Thank you for this! I had to read it over again! :)
    Mother of 4 in MI.

  145. […] early years. My interest was especially peaked when I read a post by Heidi St John on her blog The Busy Homeschool Mom. I could relate to her description of transitioning from a picture of public school to the reality […]

  146. […] homepreschool) being held hostage by the expectations of others? Sometimes it sure feels that way. This is the question Heidi St. John tackles in this wonderful article I just discovered. I really needed this article today. I sometimes feel I’m “held hostage” to the […]

  147. Wonderfully said! It’s always great to be reminded to go back to why we began this journey in the first place. And graduating older kids sure changes our perspective on how we teach the younger ones, doesn’t it?

  148. Love this! I am pretty lax about our homeschool approach, but it can be stressful when you get grilled by the non-homeschooling world.
    I’ve watched so many friends cave to bringing public school into their homeschool. They institute desks, 8-3 schedules, and common core. And you know, they definitely don’t seem to be enjoying it.
    I ran into a woman just days ago who was so uplifting. When she asked me what curriculum we were using and I said, “Well, my oldest just turned 5, so we haven’t really picked anything out yet,” she responded, “You don’t even have to use curriculum, you know.” It was an affirmation of what I was feeling. I want our homeschool to encompass our lives. I feel that desk learning has a place, but that most of our learning should be throughout the day, every day, in our lives. Because really, when my daughter is 25 will I care more that she learned calculus, or will I care more that she learned compassion? Will I care more that she tests well, or will I care more that she loved learning?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Jamie! That’s totally it. Compassion > Calculus. It’s not that academics are unimportant: it’s that character is MORE important. The school system misses this—and really, the job is up to parents to get this right. You can do it! And for what it’s worth, I agree with the woman you ran into a few days ago. Blessings!

      • LuAnn says:

        Heidi, thank you for your inspiring passage. I remember making the decision myself when schooling first became an issue. Whether to enroll my son into preschool, or ‘not’. I was torn between wanting him to have every academic advantage at the earliest age possible by taking him to a brick and mortar building – or -to manage what I felt was in his best interest: Being at home with his momma all day, cuddled up in my arms reading stories and enjoying the gift of his mind… Who better understands his nuances and learning style better than myself as his mother?

        To wholeheartedly trust some ‘well meaning friendly stranger’ seemed so invasive. I was fearful, scared, and uncertain of this big decision. Do I bend to the worlds standard to enroll him, or to this silent inner voice prompting me to go opposite of what others thought was right for us?

        I chose to seek out advice. A beautiful friend told me that she was once a preschool teacher years ago and posed the question, “Would you like him to learn from? …Other three and four year olds in his class? Because he will model his peers.” That was such a revelation. Suddenly my decision was overly simple. ‘NO! I don’t want him modeling other preschool children. I want him to be certain who he is. To be free to thrive and grow without the proverbial peer pressure of his future classmates telling him whether he was accepted by their standards for the rest of his life.’

        And trust you me, our family and friends questioned us without fail. I found myself trying to reason our decision and to comfort their concerns that he will be socially awkward if he’s not able to play with other kids his age all day.

        This is a very weak argument. I am raising a child who is very poised and unafraid to have mature adult conversation, as well as be able to play well with is own peers.

        Teaching our children really comes naturally! We do it every day… so to teach them at home, is something every parent can do. Just add academics to your family’s table of faith, morals, discipline and virtue.

        I found it most enjoyable watching his gears turn in learning his numbers, and letters, then reading his first words, and writing his name. What fun it was to witness him reading his fist story. The joys of homeschooling will forever be celebrated in my heart.

        As he grew, he was curious about public school. Reluctantly I thought we would ‘try’ it to be certain weren’t causing him to miss out on anything public school could offer. To my astonishment he learned quite a bit from his classmates the first week. From three letter words to then obscene four letter words. And believe it or not, even introduced to pornography in second grade! And it all went south from there. My husband distinctly seen the obvious benefit of homeschooling, and we pulled him out of public school altogether that same year.

        In that one year experience I nailed my decision to the cross that my child was Created for God’s pleasure! That he is not the ownership of a public entity. He is our beloved child. I had a new boldness with our family and friends that I didn’t have before. It was simply none of their business. This was our child’s best choice. He even wanted to be homeschooled again. Surprise!

        There are times even now that I question if perhaps I’m a little lean on creative fun and too heavy on academics in ratio of hitting the school year ‘mark of grade’ achievement. A mother knows her child best, and in the balancing act of homeschooling… teaching personal responsibility and the freedom to learn is a daily objective that changes day to day depending on each child.

        I must often zoom out and see the bigger picture. To view the end from the beginning… I am raising up a confident and good man who will be ready to live his life to the fullness it can be. That the journey is the most memorable one step at a time.

  149. Erin says:

    Education is super important in my family, and two of my sisters are teachers. While this could have made me feel under more pressure in my homeschooling, I actually feel more confident. This confidence is due to the encouragement I get from my teacher sister who tells me things like
    “you know, to pass grade 1 in public school, it pretty much all depends on how good you are at coloring”

    “In university, they recommend that for every hour of class time, you should only spend 1 minute for each year old the child is. A 7 year old only has 7 minutes of active instruction in a 1 hour class block”

    ” do you know how many hours in a day of a public school teacher are spent helping kids take on and off their snowpants for recess?”

    Its nice to have a sister like her.

  150. Martha says:

    What a great post and many encouraging comments. I’ve bookmarked the page so I can come back and read more. We have been homeschooling since our oldest would have started Kindergarten and I still have so much to learn. I am doing a lot differently with our 7yo and this post is a good reminder.

  151. Barbara Burchett says:

    Truth! Began 21 yrs. ago and it has changed a lot. We, too, had the desks at home. We were careful to not go out much during the day. Now, we have gone so far the other way. I feel for younger moms who are coming under a different type of bondage. Thank you for an insightful article that I hope will help guide all to a more productive home school experience.

  152. Amy Lee says:

    I am now convinced there are cameras in my house! I was recently talking to another homeschool mom who had what seemed to be a very accelerated and dizzying schedule for their homeschool. Multiple co-ops, outside lessons, and activities every single day of the week, which is great and works for many people, but not for me. However, after the conversation I found myself worrying about if we were doing enough and I started looking into even more advanced and complicated programs for us. Then I stumbled upon several websites advocating for what this post is talking about. Finally after 4 years of “doing school at home”, we just (within the last 2 weeks) finally shed the pressure of doing traditional school at home. I am finally resisting the urge to worry about college or compare my kids to all the other kids and what they are doing. We bought a new “curriculum” which is actually less work and less stress and guess what? We are having fun! Gasp. I say new “curriculum”, but it is far less cumbersome than what we were doing and is fun and my kids love it. My boys look forward to school and we discuss and enjoy and we don’t worry about completing workbooks or fitting 9 different classes in a day so that we are keeping pace with the kids at the local private school. So THIS is what homeschooling can look like? Thanks for the important reminder!

  153. Tasha says:

    Please tell me how you made this work in high school with state requirements.

    I feel so boxed in this year.

  154. Heather says:

    I was pretty easy going until last year when we discovered we had two dyslexic who really needed alot of direct teaching and remediation. That has been really tough. Now I am on the brink of high school with a very gifted student who I am struggling to challenge. And I have NO idea of how to do high school any way other than the way public school does it. There are specific graduation requirements that have to be met, right?

    I just can’t wrap my brain around suddenly going from about 3-4 hours of “school” to 6 plus hours each day. How does one meet the state requirements and have interest lead learning? Sigh. This is why I am seriously considering Classical Conversations, even though we have been very CM for the past 9 years. I am fried and just don’t think I can do it.

    Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

  155. Sharon says:

    Thank you for this! I really needed this today. I am a new homeschooler. I started about six months ago and I was absolutely terrified to announce this decision and we still take criticism for the choice to teach my children. In fact a lady proudly told me she was setting up a co-op that requires kids to attend four days a week, to finally solve the home schoolers problem of not socializing our kids. My head didn’t explode by the grace of God.

    I felt encouraged by this post. I just started writing a blog myself. I plan to post adventures of homeschool often.

  156. Susen Waller says:

    Thank you for this, I needed to read this today! This is my second year homeschooling and I’ve been feeling more and more pressured and burned out. Thanks for reminding me that I don’t need to be held hostage by the curriculum or other’s expectation, but to let God guide me in this journey! May god continue to bless you and your family!

  157. Jane Kouts says:

    This blog is a blessing to many, having read many of your replies. Heidi has shared similar home-schooling vision and adventures that we have experienced in our home. Now all of my children are grown, the youngest is 19 and in her first year of college. Heidi, just let me say that you have the gift of encouragement for mothers, in whatever stage of life they are in. Even with all my children grown, your words are filled with grace and I appreciate your taking time to share your life with us!

  158. Chris Fritz says:

    It makes me sad to read what you shared, because I didn’t realize homeschooling had gotten that way. The “kids” I homeschooled are now in their 30’s, so it has been a while since I was teaching them. At that time, the schools pretty much just left us alone. We ordered materials through the mail and planned our own curriculum. All we had to do was agree to have something like 825 hours of schooling in the year. It was wonderful! We took an entire day off from bookwork each week and went roller-skating and to the library. We spent time with our animals. We spent time together. Of course, we did the school work, too, but the kids had lots of time to explore things they were interested in, like computer programming and playing piano. I put my kids in public school for secondary education and they all graduated near the top of their class and went on to get college degrees. And, more importantly, they turned out to be awesome adults!

  159. Beth Conant says:

    I never looked back…best decision ever made….my daughter will be graduating from Brevard College this spring with a BA in Environmental studies…she LOVED being homeschooled!

  160. Ruth Adams says:

    I love this! My parents began homeschooling me in the seventies before most people had ever heard of homeschooling. You are so right! They only had a few curriculum choices and the vision God had birthed in them. Their hearts were that I would know the Savior and live for His glory. It was much more simple back then. Now I am homeschooling my children and wading through all the choices, all the pressure, all the contradictory messages from different speakers, etc. We have pulled away from a lot of the homeschool busyness and are focusing on “Seeking first the kingdom of God” so that “all these things will be added unto us.” – Matthew 6:33 I consider “all these things to include what my children need to know academically. The Lord keeps reminding me that if we will have our priorities straight putting Him FIRST then He will be faithful to give my children all that they need. This is freeing.

  161. Debra G says:

    Thanks for the reminder. My oldest is a senior, and I feel like I’m scrambling to graduate him, and give him what he needs to for college. I also have a freshman and a second grader. Sometimes I feel my second grader is being left in the dust of the high schoolers. Anyway, great reminder.

  162. Kris says:

    Thank you, Heidi. We started schooling using a virtual school which really is schooling at home. When I realized that it wasn’t what I thought we needed, we switched to traditional and now we’re using Classical Conversations. I do find myself asking, “did you get x done” frequently and I become the mommy monster. Recently I have discovered that I was falling into a place I didn’t want us to be… I want us to enjoy homeschooling. Even though CC is aggressive, as the parent I can decide how aggressive we need to be. I’ll admit though, my concern is making sure requirements are met. What might a day look like for your children? Do let them decide what work they do? Do you require math and reading each day and let them guide the rest of day. I would love to take a less rushed approach and know my kids are learning instead of checking lessons off a list.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Kris, I’d have to say—with a little hesitation—that I have rejected the “classical” approach with our family. It left us stressed rather than energized and often, I was that “yelling” mom that I so do NOT want to be. We have traded in the “classical” approach for a more relaxed, delight-directed approach. We do math and language four days a week (which has turned out to be plenty) and we do not do Latin, etc any longer. I’ve let my children read, read, READ … classic literature, read-alouds, etc., and we have seen this method of chasing our “passions” really work in our family. I truly believe that if we can give our kids the desire to learn and teach them to pursue and love learning, we’ve accomplished what many traditional schools cannot… which is the desire to keep learning. Homeschooling that results in academically “superior” kids is not my goal: kids who can love to and appreciate learning, and who love the process and their Creator—is.

  163. Another Point of View says:

    February 22, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and I am happy for your wonderful results. However, having homeschooled my son and daughter all the way and just finishing last year, I would like to add a few thoughts.

    I loved reading aloud to my children, too. I treasured cozy days and hang-it-all moments when we took a drive, went to the zoo, watched movies, saw friends, etc. I felt guilty that I didn’t do more on some of those days but what I chose to do in those moments FELT like more, in the big scheme of things, and it was. I regret not ONE day wherein I made those choices. I tried to share and convey my faith, and did, and took them to church and Bible programs. I have a close and wonderful relationship with both of my now grown children and they hope to homeschool their own kids one day.

    However…..and there has to be a however…..I disagree with you about the early pioneers of homeschooling all being so successful. That’s a broad brush to paint with. Some did do a bang up job and turned out very productive children who would be able to go on and earn a good living and support a family, become kind and wonderful citizens and parents themselves, and/or graduate from college or even receive college scholarships and blaze the way for those who would come behind. But others did not. Their academics were behind, their social skills were fraught with difficulty, they did not know how to find direction, and sometimes mediocre was fine, if not celebrated and giggled about among the parents. We are currently watching this played out in several lives where parents were ho-hum and rather lax about schooling in the junior high and high school years. These kids have job hopped at dead-end opportunities, when they worked at all. Others are barely hanging on to jobs they perform poorly in and show little motivation to improve or even try to pull their own load. Sometimes college or trade school isn’t even a word they have as part of their vocabulary. Others take a few college units or a little part time job and a feel they are pulling an adult load.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. These same things can and do happen to kids graduating from public school. But to hold all homeschoolers up as a bastion of success is misleading and to fail to talk about serious realities is unfair to those who don’t realize the potential outcome. Life is HARD WORK. Being prepared for it is something we are commanded to do as good stewards over the children God has entrusted to us. Many days I wanted to play with my nearly grown kids or throw all discipline out the window and just let life happen. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say some days I did just that. (And I don’t regret THOSE days, either.) But I tried to keep the long view in mind and know that my fun times, or theirs, could be borrowing from their futures if they were not prepared and “relaxed” actually meant out-of-balance. And I had to be accountable for the time entrusted to me. I failed. And then I failed again. But I kept trying and I kept pushing. Pushing them. Pushing me. And I did it in spite of serious health problems, family problems, financial set-backs, but mostly by God’s grace. Because it was IMPORTANT.

    Both of my kids worked hard through high school and did the lessons and the outside classes, including college classes, and were held to high standards. Both received full-ride scholarships to college because they could compete with public high school students on any academic level of testing. Neither will have college debt. They could run the race because they had trained to run. I’m not saying every kid has to go to college. But every child should be equipped to do the very best that they can do in whatever way God calls them. Obviously, I am not an unschooler. But I am also not a wishful-thinking schooler. The world will not reward the complacent, the unmotivated, the unwilling. God does not reward those attributes either. Each is required to work with the gifts, talents, and opportunities He provides and to invest them wisely. Success doesn’t just happen. It’s a road that is not paved with good intentions and hakuna-matata mentalities. Each paver is created with a purpose driven mentality and laid with sometimes aching backs and bountiful blisters. But there is beauty in the labor and the faithfulness and there is joy in accomplishment. Please do not believe that good kids, promising futures, and the ability to have their own families to serve and provide for one day are just created out of bubbles and fairy dust. Those are the some of the fun and beautiful seasoning of our efforts but they aren’t, and cannot be, the meat.

    Have a vision for your children and pray for them. Find their strengths and play to them (and WITH them, of course). Fan the flames of their interests. Forgive them and yourself for failures. Try again. Change your course. But whatever you do, do NOT teach them, by lack of discipline, expectation, and opportunity that life will just come to them and that it doesn’t take hard work. You could be consigning them to failure and affecting spouses and children to come. No, we are not responsible for the ultimate decisions our adult children will make. But we are definitely responsible for the effort we put into the good gifts that God Himself gave us.

    • Heidi says:

      “And I did it in spite of serious health problems, family problems, financial set-backs, but mostly by God’s grace. Because it was IMPORTANT.” This is my point, almost entirely. I hesitated to approve your comment, honestly, since you have chosen to post anonymously. My point is that God will equip you. I still stand in total awe of what God did in those first years of homeschooling, and I know He will continue to do the same as parents do their best and then trust God to finish what He begins in them. Teaching children that life “will just come to them” is a pitfall that anyone can trip over, no matter what educational choice they pursue. Thanks for stopping by.

  164. Dawn says:

    I’m not sure how I stumbled on this article (okay, I have an idea) but I found you. I read this article and it revived my ideas about home schooling my baby.

    First a bit of history: I have 2 older children. My oldest daughter went all the way through French Immersion school and graduated fully bilingual in English and French (we live in Canada, so that makes sense and is a benefit here).

    My middle child, my only boy, struggled with French Immersion. He was about in Grade 7 when I made the decision to put him in regular school (just English, no other languages). In there, they decided to test him for learning disabilities. The test identified some trouble areas and when I questioned the school if he was tested in French, considering all of his prior education had been mostly in French, they told me the test wasn’t available in French. So, in my mind, they didn’t test my son effectively!

    I let it slide though, until the end of that year. He brought home is year end report card and I was appalled! He had academically failed most of his subjects but they were going to put him to the next grade because “they have found that it’s more damaging to a child’s esteem to hold them back now”. When I asked what they thought the impact to his esteem would be when he “finished” school and couldn’t read or write properly, they didn’t have an answer. At that moment, I decided to pull him out and home school him. I mean, I couldn’t fail him any worse than I felt the school had, right?

    I did fail him because I didn’t know what home schooling meant. I frantically searched around for a curriculum to follow and plunked him down in front of the computer, unattended, to do his work. Lesson learned for sure. He did end up graduating high school. He has a good job now and just had a baby!

    Now with my baby. My husband and I started talking about homeschooling her right from the start. It’s gaining popularity, so there are lots of resources and information out there. I struggle with wanting to find the “right curriculum” for her still and worry that she’ll “go through” 12 years of education and not be educated.

    I will look into this again, pray about what is best for our family and I’ll let you know what we decided. She will be 5 in September she is currently enrolled in the neighborhood school. I’ll need to let them know by mid August for sure, if she’s attending or not.

    • Heidi says:

      Dawn, one thing is for sure: you have TIME with a five year old. Keep praying and step out in faith when you hear the Lord’s voice! He blesses obedience!

  165. […] #4 The Busy Mom~ Homeschooling Held Hostage […]

  166. I realize that this site was designed with moms in mind, but as an Aunt I am encouraged by this blog. I have my 5 yr old nephew whom I registered for kindergarten and after a couple of months of public school, I managed to get him out to homeschool him. One night during the midweek service at our church I was looking at all the grandma’s who have custody of their grandchildren or headed in the direction of adoption and was surprised by how many there were. What am I saying? Please keep in mind that not all your patrons are biological moms. Again, thank you for this insight, it definitely encouraged me. I needed to hear it.

  167. […] This article got me questioning my idea of what homeschooling should look like. I also found this book quite helpful. […]

  168. Bonnie says:

    Your post is so very timely. I have been pondering these things in our ‘homeschool’ over the last few years – we are FREE in Christ! I don’t want bondage to the school system or to any homeschool system either.

    Life with the Lord is so very awesome and expansive if only we’d jump out of our little boxes!


  169. joyce says:

    Thank you, I needed this today. My focus is shot and Im sinking.

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