How My Homeschool Has Changed – Then & Now

Homeschool Days

Hopes And Dreams

When you first start out homeschooling, your hopes are all just dreams.

You want to do so much for your kids and you hope that where you want to go, is where you will actually end up.

Then as the years tick on, and you pass each new milestone, you start to see that homeschooling really does work. It’s not propaganda or a pie-in-the-sky ideals. Each new year brings new challenges. But as you face them with a prayerful attitude, solutions come. Then the day arrives when one graduates, and then another and you can’t believe that it’s over. Where did the years go!

What Was My Day Like 18 Years Ago

My first few years of homeschooling were filled with fear. I was always concerned that I wasn’t teaching my kids enough (although I had no yard stick for enough). My worrying made me a bit of a cranky homeschool mum because I had this constant anxiety that the lessons weren’t progressing fast enough and that I was behind – (and who defines behind.)

I remember one day when I was contemplating sending my kids to school I had organized the two oldest kids almost 6 and 7 at the time around the kitchen table to do some lessons. It was going so smoothly and the kids were learning their lessons and we were making great progress.

I was feeling really good about homeschooling – telling myself there is no need to send the kids to school – for that day the anxiety had dissipated. Instead I was congratulating myself on how well that day was going. The warm spring day put a smile on my face. The house seemed peaceful and birds were sweetly singing outside. The toddler and the preschooler had been quietly playing in the other room. But then my warm fuzzies suddenly melted as I discovered the reason for my peaceful morning. Before me stood a toddler dressed only in a nappy, who had been coloured in with Texta by her creative brother who also was colourfully marked.

And even though I see the funny side now, at the time I felt like a failure.

  • I thought I’ll never be successful at homeschooling because I am a hopeless mother.
  • And in order for my kids to learn I have to neglect my other children.
  • I’ll never be able to teach them properly.
  • My kids will be stupid.
  • They won’t get into university.
  • All my critics will shake their finger at me.

And the evidence was standing before me as two Picasso inspired little ones.

Shortly after that incident I gave into all those fears and tried school with my two oldest children.

Homeschooling in fear will cripple you, like it crippled me, and stop you discovering the richness of homeschooling and ultimately it will stop you giving your child a balanced education.

Homeschooling In The Middle

I confess I was very influenced by the school model in my early days, even though I had years to prepare. It took me about three years with lots of ups and downs before I changed.

It wasn’t till I brought my kids back from school the second time that I realised that my teaching methods needed to change if homeschooling was going to work.

And this is when I began my journey of learning how to teach my kids at home instead of trying to replicate school.

I realized I needed home teaching skills and just buying curriculum does not make you a good home teacher. There is a steep learning curve when you first start homeschooling. You will learn on the job and the longer you home school the better you get at working out how to do it.

But you can fast track the process if you read about homeschool methods and teaching techniques. You can educate yourself on how to teach your children. And two of my favourite authors who do this are Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason.

I really started to enjoy the journey. I became much more comfortable using curriculum as a tool and not as my taskmaster. I now felt like I was nourishing my children with a great education. As Charlotte Mason puts it, I was ‘furnishing their minds’ with living books, art and much more. I was also having a great time learning along with my kids.

My kids were developing their own gifts and talents. They were beginning to excel. It was a marvelous process to watch.

My fears were beginning to dissipate (although they reared their ugly head from time-to-time). But school ceased to be a temptation.

Each year it got a little easier, and I got back more time for myself. I turned into a coach, a cheer leader and an opportunity researcher.

Now They Have Graduated

Now 18 years have passed. It’s all over and my kids are all carving out their own career paths. All of them are glad they homeschooled. All of them are good friends. All of them have gone to university without a HSC.

Initially I panicked as my first child graduated. “I haven’t taught them everything,” I said to myself, “There is still so much to learn and they can’t even remember everything I did teach them”.

And if you asked them today, they won’t be able to discuss Middle Ages history at length, they couldn’t name all the Shakepeare plays they have studied or seen, and we won’t even talk about math formulas.

But I can see how homeschooling has shaped their character. They have inquiring minds. They have good friends. They are interested in many things. They love God and love and serve in the Church. They even help around the house. They have jobs. Homeschooling was a great choice.

Here is a quote from Amy, a homeschool mum who now homeschools her own children. “I don’t know now (and certainly didn’t fully recognize even in the past) each stroke of the chisel, each swipe of the sandpaper over my character. But those millions of words shaped and formed the way I think and what I love. The experience of being challenged by the things I learned gave me a passion for continuing to learn and question and grow that remains today.” see Humility and Doxology

I love what Charlotte Mason’s hopes for her own graduates:

“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (School Education, pages 170 and 171).

Trust the journey! Hang in there!

This post has been edited from a post originally written 3 years ago.

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  1. Elisha  May 19, 2016

    Hi Michelle, i not sure if you are on the hunter home schooling group? but i posted a post on Monday of my very much ‘hideous day’ with our child who is homeschool via distant education. We have done distant ed for over 6 months now, and although the teacher is wonderful and very good and understanding, has changed the program many times to suit our child, its still not working.. He hates ‘English’ and ‘hand writing’ and its like pulling hens teeth.. He is bright, visual hands on learner, bookwork – photocopied sheets not working.. So I’m tempted on embark on going solo, registering with BOS and opening our wings to be set free. My biggest concern is failing him.. Will he learn enough via me to get him where he wants to go in life?

    Although heard many stories like yours of the teenage kids doing so well they are doing uni degrees which makes my mouth drop, obviously they did well home schooling.. and I not sure where this idea is coming from of children who are home schooled wont do well in life – as in education.. My father, family members are teachers – so possibly through that? but ready to step forward and take the plunge..

    • Michelle  May 20, 2016

      Hi Elisha,
      We all have rough days and I certainly had many in my time. My advice is to just keep plodding on. Moving on without distance education can be freeing – I agree with that. Working out your child and understanding how they learn and providing an encouraging environment is what will make you turn the corner. It really takes about 2 years to get into a good groove with homeschooling so please cut yourself some slack.
      Smiles Michelle

  2. Meg  May 19, 2016

    Great words of wisdom Michelle. Thanks for taking time to share your experience and knowledge about home educating with others- you have so much encouragement to share and it’s great you make the effort to do so.

  3. Bridget  February 1, 2016

    Hi Michelle, I’ve just had an “I want to give up” day… It started with my toddlers non stop crying because he wasn’t allowed to draw in his brothers maths book… Next crawling on the table, throwing everything etc…. I admit I shouted, cried and let them watch television… I even googled schools in our area 🙁 Now I feel like the worst mother on the planet! Sigh… I’m so desperately trying to relax about it all, laugh even… But the fear of ruining their lives is so real! Your post was very encouraging, thankyou!

    • Michelle  February 4, 2016

      Hi Bridget – that does sound like a bad day. I know in a few years you will be able to laugh about it but I’m sure you feel quite raw. Hang in there! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Smiles Michelle

  4. Nikki  December 15, 2015

    Hi Michelle thanks for being so real. You have encouraged me along the way not to give up and to not be too hard on myself.
    God Bless people like you who can give words of wisdom.
    Cheers Nikki

  5. Peta  May 20, 2015

    Hi Michelle,
    I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now. I just loved reading this post, thank you very much your story is very inspiring to me. I also have four children and they are still little, 5,4,2 and 9 months old. I have two son and two daughters. I have always dreamed of homeschooling right from when I was pregnant with my first. I had all the books ready and knew what I wanted to do but then a few weeks before school went back this year I sent my 5 year old to our local public school. I was so stressed from toilet training my two year old and my boys always fighting that I freaked out and didn’t think I could do it and sent him to school. I was devastated and the school run to the bus stop turned out to be even more exhausting! Whle he was at school I became even more passionate about homeschooling and learnt new methods like about Charlotte Mason and I was feeling so confident about home education again that my husband allowed him to come home this term. It’s going well so far, I would love to homeschool right through until graduation. I’ll keep checking back on your blog and some posts about the basics and getting started and how to keep up with house work while homeschooling would be really appreciated. Blessings Peta

    • Michelle  May 26, 2015

      Peta, what you describe is quite common. It is hard work homeschooling but it’s worth it and I have found each year gets a little bit easier!

  6. Emma  May 18, 2015

    Thank you, Michelle, this is very helpful to read. Your example is inspiring!


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