The 5 Most Difficult Things a Homeschool Dad Can Say

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The 5 Most Difficult Things a Homeschool Dad Can Say
Luke (5) wanted to make his own pond to watch tadpoles grow. He is pictured with his father, Brendon.

Y. family, Sonlighters in Oregon City, OR

What I lack in sensitivity, I make up in hubris. My children frequently have to put up with my bluster and emotional dullness. But here are a few difficult phrases that I and my fellow homeschool dads can keep in our back pockets to help us raise our arrows

1. “I need help.”

So often I say with my tone of voice what I am afraid to say with words. I scowl and jeer at a messy bathroom floor rather than addressing it directly.

The mess returns every evening until my scowls accumulate into an outrage. From the perspective of my children, they do something permissible, until one day, it’s suddenly both impermissible and, indeed, outrageous. What a confusing contradiction.

The result is they end up feeling they need to manage the emotions of their parent, rather than fulfill their responsibilities. The solution is to express my feelings as clearly as I can and arrive at a fair division of labor.

The problem is that there is a part of me that thinks my sheer existence as an authority figure and hard-worker should elicit the same diligence in those around me, even in young children, without so much as a mention of the task, let alone a thank you. 

Saying "I need help" is difficult, but essential.

2. “That makes me feel that you don’t like me.”

This is a scathing-hot iron to my ego. When I attempt the accents in earnest for their Read-Aloud, coming up to an exciting part of the story, and the crescendo is lost in a peal of laughter at unrelated silliness, I’m irritated, of course, at having to repeat that part of the story. But more than that, it makes me feel like they don’t care about my efforts, or even don’t like me.

That doesn’t make sense, so it’s embarrassing to acknowledge the feeling. I direct it as vague ire towards them, which they internalize as vague disapproval. This whole chain can be short-circuited if I look my emotions straight in the face and articulate them carefully.

It's hard to recognize that my children have hurt my feelings, but I need to face the experience.

3. “I should have listened to you.”

My 4-year-old wanted to bring left-over pasta on our walk to the park. I didn’t want to bring a backpack, so we left without either. We ended up in a forest next to the park, playing pirates. It didn’t take long, however, for us to get irritable without a snack. Tears ensued, and the game was cut short.

Instead of apologizing for not bringing a snack, I snapped at them for having, of all things, a short fuse.

The really hard thing about I’m sorry for a daddy is that it means relinquishing a certain amount of moral control. 

In order to lead, we have to be trusted to have the insight to make decisions that benefit the family. If that insight fails, daddy takes one of three paths.

  • The easiest path is to deny the failure in the first place, and blame someone else.
  • The second path is to acknowledge the failure but give up, saying, "I am hereby no longer fit to lead."
  • The third is the most strenuous and asks others, "Stay with me in the midst of my failures as I work on improving myself for your good."

4. “You’re safe with me.”

Dads tend to be good at pushing into the unknown. We encourage risk-taking, experimentation, and hard-work. It’s usually mom who calls the kids home for supper — to rest and safety. That feeling of safety in your mother’s arms is not just nice, but neurologically crucial.

The balance, however, of safety and risk-taking needs to be re-calibrated when daddy is the one who’s at home full-time (as is my situation).

Sometimes a father's desire to see his children achieve must take a backseat. He must hug through his child’s tears without explaining why the tears are misguided. Children must know that whatever happens out there in the wild, Daddy is Daddy:

"I will always be daddy. You cannot earn that and you need not overcome anything to secure that. Run to me, and I will fight the monsters. Come home, and the kettle will be on. You are my beloved children."

5. “You are beautiful.”

  • This is more than "You look pretty today."
  • It is not "You look nice with the right outfit and the right diet."
  • It’s not even "You will become a beautiful woman."

These reserved messages allow daddy to protect himself against illusory rejection. But reaching out with unreserved affection is very self-revealing and leaves daddy vulnerable to his son or daughter.

But when a child sees a daddy, confident to face the possibility of rejection, it communicates that she must be worth an awful lot. Her beauty is so treasured that she is worth seeking and protecting for the simple joy of her presence. The Father would give Himself to be with her and know her, even if it means covering a multitude of sins.

Choose a curriculum the whole family can enjoy together! Switch to Sonlight and save.

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No More Skipping or Forgetting Timeline and Mapping Activities

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"Already they are making connections when we add new stickers and they notice what else is already on the page!"

—Cynthia H. of Champaign, IL

"One of our favorite parts of Sonlight curriculum is using the maps. I am a missionary kid who grew up all over the world and was always fascinated by maps. The world is a big, beautiful place and I am determined to teach my children (who are being raised in America) the value of other peoples, cultures, and other ways of thinking. I am so thankful for a curriculum that helps me do this."

—Sarah R. of La Fayette, GA

Mentally, I am fully convinced of the value of timelines and mapping. But in practice? I often treat them as if they are simply too much to fit into our homeschool schedule. That is, I skip them.

Yes, I admit it. Because I don't prioritize them, these two elements of our Sonlight curriculum often get squeezed out of our school days. I’ve come to realize that I need to create a time and space for The Timeline Book and the Markable Map. Here are three parts of my resolution to do better about actually using both the timeline and maps—no more forgetting, no more skipping.

1. Make The Timeline Book and Maps Something to Look Forward to

When our children love The Timeline Book and Markable Map, we will be more likely to incorporate them into our day. Here's a list of ideas to help our children fall in love with these two learning tools:

  • Make it a privilege: A friend of mine rotates the privilege of coloring the timeline figures among her three daughters. Over the years of homeschooling, coloring the timeline figure has become the opportunity that they all prize.
  • Use color: Allow your child to color each figure with colored pencils while you read aloud.
  • Use fun markers or stickers: Would a new pack of favorite-colored markers help to make the maps more fun? Or removable stickers can mark the location of certain characters and stories.
  • Personalize it: Would it help to include your child’s personal moments in The Timeline Book while you’re updating it for the history curriculum?
  • Make it a game: Would it be fun to play a weekly or monthly Review Game and update The Timeline Book and maps all at once?
  • Sing a Theme Song: Would a catchy tune help to make The Timeline Book and map time special? (Even the most musically-challenged of us can make something out of “It’s Timeline time, timeline time… let’s get out the stickers and markers!”)
  • Motivate with snacks: Plan to update The Timeline Book and do the mapping activities while you enjoy a delicious afternoon snack.

2. Include The Timeline Book and Maps in My Schedule

It may seem obvious, but I need to face the fact that updating The Timeline Book and doing the map work require a certain amount of time. If we want to work with consistency, we need to include them in our daily schedules.

I always schedule time for history, science, and reading aloud, but I do not schedule 10 extra minutes for the timeline or maps. I am going to incorporate these two elements in our schedule for next year, actually writing them down where necessary.  

3. Display The Timeline Book and Maps

We pay attention to things that are in full view and tend to forget about the books and projects that are stuffed in the closet or crammed between books on a shelf. It's important to create a space where The Timeline Book and the maps are proudly on display. For example, I’ve moved a small end table to the kitchen in order to prop up The Timeline Book in a picture frame holder and hang the Markable Map next to the CD player that we use for our Bible Memory songs. Where could you display these important resources so that they are likely to get your attention in the midst of a busy homeschool day?

Veteran homeschool moms agree: we won’t regret investing time and energy into these important elements of Sonlight curriculum. This year, let’s take a step in that direction and actually use our Timeline Book and Markable Map!

Your Sonlight Instructor's Guides tell you exactly where to place your timeline figures and how to do the mapping activities. Learn more about Sonlight's guides here.

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5 Principles for a Peaceful Preschool at Home

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5 Principles for a Peaceful Preschool at Home
"Many people ask me what our younger kids do while I am working with our two older boys. Since the preschool 4/5 program can be done in short segments throughout the day, Lydia (4) enjoys the individual attention over shared books and then has naturally taken to teaching her younger brother, Joshua (1), while I am busy with the older boys. Now that she is more confidently identifying her letters, she enjoys pointing them out to her brother."
— Sarah H. of Cochranville, PA

You know you want to give homeschooling a shot, but when your children are barely out of toddler-hood, how do you get started building a family culture of home education? One suggestion is to invest in a great curriculm like Sonlight's Preschool Package. It's full of great literature for little ones, complete with an Instructor’s Guide with suggested extension activities to enhance learning with play.

So once you have a great curriculum chosen, how can you build a peaceful homeschool routine with preschool-aged children? Here are five principles I've found helpful.

1. Aim to Balance Structured Activities with Unstructured Play

Unstructured, imaginative, and independent play is crucially important to children at this age. However, some structured activities, directed by the parent, are appropriate at this time, too. The preschool years are a prime time to begin setting the foundation for following instructions, respecting others, and listening to parents—skills that will help set your child up for a joyful career of learning as they grow.

At the earliest stage of homeschool, don’t expect to spend a solid 1-3 hours working through various school tasks in the morning. Instead, it's more effective to sprinkle four or five intentional 10-20-minute sessions into a day filled with the normal toddler activities.

An example preschool day might include:

  • 20 minutes of storytime after breakfast
  • Time for free play or helping a parent with household tasks
  • 20 minutes of an extension activity related to one of the stories read during the morning
  • More time to play (perhaps at a toy station or sensory bin set up by the parent)
  • Lunch
  • 20 minutes of sit-down learning activities: working on pre-writing or pre-math skills
  • Time for free play, housework, or family errands
  • 20 minutes of a skill-building game or time outdoors
  • Time to help prepare for dinner
  • Dinner
  • 20 minutes of storytime, woven into the bedtime routine

"Mighty Mind math puzzles [from Sonlight's preschool package] are a fun addition to the preschool day. I appreciate that each puzzle becomes progressively more complex—just enough to keep Grace engaged and challenged yet able to eventually work through on her own. The pride she felt after completing a particularly difficult one was exciting to watch."  — Gina M. of Sumter, SC

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Introduce Books That Seem Too Hard

Parents unboxing their Sonlight Preschool Package for their three-year-old might at first think to themselves:

"All right, the Eloise Wilkin Stories are simple enough, and the George and Martha stories are totally doable...but Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales? There are so many words on a page, and so many pages in a story!

How will my child ever sit through a story like this? Make Way for McCloskey? Same problem! Great stories, but with a lot of words that will be way above my child’s head and far outside their experience."

I encourage you not to be hesitant to introduce challenging books. Balance easier stories that you can read repeatedly with the introduction of storybooks that are longer than they are used to, with words they don’t yet understand, and with pictures that show a time and a place far from anything they have experienced. 

Younger preschoolers, it is true, need time to develop the skills to sit through a longer picture book. Experiment with ways to begin introducing these books. Their ability to listen and learn will blossom!

My son is on the young side for preschool and we’re starting slowly. For the longer, more advanced tales, I have found these kinds of times work well for reading aloud to him:

  • while he’s still in his chair after finishing lunch
  • while he is sitting down with some play-dough
  • while he's on the floor with building blocks
  • while he’s in the bathtub

For shorter stories, we cuddle on the couch together.

"This is the way so many of our mornings begin. Snuggled up in Daddy's chair, big brother Josiah shares his newfound love for reading out loud to little sister Emilyn and baby brother Seth. They hang on his every word!

"Sonlight is an answer to my prayers, providing my babies not only a natural love for learning but an inseparable sibling bond that I know will not be shaken as they grow older. P.S. No joke! I did not make them pose for this picture.)"
—Corrie C. of Perry, GA, using Sonlight Preschool

3. Take School Outdoors

There’s so much to learn and do, and in our busy modern lives, that young children tend not to get as much time outside as is good for them. There are all sorts of learning activities for preschool that can be done outside—including storytime! So when the weather makes it possible, take your preschool outside! Count the trees in your yard, name the plants and animals you can see, dig in the dirt, and have fun building memories and skills as a family in your own backyard or at the neighborhood park.

4. Integrate Music Throughout Your Day

Music is a powerful learning tool, that plays an especially important role during the preschool developmental years. But if music education means that I needed to set aside a chunk of our day to sit down with a device that can play music and sing 5-10 songs together with my son, it would likely never happen. Instead, we find routines to integrate music throughout our day. This is what works for our homeschool family:

  • Dad plays quiet hymns as background music in the morning while the family is getting ready to start their day He has made a playlist of hymns in both English and Spanish because we are a bilingual family.
  • We keep the Wee Sing CD and other preschool-friendly song CDs in our car so we can listen and sing along while we’re out, getting errands done.
  • At various points throughout the day, I sing various children’s songs to my son and do the hand motions, without bothering to set up an audio accompaniment. Preschoolers aren’t too picky about your vocal skills, so don’t worry about singing a cappella even if it’s not something you’d want to do around grown-ups. 
  • A couple of times a week I pull out an inexpensive recorder and an electronic keyboard for interactive music playtime.

5. Use the Same Resources in Different Ways

Using one resource for multiple games and learning activities will save your budget and prevent your home from becoming constantly cluttered with the latest and greatest in educational resources. It will also foster problem-solving skills as your children imagine and experience the many different ways a single object can be used!

For example, the Teddy Mix & Match in Sonlight Preschool, has been the inspiration of all sorts of different games!

  • a memory-natching game, as the bears were originally intended
  • a version of Go Fish!, using the bears as cards
  • tracing the shapes of the bear cards and designing our own bears
  • a verbal description activity, describing what each bear looks like and where he might live (The chocolate bear lives in the refrigerator, we are pretty sure!)
  • imaginative play in which bears become dolls that play with and interact with each other

Homeschooling preschool need not be as intimidating as it sounds! Children just leaving toddler-hood behind are often feisty and imaginative; typically they are eager to learn! Enjoy these precious years with your child as you teach preschool at home.

Sonlight Preschool

This complete preschool homeschool curriculum program is perfect to cultivate a love of books and learning.

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How To Help Your Child Do What You Say

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How To Help Your Child Do What You Say • 3 principles for motivating obedience in the homeschool

Homeschooling, and parenting in general, would be so much easier without resistance, rebellion, and whining. Wouldn’t it be awesome if our children did what we told them to do?

While we can’t eliminate all of the struggles-of-the-will in our homeschool, we can make choices that help our children be more content, reasonable, and obedient. Here are three principles that can help your child do what you say.

1. Believe the Best About Your Child

In many ways, our children are trusting us to tell the story of their lives. When we believe the best about them, they believe us and are more apt to do the right thing. Conversely, when we assume the worst about them, they believe us, and it affects their behavior negatively.

It all comes down to our attitude as their mother. When we ask God for the ability to live according to “love always hopes,” we influence our children in radical ways.

To get your wheels spinning about how your hopeful attitude could transform your home, here are examples of ways that this plays out in my home on a daily basis:

  • When my two-year-old shows up with scissors in his hand, I say, “Thank you for finding them! I’ll put them up high so that no little children get hurt.” Nine times out of ten, he hands them over without a fuss. If I jump at him in anger or alarm, he runs off with the scissors.
  • When my seven-year-old is concerned that a younger sibling will ruin his LEGO creation, I say, “Of course she won’t ruin your creation. She loves and respects you. I know that she will take good care of your hard work.” That younger sibling hears my trusting response and usually tries extra hard to respect that LEGO scene.
  • When the breakfast dishes are cleaned up and we are ready to begin schoolwork, I simply say, “Okay, everyone! Let’s get started on schoolwork.” Then, I gather the little ones for our story time on the couch and don’t look back at the older children as if I’m doubting that they’ll begin work. My confidence that the older kids will do their work frees them to do it.
  • When a child is frustrated with schoolwork, I assume that he or she wants to understand the material. I try to come alongside and help solve the problem, identify obstacles, or direct them so that they can succeed.

2. Prepare Your Child for New Circumstances and Expectations

This is a tool that every parent can use from the early days of parenting through high school. When your child is about to enter new circumstances or when expectations have changed, prepare your child for the adjustment. Talk about things ahead of time or practice skills that your child may need to succeed. One of our most significant roles as parents is to prepare our children for life, including the things that happen on a daily basis.

Here are examples:

  • When we pull into the church parking lot, a friend’s house, or a new environment, we talk about what the children can expect from the situation. We aim to set them up for success, telling them who will be there, how they should behave, and how they can thrive.
  • In homeschooling, when we are starting a new book or activity, I explain the context and share my expectations. Sarita’s notes in the Instructor Guides provide context and expectations for many assignments.
  • Whenever I modify our schedule, I first talk about it for a couple of days and ask for feedback, then I print out the new schedule and attach it to the refrigerator. I often use breakfast to talk through the plans for the day. The kids can ask questions, propose changes, and express their concerns. It helps to address these things before they become opportunities for conflict and resistance.

3. Remember that Homeschooling is About Child Development and Discipleship

I regularly need to remind myself that homeschooling is not about checking boxes, completing textbooks, or impressing people. We homeschool so that we can disciple our children, guiding them step by step in God’s ways. By respecting the tendencies and trajectory of child development, we will treat frustration, resistance, and whininess as part of our call to nurture and disciple our children.

Although we aim to create peace, harmony, and faithfulness in our children, we also recognize that weaknesses will come up from time to time. God cares about the homeschooling mom who is raising a stubborn, resistant, or disobedient child. He will guide us each step of the way, even if the journey is long. We can pray continually for the atmosphere in our homes, asking the Holy Spirit to reverse the trend of darkness and to shine His life and light in us and our home.

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Most children thrive with a structured homeschool day. Try Sonlight to see how it can provide a framework for your daily routines and make it easier for your children to obey.

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12 Lavishly Illustrated Picture Books for the Family Coffee Table

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12 Lavishly Illustrated Picture Books for the Family Coffee Table

These twelve books prove that you are never too old for a good picture book. Children, teens, and adults alike will savor both the lavish illustrations and delightful stories in this collection of non-fiction, biographies, and fiction.

Use the strewing technique and scatter a few of these titles across your coffee table to encourage kid to explore on their own! These are the kinds of books that beg to be thumbed through! You won't have to say a word. These gorgeous, oversize books will do all the coaxing themselves.

1. People

by Peter Spier

from Sonlight's Pre-Kindergarten Package

People is a meditative, oversize book, illustrating the broad diversity of people in the world today. Spanning multiple world cultures, it portrays festivals and holidays, food, religions, homes, pets, and clothing.

Children will see the many ways we are all the same while also reveling in our differences and thus develop their global mindset.

2. Make Way for McCloskey: A Robert McCloskey Treasury

by Robert McCloskey

from Sonlight's Preschool Package

This marvelously illustrated, oversize anthology includes eight of the master-illustrator and story-teller's best, most touching stories:

  1. Make Way for Ducklings
  2. Blueberries for Sal
  3. Lentil
  4. Time of Wonder
  5. One Morning in Maine
  6. Burt Dow
  7. Deep-Water Man
  8. excerpts from Homer Price and Centerburg Tales

3. Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

edited by Katherine Tegan

from Sonlight's Preschool Package

In this anthology, you get twelve marvelous picture books, including such classics as Caps for Sale, Goodnight Moon, and Harold and the Purple Crayon, plus modern classics such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and From Head to Toe.

Perfect for naptime browsing or as a bedtime read-aloud, this book is one your home library needs!

4. A Child’s Book of Art

by Lucy Micklethwait

from Sonlight's Pre-Kindergarten Package

In this gorgeous reference work for young children, mostly famous, but some not-so-famous, works of art are arranged in thematic patterns: from medieval to modern, Western and non-Western pieces.

This super oversize and full color book is a perfect foundation for your child's appreciation of fine art. It's perfect for browsing and discussing no matter your age or previous experience with art.

5. The Children’s Book of Virtues

edited by William J. Bennett

from Sonlight's Pre-Kindergarten Package

This volume is a lavishly illustrated children's edition of the national bestseller The Book of Virtues.

The Children's Book of Virtues brings together timeless stories and poems from around the world, including selections from

  • The Book of Virtues
  • Aesop
  • Robert Frost
  • George Washington's life
  • Native American and African folklore

It's a must-have for the culturally literate home.

6. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

by James Herriot

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature A

If you have an animal lover in your family, this oversize book will be a hit! You get all of the Yorkshire country vet's beloved books for children, collected in one volume.

Each story is accompanied by warm, full-color, two-page illustrations.

Not only will your children travel to the early 1900's in Northern England, they will also encounter a tremendous amount of new vocabulary through these fun and encouraging stories.

7. National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry

edited by J. Patrick Lewis

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature B

In this anthology, you get the jaw-dropping animal photography that National Geographic is known for paired with lovely poetry.

Read it aloud with kids you love, and pore over the amazing portraits of God's creatures. Just the photo of the eagle in flight with Tennyson's The Eagle is worth the price of the book. The whole thing is absolutely stunning.

8. Window on the World

by Spragget and Johnstone

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature C

Window on the World furthers your child's global perspective with a wonderful introduction to 92 largely unevangelized countries and peoples of the world—from Afghanistan to the Zulus, and beyond.

This is a wonderful resource for families who want to pray together for the success of God's work through missions all over the world.

Each two-page spread includes a story, maps, interesting facts, full-color photos and illustrations, and suggested prayers. It's a treasure-trove for developing a godly heart for the world!

9. The Aesop for Children

illustrated by Milo Winter

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature C

This full-color, oversize Aesop anthology includes 126 children's fables, known for their witty way of teaching morals. Because so many of these stories form the underpinning of various English expressions, being familiar with these fables is a key to cultural literacy. The handsome illustrations in this help children visualize and remember both the stories and their messages.

10. The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry

It's a classic Christmas tale, and it will probably make you cry a bit when you see the tender love between Della and Jim, a poor young couple in a shabby New York flat.

This picture book is illustrated by the two-time Kate Greenaway Medalist P. J. Lynch. The Kate Greenaway Medal is the equivalent of the Caldecott Medal in the United States–awarded to the best children's book illustration.

O. Henry paints a masterly portrait of unfaltering love, a haven from the harsh world outside. The poignancy of his story is captured in P.J. Lynch's eloquent art, wherein every glance, every gesture, tells a subtle truth.

This sumptuous title is one to savor and treasure for many Christmases to come. Despite the outstanding vocabulary, between the illustrations and the sweet subject matter, this is appropriate as a read-aloud from early elementary school on up.

11. Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England

by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature C

This picture book biography is the story of how Queen Elizabeth I came to rule England and how she used her shrewd diplomacy, religious tolerance, and great love for her subjects to win the hearts of the people she ruled.

Savor this one as a family read-aloud, and your children will retain more British history than if they had read a dry textbook retelling. The narrative pulls you in, and the illustrations portray the glory of the Elizabethan Age.

12. Michelangelo

by Diane Stanley

from Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature C

This picture book biography covers the life of Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo, recounting his childhood, artistic training, and finally his masterpieces.

You get to visually devour the large, full-color illustrations of Michelangelo's art and marvel over how his work has so greatly impacted modern architecture, painting, and sculpture.

Request a Sonlight curriculum catalog

Love these book selections? We've got so much more! See our carefully curated book lists in our catalog.

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How to Run an Orderly Homeschool Without Being a Tyrant

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How to Run an Orderly Homeschool Without Being a Tyrant

Years from now, what will our kids remember about their homeschool experience? 

Chances are that instead of remembering every book, fact, and project, our children will keenly remember how we made them feel during the homeschool day. 

They’ll remember the atmosphere that we created and the mood that we set. Our attitudes will impact them more deeply than our curriculum, organization, schedule, and portfolios. 

To remind myself of this truth, I’ve posted an index card by my kitchen sink that says, “They’ll remember how you made them feel.”

Although this card reminds me to embrace the big, beautiful things about homeschooling— to smile, to snuggle, and to slow down for the joy of learning, it also reminds me to keep my head on straight when I’m stressed about clutter, schedules, and disorganization. It reminds me not to be such a tyrant when it comes to books being misplaced, pencils being dropped, erasers being eaten, and life not going the way I want it to go.  

No homeschooling parent hopes to leave a legacy of stress, aggravation, and tension, and yet I find myself sometimes fixating on orderliness, schedule, and control at the expense of joy, learning, and creativity. 

How can you and I run an orderly homeschool without becoming tyrants? 

Here are three helpful things to keep in mind:

1. Keep the Truth Before You

In my experience, things get out of control when I wrongly believe that my self-worth or my child’s future depends on my plans and organization. 

If you can relate, join me in daily remembering that God Himself has plans beyond ours. He oversees our work, and He will lavish grace on us and our children. Let’s do what it takes to live in the light of God’s promises, provision, and peace.

When we remember that God is God and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture, we are more likely to breathe, rest, and trust Him with the outcome of our unpredictable days.

2. Keep Things Simple

Focus on One Organizational Aspect at a Time

Each week, choose one aspect of homeschool life that you’d like everyone in your family to focus on. You may ask everyone to focus on reshelving books, returning scissors to their proper location, or tidying the bathroom, but choose one thing. Through the week, praise each person’s attempts to stay organized in this area and be ready to let other things slide. This will keep us from exploding when, “EVERYTHING’S A DISASTER!!”

Talk Through Your Schedule and Organizational Plans with a Friend

Before a new school year, sit down with a friend and talk through your plans. By talking through your curriculum, organization, and schedule, you’ll notice the areas where you may be overbearing, too complex, or demanding. Her feedback will help you to see where you may need to relax, extend grace, and return to the basics. 

Make it Easy For You and Your Child to Succeed

You won’t turn into a tyrant if you make sure your child is able to meet your expectations. For example, if your child cannot physically return a book to a crowded bookshelf, consider using baskets or book bins, creating more space, or creating bookshelves with outward-facing books.

Ask your child, “What would make this easier for you?” Work together to bring order to your homeschool day. Often remind yourselves why you are keeping an organized home: to create peace, beauty, and order. Label things clearly.

3. Keep Things Kind

Instead of focusing on not being tyrannical, focus on being kind. It’s never too late to grow in the fruit of the Spirit—to seek God’s help in being loving, patient, kind, and gentle. Thank your child for every positive step and celebrate the life God has given you together!

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Second-guessing: Did I make the right decision to homeschool?

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Second-guessing: Did I make the right decision to homeschool?
Big Brother Caleb loves to read to his little sister Abi.
"My books are in bad shape because they are so well used, but my kids' minds couldn't be more stimulated, educated, and happy—reading another beloved Sonlight book! Thank you for playing a huge part in making my children LOVE TO LEARN ™ !" Lynn K. of Tifton, GA

Maybe you've hit some bumps since your first day of school...

You're two months in. Maybe your son is throwing a fit, your daughter is crying over a math problem, the dishes are piling up, and you feel in over your head.

At times like this, you wonder: Did I make the right decision to homeschool?

As you second-guess yourself, do you sometimes feel like a homeschool failure?

Not a Failure... A Learner

Let me encourage you: I know you can do this.

I challenge you to think of yourself not as a failure, but as a learner. That's how you want your kids to think when they face a challenge, right? You don't expect them to get everything right the first time.

When things don't go well in your homeschool, it's not that you've failed. The struggles just give you and your children an opportunity to grow. You can step back and say, "Well that didn't go very well. What could we do differently in the future?"

If you have that conversation with yourself or the children ten times in one day, that's still not failure. That's modeling to them how to grow. It's modeling that we can evaluate what we're doing and figure out how to do it better.

I encourage you do drill down and identify what's making you feel like a failure and making you wonder if you made a mistake to homeschool at all.

Second-guessing Your Own Angry Outbursts

Is it that you lose your temper with your children sometimes? I hear that from guilt-ridden moms often. So what can you do to move in the right direction in that regard?

  • Maybe you need to learn to apologize to your children when that happens.
  • Maybe you need to start the morning with a calming praise song.
  • Maybe you need more protein for breakfast.
  • Maybe you need to make a plan of what to do when you notice yourself getting riled up.

Second-guessing the Kids' Attitudes

Do you feel second-guess your choice to homeschool because your kids don't beg for school every day? Maybe you need to give them some grace, too. I've heard that kids new to homeschooling need at least one week of homeschooling for every year they were in regular school to adjust. It's a big change for you and them.

Not every day will be homeschool bliss. But if your kids are consistently struggling, perhaps they need more protein and less sugar for breakfast. Maybe they need more sleep. Maybe they need more time to play outside, or a short cuddle with you before school. Maybe you need to switch up your daily schedule. Maybe school will just be hard for them and they will develop perseverance as you kindly but firmly help them learn age-appropriate disciplines.

There's Help for Homeschooling

Whatever the issue that's causing you to second-guess your decision to homeschool, know that you have options. Don't give up! Instead, you could:

  • Be really honest with your spouse about how you're feeling, and brainstorm solutions to the problems you see.
  • Call a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor (at no charge) and chat with an experienced homeschooler about ideas you could try.
  • Talk to fellow homeschoolers and see what's worked for them.
  • Just try something different and see how it goes.
  • Pray, pray, pray. If God has called you to this, he will help you on the path.

Homeschooling won't always be smooth sailing. But take those rough seas as learning opportunities. As Thomas Edison supposedly said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."Fortunately, you don't have to pioneer homeschooling the way Edison pioneered the light bulb. You have Instructor's Guides, a supportive community, Homeschool Advisors, and a complete curriculum to help you out.

Refuel Your Homeschool

With great rewards, come great sacrifice... and homeschooling is no different. Boy, some days are tough and make you second-guess your decision to homeschool. Download this free guide to help you remember WHY you chose to homeschool in the first place.

A Better You Because of Homeschooling

Homeschooling gives you the chance to learn from your mistakes every day. Think of how much you will have grown in patience, creativity and academic skills years from now if you stick with this amazing calling!

I've always said that anything worth doing will encounter resistance. And I believe homeschooling to be a high and worthy calling. Struggles probably don't mean that you're wrong to homeschool. They just come with the territory when you set out to do something great.

Please know that you are in my prayers. I count it an honor to pray daily for all Sonlight moms and dads who are working hard to do right by their families. We are in this together!

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You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.

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