Homeschooling for the Challenged

I am not a school teacher. Yes, I've homeschooled my five children, but I don't teach them in the normal school way. Once they reach the third grade, I become the school organizer and facilitator. It's one of the things that has saved my sanity.

I know some moms are terrific homeschoolers and they do unit studies and all these other cool things. I tried that and it didn't work for me. I wish it did because I love that concept and I think families who can do that are very fortunate, but it just doesn't work for everyone.

I know I'm not alone when I feel like I'm a challenged homeschool mom. When I first started doing school the way we're doing it now, it was out of desperation to accomplish school and keep my sanity, but now that I see the side benefits, the desperation is gone and I simply tweak my plan as needed.

Instead of teaching my children their lessons, I make lesson assignment pages that I can check off when the assignment is accomplished. These include each day's reading assignment, comprehension questions, pages (maps, charts, whatever) to study, quizzes and tests. Each child has their own row so one piece of paper has a week's assignments for all my children. With that one paper I can easily keep track of everything I need to for the week and my life is simplified.

The kids are responsible for their assignments. They know exactly what is expected of them and what they have to do. They also know that if they buckle down and tackle the job, they can get it knocked out in a few hours and have the rest of the day to do other things, but if they slough off, they'll have consequences coming their way.

The children do their assignments and put them at my spot on the table for me to correct. After I correct them, they go back and correct their errors until it's right. I'm available to help them if they run into problems, but I act as a facilitator rather than a teacher.

Doing school this way has worked wonderfully for my family. It's made it so we can homeschool even though I'm not a teacher and I don't enjoy teaching. For my children that enjoy school, it's allowed them room to stretch and grow and pursue things they want to learn. For the others, it's provided them the structure they needed to get it done and to learn to be self-motivated.

This method made it so I could hand my high schoolers a book, tell them what I expect them to do and when I want it completed and let them go. Through the years they've learned how to divide the work and pace themselves so they can accomplish what they need to in the allotted time. It also enables them to naturally assume responsibility for their own education, which is something that they will carry with them long after their school days here at home and elsewhere are over.

Even those of us who are not teachers can homeschool effectively if we want to. The key is organization. But more than organization is knowing that God wants you to homeschool and that both you and your husband are in complete agreement about it. Not everyone should homeschool, but for those of us who know we're called to it, there is a way to save your sanity even if you aren't a teacher.


  1. Great job, Peej!

    Your kids will thank you later on (if not now) for teaching them to be organized and self-motivated. Their employers and college professors will thank you, too. It's a rare thing to find hard-working young people.

    1. Thanks, Vonnie. It's been a huge help to them as they tackled their college classes. =]

  2. Patty, what do you do with kids younger than third grade? My three are ages 3-7 and I'm struggling to finish the school year from last year (we did just adopt a 3 year old in March, so that got us way off schedule). I may not start the new school year until October at the rate I'm going. It's hard to homeschool with a three year old around, especially since she doesn't speak English very well yet and we're still working on learning obedience and just everyday living. Any advice is much appreciated.

    1. Great question, Kate! But I have the feeling my answer is simplistic--because I needed it to be or homeschooling would have failed.

      Phonics and Math were the only things we worked on until they could read--the other things were "taught" we came to them in our daily lives.

      I never really worried about school years. When we finished a book, we moved into the next one. If it took us longer to grasp a concept, we didn't move on until they had it. Many years we did some school year-round. It was too hot for them to play outside so we did school in the afternoons. It balanced out. =] At least it did for us.

      I think what helped me the most was taking the time to teach the little ones to amuse themselves. That meant having them play by themselves, nearby, as we did school. Other times, I put them in their room, which was close enough for me to hear them, to play with their toys. It meant interruptions as I stopped to train the little one, but in the long run it was very worthwhile--in many ways.

      I didn't have the language issue and all the other facets you have as a result of adopting. That is SO cool that your little one is adopted, but I KNOW that changes the dynamics.

      hmmm. I see another post here! ;-)

  3. I admire you for homeschooling all 5 of yours! I didn't homeschool...I tried it, but it just didn't work for us. I think what you're doing is great!

    1. Thanks so much, Shelley. Some days I wonder...

      Homeschooling is definitely not for everyone--and it's not even for every child in the same family. As long as you're following God--that's the important thing. =]

  4. NOTHING in this post surprised me. And I found it fascinating. If I feel called to this (which I don't currently), you'll definitely be my go-to gal. And so much you do I can apply to my kids now regardless. This is NOT just about homeschooling.


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