If I Could Get a Do Over on Homeschooling [A Letter to My Younger Self]

Feb 17, 2014

A homeschool mom writes a letter to her younger self warning of the mistakes she'll make an how to avoid them.

If I could write a letter to my younger self, warning of all my mistakes, what a letter it would be! I have no doubt its length would rival "War and Peace." Let's all be glad I'm not doing that.

What if, however, I could write a letter to my younger self about homeschooling?

I've learned many things in the fourteen years I've been homeschooling. Who wouldn't? I mean, if I haven't learned something in fourteen years, we have much bigger problems than my homeschool mistakes.

So what would I do if I had a homeschool do-over? Let's see....

A Letter to My Younger Homeschooling Self

Dear Younger Self,

One day you are going to make a decision to homeschool. Along the way, you are going to make mistakes. You won't do well during the first few years of homeschooling. This letter is an effort to change all that. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the mistakes you've made.

Do not attempt to do school at home.

Huge mistake! Never do this. It sucks the life out of your child's desire to learn. It sucks the life out of your desire to teach. You'll all feel discouraged. You'll drop your attempts at homeschooling. Your child will beg to return to school. Twice. Both times you give into his wishes. Both times he spends the year skipping school, because he hates it. Save your family the frustration.

Take heed of these words by Steve Lambert of Five in a Row: 

"We are not trying to do school at home. We are homeschooling. Those are two entirely different things."
After you've taken those words to heart, educate yourself on what homeschooling really means.

Teach your children as though they're individuals, because they are.

Each child is different. You know this. Yet when it comes to homeschooling, you somehow forget this fact. You attempt to teach them in a school classroom style. One size fits all. This will not work. 

Each of your children has a unique learning style. Each one has special challenges. You need to cater to those needs. Individualize the program so that their desire to learn may not be hindered.

Don't unschool your kids.

There's nothing wrong with unschooling. It's a wonderful method that works for many. It even works with your kids. But they hate it.

In 2002, your family will be overwhelmed by many things, but mostly with your attempts to school at home. Life will shove you down the unschooling path. You won't realize it's happening, but before you know it, you will be an unschooling family.

When your children are adults, they will resent this. It's not for them. They'll never tell you until it's all over. The truth is they will feel cheated. They'll feel they weren't properly taught. They'll resent you.

One day you'll realize how much they resented unschooling and you'll show them just how much they learned. They'll be accepted into colleges with all that knowledge. Still, they weren't happy on the road that led them there. Take a different road. Look into that Charlotte Mason method you keep seeing pop up all over the internet. That's the style that fits your family.

Don't be so hard on yourself.

You'll feel guilty if you miss a day of lessons. You'll feel guilty if things don't go as you plan. Stop it. Learning is happening all the time. The more you beat yourself up, the more depressed and overwhelmed you become. Stay strong and press onward rather than allowing your guilt to weigh you down. These are the days you should appreciate. 

If there are no lessons, so what? There will be outdoor play, art, painting, laughter. Enjoy these days off. You are building memories. Your children love all their memories and family 'inside jokes.' Oh, just wait until you see the people they turn out to be! It's because of the childhood you gave them. Relax. It's all good.

I could tell you so much more, but you'll discover it on your own. Discovery is one of the many things that make life special. 

You know what? Nevermind. Now that I think about it, you don't need this letter. Your experiences, failures and discoveries are what make you and your children the people you've become.

Ditch this letter. Go on and make your mistakes. Experience is a wonderful teacher. You'll get it right eventually.


Need more assistance? 

Never miss a post! Subscribe here.


  1. Well said, Michelle. We are leaning more and more to interest-led learning, especially in the older grades. I love the freedom of homeschooling!

  2. I'm not a home schooling parent, but I love your writings on the subject. Hmmmmm wonder what I'd write to my younger public school parent self.

    1. My kids have attended public school and my answer is a resounding, YES! I made mistakes then, too. Thanks for stopping in, Mumsy.

  3. I think I'm still writing my letter. :-) I think the hardest is to teach your children the way they each learn best. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out which way that is. The only way to learn is by trial and error. So, I continue to try, make mistakes, and learn and pray that God will fill in any gaps and the my children will offer me grace. :-)

    ~A Slice of Homeschool Pie

    1. I agree. It takes a lot of fine-tuning our own understanding and observation skills.

  4. Great post, Michelle! I could have written a lot of this to myself!

    1. Thanks, Shelly! Sometimes our stories look quite the same and sometimes they're very different, aren't they?

  5. I, also, have been homeschooling a long time, 15 years. And have 7 children and a grand baby. I agree, we learn as we go and if something works one year, it doesn't work the next. We are forever tweaking our homeschool. I very much enjoyed reading you blog.

    1. Agreed. I've been tweaking for many years now.


Join the conversation!