Changes in Our Homeschool Journey through the Years

Mar 16, 2015

One mom shares the many detours in her homeschool journey.

I don't know if you've ever noticed, but I always refer to our homeschool experience as a journey. That's how I picture it.

I picture it as a road, winding through beautiful, scenic landscapes. What we will see or do along the way remains to be seen.

Just like any journey, homeschooling consists of smooth riding, bumps in the road, and plenty of detours. Sometimes, we just stop to take a rest and learn from the world around us.

In my humble opinion, that's exactly as it should be. We don't want the road so smooth that we fall asleep. Neither do we want constant gravel, making us squirm in our seats after a while. Detours lead off into unexplored territories and that's always an adventure. 

I've been on this journey for over 16 years. What has our journey looked like so far? Well it hasn't always been pretty. Long before I was a homeschool consultant, I was a mom fumbling around with no clue what I was doing.

Changes in Our Homeschool Journey through the Years

{This post may contain affiliate links.}

Rocky Homeschool Beginnings

Tired of fighting a school system that refused to obey my son's 504 plan, I finally got fed up and pulled him out of school. He had been in 6th grade for two months. 

I was excited. This was going to be so much fun!

I proceeded to collect textbooks. I pictured breakfast, followed by subjects lasting 45 minutes each, with a lunch break in the middle. You know - just like school.

There I was trying to recreate the exact environment that had been failing Michael for years. We butted heads daily. It was terrible. There was no fun in this.

  • The following year, he asked to go back to school. I let him. He skipped school almost daily. 
  • The next year, I brought him back home. We still accomplished nothing. 
  • He asked to go back to school the next year. I let him and he skipped the first day.

Obviously, he felt he should be in school, but was not enjoying it enough to go there each day.

At this point, he was in 9th grade. I pulled him out of school and refused to send him back. This was also the year Lee Anne begged to come home, and Amy gave up on her public school career, too. 

Everyone was fed up with the environment within that system.

The Year We Accidentally Became Unschoolers

I was still having the daily battles with Michael. He had severe A.D.H.D. and bipolar disorder. The sleep battles, the attention problems, and my silly attempts to recreate school at home were the perfect recipe for disaster.

At this point, I had 3 kids (ages 17, 14, and 12 and 4) at home, and I was pregnant with Lorelai. Scotty and I were having serious relationship problems and had split up. I was under so much stress!

In the chaos of it all, we missed a day. Then another. And another. Before I knew it, I'd forgotten all about textbooks and schedules, breaks and early mornings.

We went with the flow of life, learning things as we learned them. We had the internet and books. We had plenty of real life. This was the first major detour on our homeschool journey.

I started a natural mothering group online, as well as a blog and some online stores. I was all about unschooling, homebirthing, and all other natural mothering things. I preached unschooling like it was the only way.

Secretly, I felt I was failing my kids.

Secretly, they felt I was failing them.
None of us would realize the others felt this way for nearly a decade.

A Detour into Relaxed Homeschooling

By the time I was homeschooling Alexis, the other kids were finished with their homeschooling educations, and I had adopted a more textbook-ish way of homeschooling that was quite different from recreating school at home.

We had textbooks, workbooks, and printables. We did do work, but I didn't spend all day doing it. I owned a green cleaning service and worked almost every day. Lessons were quite relaxed, doing them whenever there was a point in the day to do them, or when she expressed interest. 

While my teens worked with me in the cleaning business, there were always some older kids at home, too. They would help get her going on lessons when I was working. We kept a portfolio of her work and it was a comfortable way of homeschooling.

Yet, I still didn't feel I was "doing it right." Somewhere in my belief system was this indoctrinated idea of what school should be. While I fiercely defended my choices when verbally attacked or criticized, in my heart I wasn't happy about our homeschool.

And so we continued for another few years.

Discovering New Way of Homeschooling

In April 2009, I began a little blog called The Holistic Homeschooler. Maybe you've heard of it? (If you're new here, it's now called The Heart of Michelle.) 

My goal was to do what I had done with my natural mothering blog. That blog was about natural mothering, including homeschooling. This new blog would be solely about homeschooling.

My first task: I was going to research and share the various methods of homeschooling. The first method I researched was Charlotte Mason. I wrote my first post about it. And that was the end of my research. 

I had found my perfect style of homeschooling!

It incorporated nature, art, and literature. I was hooked. This method gave us structure without making us feel constricted. It gave us the freedom to continue learning from real life, while still gaining a quality academic education.

Balance. That's what I'd been needing for ten years!

Learning to Appreciate the Journey

Since then I've learned so much more about homeschooling than I had known in all those previous years. I've learned to be relaxed. I've learned there is no right or wrong way to educate our children. I've learned what works for us and what doesn't.

Most importantly, I've learned that homeschooling is a journey and, as with all journeys, we need to stop looking only at the destination. We need to enjoy the journey with all it's bumpy rides, unexpected stops, and unplanned detours.

After all, those are the things that make the ride interesting.

What's the biggest change you've experienced in your homeschool? Share in the comments.

Please hop over to iHomeschool Network where my colleagues are sharing the changes in their homeschool journeys.

Never miss a post! Subscribe here.

Happy Homeschooling!


  1. So wonderful to read about your journey as we embark on our first year homeschooling next year! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading, Julie! Enjoy your journey!

  2. Love this post, Michelle! I think when most of us start homeschooling, we have a preconceived notion of what it will look like. I began with all sorts of grand plans that actually added more stress to our days! It will be very interesting to see how our homeschool evolves over the years. I'm sure five years from now, it will look nothing like it does today.

    1. It probably won't. That's the beauty of it all, right?

  3. I love the journey. I think it's really interesting to look back and see all of the twists and turns and bumps in the road. Thanks for sharing yours!

    1. I agree! Thanks for stopping in, Cait!

  4. Elizabeth3/16/2015

    We started our journey 4 years ago with my 6 year old first grade daughter because we disliked the only affordable Christian school(bad principal, no control, little religion) and didn't want to send her to public school. We used (used)BJU Press for 1st and 2nd grade. And loved it. By the time 3rd grade rolled around Mary wanted more social interaction, more art and more science. We became "eclectic" homeschoolers, still using Bob Jones for Language Arts(English, Reading, Spelling, Handwriting) and Bible but doing a co-op for History, Science and Art and using Math U See and continued to do so in 4th grade. Also in 4th grade we added two new members to our family 4 year old Isabel and 14 month old Lucia, adopted through the foster system. This year we left our co-op and now use Answers in Genesis for History and Science. Isabel is in Kindergarten and we are taking it easy using Five in A Row and Math U See.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story! Sounds like you've had some big changes along the way.

  5. Anonymous3/16/2015

    Over the last 2 years, the biggest thing that has changed is my confidence level. I know I can do this!

  6. When my daughter was around 9, we found Oak Meadow, and began using it for many years. It is very hands-on and incoorporates art, nature and literature in everything that they do. It is similar to Charlotte Mason, and we love it! With all the hands-on learning, and lots of living books, my daughter was challenged and, over the years, she became a self-motivated learner. I love how you describe your journey, and the beauty of the various parts of it, how everything that happens in a part of it's true beauty. It's all in the journey.... Betsy @

  7. We haven't had any grand changes besides the year that we all went to school. I remember we all wanted to return home, and we did. Thanks for sharing your journey.


Join the conversation!