Stepping Out of the Silo: Collaborative Homeschooling for the Whole Family

Are you homeschooling in a silo? Maybe you’re shouldering the full responsibility of homeschooling your child or maybe your family hasn’t found a homeschool community that works for you.

It’s easy to get stuck in rhythms that aren’t quite right, but it’s difficult to see what needs to change. We can become blinded by our own processes and begin to operate within a silo without realizing it.

We cruise the same online haunts for inspiration, we introduce ideas and lessons with the same techniques over and over, and we forget that our way isn’t the only way.

Making conscious efforts to collaborate with our partners, extended family and our communities can help keep our families happy and healthy and our homeschooling efforts innovative and fresh.

Stepping Out of the Silo

Recent changes within our family caused us to shake things up and change our normal roles and processes. After being a stay-at-home mom for over seven years I took a full-time position and my husband stepped back from his work to care for and homeschool our three children.

As we traded responsibilities something clicked as we began to collaborate to meet our children’s needs.

It had been our intention to homeschool together as a family, but we realized that I had been, quite accidentally, homeschooling in a silo.

Though my husband shared his passions and skills freely with our children, I was the one who took care of the required state reporting, researched and curated info and resources, and guided the day-to-day hands-on learning.

I wasn’t fully happy and something wasn’t quite right, but I didn’t know why.

Looking back it wasn’t easy for my husband to participate because:

  • I didn’t include him in my planning.
  • I kept all my bookmarks, thoughts and plans on my personal laptop.
  • I read books and followed blogs that shaped my ideas and practices without involving him.

I didn’t do this on purpose and generally we have an open and engaging relationship. However, we didn’t set up our processes to make it easy for him to participate and, as a result, he came to view homeschooling as something I did.

Deep down neither of us were happy about it, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. At the time we didn’t know what or how to change.

Finding Our Collaborative Sweet Spot

Photo by Walt Ford
As I handed my husband the day-to-day homeschooling responsibilities we learned that he is a born educator. He is passionate, creative and patient; he enjoys making learning fun, engaging and relevant for our sons.

But he found he didn’t enjoy researching, organizing or reporting. Funny, because while I loved these aspects, truth be told, I found myself frustrated and overwhelmed by the day-to-day applications.

So we decided to work together. Having all the planning on the computer didn’t work for my husband so together we organized a simple binder and made sure it fit both our organizational styles.

Currently we plan out the week together. I feed him ideas and resources and he brings those ideas and skill building to fruition. He captures all the amazing things they do together during the day and I write the reports to fulfill our state regulations.

Something “clicked” when we started collaborating. We find we’re a lot happier, there’s less stress and we’ve learned a big lesson. Collaboration is an effective, efficient and healthy way for families and communities to bring their best skills to the table.

The Win-Win Factor of Collaboration

Sometimes it feels easier to just do things ourselves. Involving others takes time and effort. You need an open mind and a willingness to compromise. This can be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it.

Or other times we don’t ask for help because we fear that it means we couldn’t handle it on our own. We’re not supposed to be able to do everything ourselves. When we bring collaborative partners in we enhance our own well-being as well as enrich our children’s homeschool journey.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Homeschooling gives us the freedom to create learning environments that fit our child’s individual needs and learning styles.

Sometimes the solution may be working with another parent, an uncle, a tutor or a larger homeschooling collective. My take-away lesson? Actively investigate where we’ve created learning silos in our homeschool practices and embrace collaboration as a solution.

What about you? What homeschooling silos do you find yourself in? What do your collaborative successes look like?

About Hillary

Hillary feels lucky to be able to work full-time from home and shares the homeschooling responsibilities with her partner. Together, with a little creativity, a full schedule and a lot of love, they facilitate the education of their three adorable, and sometimes very loud, children.


  1. Interesting post!
    Hmmm. We don’t collaborate at all. I’m the teacher. I do wish my husband would participate. He told me at the very beginning that he couldn’t help.
    The truth is, he does SO MUCH else around here that picks up my slack, I honestly think I would feel like he was carrying me with this too…
    Hmmm, I’ll talk to him a bit and see what he thinks.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!
    karen Loe’s latest post: My Second Grade Teacher and Homeschooling

  2. I don’t collaborate either. I would love to but unfortunately my husband has no interest in the homeschool area :/ I did just join a co-op yesterday though. I am really excited about collaborating with other mothers for christian character development, service projects, public speaking, science, and so much fellowship. I hope that as the kids get older my husband will show more interest.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: On Keeping It Simple

  3. “When we bring collaborative partners in we enhance our own well-being as well as enrich our children’s homeschool journey.” That is so very true! I think often we take too much pride as homeschooling parents in doing it all ourselves. I love being part of a weekly co-op, where lots of parents with different passions contribute to my kids’ overall education.
    Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: New Cat, Old Cat

  4. It sounds like I am a lot like you and my husband like yours. He does well with the kids when I need him to fill in. He is funny and makes learning interesting. He is more creative than I am. But I am the organizer and keep things in line and done. He is a procratinator and not very organized at all. I would love for us to be able to work together like you have outlined. But unfortunately my husband works long hours. He is gone from 6 am until 6 pm. The kids are not interested in doing much school at night and most nights my husband is tired. Plus he has other interests that he has little time for. I do meet with other homeschoolers for a relaxed co-op. But it is very relaxed and does not help with my reg. work load at all. My area is lacking in homeschool support. We have a very small group. So I am not sure what other collaborating I could do.

  5. My husband and I are planning to homeschool our little girl and want it to be a collaborative process. We aren’t sure what that looks like yet but your post has given me hope that it can work.
    Steph’s latest post: When People Hurt You

  6. My husband and I don’t colaborate at all, which is fine with both of us. I’m excited to team up with my parents, starting next week, though! We are going to use their farm for nature study, and my parents will teach my girls about syrup making, woodworking, knitting, etc. So excited!
    Two Cowgirls’s latest post: Unit of Inquiry: Inside The Earth

  7. This was a very nice article. We are only child school house. I love being able to share the responsiblity with my own Mother. Phillip loves being able to do fun things with Grandma, she is very creative with certain areas that can be boring, and she is there as by support me also! My husband takes over on Fridays and does manly things with him. We call it the manly day. I guess in our house it really does take a village to raise a child. 😀

  8. My husband has some mental disabilities, so the decisions about schooling are really in my ball court. It makes it a little difficult, but while he is not against homeschooling, he does not really see the worth in it. I try to keep the burden off of them because of that!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Menu for the week

  9. Great reminder. Both my husband and I were home educated so we do talk a lot about it, but it is true that I do more of the research, etc.
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: What is hospitality?

  10. My husband and I don’t really collaborate. He spends time with the kids helping with math/science type questions if they want help or he’ll get involved in the occasional project (if I ask). He loves sports, though, and takes them under his wing in this regard. I think we work well as a team overall in life & parenting, but homeschooling is more my job than his, and I feel content with this.
    Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: Refined & Refreshed

  11. Not an option here… family is far away, local homeschool group is small and fixated on only younger kids (most kids in the group are preschool age), and my husband is absolutely not interested in what we are doing. In my humble opinion, sometimes it doesn’t matter if we can see what needs to be changed, because sometimes change just isn’t an option. Sometimes we are all there is to shoulder the responsibility. I am fine with that. I have a system down with the five I am homeschooling, and I’m not sure I’d like interference in that. 🙂 It would be too distracting and “messy” to add another collaborator to an already full program.

    It would be like trying to stick another spoke on a wheel that’s already turning.

  12. Thanks for the reminder you have shared us here then…There are some who will think that this is not agood idea but for others, it is…
    GelliAnn’s latest post: Relaxation Techniques For Anxiety

  13. This is such a good reminder, that we need others, that we can’t do everything ourselves.
    I have a passion for community living, above and outside of my homeschooling, so I try to integrate activities with neighbors, church (in the neighborhood too) and local places into our regular schedule. I know I am lucky to have so many connections within my surrounding neighborhood.

    I would encourage every homeschooler to take steps toward including others- even those who don’t homeschool- into your regular lifestyle. We all know that our kids need teachers besides us, the mom, right? None of us have all the skills, the whole perspective or personality, so of course our children need other adults.
    One thing I do weekly is to send my 7 and 9 yrolds to my friend’s in-home daycare (4 blocks away) for the morning, while I take my 5 yr old with special needs to her therapy. Then on Fridays, my 5 yr old goes there to enjoy and learn from the kids and teachers, and it gives me respite, and I can give attention to my other 2, and also do a kid-swap with a friend (and neighbor) every other Friday morning.
    It does require more flexibility of schedule, but it is so worth it!
    (I also have a loving and somewhat involved husband.)

  14. Its funny you divided the tasks much the way we like to as well. I get really excited about various books and resources, ways we can coordinate different aspects of a topic, etc. Actually helping P with his algebra or explaining how to write an occasion-position thesis statement tries my patience. It’s great to be able to work together!
    Robin’s latest post: Post Secret

  15. I love hearing your words again, Hillary! Such good ideas. My husband and I were just talking about finding a better balance so he can be more included.
    Kelly Sage’s latest post: Why I Play Games with My Children

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