10 questions to ask & answer about your family

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Homeschooling families recognize, at least in theory, that one of the beauties of the lifestyle we live is the freedom it gives us.

I definitely feel this way. In spite of the messes and challenges, laundry and to-do lists, each day I marvel that my family gets to craft this life and all its details according to what best meets our needs and goals.

This became especially clear on our recent trip overseas, during which we spent a month in England and my husband and I traveled to Italy. The fact that we had the flexibility to arrange this trip in the middle of the “school year” was just the first of many benefits we noticed.

Gazing up at York Minster

Before leaving a few friends asked if we planned to “do school” while away. My honest answer was, “Does it matter?” I knew we’d be learning all the time–no matter what activities we chose.

Sure enough, though we rarely opened the books or curricula I took along, our trip had quite a few lessons in store:

  • flexibility
  • understanding a new culture
  • developing relationships with extended family
  • playing with and entertaining babies and younger children
  • making friends in new places
  • giving us all (kids and parents alike) a bigger vision for our future

While coming back through customs upon re-entry in the United States, I watched from behind as Steve led the way and the kids followed. Steve rapidly wheeled his carry-on through the lines like a pro (He travels a lot with his work for Love146) while Trishna, Jonathan, and Elijah, laden with their backpacks, ran and skipped, trying to catch up.

We finally reached the customs agent, who asked Steve and me, “Are you all in one family?”

“Yep,” we answered–then smiled knowingly at his kind, but raised eyebrows response. We get that question a lot.

In that moment, I had an overwhelming feeling of confirmation–yes, we certainly are one family! And this crazy, traveling, learning, unique, global life we lead is exactly who we are and are made to be. It’s part of what defines us, part of our mission.

Who are you?

That’s who our family is created to be, but it isn’t necessarily what is best or ideal for you and yours.

Each family has a different heartbeat, a different focus, a different calling.

Use these ten questions to help discover yours:

  1. What cause gets our family excited?
  2. What activities bond and unite us?
  3. What do we want to pass on to our children?
  4. What contribution are we called to make as a family unit?
  5. What do we want our legacy to be?
  6. How would we spend a day that is open and free? (How families spend spare time is often a good clue to how you bond and learn together.)
  7. What time-wasters do we need to eliminate from our lives to be able to devote more time to these goals?
  8. How can I best inspire my children to embrace this activity or vision?
  9. What basics do we need to study and learn about in order to be prepared to fulfill our family’s mission?
  10. What can I do today to take one small step in the right direction?

A homeschooling lifestyle is much, much more than a schedule of duties and assignments to cover. If you are plodding through days merely checking off boxes, you are missing out! We literally have the world at our doorstep, begging to be discovered.

Find out who you are as a family, and you’ll discover what brings life and energy to your home, equipping you to continue homeschooling for the long haul, and more importantly–to actually enjoy it.

I wrote extensively about our trip on Steady Mom if you’re interested in specifics. We were inspired along the way by Beatrix Potter, Robin Hood, the Bronte sisters, Florence and Tuscany, and much more! So incredibly thankful for the opportunity and the flexibility of homeschooling that allowed us to take advantage of it all.

Fill in the blank & let’s discuss in the comments: I think our family’s specific mission and purpose is _____________________.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I’ll be heading over to Steady Mom to read about your trip! I loved your questions. Many of them we have already clearly answered for ourselves. Others we’re still in progress. One thing is that we are very interested (like you!) in a global world vision. Understanding and learning about and from other cultures is part of who we are. I grew up in France, my husband grew up with a Chinese mother and American father so multi-culturalism is somewhat built in.
    So glad you all got to go! What a great family memory and experience!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Clear A Surface

  2. You speak my language. Our mission is too long for one blank but I’ll say this much, it’s not about checking off “have we learned this” boxes.
    renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: Over Already (and yes, it’s oil pulling – before)

  3. I enjoyed your questions, and although we have definite answers to all of them, it’s not something I often sit down to put into words. However, the real reason I loved this post is your response to “Are you doing school while you are there?” We should never fail to realize the real learning done by exposing our children to new ideas and different places. Learning does not have to come in workbook form, guys!
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: A Quick Escape

  4. I think it’s taken me the entire first year to understand that homeschooling isn’t just a thing we do, but rather more of a lifestyle. It colors everything we do and affects all of us, and there’s so much we missed out on in the early days because we were so worried about checking off boxes! Reading about your travels has helped us realize there’s a much larger scope to what we’re doing, and it’s gotten us excited about the possibilites.
    Angela’s latest post: Know when to walk away, and know when to run.

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Angela! And I know exactly what you mean about the early days–it seems, in many ways, that this growing and stretching into freedom is actually part of the process.

  5. I love this!! Yes, yes, yes! So good, thank you for sharing. Focusing on this–and not the perfect curriculum–is so freeing and helps shape our lifelong learning. Thanks for sharing, Jamie!
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: One Another Challenge: 31 days to friendship God’s way (5)

  6. Homeschooling really makes us think of how we define ourselves here. Once off the schooling treadmill, there is a real chance to look around and ask the big questions. Sometimes, discovering who we are as a family is surprising. For example, we went to Disney last year and even though we had a great time, none of us are in a hurry to go back. We are a travel-to-remote-places kind of family and will keep that in mind as we plan other trips.
    Jennifer Castro’s latest post: Swimming!

    • That is a really good point, Jennifer. I think we’ve also found much of who our family is by such trial & error, too. Not that they were necessarily mistakes, but that each experience helps to steer us a little more clearly the next time.

  7. I’m currently working very hard on #7. Because the more efficiently our lives run, the more we can make room for the good stuff.
    Steph’s latest post: Two Lessons from Two Great Dads

  8. We are going to start homeschooling while creating a life around travel. I am still new to homeschooling so I appreciate the questions. Good things to reflect on.
    Jen’s latest post: 2012 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Recap

  9. Just printed off the questions to pray through this summer. Thank you.

    I’m headed into year 10 of homeschooling and I’m going to use these questions as I renew my heart and spirit for my family and homeschooling. Thank you. (Did I already say that? Thank you!)
    Emily’s latest post: And We Have Babies

  10. Excellent post! Gives me so much to think about. I’m going to print out these questions and have a serious heart to heart to chat with my husband and our daughters. Thank you!

    By His Grace,

  11. Oh, wow. What a great list of questions. Finding out your family’s mission is so important to living intentionally but it is also very difficult. I think you have created a wonderful starting point for anyone who wants to pinpoint what is most important to their family and a live life moving in that direction. I am going to share these questions with my husband – who doesn’t really care to think about these things, he leaves this kind of thinking to me. Maybe with these specific questions we can actually nail down some intentions for our family. Thanks.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: Bullying and What Should Be Done About It

  12. I would LOVE to expose my children to the world! I just can’t figure out the finances. I guess it’s about sacrifices along the way though. Cutting back on some things to make others, like travel, a real possibility.
    Tessa’s latest post: No Posts Were Found!

  13. I love this post! Thanks for taking the time to share it.

  14. I’ve had some similar thoughts swirling around in my head about my family, but these questions really help me put it into words. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to discussing this w my husband and kids!

  15. Lori Richmond says:

    If you got the raised eyebrow and the “are you all a family?” question, I can only imagine the reaction we’d get if we traveled with our brood of 10, ages 7-30! Or even if we just traveled with the 7 still at home! God willing, we will find out one day!

  16. We are planning to take the whole family back to Hong Kong to visit family for the month of September (what a privilege do do when you are homeschooling) and were also thinking of packing curriculum along the way. Now it gets me to re-think how often we could really “do school” when the world is at the tip of our toes as we walk and explore and “learn” wherever we go. The culture, the history, the conversation, a different language (maybe!), a way of life, the climate, the food … Ah, that’s an Unit Studies in and of itself!!! Love your questions, and we will be brewing them over with prayers!!

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