How do you want your homeschool to feel?

Written by Kara S. Anderson

I was talking with Melissa Camara Wilkins recently about the holidays, and she asked the best question:

How do you want the holidays to feel?

That took me back a step. I don’t usually think about the holidays that way – I’m too busy focusing on what to do next. I often see the Christmas season as one giant to-do list, until I can hit my bed face-first Christmas night, exhausted, but finally able to rest.

That’s not how I want to feel about the holidays, though, and that’s not how I want to feel about homeschooling.

I don’t want these years to be filled with nothing but check-boxes and to-dos.

And so I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how our homeschool feels, and what I want it to feel like going forward.

As January rolls around in a few weeks, and we begin a new semester of learning, here are some of the things I want to focus on:


I know this is going to sound funny, but I’m a big ‘smell’ person. I like our home to smell good, but not chemically laundry-aisle-at-the-grocery store good.

So I fill our home with beeswax candles and essential oils. I want to bake more, so we bought a bread machine, and I’m going to try to make time for baking more often in our routine.

I want to try to brew a pot of tea each afternoon, have a snack and chat. I think that will really help us get through these days when it gets dark early.


Our house has become quieter over the years. There used to be a lot more running around and shouting. There used to be more TV during the day too.

As my kids get older, I find that our house can become very still – and I like it.

But I also love when we listen to an audiobook together. My tech-challenges have kept me from finding a good way to make this a regular part of our everyday, but I’m committing to learning this season – especially because I think an audiobook would pair very well with that tea and snack time I mentioned above.


When my kids were small, I knew exactly how I wanted our space to look – like a mini Waldorf or Montessori classroom with open-ended educational toys sorted into bins and baskets and accessible for free play.

As my kids get older, I have found myself struggling with this a bit, and recently, my husband and I talked about it. Our current home was never meant to be a permanent place for us, and everything is sort of shouting right now that it’s time to move.

But that probably won’t happen tomorrow. So instead, I work to try to clear spaces whenever I can, because as much as my family probably wouldn’t admit it, we all feel better when there’s less stuff.

But I’m also keeping in mind some things that I hope for in our new home – a cozy fireplace, a space big enough for all of us to watch movies together and yes – spaces for my tweens-going-on-teens to have easier computer access.


When I think back on Christmas traditions that were meaningful to me, I realize now that they weren’t anything fancy. They were simple, which is probably part of the reason they kept happening!

Our homeschool traditions are simple too – going to the library and stocking up on big bags of books and then coming home to read, read, read until dinner, watching educational videos during breakfast, math on the windows, grabbing a snack after co-op, always having cocoa after being in the snow, cinnamon toast and tea before bed …

These are little things, but isn’t it the little things that make a life? Make memories?


I’ve noticed something big happening here – my kids are getting older. They are maturing, and so their needs are changing.

But even as they change and grow, I want our home to continue to be their safe place.

I heard this quote recently, and it has stayed with me:

“Elrond’s house was perfect, whether you liked food or sleep or story-telling or singing (or reading), or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien

And so, I want to keep considering in the months and years to come how I want out homeschool to feel. I want to keep in mind what I hope my kids will remember.

Certainly, every day won’t be perfect (at least not at my house!), but this can be a priority of our homeschool days – something that I hope we will build on. Something that will last, that my kids will carry with them always.

Your turn! How do you want YOUR homeschool to feel? Click here to leave a comment.

About Kara Anderson

Kara is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom, with a goal of encouraging fellow mamas in real-life homeschooling. She also's the happy co-host of The Homeschool Sisters podcast.


  1. That Tolkien quote breaks my heart, because our home is not a place of refuge. We adopted a passel of little ones out of the foster system about a year ago, so we invited a terrible war into our home. We are daily battling the evils these tiny ones have been exposed to, and all of us live in a state of exhaustion at all times. Nonetheless, we’re engaged in an important work, and I don’t regret it because though we’re living without mental, physical, or emotional peace right now, we’re seeking long-term spiritual peace. It’s been just long enough that we’re starting to have moments of refuge. Perhaps eventually the moments will become hours and the hours will become days . . .
    Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (In Which the Snow Arrives)

    • Oh Anne. I can imagine that for your foster kids your home is absolutely a place of refuge, and what an incredible example you are setting for your other children. We had a very hard situation in our home for more than a year, and things have settled slowly. Only recently have I been able to think about how I want things to feel instead of just living in survival mode, so I get it a little. You are doing SUCH important work. I hope the peace comes for you as much as it can during this season, and in the meantime, I hope you can find peace whenever you remember that you’re helping kids who truly need it. That is so wonderful. <3

  2. Ann Richendollar says:

    Beautiful post! I have 2 older homeschool students in high school now & I have been thinking how much our homeschooling has changed for them. I miss the days when they were a little more carefree with projects & learning. With more structure & maturity has come more quiet & less student bickering My old kitchen radio was been gone for awhile & feeling the house needed something-I downloaded a radio app recently. Sounds of refuge. Thanks again-excellent read.

  3. This is beautiful. I’m toasting you with my tea, amid the twinkle lights, children playing at my feet. It feels good in here today. <3
    Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: 10 Practical Reasons Why You Need Virtual Field Trips in Your Life

  4. A beautifully written post!!! My thoughts exactly, I just didn’t know how to put them into words. So thank you for that!!! Our home is one like many others I am sure….always something to do, somewhere to go, someone needing to be here or there. I do get tired, but it is indeed a good kind of busy. Our 2 oldest are married now, and with 4 left at home, our house is rarely quiet, but my years with homeschooling are slowly slipping away from me. Our children will be / are needing me in different ways from what they have needed in previous years. I too, want our home to be their safe place, a place where they will come for peace and to just catch their breath. I want to be available for them, should they need to chat or ask questions, perhaps seek advice, but if for no other reason, just come home because it’s home and that’s a great place to be.

  5. Scents are so important! I love this simmer scent recipe that Meagan shares in #3.
    kortney garrison’s latest post: Connecting with Books…and Beyond!

  6. Such a great post and a wonderful way of thinking about my homeschool.

  7. Such a great reminder…. I might need to print the title and put it on my wall!

  8. Thank You Kara for sharing with us readers, it was a delight to read!
    As my kids get older I miss the days they were younger, freedom to do as you mentioned seemed less stressful. I have a problem with letting guilt seep through when I allow so much down time for my kids now as they get older. The struggle with academics vs self directed is a balance I still struggle with. I cherish the times of cozy story reading, sips and snacks!

    • Thank you Nora! I have so many thoughts right now about this transition that seems to be happening in our house and how academics versus self-directed learning are going to look in the years to come. Big stuff, right?! But cozy always feels good! 🙂

  9. I love this! Socking this away for future reference, Kara. I’m one for whom smell influences me, too. And even things like the sound of a running dishwasher or clothes dryer can just add mental “noise” – peaceful music or an audio book really shift the mood. 🙂
    Kara E Fleck’s latest post: What’s on MY wish list this year?

  10. Beautiful post. I want storytelling and laughter and time to experiment and try things outside their comfort zone (without mom telling them they have to!)

  11. Creating a haven…that’s what I want to do; a shelter that we all seek when we need time to let the outside do its thing, and we can be together, taking sanctuary–if only for a short time. And I need the reminder over and over. Thanks, Kara!
    Heather @wellermommablog’s latest post: 7 Smart Decisions to Make When You Crave Simple Sanity

  12. Creating haven! Yes – I love that Heather!

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