Jamie’s Biggest Homeschooling Mistake: Failing to Be Me

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

A note from Jamie: Were you a reader last year, when all of our contributors shared their biggest homeschooling mistakes? Enjoy this repost from last October!

I began my homeschooling career like many of you: with a whole host of stereotypes and a conveyor belt education hangover. I believed I wasn’t fully equipped to teach my children and that a system knew what they needed better than I did.

Even though I dared, as many of you have, to venture out on this path–I carried my baggage with me. As a result, I wanted to homeschool the “right” way. I desperately didn’t want to fail my children or screw up their education, their socialization, their lives!

So I read some really good books about homeschooling, searched for the ideal curriculum, and turned down the dial on my inner intuition.

But something didn’t feel right.


The path I took led straight to anxiety and a lack of joy. As Renee wisely pointed out last week, fear will knock on our door no matter what–no matter which educational path we choose or don’t choose. At least let’s allow it to pursue us as we dare to live an authentic life–not the life someone else says we should live.

I don’t know why, but God created me to be a pioneer. I see it in the way my husband and I grew our family, the work we devote our lives to, and the choices we’ve made about where to live. Why would I think that our kids’ educations would require anything less than the courage to step out and be different?

All of us have been created with an inner voice that says yes or no–a “blink” that tells us whether something is or is not right for us. As we follow its guidance, we uncover our best life. Yet many of us rationalize our dreams–our very selves–away, and within minutes we’re convinced that “that idea will never work…that’s too risky..that wouldn’t be fair to the kids.”

Do you know what your kids need most of all?

You! Being who you are and nothing more. That means skipping those assignments in the instructor’s guide that just don’t feel right, instead following the spark of life, energy, and laughter that bring joy and learning to your family’s days.

The art of learning is not as complicated as we’ve been told. As Aristotle said, “All men by nature desire to know.”

Believing that quote has set me free to be me.

Resources that have helped me on the road to freedom:

Warning: Your road to freedom will not be the same as mine–that’s the whole point!

Have you ever found yourself failing to follow your own intuition as a homeschooling parent?


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. Fantastic encouragement! Authentic living requires courage and encouragement as we step out in faith. It has taken me years to do what is right for us and not follow what someone else has prescribed.
    Nadene’s latest post: Sketch Tuesday ~ Something that lives long

  2. I admire you homeschooling parents so much!!

  3. I’m still hungover from conveyor belt education as well. It is so easy to say “lets do this” and forget the system. I still struggle with doubts about taking them out of public school, but I’m starting to realize (slowly) that I’m not hurting their education or their drive to learn.

    This has been a great series Jamie. A big thanks to you and the contributors.
    Sara’s latest post: Cave Paintings

  4. This is our first year homeschooling, so I still struggle with the voices that suggest I might not be doing it “right”. Thank you for this encouragement!
    Dwija {House Unseen}’s latest post: NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

  5. Great post! Seeing as how I am not sure I have figured out exactly who I am yet (actually I know who I am I’m just not sure I know how to live the life I want to) mykids may be in for a wild ride the next few years as I get it all figured out. But it’s more about being together and sharing the journey and life than having it all figured out, right?
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: Routines

  6. Great list of resources! Those were many of my “movers” as well.
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: How about this?

  7. These post have all been so great! And Jamie yours is no exception!! It is so hard to let go, it is so hard to be a pioneer! My husbands siblings all homeschool but much diffrent than we do, my family are public school teachers… we are pioneers and we just take one step at a time because really we have no clue what we are doing! We are just trying to listen to the spirit everyday and give our children what we never got!

  8. Story of my life. Five years into this journey, I’m still refining. With so much great material out there and so many people passionately advocating “their way,” it can be difficult not to lose yourself in a sea of great ideas and homeschool approaches. “To thine own self be true…” it’s a philosophy I return to time and again.
    Scooper’s latest post: {Day 17} Real Rest: A Reason

  9. Thank you for sharing this. You’ve given me permission to be (and teach from) the person I am and not the educator I think me children *need.*
    Daniell’s latest post: Field trip II: Baltimore

  10. I love this, Jamie! I totally relate – that’s probably my biggest challenge as well.
    Leslie’s latest post: Marshmallow Construction with Toothpicks

  11. I loved this “Why would I think that our kids’ educations would require anything less than the courage to step out and be different?”

    I get it.

    I love being at the place where I accept that the best I have offer my kids is me for who I am. Not me pretending to be school-at-home mom, or me trying to be classical mom or even unschool mom. I’m none of those. I’m me and being who I am right now and being loved by my family exactly as I am is the best freedom there is.

    Whoo-aaa. I get charged up just writing about it!
    Renee’s latest post: Some People Bake ~ I Make Soap

  12. I love this series. So many things feel as if they’ve been written just for me. Thank you for sharing this!! <3

  13. Great post! It’s so hard not to “copy” what other homeschoolers are doing because it always looks like other people are doing it better! I feel guilty sometimes, not signing up for every homeschool activity or field trip offered…but the truth is, for our family, when we are over scheduled or forcing an activity when we should be home…we all end up miserable! I need to read this post often!
    Nicole’s latest post: Kids with allergies

  14. Great post Jamie! You said it all very well! I can totally relate about homeschooling my kids, sometimes I feel confused if I’m really doing the right thing for my kids. Thanks Jamie for encouraging us homeschooling parents to continue what we love doing for our kids!
    Karylle Lynch’s latest post: OSHA Issues New Laboratory Safety Guidelines – With GHS Info – Safety Training Thursday

  15. Thanks! This has been something I have been learning in parenting as well as in homeschool. I figure God made me this way and gave me these kids for a reason and to really go with what I believe.

    There are probably more ways to parent and homeschool than there are people in the world…. it is impossible to try and figure it out.

    What has been had for me is to give up trying to prove to others that I am doing what is best for my kids. …. I might never get them to agree, but I still need to move on.
    Lorilee @ Loving Simple Living.com’s latest post: Simple Compassion – Pack Up And Ship Out

  16. Huge amounts of wisdom there, Jamie. I think it really takes *knowing* who you are and being able to identify the voice of your intuition among all the competing voices, even the ones inside your own head ;-). Myself, I tend to second-guess everything, including what I believe to be the Lord’s speaking to me.
    Hannah’s latest post: MIssion Accomplished

  17. an inspiring post…I wish I could be ‘just me’ while homeschooling- except I am a very introverted, rather-be-reading type….so sometimes ‘faking it’ a bit is necessary
    priest’s wife’s latest post: Righteous Anger

  18. Thanks for this! This morning, my daughter wanted to read…instead of doing school! 😉 We read together for over an hour, or shall I say, she read stories to me for over an hour! She is 5 and is reading Dick And Jane stories! It was fun and she learned how to sound out some new words and gained confidence in her ability to read! I am so thankful to be able to do this and to encourage her love of reading.

  19. Awesome post and also some great comments. Being our created selves is crucial to our success and for staying in God’s will. It is God’s will that we be who he created us to be which may or may not be who others expect us to be or even who we expect ourselves to be. Somehow we never seem to think we are good enough. I have learned that God knows what he is doing and since he created me, he had a reason for doing so no matter how weird I think I am. I have learned (the hard way) that I can trust Him and be myself and things turn out much better than when I don’t trust Him, am not myself, but instead listen to what others say I should be or do (which is fear).

  20. It’s taken me two years of homeschooling to figure this out. THANK YOU for speaking up about it 🙂
    Angela’s latest post: This Week I…

  21. Great post. Thanks for the list of resources. It seems sometimes that I have made a career of second-guessing myself. The good news is, I’ve “retired” from that life. Life runs a lot smoother and I’m so much happier! :O)
    LuAnn Braley’s latest post: WW – Papaw’s Backwoods House

  22. How have we missed discussing Malcolm Gladwell?? I devoured his books a few years ago and made everyone around me listen to his anecdotes. Just finished The Power of Habit, which felt very similar, and am now reading Quiet. Lots of non-fiction for me this year.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Adorable Thank Yous

  23. Thank you for sharing this again. While we don’t homeschool it is always an option at the back of our minds. The part about quickly rationalizing our dreams away is so easy to do especially when there is risk involved. We are looking at buying a new home on 3.5 acres and keeping our current home as a rental. We are expecting number 5 and have dreamed of having a little piece of land to run free on. The prospect of two homes and all of our other responsibilities is scary but it feels like the right choice at this time.

    All of that just to say thank you for a nudge of encouragement this morning. It is always good to read of others struggles and overcoming with faith.
    Cynthia I’s latest post: A Day in the Life–Turning 4

  24. Struggling with these issues right now, so this was timely. Thank you for the post.

  25. We school from home with a public school curriculum. This is our first year. It hasn’t been fun…yet. But we are determined to do this. I’m too scared to leave the “public school” behind. I fear that the system to get into college is set up for those on the “public path”. I hope to gain confidence and decide to be a little more free in our choices.

  26. Loved this!
    Even as an unschooling family I find that there always seems to be a perceived “right & best” way to home educate.
    I remind myself that part of the reason we chose this path was for the freedom to learn, grow & be together that being school free brings. Then I make sure I don’t let the philosophy get in the way of what works for me & my family.
    It can be easier said than done!

    Another great book is “Challenging assumptions in education” by Wendy Priestnitz. Highly recommend it!
    Shae’s latest post: Beautiful

  27. Totally agree. So much of the character’s journey in my novel is this because I think it’s what most of us homeschoolers have to learn the first few years –our own personality and style, as well as those of our children. Thank you!
    CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com‘s latest post: If Mama Ain’t Happy . . .

  28. I agree so much! I am just starting out with homeschooling our preschooler (well pre preschooler by American standards) and already found that I am doubting my decisions and my ability to teach even basic skills. A lovely, lovely reminder that we are ALL capable!
    Joanne’s latest post: Why do I Homeschool?

  29. This is me. I have spent the last two years trying to get it right and have been a ball of anxiety and stress. School has not been a delight for us. A lot of soul searching in prayer this year and thanks be to God he has been faithful as I step out in faith to do as He has led. How many times in my parenting have I abandoned intuition and regretted it?!

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