My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake

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

Haven’t you ever wished you could have, as a new homeschooler, a mentor for the journey? Someone who would share her successes, her advice, her struggles, her regrets? Someone who would allow you to learn from her mistakes?

As editor of Simple Homeschool, I receive plenty of emails from moms who have an inner nudge that bringing their children home to learn is the right decision for their families.

Often, though, they desperately fear making a mistake–maybe choosing the “wrong” curriculum, allowing their kids to fall behind, or not giving the child a chance to socialize appropriately.

Guess what? Mistakes come with the territory. We’re not perfect and not every decision we make will be the right one. Still, it’s nice when you don’t have to make a mistake yourself to learn a lesson.

Throughout October at Simple Homeschool we hope to serve as a mentor for you. This month all of our contributors will be sharing, openly and vulnerably, about the mistakes we’ve made along the way.

We hope this series will encourage and remind you that you can do this, that mistakes are not irreparable, and that perfection is not a prerequisite to the role of homeschooling parent.

I hope you’ll join us for each post during this series – we’ll kick it off on Wednesday!

What mistakes do you most fear making? What would be helpful to read about during the month?

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’m looking forward to reading these posts.
    Jenny’s latest post: Fall 2011 Curriculum Clean-Out-CLOSED

  2. Lately I’ve been worried that even though I believe my kids are learning TONS and are super smart for their ages, they will be unable to pass the state mandatory tests every couple years. Like, they may know the information, but not be able to understand the questions w/o me there to walk them through it or help them focus.

  3. Amy Hunter says:

    Jamie, I am already encouraged to read this note. My husband and I have felt the calling to homeschool our girls since the first one was tiny. Now we are already here, her Kindergarten year and I’m feeling so unprepared even with all the preparation I’ve done. Each day brings more confidence in my ability, but still find myself wishing I had someone there to hold my hand and guide me through.
    I am grateful for your loving, honest heart and all that you share here. Thank you! I’m excited for this series!

  4. Great idea! I have my own list of regrets and fears but I am thankful for the perspective these years have given me. And that for the most part that perspective helps banish the fears (as much as they can be), and the regrets are swallowed up in the knowledge that I was doing my best with what I had. We all need to remember not to be SOOO hard on ourselves!!

  5. sounds great Jamie, can’t wait, failures sounds right up my alley (I mean that in a positive way!)

  6. I am so looking forward to this series! I just started with my oldest (5) and I have two younger children as well. I guess my biggest fear at this point is will I be able to pull this off with three children at different levels. I would most like to read tips for keeping multiple children on multiple tracks . . . also how veteran homeschoolers measure “progress” and keep notes/records. What would you do differently now? (Since you asked, LOL!) Love this site!
    Momma in Progress’s latest post: Week Four: One Month Down and We’re All Still Alive

  7. I haven’t technically started homeschooling yet, my daughter is 3 1/2. But, I think my biggest fear is that I am making the wrong decision for her. All of her little friends have started pre-school this year. I know that I am fully capable of teaching her at home, but when I tell people, they just kind of look at me like “what is wrong with you?!” I’m guessing this is normal when you start out…at least I hope so! I’m not entirely concerned with what people think of me, but it always makes me second guess myself and homeschooling.
    Heather’s latest post: fermented foods

  8. My biggest fear is keeping records (grades). We are notebooking our way through most of our subjects. I have yet to use any grading system other than for spelling tests. I’m afraid that if they should choose to go back to school next year I’ll have to no transcripts to show teachers.
    Look forward to the series! I really need it right now. 🙂
    Sara’s latest post: Cave Paintings

  9. What a great idea! And I know it will be encouraging, too. I spoke a couple weeks ago at our state’s secular homeschooling conference and my workshop was all about confessing the things I’d done wrong or bumps I had encountered in the road of homeschooling…and how its completely normal! I had many people approach me afterwards thanking me for my honesty.

    I am REALLY looking forward to reading this series with you. Nothing is more helpful than homeschooling parents who are willing to be honest about the journey!
    MamaTea’s latest post: science…in the microwave?

  10. I don’t homeschool, but I can relate to the mistake factor in parenting. So glad we have many, many opportunities to discuss missteps with our children and try again.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: An Interview with the Rose Boys

  11. Looking forward to reading these posts. This is my first year really homeschooling (last year we just did some work here and there so my son would get used to the idea of “school time”), and I worry about not doing a good enough job. It will be encouraging to read that accounts of how you can succeed despite making mistakes!
    Savannah’s latest post: And then there was 1..

  12. Oh Jamie, this is so good! One of the things that makes this process difficult for many of us is we don’t have a model. The vast majority of us are first generation homeschoolers, so we’re doing something we’ve never seen done! And many of the things we HAVE seen in education are the things we’re trying NOT to do! I know a lot of homeschoolers say their own classroom education is the worst thing that ever happened to their homeschool. I’m looking forward to reading this series of posts. Thank you!

  13. My biggest mistake (both in the past and currently) is not using what time I DO have in the day to accomplish what I can… for that given day. For instance, if I feel like I can’t get a full day of school in (every subject) then I sort of throw in the towel and accomplish nothing. I am trying to switch my thoughts and just get done what I can and savor that accomplishment.

  14. My older daughter successfully homeschooled through 8th grade and will graduate college in 2012. But as I decide whether or not to let my 13-year old go to private high school or magnet school next year, I’m terrified that I’ll make the wrong choice.

    There’s something telling me to take on the challenge of homeschooling high school this time, especially since there are so many resources available, but I can’t articulate my position well enough to convince anyone else, or even myself!

    • Dear Candice,
      One of my biggest regrets is sending my 9th grade son to private school after home schooling him since 3rd grade. He was not wanting to do the work I asked him, and being the oldest I was so unsure of myself.

      We decided to let him go to a small private school and it was a disaster for him. He remained there for two years and then asked if he could start attending the local community college. He made some very poor choices while at the private school that I regret will affect him for a long time. It hurt our relationship with him and his relationship with God. Peer pressure was the cause. He just wasn’t ready.

      If I had it to do over I’d rather him stay home all day doing whatever he wanted to do, Un-Schooling than what we chose.

      With our second son who’s now 14 we all agree he will not go to school anywhere but home until college.

      That’s just our experience.

      Grace and Peace,

      Just our experience.

      • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it’s peer pressure that’s making ME think of sending her to school. I’m not sure what we’ll do but I’m not going to be pushed into a decision.

        • Candice,

          There are so very many choices out there. What does your 13 year old want? Are you enjoying your time with him/her? Your children sound very bright and I can tell you that colleges love to get home educated students. They usually love to learn.

          I also struggled with pressure from family and some friends but ultimately you have to do what YOUR hear tells you. And pray.

          Grace and Peace,

  15. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of homeschooling families in my circle. I have recently started hosting a sort of Meet and Greet coffee at my house once every few weeks, where the newbies and veterans can come together in a relaxed and contained environment. We usually met at playgrounds, but it can get so chaotic with trying to keep track of your children that you don’t really get to sit and connect with other parents. My biggest mistake…freaking out about curriculum and buying way more than I needed to!

  16. I am afraid my children will say, “Why didn’t you teach me that when I was younger?” In fact, that happened already.

    My 11-yr -old son’s little sister who is 6 can read really well because I used the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book with her.

    My son did not start reading well until he was 9.

    So the other day he said to me, “How come you didn’t do those lessons with me?” He was jealous that she was reading so well and she’s 5.5 yrs younger than he is.

    The truth is that I tried to do them with him, but he was not ready for them yet, he did not have the internal drive to do it, and I did not have the inspiration to push it on him.

    I hated that feeling of failing him. And that awful feeling came even when I’ve done my very best.
    Karina Palmer’s latest post: Impatience

  17. I am looking forward to this.
    Dawn Suzette’s latest post: Adventures and Crafting with Grandma

  18. I am looking forward to these posts as well. My son is 3 so we have several years yet before starting homeschooling. In the meantime, I continue to read, research and document ideas, curriculum, etc. to possibly use with him. I worry about the mistakes I will make those first years in choosing what works best for him. Will I do too much or too little? Will I turn him “off” from learning or confuse him during this process? Will his learning style be obvious? I know it will all work out in the end; however, I want to avoid making as mistakes as possible.

    • Hi T. Beard, I just wanted to say that I also have a toddler (18 mos.) and are already referring to our learning approach as “homeschooling/unschooling.” I’m right there with you. These early years are critical and it’s important that we are intentional about encouraging our little ones’ curiosities and senses of wonder, as these skills will eventually follow them to a more traditional classroom (if that’s what we choose.) In any case, I doubt you or I will do anything different, but I thought you might find it interesting that we are already coining what we do as “homeschool” even though our little guy is so young.

      Good luck!
      TheActorsWife’s latest post: learning french

  19. Ali Federwitz says:

    YES! I’m looking forward to this series. Thank you!

  20. What a great idea. Something we can all relate to! Since I’m just starting out homeschooling my 5-year-old, this will give me some solace.
    Shelli’s latest post: Music Appreciation with Beethoven

  21. Catherine says:

    This month at Simple Homeschool is just what I need! We are in the middle of debating whether to bring our 9- and 6-year old children home from public school, and we have many fears! We do worry about them socially, and we worry about them being able to go to the college of their choice. We are hesitant about giving them an experience neither of us had…something we are both unfamiliar with. I’m also nervous about how I, as an introvert, will do with constant company at home…even though I love being with my kids and miss them while they’re gone all day! I am looking forward to reading what everyone has to say!

  22. Ooh, yay! I’m so excited for this. I’m still years and years away from homeschooling (or even needing to decide about homeschooling) but I soak up all the advice I can get, and I love open discussions on the very real mistakes that can be made. And you’ve created such a wonderful place where your contributors can share openly without having to worry that we readers will judge them (which we never would!).
    Jennie’s latest post: 100 Steps from Bliss

  23. I’m glad you’ll be doing this series, 6 or so weeks in I feel some things don’t work for us and ‘scheduling’ has changed every week and I have my moments of feeling like I’m not doing everything or enough and maybe they are a tad behind to their ps counterparts at this time of year. I need to get over it and move on- so I look forward to your advice!!

  24. What a wonderful idea. I have tons of fears, but the biggest is just not using the right method for my children. Looking forward to the coming weeks.
    kristy’s latest post: Still catching up.

  25. I try not to focus on my fears, but I have one overarching fear. I’m afraid that my son will lose his love of learning because of something I do (or don’t do). I SO want my love of learning to rub off/spur him on!

  26. I fear that my boys will be upset at me when they get older because they did not be as smart as they could have been. I fear that we will miss something that is really important.
    I also fear that I am going to be so focused on school…..that I will miss out on enjoying being a mother.
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: My project- Busy Bag Swap

  27. I am just getting started, so hopefully I can learn a lot this month. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Melissa’s latest post: The more I think about unschooling…

  28. Mamie Jane says:

    Love the idea of this series and can’t wait to read it. I’m sure there there will be lots of “mistakes” mentioned that I don’t even realize I’m making.

    I suppose the two things I fear the most are 1) social issues (i.e.My daughters feeling awkward around kids their own age and not having enough opportunities to overcome that. My oldest daughter is very shy and I can tell that how painful it is when her friends who are in school ignore her at birthday parties…or maybe it is just painful to me! ) 2) My daughters resenting my heavy involvement in their education when they are older. I guess I fear hearing, “I really wish you would have just let me go to school, Mom.”

    Oh and I just thought of a number 3!….worrying about mistakes I may make or about what they will resent in the future instead of just enjoying the fact that for the most part, things are quite beautifully right NOW. 🙂

  29. This couldn’t come at a better time. My husband and I have recently agreed to homeschool/unschool our toddler (currently 18 mos) through kindergarten and perhaps beyond. Needless to say I’m looking forward to a little advice.
    TheActorsWife’s latest post: learning french

  30. This is my favorite homeschool site, and this series is a testimony as to why : ) My greatest fear is that I will forget to teach them something dreadfully important. I am a teacher by trade & taught for 7 years in a public school before becoming mommy. But, now that I am mommy AND teacher, I fear that I will be so caught up in trying to plan dinner, clean house, bandage boo-boos, settle squabbles, etc…that I will forget to teach them something they NEED to know!
    Paula @Motherhood Outloud’s latest post: An Uncomplicated Life: Cleaning

    • So don’t teach them any school subjects at all- teach them Communication, Access, Research and Maths. Those can be combined with household activities. And if you DO miss something else they need to know, guess what? It won’t matter. They’ll have the power to find it out themselves. How to use Internet connections, how t use library cards and how to learn are all the lessons they’ll really need to learn. Anything else is just applying those skills.

  31. I was reading Simple Mom and had to click over here when I saw the title of this post. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old so we still have some time, but I am thinking about homeschooling. Here are some of my fears :
    1. Growing up it seemed like the kids I knew who were homeschooled didn’t fit in and were maybe a little “backwards.” I feel bad writing that but often that stereotype surrounds homeschooling. People often attribute this to being “sheltered” and having few social outlets.
    2. Missing out on field trips, Christmas parties, etc. Will they feel left out?
    3. Homeschooling in high school. Can I teach algebra? What happens if the kids have been homeschooled through eighth grade (or any grade really) and then start public or private school. Would they transition well?
    Thanks so much for this series! I am looking forward to it!

    • I know some of those kids, but I have to say that I knew some of them that are and were in public school too! So, that relieves me some! I always wonder if I was one of the backwards ones at times and did not even know it!
      As far as field trips, my mom took us on so many field trips, we visited every place in town pretty much and if there was a home schooled child in town, we knew them.
      Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy with GIVEAWAY!!

  32. So, I’m curious: Did you smash a glass for photographic purposes to illustrate this post? 😉

    Just kidding. I look forward to all the honest sharing that this series promises. I’ve certainly made mistakes myself and it’s comforting to know I’m in good company!
    Hannah’s latest post: Homeschooling: The Six-Week Exhale

  33. Jamie,

    I love this series! It’s been such a support to me (as have so many other previous posts).

    On a similar vein, I recently stumbled upon an essay, which fits right in with the series. I don’t know if you’d want to see if the author would mind if you re-posted it on Simple Homeschool, but either way, I wanted to share it. It’s a wonderful reminder of what matters most in homeschooling: the relationship of love and trust, from which the understanding and love of truth can grow.

    Anyway, here’s the link to the essay:

  34. Jamie,
    I pop in to this space as time allows. I love it! I have a question for you and the other moms who write here. How would you handle this situation…….we moved to a very rural small town in Montana last year. Homeschooling my 7 1/2 and almost 6 year old boys while trying to give enough attention to their almost 3 year old sister is a struggle. Mostly because there are no other homeschoolers here. The closest family ( and yes we do as much with them as possible) is on a ranch an hour away. Travel is difficult here from November until March due to harsh winters and poorly maintained roads. I feel like we have little to no social support. No homeschooling kids or parents. No support from the general community since homeschooling is frowned upon. We don’t even have a community to worship with since there is not a church here that is of our religious beliefs. We do church at home and school at home. There are not many good activities for the kids to participate in either, so they really don’t have many friends here as hard as we have tried. And, a lot of the kids are poorly parented. Their parents are rarely home and the kids are often exposed to a lifestyle we do not prefer….alcohol, meth, inappropriate media, etc.. We are here for my husbands job and don’t know how long well be here. Another year or five? We don’t know. So, we need to make this work. The trouble is that I am very burned out. Any suggestions wuld be so appreciated!

  35. Noorfatima says:


Share Your Thoughts


CommentLuv badge

Travel the world all summer with our
FREE summer book club, starting soon!

anabolic pharma