How to win at homeschooling

Written by Kara S. Anderson

Recently, a friend of mine posted a photo on Instagram, and I thought to myself – That’s It. That’s the stuff, right there.

I need to tell you that it wasn’t a particularly fancy picture (no offense to my friend).

But it wasn’t staged. There wasn’t lighting. It wasn’t #sponsored, and the kids weren’t wearing coordinating Hanna Andersen outfits. They weren’t in a field of wild flowers, or at the base of the Eiffel tower.

Instead, it was a picture of a moment – her son comforting her daughter through an anxious time.

And so, it made me think of the Dum-Dums. Of course.

When we started homeschooling, it was because my kid wasn’t fitting in the box at preschool. He didn’t want to “sit on the line” during story time, and so I thought we’d give homeschooling a shot.

My main motivation then was to give my kid a chance to bloom outside of the standards.

I didn’t think of a lot of the other things that would come with choosing an alternative educational path – things like the Dum-Dums.

Let me explain:

My daughter never went to school, and so as soon as we started homeschooling, the three of us were together ALL THE TIME. We were like a little gang in cardigans and rain boots.

But on the rare occasion that I had one of the kids by him- or herself, and they were offered a treat (Dum-Dums at the bank, for instance), they always, always asked for a treat for the other kid.

Maybe non-homeschoolers do this.

Maybe all kids do this.

But it made me really happy that they were so thoughtful toward each other – that they thought of each other when they were apart.

That they looked out for each other …

I’ve written before that they don’t have a “perfect” sibling relationship by any means. But in general, when my kids need each other – they are there for one another.

And I’ve realized that that’s really important to me.

I recently asked my daughter over on Instagram live, where we chat sometimes, what makes her feel loved. She said that being seen as an individual is really important to her.

Again, this might not ring true for every homeschooler (I highly recommend this book {afflink} to figure out your child’s love language). But to her, getting to explore her interests and being supported in her passions makes her feel special, honored and appreciated.

And that’s another big thing for me, of course. As I wrote here, maybe the biggest thing for me is raising kids who know they are truly loved.

So how will I know in a few years if I’ve won at this homeschooling business?

Well first, I’m not competing against other families, and I don’t think you should either.

I mean, maybe there’s a 6-year-old at your co-op who speaks 4 languages. Bully for her! But if your kid doesn’t dream of a future in the UN, you might not need to add French, Mandarin and Afrikaans to your to-do list, mama.

Instead, I think you need to decide what’s most important to YOU and YOUR family.

And I think it’s important to realize that whatever it is may not be academic. That’s okay. They might actually just be family things, especially if, like us, homeschooling is more a lifestyle than just the way you educate your kids.

Here are some of the big things for us:

  • I want my kids to love each other.
  • I want my kids to feel loved by their parents.
  • I want my kids to want to come home after they have left.
  • I want my kids to enjoy learning.
  • I want my kids to feel supported in their passions.
  • I want my kids to feel appreciated as unique individuals.
  • I want my kids to have compassion.

So then what we do here might look different from other families.

For instance, we commit a day a week to volunteering right now.

We also read together, a lot.

As Simple Homeschool editor Jamie Martin says in Give Your Child the World: (afflink)

“Build your kids’ lives on a story-solid foundation and you’ll give them … a reservoir of compassion that spills over to a lifetime of love in action.”

Or as Sarah Mackenzie says in The Read-Aloud Family: (afflink)

“We slip on someone else’s shoes for a few minutes or 121 pages, and our spirits are moved. That is the power of story.”

So if compassion and empathy are a big deal to you too, maybe you can let that fourth language go, and still win at homeschooling, just by opening a book …

The important thing, I think, is deciding what is going to feel like a win to you someday.

So let’s remember this:

It’s hard to know what our kids are going to do with their lives. We can’t predict outcomes and we can’t force academic success.

So then maybe we let go of those things a little, and instead focus on the people we were given to love. What do we really want most for them as just humans?

Love. Happiness. Joy. A sense of purpose. Passion for something bigger than them …

Mother Teresa said that if you want to change the world, “Go home and love your family.”

I’d say if you really want to win at homeschooling, do the same.

What are the Big Things you want for your kids?

If you found this post helpful, subscribe via email here to receive Jamie’s FREE ebook, Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom!

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. Yes! this is why it is so important to have a vision for your homeschool, I think. When I really focus on the big picture, I can clearly see that relationships, attitudes, and “soft skills” are more important for me and my kids than any academic work. And how great that read alouds help with all that stuff because they are just so easy to enjoy together too!

  2. Exactly! My goals look very similar, and always have. That said, I’m discovering (in the midst of learning to parent four little boys) that a big vehicle for reaching those goals actually involves more planning and structure than I’d imagined prior to having said boys… Details have always made me nervous lol, but I’m learning (slowly, painfully) how to figure out the ones that matter and put workable plans in place around those, so the living a life of love has a good space in which to happen. Not sure that makes sense to anyone but me lol, but it’s heartening to hear from another mom who’s a bit further down the track that I want to be on, too!

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