Why I Won’t Tell You How to Homeschool

Written by Shannon

Today the topic is Why I won’t tell you how to homeschool and what my bias actually is (if you haven’t figured it out already).

I attended my first homeschooling meeting the summer of 2000, in Folsom, California – a “how to get started homeschooling” session hosted at the church we were attending at the time.

My oldest, Kate, was three. Josh was 1.  Es and Z were not even born yet.

Three homeschooling moms hosted the gathering. Just a handful of us showed up. Homeschooling was just really coming out of the shadows at that point.

The leader of the homeschooling moms was so excited.

“This book changed my life,” she exclaimed, plunking Karen Andreola’s book A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning on the table. Gushing about how the ideas within transformed her homeschooling.

Karen Andreola changed many homeschooling parent’s lives with that book and her passion for sharing Charlotte Mason with a wider audience.

But so did many authors who introduced homeschooling to the wider public in the late 1980’s and 1990s:  Raymond and Dorothy Moore, John Holt, Mary Hood, Linda Dobson, Mary Griffith, …

David and Micki Colfax’s Homeschooling with Excellence chronicled the “how” behind their homeschool son’s acceptance to Harvard in the 1980s. Their oldest being the first modern day homeschooler accepted to Harvard, paving the road ahead for the many who have followed.

Kate, my oldest, was still under 5 when my best friend from high school called me, so excited, “Shannon, you’ve got to read the Teenage Liberation Handbook! It sounds like you.”

Apparently, it was required reading for one of her Masters of Education graduate classes. While I went to public school – technically – my education was a bit handcrafted and off-the-beaten path.

In those early years of homeschooling, I read everything I could – from the books to the research papers – from those who had gone before and who were researching homeschooling to shape public policy .

I wrote more than one college paper on homeschooling and homeschooling special needs – before I even realized how neurodivergent some of my kiddos are.

I listened to cassette tapes and read books by experienced homeschool moms, sharing how to unschool, how to use unit studies, how to use notebooking, how to use the 3Rs approach. I read about the Robinson method. Studying not just the methodologies but also the results.

I delved deep into other professors, who like Robinson, shared how their public school educated college students weren’t prepared for mathematical thinking, and proposed a different way. 

Life of Fred creator Stanley Schmidt and unschooling mom Pam Sorooshian planted seeds that reshaped my thinking about math, sparking my own deep dive into alternative math education and what math really is. (Cuz I didn’t know…)

But one of my best growing experiences as homeschool mom was when Kate was about 8, sitting at a mom’s night out, and a newer homeschool mom was asking about reading resources.

Eager to help, I excitedly shared what I was currently using and how it was the best…

Very gently and quietly, the experienced homeschool mom, who at the time had grown and graduated homeschoolers all the way down to babies (a total of 9), spoke up:

“You know, when we started homeschooling, I had this idea of what a perfect homeschool would look like, and how my kids would learn.

“And that worked for the first two. And then we had [her third born].

And I learned and continue to learn, that what I envisioned was not what was right for all of [her kids].”

Another experienced homeschool mom next to her, who also had both grown homeschoolers and elementary age kiddos, agreed and shared her own experience of how her ideal shifted over time to meet who her kids were and what they actually needed.

In that moment, I grew.

And the idea of “One Size Does NOT Fit All” in homeschooling crystalized for me. And took root.

Over the 23 years I’ve been involved in the homeschooling community, I’ve seen this over and over and over again.

Homeschooling works. Period.

Homeschoolers, across all methodologies, live productive adult lives. Become responsible, productive, amazing humans.

Homeschoolers across all methodologies – from the most conservative “school at home” to the most relaxed and unschooled – get into college, hold jobs, and do amazing things.

No one method is right. Nor is any one method right for everyone.

The trick is always to find the method that works best for your family and your teen. And that is very individual. Not just to your family, your homeschool, but also to your individual teen.  

Each is different.

And even for one teen, it shifts, as they grow, as life happens, and as goals and interests shift and change.

I can share ideas, possibilities, stories, examples, my own journey and tidbits from others. But at the end of the day, your journey is yours and your teen’s.

It is not my job to tell you How to homeschool. That’s a personal journey.

But I’ll gladly encourage you, support you in your efforts to find the right options for your family and teen, and answer questions.

In fact, it is my joy and honor to encourage and support you, if I can. It’s how I pay it forward for all those homeschooling moms (and dads) who poured into me, either indirectly through the books and workshops, or directly through conversations, mentoring, and walking along side.

My heart is for the teen years, and customizing to your teen, your family, within the homeschooling laws that apply.

I often choose to focus on transcripts, and how to turn interests, passions, and deep dives into credit, because that’s an area I often see homeschooling parents get stuck. Where the fear and the niggles come in.

I believe, with all my heart, that it is important to support and encourage your teens interests, passions, and deep dives to the extent that you can, within the reality you live within.  Knowing that one size does not fit all, even in this. 

At the end of the day, regardless of methodology, or belief system, if there is a way I can encourage you in your homeschooling high school journey, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.


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