Oh, you homeschool? my barista asks. Bee and I are camped out in a corner sofa working on a reading lesson, a flaxseed bar in her hand, a lavender latte in mine.

For now! I say.

For now! is always my answer, my standard go-to. After all, this is preschool we’re talking, so the stakes are enormously low. But I like to think this is the method we’ll take, that this is the course we stay.

I like to think we’ll stick with it.

I was not homeschooled as a child. My parents were both public school teachers, and I was a product of our public school system for twelve years. Upon graduating, I greeted the world armed with a fresh degree in compliance, in assimilation. I have lovely memories of my education, the smell of chalk dust, the lunch room excitement on Taco Tuesday, the spelling bees and dodgeball games, the sharing of #2 pencils and hair spray, the shiny new Trapper Keepers just waiting to be doodled on.

But even now, I look back and see that my own education taught me how to pass a subject, how to get an A, how to fall in step, how to memorize-and-forget, how to move on, how to keep up.

What it did not teach me: how to learn.

Deciding to teach Bee opened a flood of insecurities in myself, and I found myself lying awake sometimes, doubts circling my head like vultures:

Where do I begin? Can I handle it? Will I be enough?

Oddly enough, these were the same doubts that circled my head in those early newborn days, and they’ve been the same doubts I’ve carried throughout each and every transition in my life:

Where do I begin? Can I handle it? Will I be enough?

The answers, for us all:

Where you are. On most days. I suppose we’ll find out.

We always find out, don’t we? We always find out we’re stronger than we think (mostly), we’re wiser than we know (mostly), that we’re brave and capable and have an immense ability to adapt to the hard, to rise above, to commit to the challenge, to take on the task.


So, Ken and I are giving it a shot. We’re piecing it together, we’re figuring it out. She heads to our Chinese friend’s house twice a week to play for two hours, our own little makeshift version of immersion learning. We have a reading lesson daily, twenty minutes of letter sounds and memorization and sentence structure. We play Uno and practice numbers. I read to her, Charlotte’s Web and Mary Poppins. We listen to audio books, we sing history songs. We pass her off to friends or family to learn fun little life skills we know very little about: fishing with uncles, drumming sessions with friends, baking with Grandma, Lizard Care 101 with a neighbor.

It’s simple, for now. We teach where we are. On most days, we handle it. Is it enough?

Enough for what?

If we can teach Bee to love learning, if we can teach her to ask questions, to solve problems, to figure things out, to think for herself, to communicate with care, to take responsibility for her actions, to consider a different perspective, to respect others, to serve others, to love others?

That will be enough.

That will be quite a lot, actually.

I don’t think homeschooling is the only way to educate a child. I don’t think public school is, either. Or private, or Montessori, or charter, or Charlotte Mason, or classical, or unschooling, or Waldorf.

Each option offers immense value, each choice offers immense challenges.

One of the best pieces of career advice I received was not to find a job that you love, but to find a job in which the parts that you don’t love are the most tolerable.

There is no perfect job, and there is no perfect education method. But the parts of homeschooling that I don’t love are the most tolerable for me. I can tolerate long afternoons of repeating myself over and over, of stumbling upon a science experiment in the dog dish, of feeling insecure, of questioning my skill, of losing my patience, of perpetual Googling, of seeking forgiveness again and again and again.

My friend can tolerate shuttling her kids back and forth to different buildings, the piles of homework papers, the endless requests for bake sales, the tightened schedules.

My other friend can tolerate higher tuition fees, a lack of diversity, an emphasis on athletic achievement, a focus on rote compliance.

Each option offers immense value for some, each choice offers immense challenges for others.

The choice is a privilege. It doesn’t make it any easier, in the grand scheme of teaching our littles, but it is a privilege, nonetheless. We are grateful.

I hear often that homeschooling is against the grain, that it’s the different way, that it’s been dismissed as a slapdash strategy for parents who want to shelter their kids from the world.

But I don’t want to shelter Bee from the world.
I want a front row seat to watch her fall in love with it all.

Last week, back at the coffee shop, the barista sees us packing up to leave.

You know, she says, approaching our corner sofa. I’m homeschooled, too!

Really? I ask.

Yep! I’m working here to save some money; I’ll be visiting Nepal this summer.

New Paul? Bee asks. Who is New Paul, Mom?

I suppose we’ll find out, I say. We thank the barista, and we head home.

A few of my e-friends are chatting about their education methods/strategies today, if you’d like to take a peek at a few other perspectives: Emily, Alex, Jen, Sarah and Bethany.

And, if you’re considering homeschooling your own littles, here are a few resources we’ve relied on thus far, and loved!: The Well-Trained Mind, At Home podcast, AmblesideOnline Reading List.

UPDATE: You can follow along our own homeschool journey right this way!

  • We home school with a mishmash of styles. Project Based Learning by Lori Pickert is a great approach to learn about. :)

  • Love this! My mother homeschooled myself and two sisters from the time I was in second grade all the way up to ninth grade. And I loved it. I remember my mother making sure we all sat at the dining room table together and completed each lesson from the planners she compiled for myself and my other two siblings. We each had our own planner, because we were all four years apart from each other in age. I look back and wonder how my mom was able to homeschool three daughters, all in different grades for so long. She is a remarkable woman to say the least. :)

  • I’m sixteen and I’ve been homeschooled my whole life. Just exactly like you my mom wanted to teach us to learn. to want to learn. She was frustrated because she didn’t have the skill set that thrives in public school and so she didn’t really grow and flourish in ways you should in school.

    My two older sisters are now at school (after being homeschooled through high school) and great. My eighteen year old sister is in Chemical Engineering (she’s in her junior year, summer classes. She went a year early.) and my oldest sister is in Graphic Design, though she has been told by three different professors (acting, history, and math) that she should pursue a career in their field because she really gets it. (haha!)

    We’ve used Sonlight and I cannot recommend it enough! We grew up without a tv (like you said, not to shelter, but it’s helped us to learn) and we’re constantly reading, which has only been helped by a literature-based program. Seriously, you should definitely look into it. I totally enjoy school and I get a good education while learning to love learning. win, win, win, am I right?

    lovely blog,

    • Oh Lottie, thank you for this amazing comment! I’ve heard fantastic things about Sonlight – off to check it out now!!! Your home sounds like a lovely, rich environment for you!!! Three cheers for your mama – I know it was likely not easy! Please send her a high five from me. ;)

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!! I would be so open to homeschooling if I didn’t work but I’m not sure I have the temperament. But I worry Forrest won’t get what he needs from regular public school. And I worry I wouldn’t give him what he needs by homeschooling. Then I often wish he didn’t pick up quite so much stuff from the other kids in daycare…

    • Ah, I totally hear you! I have a girlfriend in the same boat – she’s just not confident her temperament works best with her kids’ learning styles (verrry high energy, hands on, MESSY, ha), and she’s resting easy knowing she doesn’t have to choose forever’s path today. And you know, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do it. The fact that we’re worried/considering options/researching alternatives shows such love and care in itself. The care, the thought, the wrestling with wanting to do this thing well is what matters. :)

      • That’s it exactly Erin! I don’t have to choose a forever path today, and taking the time to care and consider, and not throw any path out just because it won’t work right now, is key.

  • Oh this is so timely, as we’ve just confirmed our decision to go the same route. For now. ;)

    We are indeed so very lucky to have the choice, and to live in a (slightly) more enlightened society when it comes to schooling options. Thank you for sharing!!

    • That’s so exciting, Susan!!! I completely agree – I just feel grateful to have the choice.

  • Perfectly timed post. ;) We are currently praying through and researching homeschool. My oldest is 4. I am the world’s least likely homeschool mom but I am beginning to be ok with that. I am excited to see what adventures this home-centered education brings!

  • Erin, I started homeschooling “for now” five years ago -and now my daughters are 10 and 11!
    (we’re also excitedly expecting an eight year old son from Ethiopia!) And the whole reason you summed up nicely: I want a front row seat to watch her (them) fall in love with it all.
    I am totally open to public school, private school, or homeschool for the future- but so far, year after year, I’ve fallen more in love with homeschooling.
    We are mostly charlotte mason inspired with a bit of unschooling. We use a lot of materials from Moving Beyond the Page and love their curriculum.
    I love this window into your life and it sounds like you and Bee are having a ball every day!

    • Oh goodness, Erin, thank you for sharing your specifics!!! I’m always so heartened to hear others that have begun this path and loved it. It can be intimidating, but so far, we’re sold. ;) Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Right?! This was my biggest fear – an introvert teaching an extrovert. ;) I need a LOT of space! I carve out room for a lot of breaks, whether that means swapping kids with a friend or opting for a lot of independent learning (i.e. give her a roll of tape and leave her alone for 20 minutes while I sneak away to read a book in the kitchen!). It’s really hands-on for now, but I know that won’t be forever. :)

  • My brothers and I were homeschooled all the way through and I’d like to say we turned out just fine. ;-) Good luck! I’m not sure where I’ll land when our baby is school ready but I have seen it done well.

  • Thank you for writing this! Since having Hayes I have been so perplexed by the method we will choose. We love travel and we want him to be apart of it so much thus we are seriously considering homeschooling, but as business owners I don’t know how it will work. You have wise words in here that I know I will be coming back to in a few years time when we begin making these decisions. Thanks Erin you always have the right thing to say!

    • Ah, Megan, you’re the sweetest! Travel was a HUGE reason we chose this route for now, but yes, there were many things to consider! And you know, i think a huge benefit is that you and Mike both have flexible schedules as business owners. It helps if you can share the load so one’s not facing burnout quite as much. Working together is a great primer for parenting/teaching, at least it has been thus far for us! You’ll totally figure it out with that sweet little Hayes, I’m sure of it. :)

  • You might like Melissa Wiley’s blog She is an author and homeschooler with her oldest now in college and youngest about six. I’ve followed her for years and her homeschooling posts are great!

  • I am still reading about pros and cons. I do have a lot of questions about. I guess it depends on where you live and how are the schools around. I went to a public school but some of my friends head for homeschool. IDK who knows more or who wanna learn more. At list I know that neither of us know how to learn. This is what I want for my kids to learn how to learn.

  • We homeschool. I love the freedom of it. I use the amblesideonline reading list and my own mixture of books. I will check out the others you have posted. I am learning to trust myself with her. I want her to love to learn and to care about life.
    I want to believe she will always be homeschooled in the same way I want to believe she will always be a child. We just enjoy her the way she is now.?

    • Isn’t Ambleside’s reading list the best? I love having such great resources available – we’re very lucky. :)

  • I love how you said that some of the best career advice you ever received was about finding what you could tolerate in the parts not loved. Such wisdom in so many areas of life. I love the things you are teaching Bee, such a good curriculum, and you’re right, you just keep moving forward doing the best you can and then you may need to make a change but you’ll know if you do or if you don’t. I have to remind myself that all the time that I don’t have to figure it all out right now, to just let it un-fold as I move along. And Bee’s ant shirt is the cutest!

  • Thank you so much for this article. My daughter is 3 going on 30 and we’re considering homeschooling, but I’ve been so nervous she’d be missing out or we wouldn’t teach her well enough. This just made me feel so much better about doing it and I will love every second. Thank you.

    • Oh Meagan, I totally understand those fears! They were very much the same as my own. I’m thrilled for your journey and will be over here cheering you on! :)

  • Hi Erin!
    I stumbled upon your blog + post and loved reading it! I had a question for you! How old was your daughter when you first started homeschooling? I plan on homeschooling my son who is about to turn 3 in August!

    • Hi Marie! Thanks for your note — we started her Chinese lessons at 1 1/2, but so much of homeschooling is finding teachable moments in the everyday, so I suppose we’ve been doing it all our lives! In terms of curriculum, she’s just beginning a classical curriculum this fall (she’ll be 4 then). Hope this helps!

  • Your “for now” made me smile, as our “for now” has turned into three years of homeschooling. Some fun days, some long days, tears and lots of laughing as you would expect with any education choice. Don’t we have a crazy lot of options too, in this age of American society and even within homeschooling? Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the choices….Anyways, enjoy! We loved Five in a Row as part of Kindegarten/PreK as well. I personally think our community is such a fun one to homeschool in!

    • Ha, it’s such a blessing to have the options, yes – I’ll never take that for granted. And thank you for the Five in a Row tip!!!! Off to check it out! :)

  • Hey Erin, this is a great look into how homeschooling can be like. Friends of mine have homeschooled all the way to high school, and it’s both a challenge and a reward from their words.

    I’m sure you’ll figure it out as Bee’s needs change and grow. Thanks for sharing!

  • This is beautiful. My daughter is still a baby but I’m considering home schooling for similar reasons. To watch her fall in love with the world. Examples like yours give me strength that I can do it, if it’s right, when the time comes. Thank you.

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