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Dear New Homeschool Mom


If I were really being honest, I would tell you that if you homeschool you’ll have days where you will squash the urge to flee headlong in quite the opposite direction of your children. So I am being honest, because I care about you, fellow homeschooler. And also because you’re going to figure this out yourself anyway. There are days when your very own offspring will drive you absofruitly bleedin’ nuts. The weak parts of your character you’d prefer to keep nice and hidden, thank you very much, will come boldly forward like nobody’s business, loud and pushy. I picture you now, new homeschooler, nodding at me like I’m a senile old person that you need to humor.

But I’ve been to the other side, and I know of what I speak.

Homeschooling is by turns exhausting, invigorating, exasperating, boring, incredible, plodding, and inspiring. There’s no getting around that.

What You Will Give Up If You Homeschool

Your free time. Because really, if you’re nuts enough to school your kids at home, you will likely spend years of your life—years, I tell you—obsessing over curricula, co-ops, and extracurricular activities. You will pour over catalogs and websites looking at hitherto unknown items such as “hands-on science” and “math manipulatives.” And just when you think you’ve got that all figured out, you will hit a brand new level of crazy when you reach the high school years with its credits and AP classes and SATs…oh my!

The ability to blame anyone else if your kid is not reading by age seven or any other culturally accepted benchmark. Because guess what, homeschool mom? Extended family and well-meaning friends will be quick to point the finger at homeschooling if your child is delayed or a bit socially awkward or even naughty. (And no, you don’t get to also do the same in reverse to the conventionally schooled kids. I don’t make the rules.)

Your clean house. This may be more of a challenge to some than others. I would consider myself a reasonably clean person, but this will be a shock to the obsessively clean or slightly OCD housekeepers among you. There is a certain level of clutter that seems to coincide with homeschooling, simply due to the fact that everyone is home nearly all the time.

But of course, all is not negative (I thought I might go ahead and weed out those who aren’t really all in before I get to the good parts). If I am going to stick with something for more than two decades, there has to be a positive.

The Benefits

You’ll be there when your child reads for the first time. Just when you think you can’t stand one more painful second of a beginning reader sounding out “d…o…g” they will suddenly become fluent readers right before your eyes. And you’ll beam with pleasure when they get those dratted 9s multiplication tables right, write their first sensible paragraph, and help a younger sibling with a hard math problem. You’ll be there for all of it.

Your character will be refined. Those things about yourself you’d rather keep hidden? The dailyness of family life, raising children, and homeschooling have a way of bringing that stuff right up to the surface so you can deal with it. Have fun with that. But it also brings with it the dailyness of asking for more grace, more appreciation, and more patience. Since I have a tendency to forget my blessings, I am thankful for this constant reminder that I simply cannot do this on my own. I need God’s help every. single. day.

Moments you’ll never forget. Siblings in a hammock, whispering and giggling together. Your sons’ heads peeping out of a shrub as they excitedly describe to you the layout of their new “fort.” The day you set aside the books and walk to the stream to catch guppies in a Mason jar. The pillow fights. Sleepy faces after naps. Field trips. Laughter at an inside joke. The hours of hard study and a lightbulb almost visibly going on over your child’s head. Movie Fridays. Library trips. Reading together. Vacations during the off-season. You’re building a family history rich with memories.

Is it difficult and challenging? Sure. Anything worth having is.

Can you do this? YES! You don’t have to figure out each step just yet.

Trust the process and enjoy the journey.

I believe in you, new homeschool mom!

This article was originally published on What She Writes and reprinted with permission in Family Magazine and on

Jen McDonald is an experienced editor and writer who’s been featured in several books and numerous national publications, including Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Military Spouse Magazine. She’s the author of You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, a book for military spouses born from nearly three decades of experience. She’s currently the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising.

Jen and her amazing Air Force husband have lived all over the world and are the parents of four grown children who were all homeschooled, including one who is serving in the military. They’re also brand new grandparents! Find her at her site Jen McDonald: You Are Not Alone, on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram as @jenmcdonald88.

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