Looking Back 14 Years: My Biggest Homeschool Regret

Looking Back 17 Years – My Biggest Homeschool Regret

Overview: I loved being a homeschooling mom! But as I look back, there is one thing which has often crept in and stolen my joy. Learn my biggest homeschool regret.

We were a homeschooling family for 17 years. Before my oldest son turned 2 years old, my husband and I both felt called to check out this homeschooling lifestyle and see if there was any way we could make it work for our family.

And we homeschooled both of our sons all the way through high school.

I have to say that we absolutely fell in love with the lifestyle over the years. Being able to spend so much time with my boys and being able to watch them learn and mature was an amazing blessing!

As I look back, however, there is one thing which often crept in and stole some of the joy out of our experience. If I could go back and change one thing, it would be to worry less and to trust God more.

Comparing My Boys To Each Other

There have been several specific situations over the years which caused me to worry. My older son caught onto reading very quickly, however, my younger son took longer to become a fluent reader.

During the years that he was struggling to learn and I was struggling to teach him, we both suffered more than we had to. I was harder on him than I should have been and I’m sure that didn’t help.

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I pushed him when I should have stayed relaxed and trusted the process. And even though I tried to stay outwardly patient, I’m sure he picked up on the tension I was feeling.

Kids always do.

This son spent a lot more time reading Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, and Amelia Bedelia out loud to me than did my older son. Rather than enjoying all of this extra time that we spent reading together, I kept entertaining that nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong.

I wish I could go back and relive those days knowing what I know now – that this son would become a successful reader on his own timetable.

Looking Back 14 Years: My Biggest Ho

Comparing My Boys to Myself

Another thing which threw me for a loop and caused me to worry was seeing how differently my boys behaved than I had as a child.

When I was a little girl, I loved to read. I could sit quietly in my bedroom with a book for hours. In fact, I usually had stacks of books that I was reading at the same time. I would read a chapter or two from one book and then switch to another.

I looked forward to going to school. I enjoyed trying to please my teachers and doing the best work that I possibly could – at least during my elementary and middle school years.

High school was a different story… LOL

When my boys were Pre-K age, they enjoyed “schoolwork” as well because it was fun, it was hands-on, and it allowed them to move and jump and be very active.

Once more written work came into play, however, they started to rebel. They didn’t enjoy sitting still for long periods of time. They didn’t look forward to doing their schoolwork anymore.

Rather than stepping back and looking to figure out why their attitude had changed, I tried to push them harder. I was worried that they would fall behind or that they wouldn’t learn if they didn’t learn a certain way.

If I could go back, I would have researched boys and how they learn best a lot earlier than I did. I think I could have saved us all a lot of grief if I had known then what I know now.

Boys and girls do not learn best in exactly the same way! Boys learn best when they are allowed to move. Boys, especially young ones, love hands-on activities.

β†’ Related Content: 7 Ways to Make Your Sons HATE Homeschooling

Having Too High of Expectations

My boys have always been big for their ages. They look a lot older than they really are. At age 15, one son was pushing 6’5″ and at 14, the other was 6’3″.

Because of their height, my husband and I have often forgotten how young they really were and have pushed them to behave at a level of maturity that they weren’t capable of achieving. This often caused us to worry about their behavior.

Then, when we would see other children who were the ages of our boys, we would look at each other in surprise, realizing what good boys we actually had.

I wish I could go back and stop being quite so hard on my boys.

Our kids tend to rise or fall to the level of expectations that we have for them. So, it isn’t all bad to set high expectations. However, I wish I hadn’t set them quite as high as I did.

I’m sure I caused them to feel frustrated, at times, trying to live up to what I wanted for them. And I experienced anxiety thinking that my boys had behavior issues when they were actually just being little boys.

Looking Back 14 Years: My Biggest Homeschool Regret

Trying to Prove Homeschooling Works to Others

When we choose to homeschool our children, we are taking the road less traveled. That means that quite often, we will feel a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to give our kids a good education.

We want to make sure they succeed in life and that can cause us to doubt what we’re doing and to worry. “Am I doing enough?” “Am I giving my boys a rigorous enough education?”  “Am I pushing them too hard?”

After all these years, I’m still learning this one. Once my boys have graduated from our homeschool, are living their lives for Christ, and have become gainfully employed, then I’ll be able to sit back and rest confidently in my curriculum decisions.

In the meantime, there is still that little voice in the back of my head which gives me an inkling of doubt.

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I can’t go back and relive our early homeschooling years. But I can try to learn from my mistakes. Worry doesn’t help anyone.

One of my favorite verses is Luke 12:25-26, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

My husband and I are confident that God has called us to homeschool our boys. We have felt His leading through the years when we needed to change how we were teaching them.

We’ve had convictions about helping our boys get more educational experiences outside of the home.

We’ve seen Him guide us toward competitive sports opportunities.

And we’ve had times when we’ve known that He wanted us to pull back from something we had been involved with in order to regroup.

God has a unique purpose for all of our kids. They all benefit from receiving an individualized education which is just right for them.

I need to relax in the fact that if God has led us to homeschool, He will guide us through the adventure and will make sure that my boys come out on the other side equipt for whatever He has for them in this life.

I may not be able to go back – but I am so grateful that I realized the error of my ways and was able to enjoy our last years of homeschooling with a renewed sense of peace.

Can you relate? What are your biggest homeschool regrets? Please leave a comment below.

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47 thoughts on “Looking Back 17 Years – My Biggest Homeschool Regret”

  1. Thank you for sharing, it helps a lot to know I’m not alone. I have 4th grader and 6th grader. And I always feel don’t do enough…
    Well I must trusted God more!

    1. I’m sure most of us could probably work on trusting God more, Lena. It’s hard because many of us love to be in control… or at least think that we’re in control. (wink, wink)

  2. Oh my goodness! Michelle, this post truly touches my heart! I love how your honesty-and have gone through such similar thoughts & feelings myself. I am so appreciative to you for sharing this part of your homeschool. I know I will reread this several times over the next few years to help me as I home educate our sons. You are a gift to us all!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have three beautiful and so full of energy boys they indeed are! It’s because we love them so that we moms want more. But yes we must exercise daily our surrender and trust that God will complete his work. You’ve been an inspiration – you’re amazing.

    1. Oh, Kelly, I’m so glad I’ve been able to be an encouragement to you. I’m not amazing… I’m just grateful every day for God’s grace. But thank-you so much for your kind words! You made my day. πŸ™‚

  4. Well said. I’ve been homeschooling since the beginning also, and my kids are now almost 17, 14, and 11. Goodness, I’ve learned a lot, and I wish I could take back being too tense and hard on my kids at times, too. There always seems to be new phases and new challenges along the way, but I’m so glad I’ve persevered. Can’t believe my oldest will be a senior this fall!!

    1. Thanks, Brandi. It’s always good to know that we aren’t the only ones with a certain struggle, isn’t it? I appreciate your comment. And you should be so PROUD of your accomplishment. It won’t be long and I’ll be graduating my oldest son as well. Yikes! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?!? I hope this coming year will be a huge blessing for you and your kiddos and that you’ll all enjoy it immensely.

  5. Thank you for this post Michelle! This is my first visit to your blog and I loved this piece – especially the parts about worry and about having too high of an expectation. I have 4 sons and 1 daughter and I probably really need to relax a little. πŸ™‚ My oldest is starting high school next year and I realized that I have definitive ideas on what I think an “excellent” education means to me. I have high goals for my children but I need to remember that they may reach those goals in many different ways. Thanks for reminding me to savor the time we are given!

    1. Hey, Jennifer, I’m so glad you found me! And I’m glad you liked this post. Yes, I think we all need the reminder to cherish the time… I hope you look around a bit on the site. With four boys, there are plenty of other posts that you might enjoy as well. And I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from you! If you’re ever looking for anything in particular, let me know and I’d be happy to direct you. Thanks again for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.

  6. I really resonate with what you say. I’m a primary school teacher in the UK (5/6year olds) and a mum of two very different boys (3 and 7 years old) and your message is beautiful. I really struggle with keeping a lid on my expectations and those of others to remember that my boys and pupils are unique. There are so many posts out there to read but I love yours, thank you! I wish more people would realise how important individuality is.

    1. Oh, thank-you so much for your kind words, Gemma. I really appreciate them! And you’re so right. I guess the best thing we can do is to give that gift to our own children… and you can give it to all of the various students that you teach as well. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Love everything about this post, Michelle!

    If there’s one of these I struggle with, it’s feeling like I have to prove homeschooling works. I have so few homeschoolers in my day-to-day life and most of the folks around us are fairly critical of our choice to homeschool. I needed that reminder to not stress over what everyone else thinks!

    1. Yes, I think that’s a constant struggle for those of us who are surrounded by non-homeschoolers. I’m glad I could be encouraging to you, Emily. Remember that you’re trying to obey what you know God wants you to do and He WILL bless your efforts. Thanks so much for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  8. Oh, Michelle! Thank you so much for this! I struggle with all of these regularly! So I really appreciate the reminder and encouragement

    1. You’re welcome. It isn’t always easy to be so honest… but I’m thankful that my experience can help others! Thanks so much for letting me know. It’s encouraging to ME when I hear from my readers. πŸ™‚

  9. I found that the High Expectations paragraph was me spot on. My three older children all got their growth early (yes, my boys are well over 6′ now too). I expected a lot of them without even realizing it until they were with other kids their ages who acted a lot younger.

    God put us in a situation after the 2011 Joplin Tornado where my kids had to grow up fast and help those in need. So, ultimately, though it cheated them of part of their childhood, they enjoyed it, and it was good for them. I’ve always said I’m raising adults not children.

    Be blessed, and don’t be too hard on yourself. God knows what your boys will do in their life, and he chose you to mother them.

    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  10. I can so relate to some of your regrets. My kids are tall too…for most of their lives they have been 1-2 sizes ahead in clothes and I felt I was always having to tell people that they were younger than they looked.

    And your reading situation I can relate to also. I have three boys. My oldest was memorizing books at three and reading by four, with nearly no pushing from us. My 2nds was reading right before or soon after starting kindergarten. Still, I thought he was behind…and the first teacher conference was expecting the teacher to express concerns about how he was doing, and in stead she told me that he was about a grade ahead in reading and math!

    Then there was my third…I admit I didn’t work as much with him on letters and numbers and such, and he went to sleep so easily compared to my others he read bedtime stories much less (he preferred songs). And my mom’s health was failing, so I was distracted by that as well. A year before Kindergarten he hadn’t even learned his ABCs. But I thought…everyone else was ahead, maybe he’s not THAT behind. I tried to work with him to catch up…I pushed him and he pushed back and I backed off afraid I’d make him afraid of school. When he started KG he was excited to go, but that first week he showed signs of trouble…and at the end of that week my mom passed away. He started crying every day before school and saying he didn’t want to go, I thought it was about my mom…but it continued ALL YEAR. And all year we had conferences about how behind he was. He loved his teacher, but he hated school. He didn’t even seem to do as well there as at home (at home he was trying out writing letters…at school he scribbled).

    It’s why we homeschool him now. He is 3rd grade age (though we basically repeated kindergarten at home, as the teacher suggested we do if he stay in school, so he’s really in 2nd). He’s not even at Amelia Bedelia reading level…he’s at Piggie and Elephant level and honestly, I’m overjoyed. WHY? Well, when we first started homeschooling it would take 20 minutes of gentle coaxing, often with him crying, to get him to try to read a simple Bob Book (one he COULD read…one at his level). Through that summer the
    “crying time” gradually decreased but it hasn’t been since late last year, with the Piggie and Elephant books, that he has WANTED to read…that’s he’s actually asked to do reading first in our homeschool in stead of trying to get out of it, and that he laughs and giggles while we read and though we take parts (he likes to do Elephant and have me do Piggie) he’ll sometimes forget and do Piggie’s part too (and I’ll pretend not to notice, cause WOO HOO he’s reading more!) .

    But that 20 minutes of crying before he would try? That’s what being pushed to do something he wasn’t ready for for a year did. And it took two years to get to the point where he actually enjoys reading anything.

    And yet I question myself all the time…am I spending enough time? Is he reading enough? Am I doing enough? It’s HARD when your child is behind where everyone thinks they should be. It’s hard not to feel judged by your child’s performance when you’re homeschooling that child…and it’s a struggle not to let that self-doubt make me push my child in a way that might push him right back to hating reading again.

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment. I don’t mind long ones! I’m grateful that you shared your experience with your son because I think it’ll be beneficial to others. Yes, it is hard not to feel judged. Thing is, you probably are being judged by some – but who cares?!? Try to remember that you’re doing right by your child because you can see the fruit of your labors. And you can also see how much more favorably he responds when you aren’t pushing him to do things before he’s ready. Keep on keeping on. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job!

  11. JUST what I needed today. We are in our 4th year. My boys are 9 and 7 and a 5 year old girl. My oldest is a super reluctant reader and writer…or maybe I’m just not teaching him the way he needs to be taught. Thank you for this post. So encouraging.

  12. Thank you so much for your sharing! I read that with a laugh of complete agreement, a tear of sorrow that I still struggle with this sometimes (11 years under our belts), and relief to know I’m not alone. Just yesterday I was wrestling with not comparing my 15 yr oldest son with myself as a high schooler. I will regroup, breathe deep and trust the Lord afresh.
    Thank you! πŸ™‚

  13. Michelle, this was an absolutely brilliant article! Between you and Todd Wilson, I am continuously reminded to take a chill pill, because God’s got this! Thanks and God bless!

  14. Thank you so much for this post. I seriously needed to read this! I have only been homeschooling a little over a year now and I have 2 boys. God has led us to homeschool too. However sometimes I have felt that what if I am not enough, what if they don’t learn what they need to in order to be where everyone else’s kids are… My eldest pushes back a lot when we do school, but like yours they both love to be active and doing more than just sitting down. When we first started the year I pushed them to see what we could get down, but life overwhelmed us and then I felt the Lord lead us to a more minimalist approach. I pray that I will be able to trust Him more with the schooling aspect and not worry so much. So when I came across your words, they really hit a nerve. Sometimes He uses others lives to help and sometimes its through our own life and experiences that help others. So thank you again for sharing!!

    1. You are SO welcome! Yes, God really does use other people and their experiences to speak to us. I’m glad my experience and the things He has been teaching me has been helpful to you. You can do this!!! πŸ™‚

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this! It resonated so deeply in my spirit, as if I wrote it myself! Your words encompassed everything I have felt or done as a homeschooling mama. My sons are both in HS, one is a senior this coming year and the other a freshman, and I have pondered quite too often lately on my regrets. Oh, the years worry did steal…when I should have trusted so much more, breathed, and just enjoyed instead of comparing, criticizing, proving, etc. (Both of my son’s were big for their age too.) So grateful that God’s mercies are new EVERY DAY and it is never too late. Thank you again for your candid and honest post. You sure did touch this mama’s heart!

    1. You’re welcome, Jennifer. It’s hard to open up about our struggles but when God leads us to do it, it’s amazing how many other people it will touch. Yes, praise the Lord for His grace and mercy – and that it’s never too late. Such a blessing!!! Take care and thank-you so much for taking the time to leave this comment. It has been an encouragement to me! πŸ™‚

  16. I came across this right when I needed it! Thank you so much for sharing it! We started homeschooling my son last year, he is now in his first year of high school. There are so many things he hasn’t learned in public school that I feel he should know, there are many times I think I push too hard, put too much on him, and stress both of us out. I didn’t look at it this way until I read your post, so again, thank you!!

  17. Wow awesome, presently I homeschool my children and it’s really been trying.
    Considering the fact that I’m not paid for the job done, the only motivation is that they are my children..
    Thanks so much for this piece really got me motivated especially having absolute trust in God.
    I’ll definitely make that my inclination—-ABSOLUTE TRUST IN GOD

      1. Thank you for sharing, I have also felt like I shouldn’t have felt. My 20yo daughter learned the same way as I did and she is excelling in everything, school and uni. My 15yo son always hated school and fell far behind. I used to compare him to his sister in the beginning but realised I cannot do this. I wish I never had. I hope he didn’t suffer through it. Just recently I took him out of school and started homeschooling him. I wish I had done it much earlier. I still secretly think he should learn more, faster and better (like my daughter or myself did) but it is just not working this way. He cannot focus for long and learns slowly. Still, I know this is the way to go. I enjoy spending the time with him. Other people though (especially my parents) disapprove and say I am making life too easy for him and he won’t learn enough and won’t get a job. I always get blamed I wasn’t strict enough with him and that’s why he is lazy and naughty. I kind of admit that they are right a little bit, but is it wrong to teach him slower according to his needs and with a lot of love?

  18. Thank your for sharing this post again! My 8 yr old daughter (my last homeschooled child) has taken to reading much more slowly than her older brothers. Your sharing about how you felt the tension and probably pushed too much instead of embracing the time spent and relaxing is just the reminder I needed. I have been struggling wondering if I should switch programs or do things differently, even though I really have seen progress. I know I just need to rest in the fact that she will get there. Thanks for sharing!

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