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Forge Unbreakable Family Bonds, Homeschool

Forge Unbreakable Family Bonds, HOMESCHOOL

My parents may have brought me into this world, wiped my bottom, funded the roof over my head, fed me occasional scraps, sewed the patches on all the hand-me-downs I wore, and generally loved me to death.

BUT they failed in one regard – they failed to really bond with me.

After nearly 20 years they still can’t correctly pronounce my wife’s four-letter(!) first name and they haven’t ever known much, if anything, of what I did and thought.

Like the old long distance phone commercial said, if it wasn’t for sports, like many sons, I wouldn’t have much to talk to my father about.

My mother….she could never bring herself to even read my blog posts – that’s how curious she was about my life. Yet I had thousands of virtual strangers more interested! And despite our outrageous success, she still doesn’t get homeschooling either.

It went both ways of course. I knew very little about them and their life stories.

I simply wasn’t interested. Our family life orbited around the kids, i.e. school and kids’ sports. That was the extent of it.

My wife and I didn’t start out homeschooling so that we could forge tighter family bonds. Our motivations, to the extent they weren’t merely instinctual, were rooted in academic acceleration.

BUT what a wonderful bonus we have enjoyed through our evolving relationships with the kids!

Homeschooling from day one has lavished us with both quantity and quality family time to an extent that’s not even remotely possible in the context of institutional education.

Educating our children outside the system has given us infinite touch points for deep connection. Just to give one small example, chess….my kids and I have learned chess together. We play each other often; we gang up on our online opponents; and we’ve sat side-by-side in tournaments together. We’ve been profoundly frustrated and upset over tough losses and we’ve shared in a few major triumphs together.

Another good example would be web design. My son and I not only learned how to master WordPress together, he rapidly passed me and has become my bona fide tech support team for almost everything. So as far as I’m concerned, the long, frustrating hours we spent together, crashing our websites and debugging our voluminous coding mistakes represented not only bonding QT….it was a great investment from a business standpoint!

Because we aren’t enslaved by a school calendar and schedule, the kids can stay up longer when my wife works late to get in that extra QT that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

And they are so well-behaved, I can bring them to clients’ houses and they’ll sit there, for hours(!), while I do my consulting and teaching. Note – they are still only 9 and 11 years old. (How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t homeschool because I have to work”???)

Seldom a day in public goes by without someone remarking to me how well-behaved they are to be sitting down and reading quietly. In fact it just happened today at the doctor’s office, again. The impressed identified herself as a middle school teacher to boot!

Well it doesn’t just happen. My kids would be just as wild, just as disobedient, and just as incapable of entertaining themselves as any other kids today if it wasn’t for the intention, priorities, and parental discipline we have instituted over the years.

Again, we’ve invested the time and energy in our relationship with the children AND that is precisely why they comply. They respect us and the hierarchy is not inverted as it is in so many families today.

So many parents genuinely believe they can’t homeschool their children because “they would never listen to me.”

I do my best to explain that is a serious problem on its face; it will only get much, much worse into the pubescent/teen years; AND that the only solution with a chance is, to their utter consternation, spending a LOT MORE TIME with the kids. The only solution is to start homeschooling them, now.

The fact is, school is a WEDGE between parents and children – and it has been for generations now.

Homeschooling precludes that division because it encourages, if not FORCES parents to learn and grow WITH their children.

I plan on, and have planned for being close to my beloved children for the rest of time here on Earth.

What about you?


Dan (19 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at HomeschoolDad.com.

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Homeschooling and Marriage: Four Ways to Find a Good Balance

Homeschooling is a wonderful blessing, and I’m so glad we’ve made that choice for our family. But it’s very easy, as a homeschooling mom, to be so caught up in the kids and curriculum choices and learning and teaching and driving kids around and…that our marriages suffer from lack of time and attention. At the end of the day, by the time books are put away and supper is cooked and cleaned up and kids are heading for bed, I really don’t have much energy left to finally have time to spend with my husband.

Even though it is sometimes difficult to make time for nurturing our marriage, I know it’s an important thing. Marriage should be a top priority. So how can I balance being a homeschooling mom and being an attentive wife? Here are four things I’ve found to help me work toward a good balance.

Homeschooling and Marriage: Four Ways to Find a Good Balance

Homeschooling and Marriage: Four Ways to Find a Good Balance


Include husbands in decision making.

I’m the primary decision maker when it comes to choices about our homeschooling. I research curriculum. I sign up for co-ops. I plan the extracurricular activities. I’m the one who has the time to do this, so it falls to me. My husband cares about what we do, but he doesn’t have an interest in all of the particulars most of the time because he isn’t here during the day.

But, every once in a while, we talk about the way things are going and discuss what’s working and what’s not. Even though he isn’t there every day while we do school work, he often has a great idea about curriculum or about what a specific child needs to be able to break through and learn something he’s struggling with. Or sometimes I’ll ask him about joining a new co-op or a new homeschoolers group. He can have some really good input about whether or not it would be a good fit for us and how it would work with our schedules.

Taking the time to talk to him and ask his advice and opinion can go a long way toward making him feel a part of what we’re doing every day. I understand that he’s in a whole different world as he goes off to work every day. But I want him to feel a part of homeschooling because it’s a large part of who we are as a family. And when I make him feel included, it strengthens our marriage and his relationship with the kids.

Have set bedtime routines.

It’s a fact. We can’t have time alone together until the kids are in bed at night. Even now that our kids are older and don’t need us to micromanage their getting ready for bed. they’ll pop in and out of our room with questions or to tell us one more thing. We quickly learned that to protect the time we have to spend together, we have to have established bedtime routines.

Our routines change with the season of life we’re in. When the kids were younger, a bedtime routine included baths and story time and kissing goodnight as we turned out the light, leaving the room with the expectation that kids would stay in bed and not get up and down. Now the routine means that we have a certain time that kids are to be in their rooms, without electronics and without popping in and out of our room.

The routines can be flexible, and they can shift and change as kids get older or as night time activities change, but the important thing is to emphasize to the kids that we want to protect the time we have at the end of the day to spend together. This shows the kids that our marriage is a priority.

Establish a regular date night.

Going out on a regular date night is something we’ve tried to do throughout our marriage. What this date night looks like has definitely varied throughout the seasons of our parenthood. And we don’t have a set night of the month or a set destination or plans for our night out, but we try to make time for one on a regular basis.

We’ve gotten creative on our date nights. We’re blessed to have family in town, so we’ve usually had family members to come over and stay with the kids once a month or so for a night out. Occasionally we’ve traded off nights of babysitting with another family. There are times we’ve taken the youngest baby on date nights with us because I was nursing. And there are times when we didn’t have a sitter or couldn’t leave the kids so we put them to bed or set them up with a movie and then picked up take out from a restaurant and had a date night at home.

The point of date night isn’t to always go to a fancy restaurant or dinner and movie. Lots of times we have no extra money to spend, so we do something as simple as walking around Target for a couple of hours. The purpose of date night is to make our marriage a priority, to stop what we’re doing and make time to spend together.

Leave some margin in your day.

This is the hardest suggestions for me to follow. I’m a doer, and I tend to pack as much into a day as possible. We can get school done, attend co-op, head off for a dance class, and still make time for cooking supper in the afternoon and then cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom before bed. I get all these things accomplished and feel pretty proud of myself for the day.

The problem is that after completing this crazy, busy day, I have nothing left over. I’m so tired and done in that all I can do is smile at my husband as I roll over and turn out the lamp for the night. I’ve run and run all day, and at the end of it all, I’m done. The message this sends to my husband is that I don’t care enough about him to leave time in my day for him.

When I make wise choices about our day’s activities, I can leave some margin, some breathing room. And in that time at the end of the day, when kids are settled in and we have some moments to spend together, I’m not exhausted. I have energy left over, and I make it a priority to spend time with my husband.


Even with all of these good intentions, there will be seasons of life that are busier, weeks where we seem to just wave at each other in passing. But by being deliberate about doing some of these things, we can make our marriage a priority, and we can achieve balance between being a homeschooling mom and being a wife.


Leah (13 Posts)

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.

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References for Educational Philosophy

Here is the final post in the Towards A Homeschooling Philosophy series. In this post, I hope to give some resources for those interested to help understand philosophies more and how they affect how we teach. It will not be exhaustive and it is bound to be lacking. Therefore, I graciously ask for our readers to comment with other recommended resources.

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

References for understanding or choosing your own educational philosophy

Knowing that my own reading list is small as I have only been reading about this subject for a short time, I extended the question of what titles would they recommend for educational philosophy. Here are the titles that have been recommended. By putting these here, I am not personally endorsing them (unless I state otherwise). If you have any that you would recommend, we all would be grateful if you leave them in the comments.

Let me just quickly say that anything you read at Brandy Vencel’s blog, Afterthoughts, will help you understand educational philosophy much better. This one is excellent: Examining Underlying Assumptions

When possible, I have linked them to Open Library so you can easily find these. (Of course, Amazon has just about any book you can think of.) For other links, they go to the author’s website or Goodreads.

It should be noted that these titles do not all refer only to educational philosophy but all have an underlying philosophy regardless. Some are rather pointed in talking about philosophy, where you don’t have to search it out; others incorporate what they assume you understand already about the philosophy. Also, some are reluctant to put ‘philosophy’ down in print.

Titles submitted from a diverse group of homeschoolers:

Here are some that come from a group of specifically Charlotte Mason educators* (some titles are repeated from the list above):

*I specify the kind of educators so that you will know there may be a bent toward that philosophy. But as you can see, they are quite diverse.

It feels as if this is just left hanging but I do think that this has the potential to take many more posts and so I will stop at this. Please do leave comments.

North Laurel (32 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel's Musings.

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