The Kiss of Death In Homeschooling

I referred to this in my last post about homeschooling struggles, but I wanted to expand on this a bit here:  the homeschooling kiss of death.  Actually, I think there are three possible kisses of death in our homeschooling experience.

I think the first one is to spend inordinate amounts of time looking at people’s blogs.  You all know how I feel about this if you have read this blog for any length of time, and my feelings are largely related to why I don’t post many pictures on here.  Those perfect mothers with those bloggable moments are just normal mothers like you and like me.  They have captured beautiful moments in their families and homeschooling experiences; there is nothing wrong with that except when you take those moments and compare their best moments against your weakest ones and then feel badly about that.  I also think spending time on many different blogs for hours on end is a kiss of death to homeschooling because it most likely is not helping you plan and is in fact keeping you from it.  If you get all distracted and make things too complex, this is a kiss of death to your homeschooling experience.  Homeschooling is first and foremost about relationships within the family;  for me it is also about God and instilling a passion in my children for Him,  and I think homeschooling is also about passing down wisdom, both academic and practical,  so please do keep it simple enough that these goals are ever-present and shining.

Sit down with your computer or your planning book and plan, but don’t get on the Internet unless there is something very specific you are searching for to fill in a specific spot in your plan.  Plan with your children, your family, your situation and dynamics in mind.  That is who you are homeschooling, that is why you are homeschooling and that is why other people’s experiences matter a whole lot less than what happens between your own walls at home.

The second kiss of death is to pick a method of homeschooling or a curriculum because that is what all your friends are using.  Again, you must plan for your own family and your unique individual children.  The worst thing you can possibly do is to pick things based upon what all your friends are using or doing. If you are dependent upon your peers in order to pick a homeschooling method or curriculum, then your homeschooling experience will suffer.  Homeschooling, to me, is first and foremost about looking into your own heart and seeing what resonates with you.

For example, my life might be easier if I adored Charlotte Mason. Everyone loves her, lots of Christian families use Charlotte Mason, and then I could use fun words like “twaddle”.  Who doesn’t want to say twaddle?  (And P.S. I do have my tongue in my cheek a bit here, so please don’t be offended if you use Charlotte Mason! Smile)  But, I would not be true to my love of bringing in different layers of things at different ages, teaching through art, looking at the big picture of health, the focus on the whole holistic human being  that I find so strongly resonates with me in Waldorf Education.  So I am quite happy to stick with being me, and take the things that resonate with me.   It is authentic and real that way!  Be authentic and real to yourself, know yourself, know when you are being called to something or conversely when you are being called to change gears in your schooling.

The third kiss of death is to think that all homeschool experiences will look the same even if you use the same method or curriculum as your neighbor.  My homeschool will look different than other Waldorf homeschoolers’ experiences.  I have a lot of focus on religion, I love to sing and create music and draw and paint and model and garden and cook; I am not the best at handwork.  We all have different areas of strength and weakness, just like a public school teacher or a Waldorf School teacher does.  Again, we cannot all be the same!  Bring the things that make you you into your homeschool, keep striving in the other important areas and be happy.

Because, sometimes the thing we most forget is that we are so lucky to be home with our children, that children are learning and growing all the time, and that first and foremost is being together in love.  That is the essence of the homeschool experience.  I have heard a saying that the first icon, the first picture of God, that a child sees is the face of his or her parents.  Let us be blessed together and have fun!

Many blessings and much joy,


24 thoughts on “The Kiss of Death In Homeschooling

  1. Great post. You are so right about comparing another’s best moments with our own worst ones, never goes well. I am learning more and more to turn inward, into my own self but also the family self, our unique identity that drives us forward.

    Your comments about curriculum made me laugh. I’m a pagan, greeny soon to be hobby farmer, yet I love the structure of Charlotte Mason and Classicial styles whereas I ‘should’ be a Waldorf homeschooler! Being true to our authentic selves will always lead us right and always being open to change and new ideas is the best course of action in all areas of life!

    • Emma,
      That is cute, and you are right, people don’t seem to think a green hobby farmer would love the Classical style or a conservative person would love Waldorf and yet all that exists and more in between..
      Thank you for your comment, many blessings to you!

  2. Ah, such good points!

    I have a few to add.

    Adhering strictly to the same method/curriculum/time table that worked with one child but is causing another child nothing but misery. Or expecting that what worked when the child was six is The Only Way To Homeschool when that same child is sixteen.

    Ignoring the need for friendship. The family circle is vital and essential, but especially as our children get older their friendships (not just peers but friends of all ages) have quite a bit to do with happiness.

    Mom exhaustion. This comes from micro-managing, from trying to be all things to all people, from wanting to do our best at all times when, as we all know, that’s not possible. Relaxing into learning at the pace of life makes homeschooling a pleasure.

    • Laura,
      THese are great! You, of course, wrote the book on homeschooling, literally, and I still hope to review your book soon! Thank you so much for writing in, and I am happy that you are still one of my ever-present readers. Much joy and many blessings to you!


  3. Great post! You really nailed it w/ those three. We have been schooling since 2003 and I can honestly tell you in the beginning I fell into all of those traps. Another one for me was the schedule. How one persons schedule looked like it would perfect for me, right? Learned real quick that our family has its own flow. Thanks for a great post.
    Brandy aka Lil’Momma
    Waiting for someone to unscramble the word “homeschool” so that it means we actually get to spend some time at home!

  4. Oh I say twaddle all the time – Maybe it’s because I live in England? Perhaps you could suggest some more US specific alternative that I could start using, in the spirit of cultural exchange : )

  5. Dear Carrie,
    as every reader of yours might know by now since I wrote it everytime(!), I’m not homeschooling here in Italy but I so love this post because I could substitute the word “homeschooling” with “parenting” and that would still be so true and reasonate with me so much. That’s why I love you even if I’m not religious for example. You DO empower mothers, I feel you really believe in what you wroie but don’t ask others to share it exactly the way you do and even if you talk to everybody and nobody (a blog remains it’s an online relationship), I can feel your love.
    I wish we could meet one day (I could host one of your kids in the future to learn Italian!).
    Grazie, ciao

  6. Such a great post, Carrie. I particularly liked the part about not getting online without a reason. We are at a point right now where I really have to manage my time well for life to flow smoothly. The internet can be such a time suck, and for me, it’s not really relaxing. So I “scheduled” time in in the evenings after the children are asleep to do things like read leisure books!

  7. Oh wow, great stuff! I am one who easily gets sucked into comparing and notice all the things I am NOT doing! But this brought to mind, even though my oldest is only in K, maybe I should keep a record of what WE do. Not for reporting to a school district, but to start to understand our unique way of doing things, even when at the end of a day/week it seems hard to recall if we have done much at all (even when we have!). Thanks, yet again, for writing just what I needed to hear!

  8. Carrie,

    I agree with much of what you say on this post. The beautiful blogs can become a voyeuristic activity and can make us lose sight of why we are homeschooling. They can inspire envy or despair as well. I’ve been against starting a blog, but I recently began one, nonetheless! I’ll post pictures on my blog, but my reasons for doing this are different: I want to celebrate. We are embarking on our fifth year homeschooling and I’m finally at a point where I want to share a bit of what I’ve learned artistically, scholastically, etc. with other mamas. And I think, if we aren’t gratuitous in our sharing, that this can be a great source of validating an oftentimes “invisible” life. Maybe we shouldn’t need validation if we were all perfectly secure and satisfied with our lives, but I’m revising my ideas on this right now. Validation for whom? Both. The blogger and the reader can both be validated if we are honest about our experiences and share both the struggles and the joys. Even the “pretty blogs” have given me a lift when I’ve wondered if Waldorf inspired homeschooling was worth the effort, wouldn’t it be easier if I put them all in school?

    Yes, sometimes I can get frustrated when I see how “perfect” someone else homeschools, but I also get inspired and feel a bit more empowered too: if they can do this, then how could I make this work for my own family?

    Now that I’m past the younger years, there isn’t as much information about what to teach and how. Unless I invest in an expensive curriculum that we cannot afford, blogs and ideas that I find through the internet are my best resources. I don’t read many blogs myself….no time! But I’m always glad that they are there for planning, inspiration and a laugh when I need one. We live in an area with very few Waldorf inspired homeschoolers and I get lonely for those who know what I’m going through. Just some thoughts after reading what your wrote. I definitely understand your point of view, but I also see the other side as well. Namaste sweet Carrie!

    • Krista – and I can DEFINITELY see your side, and I think there should be MORE blogs for third grade and up. I think it can a lonely path for those of us homeschooling older children without seeing some of that out there in blogland, and I am grateful for those third and up blogs especially and the blogs that show more than one main lesson going on at one time..My site generally attracts kindy folks, so I just don’t want them to get all intimidated. LOL
      Please do leave your link! I will give you linky love!
      Love to you,

    • Thank you Carrie! Even though Kindy fold read your blog, those of us older gals love it too. you have great insight. My blog is up and running. It takes a bit of time, doesn’t it? I don’t know how often I’ll have time to update, but I do want to share things we do that might help other families.


  9. The most common one I’ve seen is ‘burn-out’ – people try to do SO MUCH! I have seen parents running around from one place to the next, so many activities scheduled, the worry that their child(ren) aren’t spending enough time with other children, and on and on and on and on. Until they crash and burn with exhaustion :0(

    Years ago I used to really worry and feel like I had to get to as many organised groups and activities as possible. These days I let it go, I’ve seen quite a few people just exhaust themselves and typically their children have ended up in school as a result. I have a small circle of friends (some home educate, some do not) and that’s enough :0)

  10. For me, this kiss of death is trying to make everything perfect, and not doing anything at all because my vision of perfection was completely unattainable. You write about “Reasonable Expectations for a ____ Year Old” – – – I need to come up with one of those for myself! My expectations have been completely unreasonable…..and I was paralyzed and feeling overwhelmed by all that I thought I needed to do. So I finally just decided that I would do *something* even if it wasn’t just what I would do if I could have it just………and generally not giving myself a hard time.

    Thank you for all the wonderful inspiration and assurance and guidance you offer via your blog!


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