Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me

Is Your Child One of the Over 2 Million Children Homeschooled in the U.S.?
Activity of the Week – ABC Letter Box and Astronaut Unit

Even though I was my children’s homeschool teacher through high school, my children taught me some very important lessons as well. Here are my top 5 homeschool lessons my children taught me:

1. Maria Montessori was right. You really can follow the child.

Throughout my children’s childhoods, my husband and I used Maria Montessori’s philosophy of child-led learning. One of my favorite quotes is

“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission.” – Maria Montessori

Will, 20, Deb, and Christina, 15, in Prague during one of our unforgettable experiences from figure skating while in the Czech Republic for Will's Junior Grand Prix Final, November 2005.

Will, 20, Deb, and Christina, 15, in Prague during one of our unforgettable experiences from figure skating while in the Czech Republic for Will’s Junior Grand Prix Final, November 2005.

By observing my children over the years, I learned that it was safe to just let my children show me what was right for them. Often, my husband and I gave Will and Christina opportunities to experience different activities.

Then we let their natural tendencies and interests choose which to stay with. We gave Will and Christina experience with a number of sports, especially skiing, roller skating, ice skating, karate, and tennis. They also experienced piano lessons, drum lessons (Will) voice lessons, and dance.

Both Will and Christina chose ice skating as their favorite sport. Our whole family had amazing, life-changing experiences through figure skating, and Will and Christina both found careers in figure skating. Will had an interest in music and DJing, so he became a DJ at age 15. Will is still a DJ, too, with his own business, Dancing DJ Productions.  Christina was always a dancer – and still is as a professional ice dancer and Zumba instructor.

2. If I have questions, I just need to ask.

I learned from homeschoolers that I just needed to ask questions at homeschool conferences, seminars, and groups. (Now there are lots of online places to ask questions as well!). In the same way, I just needed to ask my children if I was wondering about something. Was it time to try a new curriculum, or did they like the one we were using? What did they want to study this year? What did they plan to study in college? Should we drop an old tradition and try a new one?

3. Homeschooling truly is about family.

Will, 20, and Christina, 15, with a skating tour group hearing about the infamous sign over the gate at Auschwitz that reads “work sets you free," November 2005.

Will, 20, and Christina, 15, with a skating tour group hearing about the infamous sign over the gate at Auschwitz that reads “work sets you free,” November 2005.

My children didn’t want or need school at home. They needed homeschool. The more I could merge our schooling and family, the happier we all were.

As we went through the years of homeschooling, our homeschool looked less and less like school at home and more like our family doing schoolwork as part of our normal day and family activities. We learned to embrace the freedom homeschooling gave us to go out and do fun, educational activities during the school day and take family trips when others were in school. We loved being able to say: “This is our school day. Is this cool – or what?!”

4. I don’t have to be perfect.

I was notorious for not planning or recording our homeschool activities as well as I should have. And sometimes we just got totally off schedule.  But what was great was that Will and Christina didn’t worry about that. So I really didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it, either. And guess what … it didn’t matter to anyone in the end. What Will and Christina missed in direction from me they got from themselves. And that self-direction helped them both earn straight A’s throughout their bachelor’s degrees (and helped them love their college experiences)!

5. All you need is love. (via my children and the Beatles).

Will, B.A. in Communications from Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona, 4.0 GPA, and Christina, B.A. in Performance and Professional Practice with First Class Honours from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England.

Will, B.A. in Communications from Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona, 4.0 GPA, and Christina, B.A. in Performance and Professional Practice with First Class Honours from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England.

Many wonder how much education and training is needed for parents to homeschool their children. Yes, I had a bachelor’s degree. And that helped us homeschool without hassles from anyone (since people assumed I knew what I was doing as a teacher).

But I wasn’t certified to teach in a public school. My bachelor’s degree was in liberal studies with a concentration in Montessori elementary and early childhood education.

Having a bachelor’s degree (of any type) enabled me to administer the required biennial standardized testing in Colorado (which allowed us to test at times throughout the day that worked with OUR schedule during OUR set testing week). And my Montessori certification definitely helped me confidently use the Montessori principles I love with my children.

But a degree or teacher certification certainly wouldn’t have been necessary. I truly believe that parents without any formal teacher training can be wonderful homeschool teachers. With homeschool conferences, seminars, online support, local homeschool groups and tutors, teachers’ manuals and educational supplies, anyone who is committed to homeschooling can find a way to teach the ones they love.

Of course, not everyone is meant to homeschool, and that’s fine, too. But if you do want to go the homeschooling route, my children showed me that it’s easier than I would have thought. All we really needed was the love for each other that led us to find a way to do what was best.

Note: This post was part of the Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • AffectionAlicia at I Found My
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    someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
  • Learning from DanielAmy at
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    to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
  • Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal
    — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at
    Innate Wholeness
    has become aware of deep truths that come
    naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
  • What the
    Apple Teaches the Tree
    Becky at Future
    has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and
  • A Lesson in Slowing Time
    Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance
    to just be with her baby.
  • Learning From My Children: I Am So
    — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood
    is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
  • P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she’s a
    mother, Danielle at is finally
    learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
  • Top 5 Homeschool Lessons
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    Deb Chitwood at Living
    Montessori Now
    shares what she learned from homeschooling
    her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
  • Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the
    Dionna at Code Name: Mama
    finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how
    fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
  • The watchful Buddha boy — At
    Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their
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  • What My Children Taught Me
    Dulce de Leche‘s children have taught her to value
    herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
  • Lessons from the First Year
    Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama
    realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
  • Lessons from Loss
    Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love
    — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
  • The Socratic
    Erin at Multiple Musings has
    so-called “identical” twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs.
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  • Learning to be a Mother
    Farmer’s Daughter learned the type of patience that
    enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes
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  • A Few Things Being a Mom Has
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    Heather at Musing Mommy
    shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy’s Law-like
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  • I Feel You — Motherhood has taught
    Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends
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  • Lessons From My Child…
    Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the inspiring
    ways she’s learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera
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  • My child is my mirrorJessica
    Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama
    has seen herself in her
    children – and it’s not bad. (@crunchychewy)
  • There is enough to go
    Kellie at Our Mindful Life
    learned that love doesn’t diminish when it’s shared.
  • Learning From Our Children, Every Day
    Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is
    continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
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    Kristen at Adventures in
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    Kristin at Intrepid
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  • Beyond the questions lies the
    Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped
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  • Learning from
    Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds
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  • Lifelong LearningLindsay at
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  • Walking alongside my
    Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is
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    Luschka at Diary of a First Child
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  • The Virtues of Motherhood
    Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities
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    Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned
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    Michelle at The Parent
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    Momma Jorje takes time to
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  • Teaching Forgiveness
    Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who’s
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  • Parenting as a joint
    Olivia at Write About Birth
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  • Beginner’s MindRachael at The
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  • A baby’s presentRS at A
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    Sara at Halfway Crunchy
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    Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of
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    Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment
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    herself. (@Sheryljesin)
  • Till the water is clearStacy
    at Mama-Om
    learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
  • I Hold It
    Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the
    ability to communicate is much more important than the number of
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  • What My Children Taught Me About Letting
    Summer at Finding Summer is
    learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
  • Finding My ToolsThe
    has applied some of what she’s learned as a mama
    in the classroom, with great results!

Is Your Child One of the Over 2 Million Children Homeschooled in the U.S.?
Activity of the Week – ABC Letter Box and Astronaut Unit
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