What’s on the menu?

menuAs a former classroom teacher turned homeschool mom, I have more than 20 years of experience with 1000s of kids. That gives me an immense feeling of security when it comes to my own child’s learning.

Without experience, you still have several tools at your disposal. You can make decisions based on several resources. Your instincts,  your friends’ experiences, your child’s interests, your research, or what looks good/sounds good. And of course, you can always try a plate of the ill-fated, but often chosen: “popular” option. (Though I can’t promise it will please your palate.) The problem comes when you don’t know how to start, change direction, or end up changing something different from what you really need.


You need to find out what’s on the menu.
Then, you need to find out what you’d like to order.


I have had many homeschoolers in person, on the phone, and on Facebook ask me for advice. They all seem to need “something” to fix whatever’s going on in their homeschool struggle, but I get the feeling most of them don’t really know what it is or believe it can’t/won’t be fixed.

This article is for you.



Stop for a moment and grab a pen and paper. Why is your homeschooling venture struggling? Hopefully, you’re about to figure that out. Then, you’ll be able to decide which part you actually need to fix and I’ll be happy to give you the tools to fix it. 


But, if you can’t identify it, the odds are I might be able to get you to release some stress during a consultation, but until you do the hard thinking and examine your choices, you can’t change a thing. In the meantime, see if any of the questions below click into your thinking. If so, you’re getting closer to identifying your problem which means you can work towards a change.



Just like at school, homeschooling starts with your child. Well, at school, it really starts with curriculum, so let’s go there first since that’s also where most homeschoolers seem to start too.


1. Curriculum

What is it? How do you help a child when he doesn’t understand? What does my child need to know at his age, grade, social standing, with his future career in mind? Which lessons are needed? Which lessons should be choices? Which are nice, but not necessary? Which approach works with my child? What if my child doesn’t like formal lessons?

These questions can be answered with curriculum. Too much, not enough, wrong focus, too fast, too slow, different approaches, too arbitrary and you’re back at square one. How you choose the right curriculum…..well, read on for now.


2. Assessment

How do I know if my child is learning? Are tests necessary? What’s a good test? What does the test tell me about my child’s learning? Does it tell me what I need to know? What do I do with that information? Are there other ways to assess my child’s learning besides tests? Are the reliable, useful, and easy?

These questions can be answered by assessments. Assessments are intended to tell you if, what, and how much your child is learning. Get these wrong and you have an disengaged kid, an overworked kid, or a bored kid. How you choose the right assessment, well……


3. Structure

How much? What’s too much? What’s not enough? How do I plan? What kind of schedule is needed? What is mandatory? What is flexible? How do I organize it all?

Structure can include a curriculum, time of day, days of the week, enrichment, tutoring, interests, independence in learning, resources, and more. These can and should change according to your child’s needs and your schedule needs. How to organize it all is easier than it sounds.


4. Resources

What’s a quality resource? Why doesn’t my child like/understand/learn from this?
How much should I pay? What’s the right level? Which resource will work for my child? If it works, do I do it all? If it doesn’t work, should I use it anyway? Can I mix it up or change it without messing up?

Choose the wrong resources and you’ve wasted money. Don’t involve your child and the interest factor plummets. Choosing resources that work can save your sanity and add to your child’s learning. Choosing the wrong resources fills you with regrets and stress. 


5. Instruction

How does my child learn? Is he really learning? Why does it seem like he’s learning, but then he seems to forget? Do people really learn differently? How do I know if he’s learning enough? What if I think he’s not learning anything? What’s the best way to teach him?
Whew…that’s a pretty long list, though I hate to tell you that I really haven’t covered it all. The good news is that everyone messes up and remember that you’ve chosen homeschooling as an alternative to traditional schooling and you know they don’t always get it right either.


So, where do you start?

You start by defining “learning”.

It does make a difference.


What is learning to your child?



Then, you can begin to pick and choose from a smorgasbord of learning choices. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “What’s on the menu?

  1. I have just put this years curriculum together. This is an excellent list of things to consider both when planning your year, and when trying to execute those plans. I also got a laugh out of the ‘ill-fated, but often chosen: “popular” option.’


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