5 Tips for a Great Homeschooling Year


It’s that time of year again! Kids have gone back to school, and we have “liked” their cute pictures on social media. As a homeschooling mom, I’ve happily “loved” their pictures and congratulated them on their first days while also celebrating my daughter’s own educational journey with a not-back-to-school party and a trip to the zoo.

Girl sitting in a tree at forest school

The last few years of homeschooling have been an unexpected blessing for our family. I used to say I would NEVER homeschool. I didn’t think it was bad necessarily, yet I couldn’t picture myself doing it. But then covid turned our plans upside-down, and what started as the best choice of the worst choices during the pandemic morphed into the best choice period, and my older daughter has truly thrived.

As the school year has approached, I’ve thought about the most important lessons I’ve learned while stumbling my way through homeschooling. I’m sharing them in the hope that they might provide encouragement as you dive into homeschooling this year.

Homeschooling is what you make it. Follow your own style.

Aside from legal requirements, such as writing the letter of intent and completing state testing, the sky’s the limit on how you educate your child in Oregon. Use a curriculum at home, take your kids to the park for an art lesson, outsource to an educational community for homeschoolers to learn from tutors and teachers, or bring them to the beach to learn intuitively in nature. Sure, we could talk about homeschooling methods and the dos and don’ts of each—but at the end of the day, what matters most is that you meet your kid’s needs right where they are. How you do that is up to you.

Find your people and cherish them with everything you have.

Even though homeschooling has its joys, it can also be downright hard. Just like parenting, homeschooling brings us to our highest of highs and lowest of lows. Your kid may very well take over an hour to complete fifteen minutes of math (yes, speaking from experience here), and in those moments when you want to rip out your hair, it helps to have people on your side who understand you at the core, people who are in the thick of it just like you. Find a friend or two who can nod and say, “I know how that feels and you’re doing a good job.” Cherish them with everything you have, reach out when you need their support, and tell them they are your people.

You are enough. Start slowly and breathe.

I clearly remember the day it hit me: my daughter’s education was in my hands. I had sent the letter of intent to her school notifying them that I was pulling her out of public school, and I was terrified. Who was I compared to those highly qualified saints – I mean teachers – who spent four hard-earned years learning how to best manage a classroom? I felt small in comparison. And yet as time went on, I realized that I knew my child best, and even though I couldn’t manage a class of thirty kids, I could tailor my daughter’s education to meet her exact needs with the fierceness and love of a mother. That’s my superpower.

Learn your limits. Don’t be afraid to outsource and adapt.

When we try to meet every single one of their learning needs on our own, we quickly become burned out and grumpy. Luckily, Portland has a vibrant homeschooling community with plenty of social events, classes, and extracurriculars specifically for homeschoolers. If your kid has surpassed your level in a specific area, or if you particularly hate a subject, see if there’s a class that might fit that need. For example, my daughter loves nature, so I enrolled her in Forest School. She also wanted to learn to sew, which is a skill I lack, so she took a homeschooling sewing class. Many opportunities are available to homeschoolers during school hours.

Know your why, your reason for homeschooling.

Girl smiling with a cake she bakedIs it for the freedom? For the extra hours each day? To travel more frequently as a family? To individualize their learning? My why encompasses all of these and is simple: my daughter is thriving. Homeschooling has strengthened our relationship and given her the much-needed time and space she needs to learn. Her love for learning has been re-kindled, she’s happier, and she spends hours each day on hobbies she enjoys, like baking and art. It’s a win-win for us. Take some time to truly know your why, and whatever it is, use it to build a life you love.

It’s taken a few years to embrace our journey authentically and fully as homeschoolers; it’s been brutal, beautiful, tough, joyful, and a lot of in between. I don’t know what the future holds, but for now, it’s the path we’re on, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.


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Tara is a mom to two kiddos, ages 5 and 9, and has been married to her best friend for twelve years. Raised in the Air Force, she’s from everywhere and nowhere. If asked today, she claims the Midwest, having lived in Illinois for eight years during graduate school and the birth of her first child. Five years ago, Tara and her husband took a trip to Portland and instantly fell in love. As they drove to the Oregon coast in the rain and saw the bright green moss and towering trees, it felt as if they were transported to another world. In that moment, Tara knew it was the place to raise their kids. They packed their belongings and made the cross-country move while Tara was eight months pregnant with their second. Tara homeschools her older kiddo, hosts a monthly mom’s book club, works as a freelance proofreader and a part-time bookseller, and co-leads her daughters’ Girl Scout troop. As an introvert, Tara is the first to admit she’s horrible at small talk, but if asked about the deep stuff, she’s all in. She’s a serious plant enthusiast, and she recently found that exercising and playing piano calm her soul.