Homeschool Confessions: Secrets to a Simply Happy Learning Life

There are days when I look around and think, “Yes. This is the learning life I’ve always wanted.”

Not that it’s a perfect life… but it’s a good one (and it’s taken me years to come to terms with the difference between the two).

Funny—I don’t find myself thinking this when we’re out doing “purposeful” homeschooling things like co-ops, special classes, etc.

Instead, I usually find those most joyous moments of the learning life when I least expect them.

Happiness in homeschooling is something that I've found in the most unexpected places. Here's how this mom discovered the secret to a happier learning life at home with her kids.

When I first started homeschooling, I thought that I was supposed to fill our days with as many activities and learning opportunities as possible.

And while these are an integral part of our homeschooling, I can say with all honesty that I see them now as necessary evils instead of the ultimate goal.

These moments—the moments where we’re all hanging out and just exploring life together—these are the true treasure of homeschooling.

In homeschool learning, there exists a constant tension between being purposeful and making space for unplanned exploration. You know, riding bikes, playing with Play Dough, fighting imaginary pirates with sticks—all those glorious parts of childhood.

And days like today—when it’s noon and I’m sitting outside in my pjs watching my kids on their own individual adventures in our backyard—remind me that not everything has to be scheduled, regulated and checked off a list in order for it to have “purpose.”

Unscheduled Time… On Purpose

Free, open space in our schedule is not just a nicety, but an incredibly important aspect of homeschooling.

Even as I’m thinking about the new school year this fall (and mulling through what we will and won’t commit ourselves to), I’m reminding myself that even a seemingly “better” homeschool learning option may not be better if it causes a ton more stress, running around, and the potential for strained relationships.

Balance. Space. Margin. These must be in place for lasting joy to thrive in the everyday.

Dr. Richard A. Swenson has some great things to say about margin in these books:

Yes there are times when we must commit ourselves to necessary activities, even if it means a more stressful, survival mode schedule (we went through a grueling season like that last year).

But I’m not comfortable with that being the norm.

I think it starts with being wise with what we commit ourselves to, and then learning to live in the moment.

We Are More Than Machinery

However, I’m realizing again that a child’s education is so much more than bookwork and the right activities. We must give our kids time to dream, to explore and to discover.

These are the essences of being human—of being more than just a machine.

Our kids have the image of God himself imprinted on their hearts! Is God only about going and doing? Is he not a God who enjoys and revels in His creation? A God found in the simple pleasures of the world around us and in the joy of close relationships?

Why else would He have created such an intricately beautiful world–and given us five senses to experience it? Why else would He have given us each other but to enjoy fellowship?

And why else would He have chosen to sacrifice His Son so as to be in communion with us?

He is a God of purpose, of plan and of action.

But, oh friends, He is also a God of deep relationships, of the brightest colors and of the wonderfully earthy smells that follows a rainstorm.

And as parents, we get to introduce our children to this magnificently full picture of what it means to really live. We have the privilege of experiencing–right beside them–every aspect of this life beyond the hustle, the rush and the to-dos.

Having Everything… and Yet Having Nothing

We can have our kids in every activity, in the “correct” curriculums, and be completely missing the fullest aspects of the learning life. 

If we’re not careful, we can have everything… and yet have nothing. 

Life… that’s what we need to make sure we include in our homeschooling. All parts of it: the persevering parts, and the resting parts. 

As we close one school year and begin thinking about what life will look like in the fall, can I challenge you to ponder these thoughts?

Can I encourage you to consider potentially saying no to something that might be good in order for your family to experience something great in those unplanned moments?

I’ll be prayerfully asking myself those questions right beside you!

Let’s strive to give our kids–and ourselves–this full-yet-simple picture of the glorious homeschooling life!

Other Related Posts:

10 Ways to Teach Yourself to Live in the Moment

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Homeschool Confessions: I Am That Burnt Out Mom 

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Homeschool Confessions: How Homeschooling Brought My Son Back 

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Your Turn:

What aspects of your homeschool day do you and your kids find most enjoyable?

What activities or mindsets do you find give you the greatest reward as being a homeschooling mom?

And what small shifts can you make to incorporate these into your regular learning life?

Let’s share together in the comments below!

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About Alicia Michelle

As a wife and mom to four passionate kids, Alicia Michelle loves encouraging other moms with practical tips for joy-filled living in everyday life, especially in parenting, marriage, faith and health. Alicia is the owner/editor of Your Vibrant Family; the author of Plan to Be Flexible, The Back to School Survival Manual; and the creator/producer of the "7 Days to a Less Angry Mom Online Video Course,", Christ-Centered Christmas Resources and My Memory Box Organizing System. In addition, she is a monthly contributor for several popular family blogs, including Crosswalk.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

About the Author

As a wife and mom to four passionate kids, Alicia Michelle loves encouraging other moms with practical tips for joy-filled living in everyday life, especially in parenting, marriage, faith and health. Alicia is the owner/editor of Your Vibrant Family; the author of Plan to Be Flexible, The Back to School Survival Manual; and the creator/producer of the "7 Days to a Less Angry Mom Online Video Course,", Christ-Centered Christmas Resources and My Memory Box Organizing System. In addition, she is a monthly contributor for several popular family blogs, including Crosswalk.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Leave a Reply 22 comments

John Hofland - May 21, 2015 Reply

I’ve been thinking about the same thing this week. Thanks for your post!

    Alicia Michelle - May 21, 2015 Reply

    Thanks, John, for sharing! 🙂

Vibrant Homeschooling The Homeschool Mother's Journal {May 23, 2015} - Vibrant Homeschooling - May 23, 2015 Reply

[…] What Mommy Learned This Year: The Secret to a Simply Happy Learning Life […]

Lisa - May 25, 2015 Reply

This post is a great reminder! I’ve been surprised this year how much my kids are learning during our weekly outings for nature study. I keep it loose but do schedule it to make sure it happens. One of my kids was highly resistant at first but we persisted and now he’s proud of all his learning. When they WANT to learn …. wow … what a difference. 🙂

    Alicia Michelle - May 25, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lisa! I love it! I know… there is so much learning that can happen when we just relax and let the wonder of God’s creation take over! I love the idea of having dedicated Nature Study time. We did that for a while but need to get back into the habit again. Often, in the late afternoons, the kids just wander around in the backyard and play/investigate (we have some acreage) and I think, “Well, that’s nature study, right?!” 🙂

      Lisa - May 25, 2015 Reply

      We’ve got acreage too. And goats and chickens. (We saw twin goats born earlier this month!) Right now though, we are focusing on wildflowers in our yard or along our road. Pick one or two a week, and identify. It’s funny how excited we all are to be able to point to a flower and know it’s name. But yes – just being outside IS certainly something! 🙂

Michele Morin - May 17, 2016 Reply

This is truly grace-giving wisdom. Sometimes less is more. We’re their mum’s first, after all is said and done. It’s good to give the teacher hat a break!

    Alicia Michelle - May 17, 2016 Reply

    Yes, I agree. It can be so hard to put that teacher hat down, though, can’t it?! But you’re right, first and foremost, we are their mamas!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Marilyn Lesniak - May 18, 2016 Reply

Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Don’t forget to comment your link #’s so I can be sure to visit and you get a chance to be featured! Pinned and shared.

Chhavi - May 18, 2016 Reply

Great post! Not yet a mother, but learning to be one might turn useful!

Mother of 3 - May 19, 2016 Reply

I often find that our best days are those when we have no planned lessons! Just being together, watching life unfolding and discovering as we go usually leads to wonderful discussions and those moments of feeling that life is near perfect.

Victoria @DazzleWhileFrazzled - May 22, 2016 Reply

I agree that kids need to be kids! I homeschool my kids for preschool and I admit there’s probably a lot more play than structured learning but I like to think there’s a lot of learning happening while they’re playing with Legos or putting together a puzzle. Thanks for linking up with Funtastic Friday.

    Alicia Michelle - May 24, 2016 Reply

    Agreed, Victoria! Kids can learn so much through structured play! We do a lot of that around our house too. 🙂

Julie Syl Pit Stop Crew - May 23, 2016 Reply

So much power to home schooling parents and the commitment you make to make sure the little ones learn all they need in a safe and known environment. And creating a happy life for them. Thanks for sharing at the bloggers pit stop

Titus 2 Tuesday #208 - Cornerstone Confessions - May 23, 2016 Reply

[…] Homeschool Confessions: Secrets to a Simple Happy Learning Life on Your Vibrant Family.  We have been analyzing this aspect of homeschooling (or actually life in general) for ourselves this past week too.  There is something said for just having time to have those unplanned learning occasions.  This post is a good read whether you homeschool or not. […]

Amanda - May 29, 2016 Reply

My daughter 9 only 1.5 years old, so we do Tot School. Most of our day is unstructured time and I plan on continuing this into her elementary years. I’ve learned so much from watching my daughter during unstructured time. And to be honest, some times she comes up with better learning activities than I would have thought of.

    Alicia Michelle - May 29, 2016 Reply

    Hi Amanda! I love this! Yes! There are so many times when our learning rhythm gets hijacked (thankfully!) by a wonderful unstructured learning time that turns out better than anything I could have planned. Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom - June 2, 2016 Reply

What a lovely, thoughtful post! I really enjoyed this big-picture look at homeschooling. 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us at #FridayFrivolity a couple of weeks ago! I’m a little late on my reading, but pinning and tweeting now. 🙂

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