A Homeschooling Fear: What if We Miss Something?

This school year our youngest is five, a big boy in kindergarten-at-home, and quite pleased with himself. No more preschool, now he has his own "school box" with his books and pencils.

The Brown Family Preschool, which has now closed its doors perhaps forever (wah!), had one governing rule: pay attention to the student! If he wanted to learn to read, we read. If he wanted to "do math" we did something with numbers. There were no requirements, no lists, no workbooks that had to be finished. You might say we unschool for preschool.

I am admittedly not a fan of early education in the sit-in-your-seat-and-write-stuff way. Being forced to sit still seems so counter to the design of a preschooler. If you have to use all of your resources to stay seated, what's left for learning new things?

I am however a huge advocate of child-led education in the formative years. If they expressed an interest I jumped on it.

This approach has worked well for us. Our daughter was reading fluently on her own at four. Our oldest was not really that interested in reading, and didn't read well independently until he was seven. At age twelve he read The Odyssey and Aeneid. Unabridged.

When they are ready, they are ready.

When I talk to new homeschoolers the number one anxious cry I hear is

What if we miss something?!

If this is your cry too, then let me set your mind at rest. You will miss something. Just like the public school down the road from you will, and the fancy private school in the nice part of town will.

And I'm not just talking about you missing the opportunity for your child to be terrorized by a bully, or them missing the sweetness of snuggling on the couch reading (though these losses are pretty likely too).

From a purely academic standpoint, in every environment, something will be missed. It's impossible to avoid. There just isn't enough time. I mean, you read Plato and you run out of time for Dante. It can happen! ;-) Seriously though, in God's amazing world we will never, never run out of things to learn. You will miss teaching your students something.

This is true no matter how old they are, but before kindergarten, it just seems downright silly to worry about missing something academically. So take a deep breath and let them play!

Here's the thing... God designed little brains to learn. To learn like crazy! The amount a child learns from birth to five boggles the mind. Just take language acquisition alone. No two year old goes to school to become proficient in their native language. They simply learn because that is what they were created to do.

Young children have no stigma associated with learning. They are excited about their world and they absorb new information and experiences like sponges. Surround them with books and an engaging life, with a healthy dose of outside time, and you may just end up with a child eager to sit down and figure out how to spell words all on his own...

Do you think he drew a violin or a viola? :-)


  1. For me, the hardest part of homeschooling is knowing there is no way we can do it all! There are so many great topics and projects to choose from!

  2. A wise friend reassured me, once when I was going through a very stressful time and worried that our schooling was not "keeping up" (whatever that means) - the biggest part of homeschooling is character training and remaining part of the family. Then, learning to learn, so that whatever gets missed they know how to pick up later if they need it. After that - they are most likely "ahead" anyway, and especially just starting out, there is a lot of time to try to hit everything. I've struggled with feeling like I need to do everything all at the same time, so I do what Mark and I want to do, what they want to do, and what everybody else thinks they ought to do. That, we can all testify, is no way to live! :)

  3. Mary, I agree, there are SO many wonderful choices!

    Desiree, that resonates with my experience as well. We have had times (like after the fire) when getting back to school was next to impossible. I tried to focus on the fact that they were learning life lessons. And because our children have been free to remain curious learners, of course they don't stop actually learning in times like this. It is just not through a specific curriculum. Most importantly, our faith infuses everything, at all times, and God is gracious to have a uniquely tailored lesson plan for each of us as we grow in Him! Thanks for sharing your experience, Desiree.

  4. What a blessing of a post. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.


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