homeschool boys palying dragons

8 Ways to Find Peace in Your Homeschool Decision

Slaying Your Homeschooling Dragons

We recently featured Jennifer Smarsh on the Homeschooling Saints Podcast to discuss winning the battle for peace in your homeschool. Jennifer is a seasoned homeschool veteran who has homeschooled for twenty-four years and raised five daughters. She also has experience across a broad spectrum of educational models, including homeschooling, public, Catholic, and online charter schooling, and has worked as a homeschool consultant. Jennifer and Lisa discussed things in your homeschool that can rob you of your peace, which Jennifer presented as “dragons” that need to be slain.

It was a wonderful interview, and I highly recommend that you check it out. To accompany the interview, here is a summary of Jennifer’s eight dragons that need to be overcome to maintain peace in your homeschool kingdom:

1. Comparison

Comparing ourselves to others is a bad habit many of us fall into. There is a saying, “Compare and despair,” which speaks to the negative impact that arises from constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling as though we aren’t good enough. In homeschooling, this can take the form of comparing your own homeschooling efforts to those of other families, whom you idealize as “perfect” or really having it all together.

Aside from the fact that this image is incorrect (no family is as flawless, organized, or well-behaved as you think), we must realize that homeschooling will look different in every household. Homeschooling is all about individualization and customization; there is no one proper way to homeschool—or, to put it differently, the “right” way to homeschool is whatever is working for you.

Focus on coming up with something that you find workable, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing is the first step in finding peace in your homeschool!

2. Am I Doing Enough?

The idea of doing “enough” can be paralyzing. This is also a type of comparison to what institutional schools are doing. These thoughts can become intrusive; “By age 6 they are reading; by age 7 they are learning multiplication tables!” and then if your children are not on the same time-frame, you start to wonder whether your efforts are sufficient. Compared to the regimented, systematic education a public schooler would get, you can feel like you are not doing enough.

It is important to remember that brick-and-mortar schools and homeschools are simply different. Homeschooling is not merely replicating public school but at home (see, “Homeschoolers Don’t Need to Mimic Public School“). Site-based schools structure their operations based on a whole different set of considerations than a homeschool. For example, it’s very common for a homeschool day to take far less time than a day in a public school because of the fundamental differences between educating a few kids in their own homes versus hundreds of children in a large facility. We would be wrong to think we weren’t doing “enough” school just because our school day is shorter. This applies to all such comparisons with brick-and-mortar schools.

Again, what is “enough” is determined by your children’s needs and aptitudes, not by arbitrary standards set by government schools.

3. Not Recognizing the Root Struggles

There are times we lose peace because homeschooling just feels like a slog.

Do you ever feel like you are always struggling? It could be that there are root issues that need to be addressed. For example, maybe your child is not ready for the material you are teaching them, and you need to go at a slower pace. Sometimes, you may have a sub-optimal curriculum and need to switch materials (if you need curriculum help, check out Cathy Duffy’s 103 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum). Other times, the root issue might be a learning disability that requires outside diagnosis and assistance.

Whatever the case, the point is we have to be aware of what is causing us to feel the slog and address the root problem to find our peace.

4. Opinions of Family & Friends

Everybody has an opinion, and chances are, if you’re homeschooling, you’ll hear it! Whether it’s from nosey neighbors who question your judgment or well-meaning but naive family members who ask, “Isn’t your kid going to grow up sheltered?” you’ll have to navigate dealing with the opinions of others.

Giving these opinions too much weight can make you question yourself and damage your self-esteem. If you have nay-sayers in your life, you must keep their opinions at arm’s reach—they don’t know you, they don’t know what’s best for your child, and chances are they don’t understand homeschooling either. So why give any credence to what they say? The sooner you learn to let negative opinions roll off your back, the more peaceful you will feel!

5. Being Too Busy

There is a tendency—especially among new homeschoolers—to bite off more than you can chew. Seven classes a day, extracurricular sports, drama club at a co-op, volunteering at the parish, etc. etc. Homeschooling takes a lot of energy, and it’s important to structure in downtime for rest and recreation. If you don’t, you may find yourself dealing with serious burnout. Make sure you give yourself plenty of space; chances are you don’t need to be as busy as you think, so let go of the idea that you have to fill every moment with some activity!

It’s okay to say no now and then.

6. Lack of Time to Prepare and Plan

Homeschooling takes forethought and preparation. If things aren’t working out as well as you’d hoped, sometimes it is helpful to step back and look at our preparation. Are we giving adequate time to planning? Do we give ourselves the space we need to obtain materials, structure our lessons, and plan our course? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning; some people like to meticulously plan months in advance, and other families can get by with much less time, but you have to set aside some time for planning and make sure it’s adequate for your needs.

If your homeschool always feels chaotic, lack of planning time may be the issue.

7. Lack of Breaks

Like lack of preparation, lack of breaks can leave you exhausted. Remember, the reason you homeschool is for flexibility. You aren’t a public school with a government-mandated schedule of so-many hours per day or per semester. If you need a break, take a break! It’s okay every now and then to say, “We’re not doing school today. Get your suits on, and let’s go to the beach.” It’s okay.

Stop holding yourself to an arbitrary schedule. Allow yourself some breathing room, and you’ll be much happier!

8. Do I Have What It Takes?

Finally, we may be plagued by self-doubt, questioning whether we truly have what it takes to homeschool successfully. Remember that no one loves or knows your child better than you. You taught your child to walk, talk, and so much more. You did that. God specifically put your child in your life because He knows you can do what’s best for them.

Trust God, trust yourself, and trust your intuition about what your child needs.


I highly recommend you watch the full interview with Jennifer Smarsh. It will help give you some direction if you feel like your homeschool is in need of rejuvenation:


If you’d like to continue this discussion, I invite you to join me and other Catholic homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group.

Lastly, Homeschool Connections offers a wide variety of online courses for 3rd to 12th grade to help you homeschool. See our Course Finder to learn more.

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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