The Only Thing You Need to Start Homeschooling

We’re deep in the August dog days, the hottest + most humid I can recall here in Seattle. Seems like sunshine should last forever, but I know it won’t. I look at my calendar, and I realize we’re scheduled to start school at the end of the month! How did all that down time pass so swiftly? Oh yeah, we had a baby! (Details.)
So, seeing as I’ve got homeschool on the brain, I’ve decided to do a little mini-series over the next couple of weeks that I suppose I could call Homeschool 101. It’s all about Getting. Started. Whether it’s your first venture into the “mysterious” world of homeschooling, or whether you just need a jolt to get you going for your umpteenth year in a row. This is a combo inspiration + how-to (and you’ll even get a sneak-peak into what our Humble Homeschool is using this year.)
Today, I’m letting you in on a secret (the only thing you need to start homeschooling this year!) Shhh. Up and coming, we’ll be taking a look at these topics:
  1. Your Reasons for Homeschooling: establish ’em, evaluate ’em, know ’em.
  2. Schools of Thought: A Quick Explanation of Homeschool Styles
  3. How to Design an Eclectic Homeschool Curriculum
  4. My Eclectic Homeschool Curriculum with a 4th Grader, 2nd Grader, Pre-K 4, 2-year-old and 4-month old!
Ready to get inspired? Alright, then! Let’s dive in with the one, the only thing you need to get started this year. (Shh. Remember, it’s a secret.)
(No, not really.)

James throws leaves

Would you believe me if I said there is one–exactly one, only one–thing you need to begin homeschooling this year? Whether it’s your first year or your second, fifth, fifteenth in a row? No, it’s not the latest online history experience or the fail-safe math curriculum or the world’s most engaging bible translation.

The one and only thing you need to start homeschooling is conviction.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

And it’s that hard.

Whether this is your first rodeo or you’ve been at it for a decade, it’s vital that you spend a little time evaluating not just the why but whether you should be homeschooling this year. It’s important to remember this is not a lifetime commitment.

This year. These kids. Are you convicted?

Because homeschooling is not just an education choice. It’s not like deciding between the local public school and the neighborhood Montessori.

Homeschooling is a way of life.

It’s about atmosphere as much as it is about astronomy, and loving as much as learning. It’s a way of being and living and learning together, where (along with Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic), Relationship is your 4th R.

James with daisy b&w

When you decide to homeschool your child, you’re signing on for much more than filling her brain with this year’s data dump. You are signing on to disciple her, for better or worse, day in and day out, all day whether you want to or not.

You see, it’s your character and your relationship with your child that is going to teach him more than your boxed curriculum or your hands-on labs or even your best, completely enthralling, perfectly executed field trip.

And here’s something you should know: being a homeschooling mother will take it all out of you. Every last drop. Because that’s what you’re giving every day–all of it. All of you. Not just the time it takes to drill those flashcards or the energy to mop up after your mess of a pop bottle volcano.

It’s three meals a day eaten around your table. It’s being there for every disciplinary infraction (and every victory). It’s being mom and teacher and principal and tutor and youth minister and fellow student and role model all in one. It’s stretching in ways that will make you squirm because God is growing your heart, challenging your patience, and expanding your mind day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment through these blessings of his who you call by name.

That’s the agony and the glory of homeschooling. And it’s not for every family. And it’s not for every child. And it’s not for every year.

Which is why this year, I’m asking you. Heart-to-heart, mom-to-mom, sister-to-sister: Are you convicted?

Are you called to the creative, chaotic, curious, combustible kind of crazy that this homeschool year is going to demand?

If you’re not sure, pray about it. Not in theory, but right now. In this moment. Before you close this tab or click away to Facebook, take it to the Father who knows your deepest desire, who can banish all your doubts and bolster every bit of broken.

Because this–this conviction? This is what you carry with you. On the days when it all seems to fall apart and you wonder why. Those nights when you lie awake (and you will), wondering frantically if you’re ruining their lives. When Aunt Eunice questions your abilities, or your son fails his second math test in a row, or the science experiment doesn’t pan out, or you just feel like you can’t stand another day of mess and noise and (what feels for the moment like) endless effort–that’s when you can say to yourself, “Self, you got this.”

Or rather, He does.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it…”

– Philippians 1:6

But the promise only holds if it’s His plan, His will. Otherwise, it’s all up for grabs. If you’re doing it because it’s what you’ve always done, or because you want to fit in with the homeschool moms at church, or because you’re running scared from a bad relationship at your local school but you lack that God-gifted conviction, then let it go. Make another choice. At least for this year.

On the other hand, if you are convicted about homeschooling, but you’re worried you don’t have the money or the experience or the expertise or the patience or the right community or enough support or whatever it is that’s got your heart racing and your hands sweating and you humbled on your knees and scared–listen.

You can do this, and do it well.

He will give you every grace you need. At least for this day, at least for this year. 

Go forward in confidence, sister, because He’s got you.

And, girl, you’ve got this thing.


Next time we’ll be talking about taking that first big step, whether it’s your first time ever or just for this year. Because conviction is the one thing you need to start, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need when the crazy train starts rolling. If you want to succeed in homeschooling this year, you’ve got to know. your. reasons.


  1. Casey says:

    I know this was posted awhile ago, but I just stumbled on to this blog…and let me tell you I love it! I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter and another one due in April. I am a certified teacher and have taught in public and private schools, but i have decided to homeschool. I know my daughter is only 3, but I have started my research. I was a little worried, but after reading your blog, I have the confidence I needed to do this! Thank you!

    • Bethany says:

      Oh, Casey! I just stumbled over this comment, and it made my heart so happy to see! Wishing you all the best as you begin your journey. Even on the hard days, it’s worth it. <3

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