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Simple Homeschooling | Not Quite Amish

Simple Homeschooling

When I first started homeschooling my three kids (ages six, three, and one) in 1995, I thought my life from that moment would always be about homeschooling. I pictured all of my time (or at least most of it) shaping my children’s education. I scheduled my day in 15-minute increments and did my best to stick to it. What I didn’t know was that over the years God would call me to follow my own dreams. What I also didn’t realize was my kids would benefit from that.

It all started when I attended the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference with a friend. Being there with industry professionals made writing for publication seem possible. Classes taught me how to be published. The love, prayers and support of published authors and editors brought people into my life who believed in me and prodded me to follow God’s dreams. It didn’t matter to them that I was a young, homeschooling mom who hadn’t even finished college.


At first I felt guilty following my dreams. I’d homeschool in the morning and then in the afternoon I’d set aside a few hours to write while my children played. Those early years, I wrote articles and ideas for novels as Barney played on the television. At least a dozen times during those two hours my kids would ask me for milk, or a snack, or to play with them. I’d offer what I could but then remind them, “This was Mommy’s writing time.” Guilt weighed me down as if Barney the dinosaur sat on my shoulders, and I was sure I was the worst homeschooling mother there was. To combat my guilt I swung the other way and became over committed, making frequent library trips, signing my daughter up for dance lessons and my boys up for sports. It was my husband who urged me to stop the madness. Over the months to come we figured out our priorities:

  1. To provide a godly education for our kids
  2. To sign up each child for one extra-curricular activity a year
  3. To have dinner time as a family
  4. To train our children how to be part of the family unit and do chores
  5. To connect and serve in our local church
  6. To have reading time together as a family at night
  7. To see what God was doing in our lives and follow Him

For me, this last one included following my writing dreams, and as the years past I started getting published—first with articles and later with books. When the kids were 11, 8 and 6, God called me to help start a crisis pregnancy center, too, and to start mentoring teen moms. During that same time my husband started a dynamic children’s ministry at our church.

With each call from God I argued. Lord, what about this homeschooling thing? Shouldn’t I focus more on that? Yes, I was still spending 3-4 hours homeschooling every day, but I’d look around and see my friends pouring 100% of their lives into their kids. I felt I was giving my kids the short end of the stick. Instead of sitting outside working on nature journals, my kids were with me at the pregnancy center folding baby clothes or babysitting for the teen moms. Instead of taking those art classes at the museum, my kids were reading or building Lego forts while I worked at my computer. The more success I had in both arenas, the more I felt torn. Yet the more I prayed about it, I also saw God opening doors. Soon I was traveling out of town to research books and attend conferences, and sometimes I had to drag my kids along. (Poor kids!)

I can’t say when the “ah-ha” moment happened, but over time I began to see how following my dreams benefited my children in numerous ways. For them, they’d say they realized having a mom who wrote books was cool when we got free tickets and backstage passes to a Newsboys concert through a writing friend. For me, I’d say it was when I saw my daughter’s compassion for teenage mothers or when I overheard my son telling someone he wanted to write screenplays. They met WWII veterans I was interviewing and traveled all over the US as I researched.

As a mom, I didn’t need to teach my kids that we should follow God’s dreams for us and work hard to share His truth with others. They saw that lived out on a daily basis. Being a servant of God was modeled … and I just thought I was being a slacker for not doing science projects or having them memorize enough spelling words! As time passed, I realized God asked me to follow my dreams not only for the people I served, but also for my kids.

My kids are 23, 20 and 18 now. Cory is married with a newborn son. He’s working in insurance and writing a novel on the side. Leslie is a senior in college and plans on teaching English and doing mission work overseas when she graduates. Nathan is a college freshman, is an intern in the writing lab at his university, and he’s also writing a novel. We’ve also adopted a baby girl who is almost 3-years-old and we are in the process of adopting two more children from the foster care system. I plan on doing many things the same, including homeschooling, serving teen moms and writing … but this time I’m doing it without the guilt. I trust God more now. I trust that if He’s called me to something for Him, He understands how it’ll impact my kids. I trust He sees their futures too. I trust homeschooling isn’t just about books and learning, it’s about serving and following God with everything we have.

So what about you, Mom? Has God placed a dream in your heart or your spouse’s heart? Maybe like me you’re thinking, “I’ll do that after these homeschooling years have passed.” I’d encourage you to reconsider that and go to God in prayer. After all, kids learn far more from our lives than from books. You are your child’s teacher … teach them with your life not just your lesson plan.

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Tricia Goyer (77 Posts)

Tricia is the author of more than 30 books and has published more than 500 articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won the Historical Novel of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005. Tricia's co-written novel, The Swiss Courier, was a nominee for the Christy Awards.


  1. Great post! Our children learn so much through “living”. Not everything is in a book or on a schedule!

  2. Love this, Tricia! It’s encouraging for those of us in the thick of it right now.

  3. Thank you for the words of encouragement. As a homeschooling mom in the trenches with kids 14, 12, 10, 5, and 3 I have a lot of guilt. We have had to making changes in the way we homeschool recently to accomadate life. It has allowed school to still get done but mom has a little bit more time to do the things I need to do, like laundry, dishes, etc. Thank you for sharing the goals. Foremost, I want to raise children who love, honor and serve the Lord. We have 4-H (which are kids manage to stay really busy with) and an active church (including AWANAS and youth) to keep the kids and us too involved.
    God Bless,
    Kim in NC

  4. Following your dreams can bring guilt whatever your circumstances. Is it really okay to be this happy? At whose expense am I getting to my dreams? Thank you for sharing your story. I find your post as encouragement to follow the dreams God put in our hearts.

  5. Loved this, Tricia! I often feel this pinch as a himeschooling mom with a 5 & 2 y/o and taking (making) time to write. My hubby tells me…NO GUILT! But it is hard! Loved your tips and your insight means soooo much!

  6. Great post, Tricia. Been there. Still feel the guilt somedays, but others I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

  7. Thank you, Tricia. I am just getting ready to start the homeschooling adventure, and my husband and I are already dealing with the demands of ministry (both church and a pregnancy loss ministry) along with my lifelong desire to write. More than anything, I want our kids to see how to integrate family and ministry and service to others in a healthy way, and I hope we can do that as we home school in the years to come.

  8. Awesome! Thank you, from a fellow homeschooling adoptive mommy of 6 with lots of dreams!!!!!!

  9. Tricia,
    Oh, how you’ve spoken right to my God-sized-dreaming-heart. As I homeschool my 4 boys, I do feel so torn so much of the time…guilty! God is revealing my dreams in bolder and clearer ways and yet, somehow, I still struggle to move past the fact that my homeschooling friends seem more poured into their children’s lives. I do pour into my boys’ lives, but I do also feel called to serve Him in other ways. My ministry to my family is first…I know that, but I also know there are dreams He’s placed in my heart.

    This, I love….

    ” I trust that if He’s called me to something for Him, He understands how it’ll impact my kids. I trust He sees their futures too. I trust homeschooling isn’t just about books and learning, it’s about serving and following God with everything we have.”

    Thank you Tricia! You really have blessed my heart tonight.
    Sweet Blessings to you.

  10. I’m not even sure what my dreams are anymore, or if I have any. Still groping my way through life’s changes, moving from being a full-time career woman (teaching middle school) to a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. How do you rediscover your dreams once they disappear?

  11. This is such a thought-provoking article, thank you so much Tricia. I think it may be very timely for me. I never thought that you could fulfill a writing career and homeschool. I’m currently seeking God for what His will is for me. I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. A lot of the time they are great at playing together/by themselves, but often, just as I’m quickly having a minute to myself, to pray, read the Bible etc, or am in the kitchen by myself cooking away enjoying a little bit of peace, my eldest will want me for something, to read to her etc, to draw with her, whatever… So I end up feeling guilty for having a few minutes to myself because I worry my daughter isn’t feeling loved. How do you know if they’re getting enough love?! I spend a good hour a day with my 3-year-old reading and painting, or baking whilst my youngest is napping, plus all the other things we do together the rest of the day, but she always seems to want more of me! Any tips?


  12. Tricia, I love this post for many reasons. Reading this has convicted my heart in what direction we should go next year with extracurricular. Before our oldest son passed away, I had so many hopes and dreams. One was to start a ministry that focused on widows/widowed/elderly people. I also wanted to write a book too. Going through grief and merely just keeping up with what has to be done around our home is getting quite predictable and blah. Not that I don’t love my family…I do! I love homeschooling. However, it’s time to get out there and be Jesus in the flesh to others, and afford my other son the opportunity to see that in person….so that he too can grow up to be a Godly young man that loves Christ. Thank you so much for your sincere honesty! 🙂

  13. Amanda Beckwith says:

    Thank you!

  14. I love reading your homeschooling posts! I’m also an author and homeschool mother–of two. I battle with guilt and not knowing if they’re getting enough, etc. But like you, I know for certain, God has called me to write. I’m heading over to read more of your posts. I really appreciated the one about schooling your youngest son.

  15. Oh, this was so good and timely. I have dreams and have been inconsistent because of guilt and oth e reasons that follow like procrastination. This post, along with your book “Balanced” has allowed me to look at my dreams differently. Thank you for the encouragement!

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