Tips for Successful Homeschooling Parents

Mother Tutoring her Son
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New or would-be homeschooling parents sometimes wonder what it takes to become a homeschool teacher. What makes a mom or dad qualified to teach their children? Any parents willing to invest their time and energy into their children's education can successfully homeschool, but are there traits or actions that set successful homeschooling parents apart?


For the sake of this article, let's define successful as confident and content.

What do successful homeschooling parents do differently?

1. They don’t fall into the comparison trap.

Homeschooling is entirely different from the educational model most of us experienced. Add to that the fact that the rest of the world seems to think we’re ruining our kids and it's understandable that homeschooling parents look for reassurance that we’re doing it right.

However, there are many pitfalls to comparing.

If we’re comparing our homeschools to a traditional educational setting, we may be causing our families to miss out on the freedoms that homeschooling offers. These freedoms include a customized education, a flexible schedule, and the ability to capitalize on our children’s unique interests and talents.

It can be easy to get so caught up in transcripts and test scores that you miss the opportunity to create a high school experience that prepares your teen to do the work that she is uniquely gifted to do.

Consider the reasons why you chose homeschooling instead of public or private school. Your reasons will probably leave you wondering why you’re still trying to copy that model of education or using it as a guide for how your homeschool should operate.

If we’re comparing our homeschools to that of other homeschooling families, we are missing out on creating our own unique homeschool setting. Different families have different needs. Each family will also have children with a variety of talents and academic strengths and weaknesses.

One mom may be worried that her 10-year-old is still a struggling reader. While comparing him to her friend’s 7-year-old who just finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy, she's losing focus on the fact that her son figures out complicated math problems in his head.

Successful homeschooling parents don’t fall into the trap of comparing their homeschool to public or private school or another family’s homeschool. They don’t compare their kids’ academic success to their homeschooled or public schooled peers.

Successful homeschooling parents are content to be unique. They capitalize on their children’s strengths and interests. They work to strengthen their children’s areas of weakness, but they don’t dwell on them. They’re content to be the unschooling family in a sea of school-at-home folks or vice versa.

That doesn’t mean that these parents never have their moments of doubt, but they don’t live them. Instead, they trust the process and embrace it.

2. They demonstrate a love of learning.

You hear a lot about the love of learning in homeschooling circles. Successful homeschooling parents show that on a daily basis. Some of the ways they do so include:

Learning alongside their kids. Homeschool parents sometimes stress over how to teach the subjects they struggled with in school. However, successful parents are willing to put aside their fears (and, perhaps, pride) and learn alongside their kids.

I’ve heard of parents taking algebra with their children – doing the lessons and working the problems themselves so that they are prepared to help their teens work through the difficult concepts.

Even with younger children, it’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers. No one knows everything there is to know about every subject. I remember a popular television commercial for a set of encyclopedias from when I was a kid. Every time the boy in the ad would ask his mom something, she’d reply with, “Look it up, dear.”

Successful homeschooling parents know that it’s okay to look it up and find the answers together. That’s part of teaching your kids how to learn.

Continuing their own educations. So many kids daydream about when they don’t have to do school anymore. It’s important for homeschooling moms and dads to demonstrate that learning never stops. Take that class at the community college. Go for that degree that you put on hold to start a family. Take those training courses that your employer is offering to help you do your job more effectively.

It can be hard to find the time for those things when you’re busy raising a family, but your children are watching. They’ll see that hard work and perseverance pay off and that learning is important.

Pursuing their own hobbies. A love of learning doesn't apply only to academics. Let your children see you pursuing your hobbies. Learn to play an instrument. Take a cake decorating class. Make time for the art class at the local hobby shop.

If we think of learning only in a textbook sense, it is likely to lose its appeal. Hobbies and life skills require continually educating ourselves, and our kids need to see that. Let them see you watching a YouTube video to learn to replace your cracked computer screen or learning sign language so that you can communicate with your new neighbor.

Encouraging their kids to follow rabbit trails. Rather than becoming irritated that their kids have gotten so off-track from the lesson plans, successful homeschooling parents share the excitement when their students take a topic and run with it. They embrace the opportunity for their kids to put into practice the skill of how to learn, rather than trying to rein them in on what to learn.

That’s because they know that engaged, enthusiastic students have captured a love of learning. That doesn't mean that we never try to get everyone back on topic – because there are some not so exciting things that kids need to learn – but we’re not afraid to let our students follow their passions.

3. They become students of their students.

One of the most important things that successful homeschooling parents do is becoming ​students of their students. That means they actively seek to learn what makes their children tick. They notice:

  • What subjects or topics get their kids excited
  • What their kids like to do in their free time
  • What school tasks their children find easy and what they find challenging
  • Their kids’ personalities
  • What types of learning activities their children seem to prefer 
  • What extracurricular activities their children enjoy

Being aware of your child's personality, interests, and academic interests helps you to tailor his education to his specific needs. It's part of what sets homeschooling teachers apart from classroom teachers. We may not have the skills required to teach a classroom full of 20-30 students, but we do know our children better than anyone else. That is the basis for successful homeschool.

You have what it takes to be a successful homeschooling parent. Be confident in how your unique school operates, share a love of learning with your children and take time to get to know each child.