Your Top Parenting Questions Answered

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Do you wish you could ask a Christian homeschooling psychologist a parenting question? This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I answer the most common parenting questions I receive.

Hey, homeschoolers! Most of the questions I’ve received in my personal and professional life center around parenting. As a parent myself, I understand that. We live in an age that has parents terrified of making mistakes and being blamed for any and everything that can go wrong in their children’s lives. Apart from that fear, we have the earnest desire to love and teach our children well.

While I didn’t begin this podcast or my time as a speaker thinking I would focus on parenting, I have found that I enjoy answering these questions. My prayer is that you’ll have some of your questions answered in this episode. If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to send them my way via email ( or on social media messages (@homeschoolsanity). I am happy to respond individually.

So, let’s jump in to six of the most popular questions I’ve answered over the years.

#1 Am I disciplining the right way?

This question comes after an explanation of a child’s problem behavior and a description of what the parent has done to address it that has improved the behavior.

The short answer to this question is YES. If you are responding to a child’s behavior problem in a way that is working, albeit imperfectly, then yes, you are disciplining the right way. I haven’t had to say no to this because no parent has ever described an abusive response with this question and no parent has said, “And I just ignore the problem behavior.”

The other reason my answer is yes is because you’re the authority on whether or not a disciplinary approach is working and appropriate for your family. I once fell for the lie that I couldn’t be trusted to know the best approach for each of my kids, just as I thought I couldn’t be trusted to know the best way to homeschool my kids. I thought I needed an expert to tell me. I didn’t and you don’t. If what you’re doing is working and it feels right to you, continue on. If it’s making things worse or you feel guilty about it, try something new.

#2 How can I discipline when my spouse isn’t on board?

The truth is most parents don’t phrase this in the form of a question. They say, “I CAN’T discipline because my spouse isn’t on board.” My answer is that it’s ideal to have you and your spouse on the same page with discipline. But it isn’t necessary for you to discipline in a way that works and feels good to you. Any time our kids aren’t with us and under our authority, they will likely be dealing with a different disciplinary approach. Outside teachers, coaches, grandparents, babysitters, and divorced or separated parents are probably not going to be on the same page with discipline. Of course, that doesn’t mean we throw up are hands in despair and drop discipline entirely.

It is always worthwhile to discuss discipline with your spouse when you have different ideas about how to approach it. But in these discussions our number one focus has to be humility. That is true even when your spouse is making what you think are obvious mistakes. Let’s consider a common scenario. You want to calmly use specific consequences for misbehavior, but when the kids act out, your husband yells instead. Instead of lecturing your husband about the negative effects of yelling and his need for self-control, dig deeper during a quiet discussion. Find out what is driving his frustration.

It’s possible it has little to do with the kids’ behavior. Is it a desire for quiet when he gets home from work? Is it being met with a mess or dinner being delayed on a regular basis? It could be problems at work, with extended family, with finances, or with his health driving his frustration. But it could also be as simple as his feeling out of control when the kids misbehave. Many disciplinary problems come from lack of options. If your husband doesn’t know exactly what to do or say, he will go for what has worked in the past–yelling.

If your spouse doesn’t have a disciplinary plan, you can humbly describe what you’re trying to do and the results you’ve seen with it. You can ask your spouse how you can support him in disciplining so you can be a team. I’ve heard from more than one father that they are frustrated when their disciplinary efforts are undermined by mom with excuses for the child or telling the child that the consequences Dad gave won’t stand. If you have a problem with Dad’s discipline in a specific instance, go to him privately and humbly ask him to reconsider. When he calms down, he may change his mind about consequences. I’m going to offer a disclaimer here that I am not talking about abuse. If your spouse is abusing your children, get legal and professional help to protect them. That is a parent’s responsibility.

But apart from that, if your spouse still doesn’t agree on discipline, carry on. You will do more to influence him by modeling your approach to discipline than debating him. And your children will benefit far more than if you give up on discipline completely.

#3 My child has special needs. How can I discipline?

This is the hardest question I get because I don’t know. I have given options that will work for most neurotypical children but could backfire with some children on the spectrum. But even if I had an approach for kids on the spectrum, kids with ADHD, kids with sensory processing disorders, and more, your child would likely be unique. As much as I’d like this to be easy, it’s not. You’re going to have to be a student of your child. Experiment. What works? What doesn’t? What are the circumstances when things go well and when they don’t? I have every confidence that you are the perfect person to find a discipinary approach that’s a good fit for your child.

But there’s a variation of this question that I want to address too. I get the “My child has OCD, ADD, and ODD and I’ve taken them to all these specialists and nothing works. I can’t discipline this child.” I’m going to be straight with you on this question. I don’t think that particular parent wants me to offer up a magic strategy because when I do give suggestions, I immediately hear why they won’t work. I think this question comes from a place of frustration, exhaustion, and fear of being blamed. There is no doubt that there are children who are very difficult to discipline. They have iron wills and don’t seem to care about punishments. The run-of-the-mill strategies will not work. I have compassion for these parents. But I also know that it can get worse–much, much worse. If there is no discipline, this child (who likely already feels out of control) will believe that not even his parents can get him under control. Children see discipline as love and all of them need it. When we withhold it, they feel unloved and will act out.

My advice is to keep loving, keep disciplining, and keep studying your child. The book The Defiant Child is an excellent help as well. Consider professional help as an adjunct to what you’re doing.

#4 My child doesn’t understand or agree with my plan or discipline. What do I do?

My answer to this question is to imagine an adult authority asking this. Would a police officer complain that people don’t understand the law or agree that they should be ticketed, so there’s nothing they can do? Would an IRS agent complain that people just don’t understand or agree with the tax law and can’t be audited and fined? No. We don’t have to understand and agree to be under authority and neither do our children. They just have to respect and obey. That doesn’t mean that we don’t explain our rules, particularly to older children, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t hear them out if they offer their opinion respectfully. But ultimately, we decide. We are the ones accountable to God for their upbringing. If we allow our kids’ obstinance to dissuade us, we lose our kids’ respect. Stay strong and you will reap a harvest of righteousness.

#5 I keep having to take things away from my misbehaving child. There’s almost nothing left!

This is a common problem with strong-willed children. We get into a cycle of punishing misbehavior. The strong-willed child wants to prove that she won’t be broken, so she misbehaves again. The trouble is this cycle can convince a child that she is a problem child and she will begin to live out of that identity. A deep-seated fear of being unloved and rejected adds fuel to the fire.

We want to interrupt that cycle. We will not change a child’s strong will. But we can help our child see that strong will as a blessing. We can love and affirm our child in that strong will. If we are caught up in the punishment cycle, we want to develop a praise and reward cycle instead. Affirm your child’s positive behaviors, no matter how small. Give this child responsibility and tell her you know she will do a great job with it. Give this child physical affection if they are open to it. Make goals easily achievable at first. Instead of asking your child to exhibit positive behavior for a day or a week, ask for 15 minutes. Give a desired reward and be excited about this positive step. When you do have to give consequences for misbehavior, make it clear that you know your child will learn from it and will get back on track. There is a lot more to say about parenting strong-willed children, but I’ll leave it with this short answer for now.

#6 Why is my child behaving this way?

It could be misbehavior, a strong will, reluctance to learn, anxiety, depression, or sibling conflict that drives the question. Unfortunately, once again I don’t have an answer for you. You’ll have to study your child, and it will take time. But I can give you some of the most common reasons for childhood behavior problems for you to explore.

First, deal with the marriage. If there is a problem in the marriage, children’s behavior will often be a reaction to it. Children are understandably afraid of their parents getting divorced. They feel anger at one or both parents whom they perceive to be the source of the problem. And they will mirror any disrespect they see on display between mom and dad. If you’re having problems, be honest about it and tell your kids what you’re going to do about it. Denial of difficulties does more harm to a child’s mental health than divorce, in my experience. As far as it depends on you, honor your spouse in your communication. Get help with or without your spouse.

Second, deal with your own mental health. An anxious or depressed parent can prompt anxiety or hopelessness for their kids. Once again, what’s most important is to be honest about what’s happening. Don’t deny it and tell your kids what you’re doing about it. Get professional help if self-help approaches haven’t worked.

Third, be open to feedback about your parenting from others. Ask another homeschool mom or another trusted friend or family member who loves you what they notice about your parenting and your kids. This is incredibly challenging to do, but it may be the most valuable thing you can do if you’re struggling. If you’re brave enough to do it and what they say hits hard, take time to pray about it before deciding if it’s legitimate or not. If you don’t want to do this, consider parents you know who are struggling and what you see as the obvious problem and solution. They don’t ask you and you don’t tell them, or you dance around the issue. Alternatively, see a professional for family therapy.

Fourth, consider a professional evaluation for your child. Undiagnosed physical or learning challenges can contribute to behavior problems. Children often choose to seem defiant rather than unintelligent. Getting a diagnosis may seem limiting for your child, but it can actually be liberating. You’ll then have tools and support to help your kids maximize their potential.

Even without a professional’s help, you can seek to understand your child’s beliefs. We all act in accordance with our beliefs. For example, if your child believes that an older sibling is the smart one and there is no point in trying to achieve, you can address that. If your child believes a sibling prefers playing with another sibling over her, she will cause conflict in the relationship. The kinds of discussions that can uncover these limiting beliefs require time and patience and prayer, but you can build a healing bond with your child in the process.


I hope this Q&A has been helpful to you. If it has, I’d love to have you share it with a homeschooling friend. I have great confidence in you to overcome any challenges in your parenting with God’s help. I still rely on His help as I seek to coach six young adult kids.

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Get Your Kids Interested In Missions

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Do you hope that your kids will be involved in missions? This is the Homeschool Sanity Show–the episode where my guest shares practical ideas for inspiring even young children to serve as missionaries to a hurting world.

Hey, homeschoolers! With a full-time missionary in the family, we had plenty of mission inspiration in our homeschool. Between my sister-in-law and church-sponsored trips, our kids have served and ministered to people in Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, the states, and locally and they have been blessed in the work.

I met Wayne or Wynand De Wet at a Great Homeschool Convention where he and his lovely daughter were sharing about missions and a new picture book that can engage our younger kids. Our conversation inspired a greater trust in God for me personally and a desire to spread the word about his ministry.

Wayne De Wet

Wayne graduated with a PhD in New Testament from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where he served until 2008 as pastor and teacher with a passion for youth, retreats, and missions. Since 2009 he has served in the States as pastor, an adjunct professor of Indiana Wesleyan University, and an instructor of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. His passion for missions led to the founding of One Plus God Ministries in October of 2013. He has been married since 1993 to his wife Somari, and they have two children, Shana and Nicky. Wynand believes that Christ-centered marriages, families, and businesses can leave strong spiritual legacies behind, and that partnership with the Lord and one another is our strength to bring about global, transformational change to God’s glory.

I hope you are inspired by our conversation.

How to Get Your Kids Interested in Missions Recap

In this episode of Homeschool Sanity, Melanie Wilson interviews Wayne de Wet, a missionary and founder of One Plus God Ministries. They discuss the importance of teaching children about missions and practical ways to do so.

De Wet shares an analogy of attending a baseball game with a friend who loves the sport but failing to enjoy it himself. He relates it to the challenge of teaching children about missions, a commandment of Jesus that is often taught but not fully implemented. De Wet suggests that understanding and experiencing missions is the key to making it a part of one’s life.

He offers several practical ideas for homeschooling parents, including using resources like the Joshua Project, Operation World, and Wycliffe Bible Translators, reading missionary stories with children, and going on mission trips. De Wet also introduces a new resource developed by his organization, One Plus God Ministries, called OpieG, which uses four missions principles to teach children about missions.

Wilson and De Wet discuss the importance of contentment and how it can be modeled and taught to children. De Wet also shares his daughter’s experience of going on a mission trip and how it impacted her life.

The podcast episode ends with a prayer for parents to catch God’s heart for missions and teach their children to do the same.

Have a happy homeschool week!

Can Your High Schooler Homeschool Themselves?

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible (or legal) for your high school student to homeschool themselves? This is The Homeschool Sanity Show — the episode where guest Karla Marie Williams answers our questions about self-directed homeschooling.

Karla Marie Williams has been a guest on this podcast before. She’s the author of multiple books, an international speaker, and a global advocate for children and families. She is also the President of BeBold Publishing, a publishing company that launches inspirational books, journals, and courses to impact moms around the world. I was curious about one of her recent titles Unschool Urself 4 Teens, so invited her back to chat about it. I was newly inspired and I know you will be too.

Unschooling for Lifelong Learning

Unschooling is a type of homeschooling that emphasizes student-led learning and learning through everyday life experiences. In this podcast episode, Melanie Wilson interviews Karla Marie Williams, an experienced unschooling parent and author of several books on homeschooling and unschooling.

Williams emphasizes the importance of setting annual goals for unschooling children and building a deep, layered understanding of topics through a variety of resources such as books, online classes, mentors, and real-life experiences. She also recommends keeping a journal to record a child’s learning journey and using pictures as evidence of their learning. This journal can be an excellent resource for creating transcripts when it comes time for college applications.

Williams encourages parents to be confident in their child’s learning, reminding listeners that learning does not have to look one way and that unschooling does not look the same way for each child. She also emphasizes the value of unschooling education for post-secondary education, as colleges and universities are recognizing the value of an unschooling education, especially for students passionate about specific areas.

Overall, unschooling is a lifestyle of lifelong learning that allows children to pursue their passions and interests while building a broad, deep understanding of various topics. With the right resources and mindset, unschooling can lead to success in post-secondary education and beyond.

Resources for Teen Unschooling



Unschooling episode Unschooling Teens episode

Find links for more of Karla’s book here. Have a happy homeschool week!

Why You Don’t Have To Homeschool The Best Way

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Have you spent a lot of time trying to determine the best way to homeschool like I have? This is The Homeschool Sanity Show–the episode where I will argue that trying to homeschool the best way may not give you homeschool sanity.

Hey, homeschoolers! Last episode, I talked about why you don’t have to get caught up. This episode I’ll share why you don’t have to homeschool the best way.

Trying to homeschool the best way may not give you the homeschool sanity you crave. Instead, assess the options in light of:

    • your personality
    • your kids’ needs
    • your circumstances

You Don’t Have to Dress Your Best podcast episode

How to Be Happy & Homeschool Too

Have a happy homeschool week!

Why You May Not Need To Get Caught Up

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

It’s the end of the traditional school year here and you may be trying to get caught up before summer. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show–the episode where I’ll give you permission to stop trying.

I cover three key steps to abandoning the quest to get caught up:

    • Ask yourself how behind you really are
    • Ask yourself how important it really is to get caught up
    • Start fresh

5 Ways to End the Endless Game of Catching Up

Checklist for completing this quarter (a fresh start)

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Teach Leadership Skills At Home

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Have you intentionally taught leadership skills in your homeschool? Have you wondered how to do that as a homeschool parent? This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where my guest shares practical tips for training young leaders.

This Week’s Homeschool Sanity Guest

Hey, homeschoolers! My guest for this episode is Clara Stacko. Clara is a homeschool mom and bilingual native Spanish speaker who has taught Spanish to homeschoolers for more than a decade. She offers Spanish classes on her website

Clara and I discussed the importance of teaching leadership skills, how we should think about teaching these skills to kids who aren’t natural leaders, and some practical ideas for learning leadership as homeschoolers. I hope you come away with new inspiration.

Leadership Skills at Home Resources


4-H –



Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: Homeschool Gone Wild: A Fresh Look at Unschooling

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Hey, homeschoolers!

I’ve done a lot of reading on unschooling and I’ve experimented with it in the afternoons with my kids over the years. But I was forced to take a fresh look at unschooling when I read the book, Homeschool Gone Wild. I invited the author, Karla Marie Williams, to be a guest on the podcast and I posed some challenging questions to her. Whether you’re all about unschooling or think it’s not for you, I know you’ll enjoy my interview with this fascinating homeschool mama.

But first, I’d love to invite you to join our Homeschool Sanity Facebook group. I am enjoying your answers to the daily discussion questions. I am happy to give my answers to your burning questions along with allowing the rest of the group to respond, and I consider it a privilege to pray for your requests.

I’d like to thank our sponsor, the Christian Standard Bible. Listen for more about this fresh version of God’s Word.

Homeschool Gone Wild: A Fresh Look at Unschooling

Karla Marie Williams is a speaker, writer, and global child advocate. As the founder of iSpeak4KidsGlobal, her work has touched multple countries and cultures. She is a homeschool conference speaker and a mentor to parents through social media – Unschooling the Senational Six. Karla is a wife of 21 years and a mom of si inspired learners. She and her family reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Karla responded brilliantly to several criticisms of unschooling, including that it’s:

  • not parenting
  • not for college-bound students
  • allowing kids to play video games  all day
  • for do-nothing homeschoolers

You may be interested in my episode on alternatives to video games here. 

Find the episode on interest-led learning here.

Karla’s book Homeschool Gone Wild is excellent. Follow her on Instagram. How were you inspired by this episode? Comment below.

Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: Homeschool Your Way: Finding Freedom In Your Christian Homeschool Journey

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Do you long for more freedom in your homeschool? More of the peace and joy you thought you’d have as you taught your children at home? If so, this episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show is for you. In our time together, I’ll share why a grace-based approach to home education may be just what you’re looking for.

Hey, homeschoolers! Today’s episode is about what homeschooling looks like when we seek a truly customized approach to home learning. I am passionate about this topic but I didn’t have a label for what I believed until I joined a scrapbooking community this summer. I’ll tell you about it after this message from my sponsor: CTC Math.


Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That’s right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months!

The Idea Behind Homeschool Your Way

If you once scrapbooked but have given it up, you may be as surprised as I was to learn that there is still an active community of women pursuing the hobby. This particular community’s leader, Jennifer Wilson, is also the author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. In her book and messages, Jennifer communicates that it is more than okay to let go of scrapbooking rules. Scrapbookers know the old rules well–like having to start with your current photos and then get caught up; feeling pressure to create beautiful, artistic pages; or needing to choose between paper and digital scrapbooking. With her support for tailoring the hobby to meet individual goals and preferences, members are finding a renewed passion for their craft.

The parallels to homeschooling were clear to me. As with scrapbooking, rules can steal the joy of home educating, leading to burnout, and eventually to giving up.

It is not my contention that every scrapbooker must continue her craft, nor is it my belief that every homeschooler must continue to teach every child through high school. But I am convinced that homeschooling parents will enjoy teaching at home more if they pursue the occupation in a way uniquely suited to them and their children in this season of their lives.

Encouragement to Homeschool Your Way

The blessings of teaching my six children at home have been more than I could have asked for or imagined. I started because I believed God wanted me to homeschool. And though reluctant and thoroughly unprepared, I ended up loving it. I love:

  • Having the time to teach my kids about God in depth
  • Learning alongside my kids
  • Watching my kids grow and make discoveries
  • The flexibility of a homeschool schedule
  • The closeness of our family relationships

I could go on, but these things I share with you to remind you of the some of the reasons you started homeschooling.

Obstacles to Homeschooling Your Way

I had enough obstacles in the way of homeschool success without adding unnecessary rules. Extra, homeschooler-created rules weren’t an issue when I started teaching my oldest son more than 20 years ago. But more and more I hear rules homeschoolers are following like:

  • “You shouldn’t use textbooks as a homeschooler.”
  • “You can’t use state curriculum if you want to be a real homeschooler.”
  • “You can’t use any curriculum if you’re an unschooler.”
  • “You need to teach Shakespeare if you’re a Charlotte Mason homeschooler.”
  • “You can’t use creation science curriculum if you want your child to go to college.”

I’m sure that together we could come up with a long list of homeschool rules that have been developed as homeschooling has become more popular. This propensity to create more rules reminds me of the Israelites, who were set free from the slavery of Egypt, only to enslave themselves by adding hundreds of laws to the ten commandments.

This rule-making behavior is obviously part of our human nature. When we have been set free from so many rules around education as homeschoolers, why do we create more than what we are required to follow in our state?

First, I believe we create homeschool rules because of fear. Rules and a dedication to following them can provide structure, order, and security. If we follow the rules that our homeschool organization, our curriculum provider, or our favorite homeschool influencer gives us, we can feel confident that we aren’t going to ruin our kids’ lives.

That makes sense. When we are just starting our homeschool journey, we don’t know what to teach, how to teach it, or for how long. So we gladly accept the rules as we establish our school at home. I read a lot about homeschooling in my state and what various leaders said we had to do to comply with the law, so I could feel confident. I was afraid of having Division of Family Services knocking on my door and following rules calmed me down.

But there’s a problem with this fear-based approach to rules. Some of the people involved in your homeschool organization, curriculum, or social media feed have their own fears that may not be appropriate for you and your family. For example, a leader in a homeschool organization may have met with a family who had family services visit. Although the visit had nothing to do with homeschool documentation, this leader adopts stringent documentation rules to allay fears. However, an influencer in a state with no documentation laws and no fear of state interference may promote not keeping records when that wouldn’t be wise in your state.

A second reason we create unnecessary homeschool rules is because of pride. Although at first I didn’t want to homeschool and had no idea how to go about it, I became proud and comfortable with what we were doing. I thought every Christian parent should homeschool and definitely shouldn’t use boring textbooks! I quickly found other homeschoolers who held up other rules for me to consider–rules around which subjects to teach, which books we should and shouldn’t read, and what we had to do for our kids to be accepted into college. Add in a bunch of rules around parenting, socializing, and technology, and we were overwhelmed.

I don’t think these rules get developed only from arrogance. Homeschoolers (like all people) look for the root causes of success and failure so they can get the best results for their kids. But successes and failures almost always have multiple causes. We like to think we have control over all the variables, but the Bible tells us that God is the One who grants success. Here is just one example from 1 Samuel 18:14:

And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him.

Pride can also lead to more rules because we assume other homeschoolers are like us. If we’ve had great success doing school in the morning, throwing out the textbooks, or doing nature study instead of experiments, we think everyone else could benefit too. But the Bible tells us that we are all different parts of the same body. 1 Corinthians 12:17-19 reads:

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?

Where would homeschooling be if we were all doing things the same way? The beauty of it is that we are all unique homeschoolers just as God wants us to be. Does that mean we can’t grow and improve? The body does and so can we.

When we trust God to train us up in the way we should go in our homeschooling and recognize that our journey isn’t exactly like anyone else’s, we can experience freedom and joy.

Principles for Homeschooling Your Way

The silliest thing I could do right now is tell you exactly HOW to homeschool your way. But I can share some principles that have helped me find freedom in my own homeschooling journey.

The first principle you might not expect. That is to follow the spirit of the law for homeschooling in your state, if not the letter. In Titus 3:1 and elsewhere, God tells us to obey our authorities because He has established authority for good. That doesn’t mean we can’t work to create more freedom with homeschooling in our state. We should! But while the law is in place, we can have peace of mind by following it. Then we don’t have to live in fear of the authorities knocking on our door. But note that I said the spirit of the law. If you’re supposed to provide 600 hours of education in core subjects a year, I’m not suggesting you have the stopwatch out, stopping it every time junior needs to use the bathroom. I mean to look at the number of days you are learning and the percentage of time you are studying core subjects like language arts, history, science, and math vs. drawing, listening to music, and shooting hoops. If your curriculum plan will provide that number of core hours without a major, unexpected event, I consider you to be following the spirit of the law. While your requirements will vary, I think it’s a good practice to be obedient without being legalistic.

The next way to homeschool your way, in my opinion, is to try it. Trying new schedules, new approaches, and even a new educational lifestyle is how we learn what works for us in this season of our homeschooling. I say “this season” because as soon as you find a good rhythm, something will change. It takes energy and time to keep forging ahead, but these changes are also what makes homeschooling so engaging. If it was the same-old, same old, we would probably want to quit.

We obviously don’t want to try something immoral or downright dangerous. But even if our experiments put us behind on our educational plan, I think that experimentation is worth it. Years ago, I met a blogger at a conference who intended to homeschool her kindergartener with an all-day video curriculum. I don’t think I said what I was thinking: That’s crazy! But I shouldn’t have said it anyway, even though that plan was highly unlikely to work for her. The discovery of the limits of her daughter’s attention span needed to be hers. She may have discovered that some aspects of the video curriculum she was interested in were captivating and a perfect fit for her daughter. If I had given her my opinion, she would miss those lessons.

I have spoken before about my fondness for eclectic homeschooling–taking aspects of many different approaches and curricula to create your own approach. But here’s what I’ve realized lately: Your way may be using one approach strictly. You may be loving your weekly Classical Conversations group, your Instagram-worthy Wild & Free days, or your boxed curriculum. That isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s an amazing blessing that you have the freedom to do what works for you!

But if something isn’t working as well as you’d like, I urge you to try something new for as long as you like. Write down how you and your students feel about it and why, so you can track your progress. This is the process I used to significantly improve my productivity. I write about it in A Year of Living Productively.

My third encouragement to you is trust God when you don’t see a clear path ahead. I’ve written about the lessons I learned sending my oldest to public school for his last two years of high school. Those lessons were so valuable for both of us that I would make the same decision again. But if it had been a bad experience, we could have easily changed directions. Many parents take their kids in and out of school and put them back again without their lives being ruined.

I shared recently that I initially planned to have my kids do college while they were in high school. That plan changed except that they attend community college as juniors and seniors. My daughter also wanted to attend public high school. I didn’t want her to, but I approach homeschooling with an open hand. I see it as a gift the Lord gave me and can retrieve at will. I prayed about it and she changed her mind. My kids’ career plans have also changed with time. My son who wanted to be a lawyer works for an IT staffing company. My son who wanted to be a physical therapist is in PA school. My daughter who has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl just messaged me that she wants to be a nurse instead.


The beauty of homeschooling is that it’s not a destination. It truly is a journey that prepares you and your children for obstacles and changes that will come. No one has a straight path to success. There are a few straight paths to failure, but you’re not likely to to be on them if you’re listening to this episode.

If you trust God to guide and direct you and your children, you don’t have to be afraid of the unschooling police busting you for buying curriculum. You don’t have to force your kids outside for six hours a day to please Charlotte Mason. And you don’t even have to keep homeschooling to stay on God’s path.

Thanks again to CTC Math for their sponsorship. Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Teach Grammar In High School

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Do you have a high school student who struggles with grammar? Or do you have a soon-to-be high school student and no idea how to approach grammar at this stage? This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I share a sane approach to teaching grammar in high school.

Hey, homeschoolers! If you’ve struggled to help your high schooler use correct grammar in writing or if the thought of teaching it in the high school years gives you the heebie geebies, I have good news.

The high school years are the perfect time to learn grammar.

First, high school students have the abstract reasoning ability required to truly understand and implement grammar. As I’ve explained to parents of elementary students many times, these younger students simply aren’t developmentally prepared to master the abstraction of grammar. It’s similar to the abstract reasoning ability required to master algebra. Sure, some students develop this reasoning ability earlier, but most don’t. Up until this point in their development, they were working hard to decode and pronounce words and determine the meaning of words given the context of the sentence. Asking them to determine the role of the word in a sentence as well is extra challenging.

That’s why I made Grammar Galaxy a fun, confidence-building introduction to grammar and other language arts in the elementary years. I didn’t want them avoiding grammar once the were developmentally ready to use it in their writing.

The second reason high school is the perfect time to learn grammar is because they have begun to care about it. When students are in classes with other students and sharing in speech or writing, they will want to avoid the embarrassment of poor grammar. I capitalized on this peer pressure with my own kids with great results. In the English classes I taught, students read their writing aloud and passed it to a friend to read aloud. This performance pressure rapidly improved my students’ grammar and spelling. High school students also begin to use messaging and email and do not want to have poor grammar and spelling for their friends to see. Some of them will be interested in learning grammar for the first time as a result.

Finally, high school is a great time to teach grammar because these students can learn independently. With the developmental ability and new motivation, students can use grammar curriculum to learn more quickly than they could have in elementary school. With instruction, they will learn to make better use of automatic editors like Grammarly. Like all writers, they will still require another human editor–whether that’s you, an outside instructor, or a friend with good grammar. I have found high school students learn from this editing feedback very quickly.

I hope I’ve convinced you that your teen isn’t behind or incapable of growing as a writer if they still need to master grammar.

But now the question becomes how to teach it.

The first step is to encourage your student to continue reading for pleasure. Studies indicate that high school students tend to spend more time with friends than reading as much as they did in their earlier years. They also tend to use reading time for study instead of leisure. But reading for enjoyment is the key to developing your student’s vocabulary, grammar, and writing. Invest time helping your student find enjoyable books and making time to read them in their schedule.

The next step in teaching high school grammar is to reinforce the purpose of it. Reluctant students want to know why they should care. Using prescreened, funny grammar memes and examples is a great way to do this. Because I write grammar curriculum, my high school student loves pointing out grammar errors he finds. You can have fun with this, too. Consider having a competition to find grammar errors.

Many of the principles of teaching high school grammar are the same as teaching younger students.

    • First, keep grammar instruction short. I think of grammar like a tennis drill. When I take a tennis lesson, I enjoy doing a short drill on volleys. But doing an hour of it without playing the game would be a buzz kill.
    • Make grammar memorable. When grammar concepts are taught using relevant humor, multimedia, games, and with adequate repetition, students will remember it. (Grammar teaching podcast).
    • Limit the corrections to a student’s writing. Correcting all the grammar and spelling mistakes at once can be demoralizing for a budding writer. Tell your student ahead of time which grammar issues you’ll be looking for. Consider limiting your first review to the content. Give as much positive feedback as possible. Then go over the specific grammar skills you’re working on. If your student asks for more feedback, then give it. But otherwise limit your editing to those skills.

How to Choose a Grammar Curriculum for High School

When choosing a grammar curriculum for high school, you haven’t had many options. There are worksheet drills indistinguishable from elementary and middle school curriculum. There are the thoroughly dry English curricula that have sentences unrelated to story or to teens’ lives. And then there are brief reviews that are optional. My students didn’t learn anything from these.

The number one request I get from Grammar Galaxy booth visitors at Great Homeschool Conventions is a curriculum for high school. I knew that the Grammar Galaxy story line wasn’t well suited to older teens, so I created a new fictional curriculum. Kirk English, the programming whiz kid in Grammar Galaxy, has developed a program to deal the failure of autocorrect. His Fast Grammar training is for human autocorrectors. These trainees will get to know clients’ intentions so they can correct their grammar in real time through the power of science fiction.

The client in the training is a high school student who has typical teen troubles as well as high school writing assignments. Students who use Fast Grammar correct the client’s grammar while learning it themselves. Trainees will look forward to getting the client’s updates in each lesson.

Fast Grammar is a supplemental, secular curriculum that can be used with any high school literature or writing program. The brief lessons can be completed in one sitting or preferentially, spread out over the week. Like Grammar Galaxy, much of the lesson can be completed with a highlighter. Homophone graphics are included each week because choosing the wrong homophone is a common and embarrassing problem for writers.

The curriculum is completely independent, with the solutions at the back of the student book. At the end of each unit, teachers can administer a test that is available in a separate PDF download. The solutions will help you score the test and give a grade that can contribute to the English grade for the year.

Click here to download a complete lesson. If you’ll be joining me at the Great Homeschool Conventions this year, you can see it in person. The week of this broadcast, the curriculum is 20% off in print or digital.

Whether you try Fast Grammar or not, I hope I’ve given you hope that high school can be the time that your student grasps grammar. Give some of these strategies a try, and I feel confident that you’ll see your high schooler’s writing improve.

Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: How To Make Grammar Fun Regardless Of Your Curriculum

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Hey, homeschoolers!

Does grammar get groans at your house?  That’s how grammar lessons taught in the traditional way are usually greeted. And we can’t blame our kids for dreading grammar. It can be dry and tedious.

Skipping it isn’t a good option, however. Grammar is important because it comprises a significant part of college entrance exams. It also determines how our kids will be viewed by peers and potential employers.

Fortunately, there’s another way. Grammar can be fun! When it is, it helps make grammar lessons stick. I have six easy steps for making grammar engaging in a minute.

But first, I’d like to thank my sponsor for this episode, BookShark.

Visit My Sponsor

BookShark homeschool curriculum is literature-based, 4-day, and faith-neutral.

Amber Reed Davis, a busy homeschool mom, says, 

“We can’t say enough good stuff about BookShark. We’re doing Levels 3 and 5 this year. My kids are hooked. Through the amazing books, we’ve traveled to fascinating places and learned so much! And we’re only on week 13!  Who knew a middle schooler would ask if we could still do school on our 5th day because he wanted to find out what happens next in the books we’re reading? Also, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned through reading along with them. Oh, and the 4-day schedule is perfect. We use our 5th day to catch up or just for fun field trips, experiments, and messy art projects.”

Amber is right! BookShark’s fully planned, 4-day homeschool curriculum flexes to match your busy lifestyle. The detailed Instructor’s Guides lay everything out so clearly that you are prepared to teach in mere minutes each day—open your guide, gather your resources (which are all included in your package), and go! Curriculum for ages 4-16 is available in All-Subject Packages or by individual academic areas: Reading with History, Language Arts, Science, and Math. WithBookShark’s literature-rich programs, your children will read (or have read to them) 35-50 engaging books each year! Visit BookShark to browse curriculum, download samples, or request a catalog.

Resources for Making Grammar Fun

Grammar Galaxy

Free sample of Grammar Galaxy

Grammar Galaxy Scope and Sequence

Read the blog post

Students perceive they are learning more from instructors who are humorous.

Grammar Fails ViralNova






They can involve movement and should, especially if you’re teaching younger boys.

Homeschooling Boys: The Homeschool Sanity Show podcast








free grammar games I mentioned

Even though grammar is important, it isn’t as important as reading for pleasure.

We can build the fun of anticipation into our grammar teaching by having students edit a continuing story line by line or by teaching grammar within the context of a continuing story.

Do you have more ideas for making grammar fun? Comment with them below.