Home homeschooling Homeschooling: Help When You Fear You’re Not Doing it Right

Homeschooling: Help When You Fear You’re Not Doing it Right

by Kelly Crawford

Not one homeschool mom doesn’t worry that she isn’t “doing it right” or “not doing enough.” No matter what methods we have chosen or how many homeschool conferences we attend, we all still secretly fear that we are not doing a good job.

To be fully responsible for our children’s education is daunting.

But if I have discovered anything over the past 12 years of homeschooling, it is the almost-magical way children learn, even on our worst days.

In a nutshell, we have relaxed a lot in our approach to education, and still our children are constantly learning, growing and becoming well-rounded people. What God put in them to be able to learn so much in their first five years, didn’t disappear when they turned six! That same curiosity and need to discover the world around them is a remarkable tool that ensures education is happening even when “school” is not.

But to help you relax, I want to mention a few principles that drive the Finland school system. Why should you be interested in the Finland school system? Because on the rare occasion they actually give their students tests, they rank among the top in the world’s best educated.

In my estimation, we should take notes for our own homeschools.

“We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test,” said Pasi Sahlberg, former math and physics teacher, currently Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture.

“We value play.” Maija Rintola, Finland school teacher

Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers…Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests. “Americans like all these bars and graphs and colored charts…It’s nonsense. We know much more about the children than these tests can tell us.”


Find out more about relaxed homeschooling from “Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling.”






Quotes from Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful? Smithsonian.com


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Jen P. January 3, 2014 - 12:51 pm

Al Mohler did an interview with the author of The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way. She writes extensively on the Finnish education system.


Laura(yet another) January 3, 2014 - 9:16 pm

For myself, as my husband and I have muddled through how to teach our children, what seems to be the main struggle is the feeling that we must “prove” it to the district and the state… And the fear that we are not really autonomous and that if we don’t tow the line, we’ll be forced to send our kids to public school or that misinformed social workers will try to nose into our family’s business. It’s no longer Caroline Ingalls who homeschooled her girls for most of their education, but had no one looking over her shoulder for when they didn’t come to school. Each family WAS autonomous over education and training. Today, we don’t have that degree of freedom. And while so far our district has been cooperative and hands-off, that might be simply due to the particular person in charge for now… If someone else is hired, it might change.

Amy L. January 4, 2014 - 12:55 pm

I completely agree. We have to test at certain grades and I struggle so much with knowing some of my children are not ready for certain concepts (math) but I have to beat it into their heads so to speak just to be ready for the test. It has caused them and me so much stress over the years. We’re hoping to move to another state but that won’t be in time for this years tests 🙂

Kelly Crawford January 4, 2014 - 2:00 pm

I hope someone jumps in here who has had more experience with the restrictions. Our state doesn’t require testing, praise God, because I do think it partially hinders the journey to a more real, robust education. With that said, it doesn’t mean you can’t supplement around the requirements, it just adds an element of (unneeded) stress.

Sarah D January 5, 2014 - 8:18 pm

I was homeschooled in VT in the 90s. VT is not a “free” state for homeschoolers! We had to take achievement tests every year. We never liked it, but always seemed to do well. My parents used Christian Liberty Academy curriculum every year they homeschooled us. They believed that this kept from having any “holes” form in our learning, since we were using the same curriculum every year.
Now, I’m married and live in a “homeschool friendly” state (unless the laws change). We will be homeschooling (our oldest is 5) but aren’t too serious with book learning yet. =)

republican mother January 7, 2014 - 9:53 am

I need to look into the Finnish way of doing things, especially for their “learning differently” kids. I have dyslexic kids and they don’t follow the track laid out in all the homeschooling “how to” manuals, making me feel incompetent and all that.

Tonya January 12, 2014 - 10:57 pm

Okay so my kids go to public school but I’m really interested in homeschooling and I was wondering if maybe you guys could answer some questions for me? How do you teach a subject that you personally struggled with? I’m a disaster when it comes to math. If there was such a thing as a math learning disability I’d have it. My older kids are in middle and high school my son is a junior and a honor roll student so I see no point in homeschooling him at this point.

My oldest daughter is the one worrying me. I think she’d benefit from homeschooling since she has started viewing school as a place to socialize instead of learn. She is extremely intelligent too smart for the grades she’s been bringing home recently. She used to be an honor roll student before puberty hit. Don’t get me wrong she’s not a bad kid she’s actually in some ways very responsible for her age. She’s 13 and has a job helping out at a local office. She’s good with her money too she’s been saving up for a trip to the beach this summer. She helps with her baby sister, and often cleans without even having to be asked.

My middle daughters I’m not sure if homeschooling would be good for them they both have learning disabilities and developmental delays. I’m not sure I have the skills it would take to teach them in the areas where they struggle. The school system has done wonders for my 11 year old she’s gone from really struggling to bringing home A’s and B’s. My seven year old is steadily improving and I don’t want to disrupt the progress they’ve made. Maybe I’ll just start out homeschooling the youngest who is about to turn two.

Do you ever feel bad about your kids missing out on things like marching band, choir, clubs, high school sports, the prom, and graduation?

Kelly Crawford January 13, 2014 - 10:53 am


Your questions would really be great to answer in a new blog post. Do you mind if I answer them that way?

Tanya January 13, 2014 - 5:52 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I also bought your ebook and it has brought me such encouragement!! I was really at my wit’s end. School seems to bring out the worst in me and my kids because of my need to keep them on the same level with other kids. I have been concerned with my relationship with two of them (ages 12 and 14)because of the tension from pushing them to keep up. They have come to “hate” textbook schooling most of the time, but I felt like we had to get those grades “in case” we were ever questioned. I do live in a state that doesn’t require testing but still felt that we had to do it, especially starting in high school. Your ebook has opened up a whole new way of thinking for me and I intend to change the way we are “doing school”! My husband also agrees! I only wish I had started sooner!

Kelly Crawford January 13, 2014 - 11:00 pm


This makes me soooo happy! Thanks for sharing it.

Kaci February 4, 2014 - 2:11 pm

I am really enjoying your posts! Wondering how you follow this law: Record and maintain scholarship reports of each student’s progress in all subjects taught at the same intervals as the local public schools. Thanks so much!!

Kaci February 6, 2014 - 10:28 am

Good morning 🙂 Just looked up Alabama homeschool laws and now it makes more sense. I want to move to your state now. lol So with that in mind let me change my question to ask your advice for homeschoolers who have stricter laws? I chose our current curriculum due to our laws and the only option I can come up with myself is to meticulously record every activity they do in a school journal. Looking forward to your advice! God Bless!

Kelly Crawford February 6, 2014 - 8:48 pm


Here are a few links that offer some help:




I hope these help! I’ll be studying this question more before I speak at a homeschooling conference in WA, where I know the laws are stricter, and where I know this question will be at the forefront.

Cynthia January 2, 2015 - 11:03 am

Hi everyone,

I will begin homeschooling for the very first time on Monday. My son is 12 years old. While I too worry that I probably won’t be teaching enough or teaching correctly, much biggest worry are the strict rules in my state as I know my son would in no way benefit from standardized testing. I see that some of you live in states where testing is not mandatory. If someone could send me a list if states where testing is not mandatory I would greatly appreciate it.


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