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My New Homeschool Rules


TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool Rules

I tend to be a hyper-responsible, perfectionistic, stressed-most-of-the-time-about-something, uber disciplined homeschool mom. Yes, one of those. The ones for whom field trip days aren’t looked forward to as exciting opportunities for real world learning and fun bonding, but are dreaded as deviations from the schedule that must be accommodated so that in a few years our kids don’t feel like they’ve graduated from military school.

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OK, maybe I’m not quite that bad. But…close.

Suffice it to say, this homeschool mom spends a lot of time worrying about what needs to be done, what hasn’t gotten done, and planning for what will be done in the future. And she has been known to unleash the “Forget it. Let’s just put them in public school” bomb to her husband over the fact that memorization of math facts isn’t going as planned or that the child will never just read the instructions before beginning the page!

It’s interesting how the death of a baby can change your homeschool priorities.

Having only not quite four days with your child, hardly enough time for your children to even get to know their baby brother, kind of makes the small things seem…well, small.

Why did I stress that she tested “average” on her Math standardized test? Why did I raise my voice in impatience for the fact that she completely skipped 3 problems on her English page? Why haven’t I spent more time reading and less time drilling? Why am I stressed about things that just don’t really matter in the long run?

Education is important. Of course, I want my kids to get a good education. But losing a baby has re-prioritized for me what I want out of this homeschooling thing. And I know that it’s not about the facts they know. Or the scores they get on the tests. Or even their ability to think critically. Instead, it’s about the kind of people my children become. It doesn’t matter to me at all if my children are the brightest, scientifically-geniused, history-buffest prodigies that ever existed, if they are not persons of exemplary character who know who they are, and that they are loved.

I realized that I’ve been running my homeschool as if I have all the time in the world with my kids. As if I can be impatient when they don’t listen effectively, or have the luxury of focusing on the facts they’ve “gotten” or not gotten, because we’ve got plenty of time. Time to re-do, time to focus more effectively, time to get all of the details right. When suddenly you don’t – when your time is cut short – all of those details lose their importance. When you have such little time, only few precious moments, you realize that what truly matters in your homeschool is not what you do with your children, but who you are to them. And that what is important is not the things they know, but the persons they become.

So, some things have changed. I’ve got some new homeschool rules for our house, and I hope that they keep me on track. Help me not go back to the stressed-over-things-that-don’t-ultimately-matter kind of gal:

  • My own frustrations with my children’s behavior or knowledge acquisition should always be overshadowed by my gratitude for the opportunity to be able to teach them.
  • What we get covered is not nearly as important as the way my kids feel about themselves.
  • Virtues such as love, kindness, care, patience, dependability, responsibility, compassion, humility, forgiveness, discernment, respect, and gratitude make a bigger difference in the long run than any academic knowledge. I cannot let any efforts to secure academic knowledge in my children override how well my children can learn these virtues from me, by seeing them in me.
  • Content is ultimately not as significant as character.
  • I will choose to focus on the things my children do well, rather than perseverate on their faults or failures, and will patiently guide them in addressing the things they need to improve.
  • It is more important to enjoy the journey than it is to get to the finish line.
  • I will take the time to answer questions, and stop to just listen to my children, rather than plowing forward with my planned agenda.
  • If I had to choose, more than my children saying, “My Mom taught me well” at the end of our homeschooling, I would like them say, “My Mom loved me well”.
  • I will recognize that my children are not mine, but are a gift. Consequently, I will not seek to control them, but to guide them to be who God made them to be.
  • No matter how many times I’ve had to address messes the kids have left out – messes mean I have kids. So I will respond out of love for the kids I have rather than out of anger at the messes they’ve made.
  • I won’t assume that my children will be here forever. I will be thankful for the time I have with them, and will teach them with a humble awareness that what we’ve done today could be the last we get to do.

In those not-quite-four-days we had with him, that very brief period of time – we didn’t play Baby Mozart. Or start singing the ABC’s to give him a leg up. We held him. And told him how much we loved him. We played with his hair, and we smelled his neck. We made sure he knew who we were, and that we loved him and wanted him very much. And then, when he was gone, we held each other. And told each other how much we loved each other. I want that urgency of time, that re-prioritization of what is truly significant, to permeate our homeschool from now on. We aren’t guaranteed the future. Make your homeschool count today.

Because, in my homeschool now, I would give anything to be able to clean up baby messes.

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.

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  1. Beau

    I homeschooled our three children initially out of necessity. As time went on we kept homeschooling because it suited our lifestyle. Fast forward twenty years and two of my adult children have completed apprenticeships and now have full time jobs. But the third is still floundering. I’m by no means a perfectionist but lately I’ve been asking myself… did I burn out after 20 years of homeschooling? Is that why my youngest hasn’t found his niche yet? And then I read your story – you had just four days to enjoy your third child. I have had 18 years so far. I don’t know how many years I have left with any of my kids or my husband for that matter… but I am determined that not even one day of the time I have left with them should be wasted on regrets and what ifs.

  2. Chelsea Jackson


    While reading my husband’s (Rick Jackson) birthday comments with him on his facebook timeline, I saw your profile pic with your blog name on it. As I am a homeschool mom too, I was immediately interested, especially because you are someone that my husband knows. My family is involved with Classical Conversations and I remember him telling me that he read you were too. I also remember while we were on vacation he saw your husband’s updates about your precious baby boy, and we cried and prayed for you all. I am so sorry for your loss, truly. Thank you for sharing your heart here, truly you are a blessing to many with your insight. I myself am going to print your list and hang it up…it really cut to my spirit with urgent yet gentle conviction. I hope it is ok to share this with my homeschooling friends.It was so good. I needed this fresh perspective for the New Year! Blessings to you and your family!

  3. Natasha

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry for your lose. I originally clicked on this story because I too am a perfectionist when it comes to our homeschooling. I never expected to be commenting through my tears. I too realize that I need to start focusing on what is really important and stop wasting so much time arguing with my children over their work. These moments are precious and they are not guaranteed. I promise to make that change in how we conduct our day. You and your family will be in my prayers, and again thank you for sharing.


  4. Karen

    God bless you and your family!
    Your precious recollections are at once bitter and sweet for me as I recall my own experiences with homeschooling and being a mom.
    Motherhood is so very awesome.
    In my life great joys seemed to always be mixed with great agonies. But God always helped me through it. I see He helped you also. Your new rules show it.
    You are in my prayers; thank you for sharing your deep and personal insights and inspirations.

  5. Nancy

    Thank you for sharing this. Sorry for your loss. I lost 2 babies with severe health problems as well , before my homeschool years. I found this to be a good reminder again though of what is important.

  6. Laurie

    I never met my baby, lost so many years ago now, but I am a firm believer that God will not let a life be taken from this earth until they have fulfilled their purpose, or even if through their death it is completed. I loved the picture you shared of your baby. He was so sweet. He had a purpose for you and each member of your family, and your realization and subsequent rule changes may only be a part of what is yet to come. I know that we learned, many things and our lives changed for the better because of our baby that God took home to live with Him. It is reassuring that we will see him/her one day. It will hurt for years (I mourned greatly for 2 years), but God will give you a comforting peace and a wonderful compassionate heart for others who suffer in much the same way. That in itself is a wonderful, priceless gift! You are also a blessing to those who you have shared your story with. I can see by the comments that God is using it to help others as they read.

    I read online recently, and I wish I could direct you to it, that when a baby is growing inside the mom, that both do exchange cells that remain with both. You will forever be one with your baby, not just in mind and spirit, but you actually carry some of him as well. That is all that I have left of my baby…a picture of a baby bump and the knowledge of the perfect, beautiful gift of the cell exchange and that he/she is present with God. It gives me peace. I have an excitement about going to meet our baby one day. He or she is truly still physically with me daily, but I still can’t wait to meet him/her.

    My grandma, when she left this earth, did not leave until she was reminded that she could go see her twins, who also only lived a couple of days. They said that then she quit fighting and let go. I can only imagine that wonderful reunion! 🙂 It is a strong bond that transcends the boundaries of this earth. You will never forget the joy he brought. I thank God that you got the privilege to get to know your little boy before he went to his permanent and wonderful home!

  7. BeachyMum

    May God bless you and providevstrength to you and your family. Your beautiful post resonated in a remarkable way….

  8. Alissa Kiker

    Dear Rebecca,
    I am always amazed at how the Lord works. Through this very hard challenge He has blessed you with insight into His heart for you and your children. The Lord has plans for you to grow you, strengthen you, bless you, and increase you, not to harm you. You have my sympathies and prayers while you go through your grief, but also my joy and congratulations on the insight you have received as a result. Stay in faith.

  9. Melanie

    WOW! I’m writing this comment through tears. The last couple of weeks have been super challenging for me. I have fought for more “me” time, and have felt so sorry for myself for being the only one that is always “there” with the kids. Unfortunately, it has to take some great tragedy for me to be more aware of my blessings. I can not imagine what it must be like for you. Your comment about wanting to give ANYTHING to be cleaning up baby messes now, really slapped me in the face. I picked up my 7 month old, and just cuddled with him, ever so thankful! I pray for you and your family!

  10. Aletta

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you for helping me to re-focus on what is important. I have printed out your rules to remind me about what really matters. God bless

  11. Natalie Cox

    I don’t homeschool, but I did just lose a baby and it’s amazing how it changes your perspective. It’s very true that it makes you see your other children differently. Even though I wish it were different, it’s been a blessing in a lot of ways too.

  12. Hilary @ KatrinkaJane

    I clicked to read this on Facebook because I am definitely that stressed-out homeschool mom. Perfectionism is something I struggle with myself, and it’s hard not passing that on in my lesson prep and expectations, so I was looking forward to reading your insights! I had no idea that you had lost your baby. Yesterday morning, we found out that our 18 week (in utero) baby’s heart stopped on Saturday. God has spoken so deeply to me in the last 36 hours. I definitely have new eyes and a new heart toward my sons.

  13. Sherri

    Hello Rebecca –

    I too am a home-school mom, and your story has touched me so deeply. Often times; I’ve notice that I am not as patient as I could/should be. I try to remind myself that my son depends on me, both to teach him, and to keep it together. But after reading your story; I vow to both with a permanent smile, and a true joy in my heart. Joy because I have the honor of teaching him, and spending so much time with him.

    Thank you for your very personal, and moving story.
    May God bless, and keep your family always.

    ~ Sherri

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