How to Teach a Homeschool Lesson

This post will deal with how to teach a homeschool lesson.

When I first began teaching my kids I had no idea what I was doing. I had read a lot of books and talked to a lot of people, but not one of them could tell me the answer to my greatest question:

“How do I teach my kids?”

It wasn’t about curriculum or method, I just didn’t understand children or know what to do with them.

I know I am not the only one. I get a lot of queries from a lot of different parents, and they usually have to do with curriculum or methods, but underneath there is that same gnawing question:

“How do I teach my kids?”

Despite our desperate searchings, there aren’t any good resources to help with one-to-one tutoring. Sure, there are loads of theories, and Charlotte Mason comes pretty close, but even homeschoolers have trouble expressing what transpires between parent and child when real learning is taking place.

I think this is because we keep trying to compare ourselves with what we have been programmed to think is “education.” You know, with a person who stands up in front and directs a sea of wobbling heads and fidgeting feet.

Most conventional school teachers will say their training is useless for homeschooling. I think this is because when you are teaching an entire class of children you are trying to keep everyone’s attention and aiming for the center so that you will at least hit some place on the target. In this model a few will actually be right on beam, a lot will be ahead of you, and a whole bunch will be lagging behind.

When you homeschool, you are more of a tutor than a teacher. You can center and aim so that you can hit bullseye at least 90% of the time!

Think of homeschooling as tutoring.

When I began writing this post, I had pages and pages of an outline which began with attitudes and worked its way slowly to an actual lesson. The Lord prompted me and showed me how awfully tormenting that would be! (Aren’t you glad?) So, I decided I would write it backwards.

First, I am going to share some essential elements of a homeschooling lesson, then, perhaps in a subsequent post, I will share the background information.

Could you do without the background info? Sure, but if you are like me, you often run into problems and wish someone could explain things further. So, I will put all that stuff up for you to look at later. (I understand because I am a cut-to-the-chase kind of gal, so I skip to the middle and the end of books, movies, etc. and then read or watch the rest if it seems interesting enough to me. I know to some of you that is absolute sacrilege, so please forgive me.)

You can even download and print this nifty lesson graphic as a sort of prompt if you need to:

If you like a little more explanation, here it is:

How to Conduct a Homeschooling Lesson.


The culture has fostered the idea that children are unruly, expensive brats. Thankfully, God disagrees, as He says in multiple places in His Word that they are a heritage and a blessing. Jesus Himself said that if we welcome one of these little ones, we welcome Him.

What we need to do is to delight in our children as He delights in us. With this attitude in place, the lessons we teach will become more easy for both parties.

Element # 1.

Get personal.

Ask an open-ended question (as opposed to a yes/no question.) Some examples:

  • What did you dream about last night?
  • What did you like about (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)?
  • What is your favorite place to be and why?

Use laughter.

Try some silly jokes, a quick Mad Lib, or some tickles. This relaxes both of you and makes your child much more open to the lesson.

Tell positive stories.

These can be at the beginning or interwoven as they are needed. What struggles did you have with math? Do you have a relative who overcame a great struggle? What about the special things you noticed about your child when he was little?

Element #2

Give a quick overview.

This means you are not treating your child as a “pupil,” but a person made in the image of God who has a vested interest in what he is being taught. You do this by:

  • Discussing where you have been
  • Casting a vision of where you are going
  • Explaining the reasons for today’s lesson

Element #3

Maintain a Patient, Positive Attitude.

Patiently allow your child to work through the material. Do not upbraid for mistakes–they are part of learning. Don’t help him immediately; give him the opportunity to overcome on his own. Only step in if you see he is becoming frustrated.

Element #4

Remember the tutoring sandwich:

  • Positive–start with positive remark
  • Negative–relate some constructive criticism
  • Positive–end on a hopeful note.

It looks like this:

I think you’ve mad a lot of progress since last time. You do need to remember that the silent e usually means the vowel makes a long sound, but I think if we continue to practice and work hard you will have no trouble at all!

Element #5

End BEFORE frustration sets in.

There are many reasons a child can become resistant and emotionally upset. Here are a few common ones:

  • The child is tired.
  • The child is hungry.
  • It is a bad time of day.
  • The child needs to get his wiggles out.
  • The child had a falling out with a sibling or parent (you) over something unrelated to school.
  • The child is being narcissistic and needs some coaching on the Golden Rule, and then to experience some consequences of his attitude and actions.
  • The most common one is that his brain is just too full and if you go any further things will not end up well! Better to stop while you are ahead and allow him to have a sweet taste of accomplishment in his mind. This will make things easier for subsequent lessons.

Element #6

Split things up.

Don’t push forward like a good soldier in a snow storm. This is a human being, not a military campaign. No one will die if you take a huge, tedious task and split it into smaller bites.

Element #7

Don’t make grades your aim.

I know this seems foreign at first, but this is because of our own brainwashing training. Trust me, once you both realize just how fun learning is, you will no longer need grades. Your child will be doing his best because, well, because that’s what learning is all about!

If you know your child put forth his best effort, then count it as an accomplishment, even if he didn’t answer every question correctly. If you made progress, this is what counts (even if this progress is only about character or discovering what works best).


This would not work in a classroom setting, but one-on-one mentoring is all about efficiency. When you discover just how your child works best, you can tailor his education so that he can move ahead at the speed of light.

Besides, learning all sorts of new things is F-U-N!!! No need for coercion or positive reinforcement to eat ice cream, right?

What does this look like? Try watching this video from Amy Maryon starting at 19:00:

To all you homeschool veterans: I know I’m missing something. Make sure and chime in with your bestest ideas!


5 thoughts on “How to Teach a Homeschool Lesson”

  1. I have never commented on your posts, though I have been reading your blog for years. You are the most influential encouraging person online that I read. There are probably a lot of women out there like me who are quietly reading your blog but never commenting, and you don’t even realize what a huge impact you are making in our lives! Please keep blogging. And I love your videos. I remember the first time I saw a video from you, and I was so happy because you were exactly what I imagined…your voice was so gentle, you were so cheerful, and just so relatable and down to earth. I just want to thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with all of the unknown mamas out there in our little corners of the world!
    You are a blessing!

    • Thank you for taking the time to send such sweet thoughts my way! I give all the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was just talking with one of my older daughters and we were both wondering how anyone lives without Him and wondering what types of people we would be if He had not come to change us. I am so glad He has given me the privilege to bless other moms, and it’s nice when I hear back and be assured that what I am saying is actually doing some good. Bless you!

  2. I thought of two more.

    Study your child. Each one is unique, and as you watch them work, you will get ideas.

    Right down what is working. This will give you clues on what to continue and confidence to move forward.

    • Those are great ones! It’s so true that each child is unique and will respond differently. I often get more ideas as I watch them work. Thank you!


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