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A Guest Post: Tara Cole on “Homeschooling Do’s & Don’ts”

I am always amazed and impressed by homeschooling mothers, undoubtedly because I know it’s something I would have a hard time doing. I often ask my good friend and neighbor, Tara Cole, “How do you do it?” She has been homeschooling for four years and has learned a lot. I have asked her to share her wisdom with you and to tell a little about her personal homeschooling adventure.  I hope you enjoy!

Those Crazy Homeschoolers

So when you envision homeschooling, what do you picture? A number of kids delightedly lined up in a seamless row quietly doing their lessons while light classical music willows in the background? Or maybe PJ clad kids running amuck throughout the house while mom tries to corral them for a moment of teaching or a begrudged attempt at hair brushing? I would say either could be our family depending on the day. But most days we land somewhere in between.

I chose to homeschool for numerous reasons, but now I am a sold-out, convinced, fanatical advocate happy to encourage others in the marvelous venture of homeschooling.  We just embarked upon our 4th year. So how did an exceptionally regular mom get started and just what does it look like?

On a field trip to see the mummies
Firstly, I was mentored. I found a mom with four amazing kids, older than mine, and readily imparted as much wisdom as I could from her. She generously shared the curriculum that worked for their family and we ended up using much of the same to this day.

Secondly, I got plugged into a support group called Christian Family Schools of Carlsbad: They offer a myriad of things such as co-op, field trips, P.E., park days, a yearbook, family events, prayer groups, Bible study, book clubs, mom’s night out, and more. Moreover I went to a couple of homeschool conferences to get inspired and to see, touch, feel and smell the countless curriculum options.

I possess no teaching background. Although I’ve heard from my trained counterparts that teaching experience can actually be a hindrance! I don’t try to do “school” at home. I simply educate my kids. I am a self-pronounced fanatical list-checker so I have gathered curriculum that allows me to check off our work each day.  This year I even opted to use It is an online program that allows you to track progress and print out weekly checklists for your kids. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it keeps us on track and impresses the kids to take accountability for their work.

Crazy Hair Day
I am flexible. I discovered that being readily open to change allows me to freely enjoy our school days. Some days we miraculously finish by lunchtime and others we industriously persist until 4pm.  Likewise, what worked beautifully for one child may not for the next, nor from one year to the next. Life brings unpredictable changes and it is ok to adjust accordingly. We don’t let distractions become a deterrent. Life is full of them!

I keep it simple. We began doing school out of a basket in our kitchen/family room area. Now we have a proper “schoolroom” (if you count desks in our bonus room next to my exercise equipment and theater setup), but I still find the kids merrily working on the couch much of the time.

Family trip to Hawaii
We have both good days and bad. But the good nearly always outweigh the bad (I’ve only “quit” twice!). Our family enjoys a unity and bond unlike ever before when I endlessly ran three kids in three different directions (and think – now we are up to four kids!). We plan to shamelessly homeschool through high school (yes I know we are crazy, I relish the countless quizzical looks). But we are excited to raise freethinkers and change-makers. And where I plainly fall short, I am exceedingly confident the Lord will fill in the gaps of this exceptionally regular mom. :)


  1. God bless you and your beautiful family, Tara! It's so fun to remember you as a "little" eight-year old, and see how richly God has blessed you.

    My mama and I spent a sweet Thanksgiving with some dear old friends and a houseful of homeschooled cousins. The graduating from high school this year....and the youngest is just 10 weeks old.

    : )

    Your 3rd grade buddy from Mr. Shultz class,

    Julie M.

    1. Thanks Julie! I always remember you being a great seed-planter in my life. Be sure to say hi to your mom. It's been a few years eh??


  2. Great article Tara! Thank you for sharing....this is Rozanne from CFS

  3. Hi Tara! Love the article! You are always an encouragement to me and I look forward to the next time we can get together. Keep it up as you lean on the Lord, Monique

  4. What an encouraging article! Refreshing honesty and good advice. Thank you!~Ellen

  5. Wonderful words of encouragement! I love your article, Tara. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks ladies for the words of encouragement. I am blessed by each of you!

  7. Well done, my friend! I love the article! Homeschooling is definitely an adventure you are beautifully navigating. It's been a blast sharing in this journey with you!! - KC (Kristi)