Homeschooling on the Homestead


I’m Carol, and I’m excited to join the Homeschool Village writing about homeschooling on the homestead. There are so many learning opportunities for our children just in our own backyards that I can’t stop sharing about them. And whether you only have a goldfish in a bowl, or 200 head of cattle, I’m sure that I can help you find those lessons living right under your nose.

I knew I wanted to homeschool my children before I ever got married. I can’t remember how I first heard of homeschooling; because in those days, it wasn’t the “in” thing to do. In fact, I’ve been homeschooling since before the Internet; since before most states had laws governing it; and practically before any homeschooling curriculum was even written! That’s a long time folks.

So, I was on my own. I learned from the beginning to use my library card, real books, my Bible, stuff out of the kitchen, and whatever nature we could find in our postage-stamped size backyard in the city. I think those humble beginnings helped me to see that even though I would be tempted and buy expensive curricula throughout the years, the best way is to learn simply by living your lives.

Many years later, our backyard in the city grew into a modest piece of acreage in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Since moving to our homestead, we have tried many different things. Currently, we have a medium-sized garden, a goat (not yet milking), scads of egg chickens, two rabbits, two dogs, two colonies of honeybees, and that lonely fish in the 20 gallon tank. However, we have had goats in milk, meat and egg chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, and quite extensive gardens.

Don’t think I’m a SuperWoman; because I am NOT! Notice, I never said we’ve done all those things at the same time. Plus, I used to have a few more boys living at home than I do now, to do all the heavy work. But, I’ve learned a lot from this lifestyle of trying to grow most of our wholesome food on the family homestead while homeschooling the kids at the same time. And I’ve noticed other families try to combine the homesteading and the homeschooling lifestyle, encounter rough roads, and give up in despair.

From what I’ve observed, this despair comes from several different places. The first is misplaced expectations. Another, perfectionism. And yet another, failing to integrate the two lifestyles into one. That is why I started my site Lessons from the Homestead. And that is why I want to write this column for the Village—to offer encouragement, ideas, and basic down-to-earth advice for those parents that can’t seem to get all the chores done and the homeschooling, too.

So if this describes you, come back. We’ll talk about how to find lessons in the garden, the kitchen, the dairy barn. We’ll talk about what kind of expectations we place on ourselves and those we feel from others. We’ll discuss our priorities, how children learn, and abandoning our pre-conceived ideals for what truly works. And mostly, we’ll discover together how to integrate the homeschooling and homesteading lifestyles into a workable, satisfying life that brings glory to God and gives testimony to His blessings in our lives.

Blessings to ya’


  1. Love the post! How did I manage to miss that you live so close to me??

  2. This is so true Carol! Living really is learning. 🙂

  3. Wow wow wow!!! We are about to embark on our homeschooling/homesteading journey when we sell my current home and buy a small farm. This couldn’t be better timing! Very well written and so helpful!

  4. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! That is exactly where I am right now. We finally got moved to our little 2.5 acres in rural Nebraska, 30 minutes from where we have spent the last 20 years. We have a 13, 12, 10 and 2 yr old. Since we moved in, one week before Christmas 2011, we have added 3 meat goats and their kids delivered here, 5 dairy goats and their kids which were delivered here, 19 chickens that turned into 86 and after butchering we are down to 53 laying chickens, 3 sheep for 4-H which are now gone. All of these needed housing and fencing, and let’s not for get the 5 cats/kittens, 2 rabbits and one dog! We put in a 40×50 garden with 7 additional beds, the honey bees didn’t happen this year, we have an orchard and a creek for the boys to go fishing. We went to the county fair and the 3 kids brought home 100 ribbons/awards/championships and we are taking 2 chickens and a rabbit to fair. We managed to can 69 qts of green beans, freeze 20 qts of sweet corn and learn how to butcher 19 roosters all a week before fair. I have been frustrated with myself trying to get ready for school this year and trying to get a goat milk soap business up and going. So when I read your article……..I’m pretty sure you are directing this to ME! I will anxiously be waiting to hear more and these postings I won’t put off reading, like so many that I don’t have time for. I think I will take some time between your posts to evaluate what I need to cut back on;)

    • Wendy, Thanks for sharing your life! Make sure you read my post next month as I address that angst of starting (not-starting) school with the masses.

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