Are you stressed about how to educate your kids? Let me help.

school made simple freebie header

It’s the first week of August and Target has me all heart-eye emoji over back-to-school supplies. Is it just me or do school supplies get cuter every year?

Getting everything in order for a new school year ushers in its own sort of angst for me as a parent. But that’s the easy stuff compared to the deeper fears, dilemmas, and second-guessing about getting school “right” for our kids. It’s the sort of dilemma that most of our parents didn’t struggle with and that probably wasn’t even on our grandparents’ radar.


Because in this land of opportunity, we have more educational options than ever before. And while the vast majority of families still send their kids to the local public school, we all know families who are choosing to do things differently, whether it’s homeschool, charter school, private school, or online school.

Our motivations for doing it “differently” are as varied as our families:

  • Your kids having the best education possible so that they have access to the best opportunities possible. 
  • Choosing a more personal path for a child who has learning disabilities or who may be exceptionally gifted.
  • A passion to be involved in the public schools for the sake of a better community. 
  • The best sports program or a charter school geared toward the creative arts.
  • Providing a faith-based foundation for learning.
  • Protection from unsavory peer influences. 


And that’s just the beginning.

I’ve been thinking and writing about this topic of finding freedom in our educational decisions for several years now because I’ve been living through the ups and downs of this dilemma since I had my first child 15+ years ago.

Our overwhelm as parents has only intensified because our options are more abundant than ever.

If you’re stressed and uncertain about how to educate your kids, I wish we could sit down on my screen porch and visit. I’d listen to your worry and tell you it’s going to be okay. But my screen porch isn’t big enough for all of you so I’m offering something else.

“Is it like the Sorting Hat from Hogwarts?” you may ask.

I wish.

“You’re to be homeschooled! You’re perfect for your local public school! You were destined for the early college charter school!”

Alas, we’re not as lucky as Harry, Ron, and Hermione and I don’t have any magic.

But I have created a free resource that’s all yours — to download, to print, to share with your spouse.

It’s called “School Made Simple: FIVE Essential Questions to Help Your Family Walk the Path of Educational Freedom”

Why the 5 questions? Why not just give you answers and expertise and best practices.

Because we’re not robots.


I’ve walked the hard road of my own story and I’d like to be a gentle guide who helps you walk yours with freedom and grace.

“How do I receive this free resource?”

school made simple freebie header

I’m glad you asked.

All you have to do is subscribe in the box at the bottom of this post and you’ll receive a link to download “School Made Simple.”

And if you’re already a subscriber, don’t worry. You’ll automatically receive a separate e-mail {later today} with your link to the download. It’s my way of saying thank you for being part of this space.

As a subscriber, you’ll receive posts no more than twice a week that are all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life — whether it’s the ongoing dilemma over school, real talk about faith, the struggle of pursuing your hoped-for work in the midst of your right-now life, encouragement for realistic parenting, and even the challenges of prettying up a room {or your tired outfits} on a minimal budget. Plus you’ll be the first to know about new freebies, resources, and other insider scoop!

Don’t worry, this isn’t a lifetime commitment. Feel free to unsubscribe anytime you like. You can always hop back in if it works for you down the road.


I’d love to have your feedback over this issue of school.

  • What are your personal fears, dilemmas, questions?
  • What has made the decision difficult {or easy} for you?


Knowing your struggles and concerns helps me create fresh content that meets you right where you are. You can chime in on the Facebook page, via Instagram, in the blog’s comment section, or by sending an email to marianvischer at gmail dot com.

I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and community here. It’s been nine years since I began writing online and I’m more grateful than ever for the gift of kindred spirits and for this place to unwrap possibility together.

Love, Marian


P.S. Let’s hang out on Instagram!


Day 31: 3 Simple Truths to Bring You Back Home When You’re Stressed About Educational Decisions

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While you’re stressing over college prep versus AP or the classical private school vs. the public charter school, there’s a single parent who’s simply grateful for public school, afternoon care, and the school bus.

As I mutter about my school frustrations, there’s a mom half a world away who knows that the education of her children is the ticket for her family’s survival. In developing countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.*

And guess how much of the world even holds college degrees? Less than 7%.

It’s all relative, isn’t it? When we’re surrounded by privilege {and if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the top 4-5 percent of the world’s wealthiest}, our grasp on the essentials is rather skewed. I’m not saying our decisions don’t matter because they absolutely do. And I’m definitely not saying God doesn’t care about our American middle-class concerns simply because there are needier people to worry about. He cares so much. If He knows when a hair falls from our head, how much more does He care about the education of our children? But our definition of the “best” for our kids and His definition of the “best” aren’t always the same. 

In the midst of decisions and stress, it’s helpful to take a step back and consider the basics. For me, simple truths can serve as a reset button when I don’t know which way is up. Maybe it’s the same way for you. Here are three perspective-builders when indecision swirls within your head and anxiety grabs hold of your heart:

1. Parents around the world would sacrifice everything for the options that we actually deem sub-par.

Sometimes we have to rest in what should be the most obvious truth but is often the most overlooked: our kids are getting an education. And not only are they getting an education, we actually have options about the kind of education they’ll receive. These are luxuries in most of the world. I don’t write these words to induce guilt. I write them to invite gratitude.

2. Education is so much more than thirteen years plus a college degree.

We talked about this on Day 29. Education is the hard flint of our everyday lives that carve our unique personhood. Education is both natural science and natural consequences. It’s studying calculus in the classroom and practicing compassion within our families.

Education begins the day we’re born and continues until the day we die. Let’s not insult the richness and beauty of education by reducing it to 16 short years of academia. Education is a life. The most brilliant scholars will never know the intricacies of how you got to be you. They’ll never be able to plumb the depths of redemption in your life. We all have so much to offer one another and the world. And our truest offerings have little to do with the sort of education we received and much to do with the character and compassion that’s grown out of adversity and real-life experience.

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3. We accept what we have and also what we lack.

We give our children what we have and trust that it is enough. We make the best decisions within our means and trust that they are enough too. I’m betting that you actually give so much more than enough.

And we accept what we don’t have –whether it’s money, energy, “better” options, health, or stability.

In so doing, we trust that our lack is just as much a part of God’s equation as our abundance.

This is the theme of my life. Because sometimes, God re-routes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace. 


I don’t want to oversimplify complicated decisions but I don’t want to overcomplicate them either. When you’re feeling stressed about these issues, look at what you already have. Breathe in the gifts and exhale gratitude.

It’s going to be okay.

Thank you so much for joining me for this series. Thank you for your encouraging comments, e-mails, and “likes” that inspired me to keep going. Whether you read one post or all 31, I hope you found grace and encouragement. If you missed any of the posts, go here to see a complete list. And if you ever want to check back and read more of the series, just click on the “Cool About School” tab at the top of the page.

Things will be quiet on the blog here for just a bit but I’ll be back with all kinds of stuff I’ve been storing up for you during the month of October.

For other posts I’ve written on this topic of school, go here.

I’ve linked up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

Don’t want to miss a post? You can subscribe and have each post delivered right to your inbox. As always, you may unsubscribe any time you like. {I promise not to sell your address to pirates, aliens, spammers, or The Gap.}


 * United Nations Educational Scientific And Cultural Organization. “Reaching out-of-school Children is Crucial for Development.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). Accessed April 8, 2014.

Day 29: You Homeschool. Even if You Don’t.

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It’s easy to place our educational choice in a tidy box and put a label on it: Homeschool. Public School. Private School. Charter School. University Model School.

It’s also easy to place certain responsibilities within a box too. The school box provides formal education. The church box provides spiritual instruction. The club sport or school sport boxes provide athletics. The job box teaches them how to work.

But our real job as parents encompasses all of the above and it’s anything but a tidy box. Parenting is messy and fluid and the boxes collapse into mixed up pudding. {Terrible metaphor but you guys, it’s Day 29. Show me grace.}

Here’s what I’m trying to say. Education is life. Schooling is simply one slice of the pie.

The complaints and conflict and circumstances your kids bring home from school each day? They’re educational opportunities. Her refusal to do her math work day in and day out? It’s an educational opportunity too. The bad choice he made on social media? The conversations about God that are tinged with doubt? You guessed it. All of that is education because it’s opportunity for you to flesh our truth within the everyday life of your child.

In the book, Going Public, David and Kelli Pritchard {parents to eight kids} respond to the frequent question they’ve been asked over the years, Are you into that homeschooling thing?
We smile at the question. Then we reply enthusiastically, ‘Yes! We definitely homeschool our children…and starting at age five, we also send them to public school to get more information.’ 

We consider ourselves to be our children’s number-one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege — even though they spend 30 hours a week in somebody else’s classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God’s greater perspective. 

I don’t share this to persuade you toward public school. Remember, this series proclaims grace and freedom, not one way over another way. I share that quote because I agree with its message. We’ve all been given the privilege and responsibility of homeschooling, regardless of where the formal education takes place. You are teaching them around the kitchen table, in the minivan, when you tuck them in at night, and when they get in a fight on the basketball court. This is modern-day Deuteronomy 6:6-7. 

And that’s not all. If you send your kids to school, you’ll help with homework. You may proofread a writing assignment that has to do with a sweatshop factory collapse in Burma. And then you may spend the next 30 minutes talking about all the ways we view labor and all the irresponsible culprits and how does this affect us as Americans. This is homeschool too.

Sometimes I struggle to believe this, but we, as parents, are still the greatest influence on our children. If we abandon them, we influence. And if we show up, we influence. How much more do we influence when we can move beyond simply showing up?

tab and nomi

I remember when this really hit home for me in the most everyday of circumstances. Last year my daughter and I had a 30 minute ride home in the van, just the two of us. She had just cheered for an away football game and it was at the end of a long day. I was weary. She was weary. Several unplanned inconveniences had presented themselves throughout the day. I was unhappy with a certain attitude being displayed.

And so we talked. Well, first we got a chocolate milkshake and then we talked. Amid the venting and the tears, we covered everything from issues of respect to issues of compassion to issues of time management. This too is homeschool and it far outweighs what they will ever learn in a lab or textbook.

Here’s the thing. It’s not really homeschool or public school or private school that defines us or our kids or determines their future. The homework, the character building, the teachable moments — I just referred to them as “homeschool” but even that’s not an accurate reduction.

This is simply parenting.

And even though parents have been doing this thing for many thousands of years, I am often reduced to tears when I consider the overwhelming responsibility. Yet God has always worked through families, even though we’re prone to both epic and everyday failure. His instructions and promises are for us and our children and for all the generations. He has chosen us, everyday moms and dads, the ones with baggage and cluelessness, to nurture courage and conviction in the next generation.

We don’t do it alone. He puts us in community and He puts us under his care. Most of all, He invites us to learn hard into Him for strength, wisdom, and perseverance.

Maybe you’re in a place of surety and stability with your family and your educational choices right now. Or maybe you’re the opposite of that. Wherever you might be on the map, I invite you to broaden your definition of education. Because when we do, we get less caught up in the particulars of how we school and more inspired to simply teach them in the sacred classroom of the everyday.


How do you use the springboard of the everyday to teach your kids?

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here.

For other posts I’ve written on this topic, go here.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

Don’t want to miss a post in the series? You can subscribe and have each post delivered right to your inbox. As always, you may unsubscribe any time you like. {I promise not to sell your address to pirates, aliens, spammers, or The Gap.}

*book link is an affiliate