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How Homeschooling is Like a 200-Mile Race

How Homeschooling is Like a 200-Mile Race

Imagine you’re in a van with 6 sweaty, disgusting people for 40 hours, getting out only to run, eat, and use the restroom. Add another van with 6 more runners on your team and that pretty well sums up the Ragnar–a 200-mile relay race through Kentucky’s Bourbon Country.

Instead of doing what most people do when they try running competitively for the first time and starting with a 5K, my crazy husband let his crazy coworkers convince him to join their Ragnar team for an adventure that had him racing through the woods at 3:30 am when all the normal people were warm in their beds.

Homeschooling is like this race we enter, never having raced before in our lives. We have an intellectual concept of what 200 miles looks like, but the longest we’ve ever run before is around 5 miles—and we’d more accurately call that a jog.

We wonder vaguely if this “adventure” will turn into an “ER trip.”

Like amateur runners, a certain and thrilling rush of adrenaline shoots through our muscles when we hear the crack of the starting pistol. We start off the line with a sprint: we hear newscasters jabber urgently about early education and we feel our heart rate quickening.

We google, “What to teach a 3-year-old.” Google says we should teach our tiny humans to read, be empathetic, and swim. They haven’t even mastered pooping on the toilet, but an “expert” says they can learn to not die in a swimming pool? PBS shows us a man in a suit who says, “Research shows that mostly kindergarten is a mathematical wasteland for kids.” What does that even mean? We don’t know, so we start shopping for curriculum.

We’re jostling for position with the frontrunners, but thinking it’s all happening too fast; we’re out of our league. We’ll never be able to sustain this pace. We don’t have a clue what we’re doing.

So we keep reading, talking to more experienced homeschoolers, researching. We steady our stride and start breathing in rhythm. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the first leg of this run is just a warm up anyway. If we fail, we can still put him in school.

Eventually we get to a comfortable pace.

We feel like we know what we’re doing. Lessons are going fairly well. He’s learning some things, we haven’t ruined his desire to learn yet. Our earbuds are playing some good tunes, and the sun is out. Yes, the run is still a run. We’re still sweating, but the endorphins have kicked in enough that we can see why people like this homeschooling thing.

There are so many good moments along the way, especially early on in homeschooling, if only we notice them. They can be the way our smallest kids snuggle up with us on the couch for read-alouds. Or the way the older kids will sneak their way in the room too, even though it’s a picture book and they’re “too old for those little kid books.” 

Our non-homeschooling friends and family may think we’re crazy

for trying this 200-mile race, but we’re finding the benefits of stretching our normal limits. It becomes all we can talk about. We’re shocked at how fun it can be.

These adventures are both difficult and life-giving. There’s something magical that bonds you to others in the experience. We want to share every detail with those who weren’t there to smell the stench of cold sweat and bacon doughnuts. Those who weren’t there could read about it, but they’ll never feel what you did in the Kentucky woods at 3:30 am: the peculiar sense of being in a horror film, running for your life.

Homeschooling stretches us like a long, hilly race. It makes us become more than we thought we could. It makes us face the demons of our own self control. We handle things like a boss one moment, and we look back on those days of frantic hair-pulling and sit, amazed, that we and all the children are alive on the other side of the adventure.

Right now, whether you’re on mile 17 or 170 of this 200-mile race, know that this adventure you’re on IS a challenge. There are legit hard parts. There are places where you don’t think you’ll make it.

There will be muscle cramps, side aches, and hills you don’t think you could ever climb. You may have to walk sometimes. That’s okay! You may have to pass the baton to a tutor or a spouse for a leg or two of the race. That’s okay too!

This adventure you’re on IS difficult.

Learning things means growing new synapses in your child’s brain, and sometimes that’s so, so hard to do. But there are also moments of exhilaration and pride along the way. Moments that thrill us like the pride of racing past another mile marker. Moments of beauty like the sun poking it’s warm glow over the horizon when it feels like you’re the only runner on the road and it’s rising just for you.

At the end of this homeschooling adventure, you’ll be able to say with satisfaction, “We challenged ourselves. It was difficult, but we did it. And I’m proud of what we accomplished.” 

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

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--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts


  • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
#community #Navywifelife #momlife #sisterhood
  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
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  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.

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