When the Going Gets Tough – Go Wild!


For our family, the word survival takes us straight to the wild. With 3 little boys for students, one of my homeschool survival techniques is to ask them at the beginning of each year – what they are interested in learning most.

The answers, though sometimes might surprise you, also included some very stereo-typical ‘boy type’ kinds of subject matter. Survival being one of the many topics of interest that pops up regularly. We have spent time researching and learning about various aspects of keeping oneself alive under different kinds of circumstances.

While it might not be entirely obvious at first, it has fit into our homeschool plans rather well, and has added a layer of interest from the boys that keeps this mama beyond surviving and well into thriving during our homeschool year.

You see, it can be rough to keep the attention of 3 boys if they really have zero interest in the subject matter. Now, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t required to study something unless they are rapt with interest – but it does help the year go by much smoother when I bother to take their interests to heart.

For example, we study a lot of history. By focusing on the aspects of early American history that really gets their attention, I am able to hold it longer. How? While studying the early settlers, instead of simply reading facts and memorizing information – we look into what these early heroes had to do to stay alive. I have had the boys pretend they are the father of a family who has a choice in whether or not they will strike out across the new land – or stay put in a town. We discuss what it would have been like. They consider whether they would have been a merchant, a soldier, a pioneer. While taking a nature walk, we compare and contrast the weather, the lay of the land, and the hardships of each various situation we have read about.


I do a lot of reading aloud, and choose books with characters I know will grab their attention. Instead of simply reading about the Revolutionary War, we might read about it from the perspective of a young boy, or even from a drop of water named Munford! (The Adventures of Munford)

These kinds of living books, exciting stories, tales of adventure and survival – they get my boys attention. They listen and soak it up. They gather the important information and develop a solid understanding for the material. When that type of learning is taking place, we are doing much more than surviving.



What exactly does this have to do with homeschool survival or hardship? Well, as a mama who suffers from chronic pain, I don’t have the energy to spare or the ability to reinvent the wheel. What I do have is a strong understanding of who my children are – are what gets their attention. For my boys, it’s survival, wilderness, adventure and the like. By taking the time to explore their interests, I’m saving myself a lot of time and hardship in desperately seeking to get their attention.

If I start out talking about facts, figures, and dates of long ago – I’m going to lose them fast. If I begin by telling them we are going to learn about a bloody massacre – they are all ears! OK, so that is an extreme example. But we have walked on the path that Daniel Boone cleared. We have stood on the Wilderness trail where a group of pioneers were slaughtered by natives. My boys won’t soon forget it!



We even camped nearby and looked for the gold coins that were said to have disappeared the night that raid took place. No luck finding them, but it was fun! We didn’t come across the story in a text book. In researching pioneer life, and studying the role of Daniel Boone, we happened upon a small museum at a state park in Kentucky. At Levi Jackson State Park – we touched the tree where Daniel Boone carved his initials! He became a REAL person to my boys at one point or another during that process.

Our lives are forever affected by my chronic illness. There are days where I do not get out of bed. I could wallow in my pain and give in to the situation, or I can use that time to cuddle up with my boys and find out what it is they want to learn about next. The good news about the read alouds? They can be done while cuddled up. On days when I cannot get out, you will often find the boys in the yard – creating bows and arrows from sticks, or working hard to build their own Teepee.



The reading and exploring we do in books and outdoors, feeds their imaginations, and it fuels their little boy spirits. During the hard times while homeschooling, I recommend that you just . . . .  go wild!


Kelli Becton2

Kelli Becton – Homeschooling Adventurez (division of AdventurezinChildRearing)
Is a Jesus loving, homeschooling mama of 3 boys (biological and adoption).  They are an outdoor family, living and learning on the Gulf coast of Southwest Florida. Kelli was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis over 11 years ago, and although there is pain, there is also great joy. She and her husband, Mark, have always loved the outdoors and they spend as much time as possible adventuring with their boys. Exploring God’s creation is their favorite pass-time. Jesus is their passion, and homeschooling their boys is a blessing. Kelli loves to write and speak to other homeschool families, sharing life’s lessons and what God has laid on her heart, through their adventures.


  1. You are an awesome and wild homeschool momma!

    I have to ask though — where is that covered wagon? It looks very familiar to me!

    • Levi Jackson State Park – just down the road “ish” from you 😉 It’s a little place near Cumberland Gap State Park that doesn’t get near the attention. The little museum was closed last time we went through there, but I hope it will open again. The park & the Wilderness Trail is still there though & that massacre site too.

  2. Why have I not found your website before today?? I’m a new homeschool mom with 4 boys. I am very much looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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