The Family Man title
with Todd Wilson
Outside the Boxers (OTBs) typography
family of parents and children in cardboard boxes playing

iving outside the box is scary, especially when the world likes things “inside the box.” This past year has shown us that it’s often a struggle to think and act differently than those around us.

That’s what homeschooling does. It is an outside-the-box training facility. From the moment your children wake up, they are outside-the-box thinkers. The Inside-the-Boxers (ITBs) get on the bus, start at precisely 7:55 a.m., sit in neat rows of chairs, spend 43 minutes per subject, take a 35-minute lunch break, have planned exercise in matching clothes, learn what the experts have decided is best for them to know, close the books at 3 p.m., and take the return trip home by bus.

The Outside-the-Boxers’ (OTBs) education ebbs and flows with LIFE. They start when Mom is ready to start. If there is a doctor’s appointment, they start earlier or later, or not at all. They don’t need gym time because they have plenty of play. They don’t have to take philosophy because they’re watching you model yours 24/7. The books may close at noon, but they never stop learning because all of life is learning.

“…throw away your predetermined ideas of what education should look like. Now close your eyes, breathe deeply, and ask God to show you how He would ask you to homeschool your children. Then listen.”
I’m almost breathless just talking about it.
But still, homeschool moms feel the pressure to be an ITBer. The pressure comes from non-homeschoolers and homeschoolers alike. The experts quote the stats and make Latin sentence diagramming look vital to living a productive life. They try to tell them when and how to do school, pushing homeschoolers to be ITBers.

Mom, resist! God has created us to be Outside-the-Boxers, and homeschooling is just an extension of that. So can I encourage you to stay outside the box, learn outside the box, and then when your children graduate, expect them to do something outside the box?

You may be thinking, “But I don’t know how to do that.” Let me offer some direction:

First of all, throw away your predetermined ideas of what education should look like. Now close your eyes, breathe deeply, and ask God to show you how He would ask you to homeschool your children. Then listen.

When you open your eyes, take a piece of paper and write down the things that make your children smile (video games don’t count) and what makes you smile.

Then begin to think outside the box and draw out what your homeschool might look like if you didn’t even know there was a box!

Maybe you would start a little later each day and be done by lunch (done by noon is not too soon). Maybe you’d experience life more and write about it less. You’d let them read about things that interest them even as you plug away at some of the essentials that you think they need to know.

For us, we did a chunk of our homeschooling on the road in our big Familyman Mobile as we crisscrossed the country speaking at homeschool conventions. When we first began, we tried to homeschool in the box in the RV, but we soon learned the best way to homeschool on the road is outside the box. We didn’t have to write about where they’d been and what they saw to make it school. It was all school! The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Gettysburg, camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and being stuck by the side of the road.

I knew other homeschoolers who homeschooled on sailboats, visited national parks, and checked off state capitals. That’s outside the box homeschooling and creates outside the box livers!

When you’re all finished jotting notes, let that piece of paper be your compass and your outside-the-box road map (knowing it changes all the time). Because you’ll need a roadmap when you feel the pressure to veer back inside the safety of the box.

But don’t! Learning and living outside the box gives freedom, brings joy, and makes everyone smile!!

Todd Wilson Signature
PS: If you need a little more encouragement, stop by the Smiling Homeschooler Facebook page or sign up for our free weekly email at:
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: