How Gordon Neufeld Informs my Homeschool

How can you find community & connection & spend time considering how you can show up on purpose in your homeschool?

All you need is time and a bunch of books to prep for your homeschool.

Or you can join the Homeschool Mama Book Club and I’ll read it FOR you!

Last month, we discussed Gordon Neufeld’s book, Hold onto Your Kids. This month, we’ll discuss Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication.

We’ll discuss the principles behind different author’s influence can be in our homeschools.

This is how Gordon Neufeld informs my homeschool?



homeschool mama book club

Here is your homeschool mama’s reading list:

Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold onto Your Kids.

Neufeld reminds me that kids live in a peer-based culture, but they weren’t intended to live in the confines of that sterile, impotent circle. Kids were born to be attached and nurtured in the sphere of their parental, and familial influences, so they can grow up connected and healthy.

I’m sure there must be more than one parenting book I’d recommend. (I’ve read a lot of books). But very VERY few would I put in the league of this one: Hold onto your Kids, by Gordon Neufeld.

(And frankly, I resist parenting books in general).

I don’t think there are formulas for parenting. And if there are, they work for certain kids, maybe one of four of my kids, but not all of them, and not all the time. Who I can deeply influence is ME, so that’s my first point of reference in how I engage my kids & our homeschool.

What sets Gordon Neufeld’s book apart? It speaks to the core motivations for keeping parent and child connected. And it isn’t a formula.

It’s doable, real, encouraging. And it acknowledges all the fallibilities of our homeschool parenting. (aka Big Nasty Failures) And also how to rectify them.

Through the pandemic, Neufeld also came out as homeschool-supportive.


Hold Onto Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld

Here are a few things I’ve learned from Gordon Neufeld.

Gordon Neufeld says, “Our children want to belong to us, even if they don’t feel that way, and even if their words or actions seem to signal the opposite.”

Because they want to belong to us, no matter how challenging their behaviour, no matter how obnoxious their behaviour, no matter how imperfectly we’ve parented, we can continue to grow and work toward showing up on purpose.

Neufeld also says, “The greater the force we impose, the more counterwill our reaction will provoke.”

If there is anything I regret in my parenting years, it is triggering my child’s counterwill. But I know that I couldn’t rewrite my parenting story, because I didn’t know everything that I needed to know to be the perfect parent. I still don’t.

“Unconditional parental love is the indispensable nutrient for the child’s healthy emotional growth.”

It just is.

“Children become bored when their attachment instincts are not sufficiently engaged and when their sense of self does not emerge to fill this void.”

I talk about boredom a lot, because…so many mamas are frustrated with their homeschool experience because of boredom. What Gordon Neufeld says applies to our homeschool experience because as mamas we aren’t always eyeball-to-eyeball with our kids, even though we homeschool them. And yet, boredom is still a human experience. One that schooled kids doesn’t have in the same way. Boredom, if we mamas are comfortable allowing it to just be, helps the child find their “next thing”. It doesn’t have to be something we’re afraid of. It can be something we embrace so we can explore, fuel our internal gauge for learning, and build that curiosity engine.

Let it be cliché, but accurate, that his final paragraph was just so good.

“Who is to raise our kids? The resounding answer, the only answer compatible with nature, is that we – the parents and other adults concerned with the care of children – must be their mentors, their guides, their nurturers, and their models. We need to hold on to our children until our work is done. We need to hold on not for selfish purposes but so they can venture forth, not to hold them back but so they can fulfill their developmental destinies. So, we need to hold on to them until they can hold on to themselves.”


“The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child. To foster independence, we must first invite dependence, to promote individuation we must provide a sense of belonging and unity.”–Gordon Neufeld


children playing water guns

We’ll discuss why Gordon Neufeld supports the benefits of homeschool socialization, why we can always return to connection and attachment despite our imperfections and failures, and a whole bunch more.

If you haven’t read the book, it’s okay, I have. Let’s have a good ole fashioned chat.

What parenting books do you recommend?

ps You can connect with us this Thursday to discuss the application of Gordon Neufeld’s book in our Homeschool Mama Book Club. 

And you can also listen to the episode with Tamara Strijack here. (As I release Season #3 of the podcast, dedicated to the new(er) homeschool mama, would you share the episode with someone who is homeschool-curious or planning to homeschool this year? Or just someone who needs a little homeschool encouragement).

I’ve discovered there’s a remarkable overlap between firming up our own boundaries, addressing our needs, and addressing the needs of others (including our kids). 

And when we do this for ourselves, we teach our kids to do this for themselves (& we teach them they have boundaries for a lifetime too).

There’s an overlap between the principles of Gordon Neufeld’s book, Hold Onto Your Kids, and the development (& maintenance) of our boundaries with our kids.

I can’t wait to chat with you about all this. 

And also…

  • Why homeschool socialization is more favourable than a schooled socialization.
  • The importance of collecting before directing.
  • Why siblings are even more valuable than peers.
  • The answer to boredom: and it’s not peers.
  • What is the key to active maturation?
  • Can we encourage healthy independence?

“The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child. To foster independence, we must first invite dependence, to promote individuation we must provide a sense of belonging and unity.”–Gordon Neufeld

So join us!

If you haven’t read the book, it’s okay, I have. Let’s have a good ole fashioned chat.




What else will we read in the online homeschool mama book club?

Here’s a list of my favourites from the Homeschool Mama Reading List.

But make sure you bring your current read to the online Homeschool Mama Book Club too!

Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project.

One rainy afternoon, while riding a city bus, Gretchen Rubin asked herself, “What do I want from life, anyway?” She answered, “I want to be happy”—yet she spent no time thinking about her happiness. In a flash, she decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project. The result? One of the most thoughtful and engaging works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.

The author presents a surefire approach to building habits and gaining clarity in what you actually want to include in your life: kinda handy for the homeschool mama who can’t find quiet time, eat the right foods, or exercise.

John Holt, author of How Children Learn.

A thirty-year schoolteacher who watched his students engage in their learning has taught me about how my children learn. This author shifted my approach to my kids and their learning.

Rachel Gathercole, author of The Well-Adjusted Child.

Does anyone ever ask you about homeschool socialization?

John Holt & Pat Farenga, authors of Teach Your Own.

Want to be certain that this home learning thing will actually benefit your child? This book will undergird you with certainty.

Julie Bogart, author of The Brave Learner.

A veteran homeschool mama of five, Julie, will show you how to engage your kids so that you ALL will be brave in your approach to your homeschool lifestyle and find the freedom you need to enjoy this lifestyle.

John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down.

This spitfire of an author and powerhouse of a book will blow your socks off. Everything you subconsciously knew about your conventional education will be reflected in this book. This celebrated and award-winning teacher spent thirty years analyzing the very educational system he was celebrated for teaching in.

Lisa Rivere, author of The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It’s Right for You.

This is the book I picked up on a lark, read in a week, and changed my family’s fate…we homeschooled because of this book. Kinda a landmark for me.

Julie Bogart, author of A Gracious Space (series).

Julie Bogart’s the homeschooling cheerleader from the sidelines. She has lived the twenty-year journey of homeschooling and for some of those years, she was a single parent to her five kids. And she’ll make sure you feel equipped for this journey, challenging your preconceived notions, and encouraging you alongside every struggle or concern. 

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

She tells me how to let go, create, and commune with the Spirit that seeks to manifest itself in the tangible world. She reminds me to be confident that all my creations have inherent meaning. 

Judy Arnall, author of Unschool to University and Parenting with Patience.

She frees me from homeschooling like my home is a school. I can rest assured that my unschooled child can even get into university. And she teaches me HOW to be patient with my children. Umm, where have you been all my homeschool life?

Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Matters.

She reminds me to draw from the simple life, creating space for the essential things. Sarah Susanka teaches that less is truly more. That we are “playing our part in the concert of manifestation, simply experiencing firsthand the brilliant orchestration and choreography of the one who teaches us, our music master.”

Brene Brown, author of Braving the Wilderness.

She reminds me to stay vulnerable, to not respond to shame messaging around me, to analyze why I want to belong at the expense of being the real me and to stand alone in courage. Brene Brown also reminds me to build community by having a soft front, strong back, and wild heart. 

Barbara Oakley, author of Learning How to Learn.

She empowers me to understand learning and how the brain absorbs and processes it. This learning about learning is a fundamental must-read that has helped me understand my children’s learning process and how to support it. 

Brendon Burchard, author of The Charge.

He gets me excited about the life I’m living. “The charged life, then, usually calls to us after we have done what we were supposed to do, become who we thought we were supposed to be, lived as we thought we were supposed to live. Then the safety and comfort and compromise get to us, and a stirring of restlessness and revolution sends us off in search of greater adventures and meaning.” 



selective focus photo of pile of assorted title books

Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

She teaches me all the wise truths. Maya Angelou’s inspirational and comes up with inspirational quips like these: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And this: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now.

He reminds me to live in the now, in the present. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” 

Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking the Habit of Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.

He teaches me to accept that my internal state is mine to choose. “Can you accept the notion that once you change your internal state, you don’t need the external world to provide you with a reason to feel joy, gratitude, appreciation, or any other elevated emotion?” 

Rolf Dohelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly.

He reminds me, “Whether we like it or not, we are puppets of our emotions. We make complex decisions by consulting our feelings, not our thoughts. Against our best intentions, we substitute the question, ‘What do I think about this?’ with ‘How do I feel about this?’ So, smile! Your future depends on it.”

Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

A deep read that gets me thinking about death and the hard stuff but, so useful: “In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty, and a seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.” 


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Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod
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