Mary James



Mary James lives in Conroe, Texas, and is the mother of eight children. She began homeschooling in 1989 and expects to be homeschooling for several years to come. In 1999, Mary founded Smoothing the Way, a non-profit organization which seeks to meet the needs of new homeschoolers. In addition to serving as president of Smoothing the Way, Mary serves on the Texas Homeschool Coalition Board of Directors and continues her popular speaking ministry at several homeschool conferences each year. In her workshops, Mary draws not only from her personal experience as a homeschooling mom, but also from her many years of working with those families new to this lifestyle. Speaking from her heart with warmth and humor, she encourages her listeners to face the often daunting task of educating their children at home. 

Special Convention Session or Pre-Convention Online Offering

Which Way Do I Go?
This workshop explains the most popular teaching methodologies (textbook, living book, unit studies, classical, and unschooling), and gives attendees a close-up look at the convention exhibitors. This workshop is personalized for each convention, using your workshop schedule and exhibit hall floor plan. It can be offered early in the Convention or as a pre-convention virtual session. 


Getting Off to a Great Start
This workshop will help you to begin those first steps in home educating and to set realistic goals for yourself and your children. Home education is not an educational choice; it is a lifestyle of learning. Mary will discuss common mistakes, burnout, and changes that might need to be made.

Organizing Your Time
Many new home educators have the vision to homeschool, but just don’t know where to start. This practical workshop will help you to look at the natural rhythm of your family and to know how to establish your school schedule accordingly. Mary will discuss making lesson plans, coordinating homeschool with household chores, and organizing your time to make it go farther. She will also cover yearly scheduling, daily scheduling, lesson plans, outside activities, cooking tips, and more.

Understanding Your Child
What is your child’s learning style? What is a learning modality? How can knowing your child’s love language help you to be a better teacher? Developing a better understanding of how your child is designed will help you to establish a more successful learning environment. From choosing curricula to choosing activities, you will make better decisions for your child when you are making choices according to your child’s needs.

Avoiding Resistance in Your Student: Pre/Primary School
 The number one cause of resistant behavior with young children is burnout from too much seat work. This workshop will give you practical teaching tips for this very important age group. Discover the importance of readiness-building activities for your preschoolers, as well as ways to make schoolwork much more enjoyable for your elementary-aged students.

Avoiding Resistance in Your Student: Middle/High School
Teaching middle and high school students can be a daunting task. This workshop will show you how special the teenage years can be and how to direct your child on the path that God has set for him. Learn how to focus on loving your upper-level student through the trials and tribulations of getting it all done.

Beyond Hormones: Homeschooling Teens with Emotional and Psychological Challenges

As a home school parent, you have experienced your share of challenges. None can be more difficult than teaching through an emotional or psychological challenge. Join Mary James for this firsthand look at potential emotional challenges your teen may encounter and how to successfully teach through each trial. Topics covered in this session include eating disorders, self-harm, depression and more.

Top Ten Homeschooling Myths
Dispelling the top ten myths of homeschooling will clarify your understanding of what homeschooling should be.

Does This Child Come With An Instruction Manual?
If our goal in child training is simply achieving a desired behavior, we may find we have produced a well-behaved child with a very rebellious heart. This session will give parents tools for understanding and reaching each unique child, with the ultimate goal of discovering God's design for that child so that we may train him up "in the way he should go.”

Precious Preschoolers
The 2 R's of teaching preschoolers are readiness and relationship. What activities are important during these formative years? How do you capture your child's heart and instill in them a love of learning that will carry you through their school years? Gain insight and inspiration from a homeschooling mother of eight.

Staying the Way – Things I’ve Learned from Home Schooling
The mother of eight children, Mary James began home schooling in 1989. In this workshop, she shares from her heart about the joys and the trials of this challenging lifestyle. You will find encouragement for all stages of your journey.

Mentoring New Homeschoolers - A Session For Home School Group Leaders
Why is it important to mentor new homeschoolers? How can we pass on the vision of home education, in addition to training parents in the practical aspects?

Parents of Preschoolers Workshop Track

Wearing the Mommy/Teacher Hat  Answering the call to home educate means a shift in lifestyle that affects your job as a mother. Learn about shuffling responsibilities, scheduling your time, and taking care of yourself. Discover your teaching style and learn how that affects your child’s education.

Building a Love of Learning  Exploring the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason, an extraordinary 19th century educator, will give you ideas to inspire your young children and build a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Growing with Literature

Exposing your young child to excellent literature is key to your success as a homeschooler. Learn why to read aloud, what to read, and how to read so that you instill in your child a love of literature.

Show and Tell 

The two R’s of teaching preschoolers – relationship and readiness. Hear practical ideas for strengthening your relationship with your child as well as building academic readiness in key subject areas: reading, math, and writing.