If there is one piece of advice that I wish I had heeded, and that I could offer anyone who is just starting out with homeschooling; it would be to trust the process. The second piece of advice would be to respect the personhood of your kids.
Peanut, who has had spelling struggles for a while now has had several massive leaps where spelling suddenly makes sense. Phonetic Zoo is helping, but even words that aren't "Zoo-words" are no longer fouling her up. The only thing I've done with her that's a "proper" spelling program is Phonetic Zoo. I explain some of the spelling rules as they come up when she's trying to write journal entries; but other than that it's all been her brain learning, growing, and adapting.
At the same time that her spelling improved seemingly out of no where, so did her handwriting. It's as if those two skills were linked and improving one improved the other. While we did work specifically on handwriting, I think a lot of her improvement has come from old-fashioned time.
Looking back, I wouldn't have given any concerns over Peanut's lack of spelling and would have been much more laid back regarding her handwriting. I suppose this is why the eldest children are considered to be guinea pigs, more or less!
For me, it's hard to break free of the mentality that the kids have to be "somewhere" academically; when in reality what they need to do is keep moving forward. Wherever they are academically is where they are, and it's not a big thing if they are "ahead" or "behind". Obviously, Peanut wouldn't do first-grade math or Moose do 3D Calculus right now; but I think many people (myself included) get hung up on "grade-level" or "behind" or even "ahead". Especially in February, the Worst Month of the Year For About Everyone In the Northern Hemisphere. Sometimes, being behind isn't something bad but rather a signal more help is needed - like getting an OT to help Moose with writing (he can write in both print and cursive now).
Homeschooling is like chiseling a sculpture out of marble. It's hard work, it's a long-process, it's tedious and many people look at the work in progress and think, "what is that?" But before long, an arm appears, or a leg; and it makes more sense. Homeschoolers chip away every day, little by little; to form the character and minds of little people who are made in the image and likeness of God. Sometimes (a lot of times) it looks like a hot mess. But, things like spelling and handwriting improve, the kids enjoy the books that they are reading (or having read to them), and they start really loving each other and themselves. The fruits are beginning to blossom in a big way, much like the arms and legs appearing for the sculptor. Suddenly things are making sense to us and to those around us, and it's truly breath-taking to watch the development happen.