There is no denying that homeschooling is growing in popularity. There is also no denying that all parents are going to make some mistakes along the way when it comes to homeschooling. After all, we all fail in some way in every area of life. There is no magic formula for homeschooling. Nevertheless, you can learn from others and try to avoid the same pitfalls. With that being said, read on to discover more about the common homeschooling mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Listen to Your Children
There is only one place to begin, and this is failing to listen to your children. This is easily done because we get so wrapped up in our own ideas and plans, meaning we forget to check in with our children. While you do need to set guidelines, you also need to give your children a bit of freedom and responsibility. You know the requirements, but you can listen to their ideas too. After all, homeschooling is a two-way street. Moreover, you also need to think about what your child wants to do in the future, which is something they will get more and more vocal about as they get older. Let’s say your child has decided that he or she wants to get involved in nursing. Look at an online MSN FNP program online so you can get a better idea regarding the further education that is involved. By matching the curriculum to their interests, or even dual enrollment during high school, you will be able to focus your efforts on preparing your child for whatever their future holds.
This is something a lot of us are guilty of! You need to recognize that you are not a superhero. Your house is not going to be spotless all of the time. Your errands are not always going to be run. Your meals will not always be healthy. You need to take a deep breath and remember the following:
- School materials are going to take over your home unless you have a dedicated schoolroom or home library
- Your walls are going to be covered with maps, lessons, projects, and charts
- You school at your house
- Your children are in your house – all the time
- And you are in your house all day
You need to be realistic and stop being so hard on yourself! Plan your meals, use bookshelves and baskets to keep things corraled, and make quick clean-ups part of your daily schedule. With good routines in place, you can stay ahead of the inevitable chaos.
Doing It Alone
Another mistake that a lot of parents make when it comes to homeschooling is trying to do it all on your own. Yes, you want to do everything yourself because you are the parent, you are in charge of your child’s education. But this can be dangerous thinking. Yes, you are responsible and should be overseeing your homeschool, but this doesn’t mean doing it all on your own. You run the risk of becoming lonely and frustrated. Joining a co-op (in real-life or online) can offer so much to your child and you. Not only will this give you a bit of fresh air and enable you to get outside of the home, but it also means you will be able to get advice and bounce ideas off of people that are in the same shoes as you. A co-op may offer core-subject instruction, enrichment subjects, field trips, service opportunities or a combination of these activities. Make sure to find something that is a good fit for your family. If you dread co-op day, that is counter-productive. In addition to a co-op, you may find support online such as classes, memberships, homeschool conferences, seminars, homeschool publications, and so on. This will enhance your experience dramatically and benefit your child’s education too.
You may want your school year to be over as quickly as possible, but this could come at a great cost. While the requirements vary from location to location, there is generally a required number of days for your school year to be official. Here in Indiana, that number is 180 days. There are some weeks we are doing things that count as schoolwork six days a week. At that pace, we would finish our school year in 30 weeks. But that is not a pace that is easily maintained. Over the years we have found a six-weeks-on, one-week-off pace to be the best for our family. We plan for our breaks to fall on non-negotiable holidays and plan other activities around this schedule. We tried skipping breaks, or just lightening our daily tasks when we were supposed to be on break. It feels good to work ahead. However, regular breaks are a necessity for everyone. You need to take them, whether you think you need them or not. You need to spend time relaxing and revitalizing the mind so that you go back to learning feeling fresh and ready to tackle the next subject. This is just as important for your kids too. It took us ten years to stick to taking breaks and realize the greater benefits in not skipping breaks.
Aside from the mishaps that have already been touched upon, another common mistake made is disorganization. If you have a school room or space then this is an easier task in some ways. It could also be very easy to leave things haphazard and just close the door on the mess. All hope is *not* lost, however, if you don’t have that dedicated space. It just means you need to be more intentional in keeping things organized. There is nothing more irritating than not being able to locate what you require when you require it. From a lost book to a missing pencil, you can waste so much time looking for the things you need rather than using them. Because of this, it is a good idea to dedicate a day to organizing your homeschool things before the start of each school year. Don’t do this task alone – get your children involved too.
We’ve all met homeschool families where every child is a genius or prodigy. Aren’t all homeschooled children academically advanced and gifted? The inner narrative begins “Not only is my child behind this gifted child, but they aren’t even reading at public school grade level, let alone at homeschool grade level.” It is easy to get carried away and expect too much from your child. Instead, you need to make sure you truly understand your child. You will then be able to put together a plan that addresses their passions, weaknesses, struggles, and abilities. Not only does your child have their own learning style (we have auditory learners, kinesthetic learners and some who are a mix) but you, mama, have your own teaching style. Working within all of these things, finding philosophies and methods as well as curricula, may take some time to work out. Just keep going, don’t throw in the towel. Any step forward is a gain (even if it is followed by two steps back) – you know things you didn’t know yesterday. That is a win!
Last but not least, getting to grips with scheduling can be one of the most difficult challenges for anyone that is new to homeschooling. Over and under scheduling is the first mistake parents make. You look for learning opportunities everywhere, from finding activities at local historical sites to nearby museums to foreign language classes to organized gym time. You also need to develop accountability. On the flip side, a lot of other parents are guilty of under scheduling. You are scared that you won’t get enough “real” schoolwork done so you cram studies in at every opportunity. If you do this, all that is going to happen is that you will burn out quickly, and your children will too. Instead, make schooling a priority and limit yourself to one or two activities, maximum, at a time.
So there you have it: some of the most common homeschooling mistakes that parents make today. If you can avoid the errors discussed, you give yourself a great chance of making sure things go according to plan. Your children have a great education from home, which they enjoy, and paves the way for their future. Good luck!