We all make mistakes and when we first start homeschooling we make a lot of them (I did anyway). I wish I had known then what I do now, my life as a homeschooling mom would have been so much easier! Some of them seem so obvious to me now because of how long I’ve been homeschooling. If you’re just starting out these common mistakes may not even cross your mind until you make them. So here are the 12 mistakes I’ve seen commonly made in the homeschooling community.
Overscheduling: I think we have all done this at some point. there is excitement and you want to try it all. We have so many ideas and don’t want to get rid of any. Maybe it starts out fine and the kids and mom are happy and loving what they are doing. Slowly however they begin to burn out, it’s too much and the entire family is bogged down. Suddenly you realize there is too much and no one can keep up with it all. This can kill any homeschooling families love of schooling. You don’t want schedule anymore and your kids fight and argue. You may not even know it’s due from overscheduling at first, you might think you’re failing. The best thing to do before giving up is look at your schedule, see how much you’re doing a day and scale back. You may see it was way too much and after cutting back you all have your zest back!
Forgetting to listen to your children: We all like to think we listen to our children and I’d say the majority of the time we do. However, in the day to day, we can get overwhelmed and stressed. Children don’t always communicate the way adults do and we may see their behavior as being disobedient. We can focus on other things so much we may be missing their cues. Maybe your kid crying every time you say it’s time to start school isn’t because you’re failing or they are being difficult. Maybe they are trying to tell you they don’t like the curriculum or a particular subject is too hard. I know at times we as parents say we’re listening when our children speak but sometimes we’re just saying mmm hmm and yeah without processing. So the next step may be meltdown city. I find the best way to avoid any miscommunication is to ask my son what he likes and doesn’t like about what we are using. Ask him what he would change if he could. This has helped us both become less stressed and more heard. Remember listening to your children is important.
Not knowing your child(ren) ‘s learning style(s): This is so very important! Whenever anyone asks me what they need to do to start homeschooling I say know your state laws and your children’s learning styles. So many times well-meaning mom choose a curriculum and love it but their children fail with it. Knowing your child’s learning style not only you an advantage to choosing something that will work for them but right out of the gate you will know how to speak to them or show them when teaching. Also, there are so many curricula out that it can be overwhelming but knowing what to look for. This way you now not to get a curriculum that focuses on reading if you have an auditory learner. This will make your and your children’s lives easier and hopefully help you avoid those dread fights about doing school.
Isolation: I can hear a lot of homeschool moms groaning now! This is a myth! We get out all the time! Stop spreading these lies! However, I have spoken with a lot of newbies and they say they and their kids are lonely or never go anywhere. I think at this point in their homeschooling journey mom believes they need to focus on school or may be afraid to go out during school hours. Staying indoors and working all the time is so unhealthy and can lead to depression! For those of you who are afraid to go out during school hours don’t be! It’s legal to homeschool and there for you have nothing to worry about! Don’t isolate your kids! Get out to the park, the zoo, a museum, and frolic! Learning can and does happen anywhere if you’re worried about missing out on a learning opportunity. Never going anywhere and keeping your children from going outside a lot does a lot more harm than anyone asking why they’re not in school. You will not fail your kids by taking one day away from home to go swing with them. Believe me, they need breaks!
Not taking care of yourself: So we talked about getting your kids out and about but you need to take care of you as well. We as moms put ourselves last anyway but in my experience homeschool moms are worst about it. We have our kids 24/7 and we are also taking care of the house, cooking and running errands. I don’t care who you are, you are bound to crash and burn at some point. Self-care is so important and it is true you can’t pour from an empty cup. Whatever stress relief looks like for you, make sure to do it as often as you can. I’ve heard many moms say they sent their kids back to public school because they couldn’t handle everything. First, if your house isn’t spotless but you clean it’s okay. If you and your kids wear pajamas when your home it’s okay! Not everything will always be perfect and that’s okay. The reason moms homeschooling moms gave up is because they didn’t take time for themselves, they tried to do it all and gave too much of themselves! Don’t set yourself up for failure that way. Read a book, take a bath, sew, go shopping, to the spa, whatever just do it! You’ll find the stress is lessened. By doing this favor for yourself, you’ll ultimately be doing a favor for your family.
Avoid comparisons: It is never good to compare anything but when we do it to our children it can be mentally devastating. I hear something like this so often, “Pam’s kids are so well rounded and get straight A’s. There teachers and peers love them! They are thriving! Meanwhile, my little Timmy struggles with math and hates reading! Maybe I should put him on the same public school they are in!” This can create hurt, feeling of failure and resentment between a mother and child. I notice people compare their own children to each other as well. My only answer is don’t! Just don’t do it! Instead, help them, work with them and encourage them. Since we’re speaking about not comparing don’t talk about how much better your kids are compared to your best friend Becky’s public schooled children. It will have the same effect as when you think other kids are better than yours. Comparing at all is just not necessary and should be avoided at all cost!
Using a curriculum even if it doesn’ t work for your family: You researched and researched. Asked everyone who homeschools you could about a curriculum. Finally, you decide on one, look through it make your plans. You began using it to teach your children and you notice it doesn’t seem to be clicking with any of you. You give it longer to see if it changes (understandable). After a couple months it still not working but you keep going with it. You spend money on this, you took weeks to come up with lesson plans, no way are you going to spend more money! You stubbornly keep going and you and your kids are in tears most days. Does that make sense? No? Because it shouldn’t yet this happens all the time! Homeschooling moms frustrate themselves and their kids by trying to keep using something that just doesn’t work. It’s either because they don’t want to spend more money, they blame themselves or the kids, or they don’t want to have to admit failure. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend more money or print more pages then to cause your family undue stress? Sometimes things don’t work out liked we hoped and that is okay. If you have to switch curriculums in the middle of the year it’s not failure, it’s you saying you know what this doesn’t work for us and I’m getting something else that does. Do yourself a favor and scrap anything that doesn’t work ASAP!
Too high expectations: We all have expectations, we know what we want but when we expect our kids to be perfect we’re just asking for disappointment. We all, of course, want our kids to do their best but sometimes we want too much. I don’t understand why Christopher can’t do all these questions he’s smart enough. Claire should be able to do 15 subjects in one day she was such a great student in public school. We as parents can put what we want in life on our kids and it can cause chaos. The best thing you can do for your kids is to see where they are at and meet them there. Don’t expect them to do everything you want them to perfectly all the time and if they are showing signs of distress back off. Of course, it’s not always the parent that has too high expectations but the child that expects too much of themselves. How do you deal with that? I try to point out the good that my child has done, let them know that it is perfect the way it is and that it’s okay to make mistakes. This doesn’t always have an immediate impact but I can often see my son rethinking his work and being happier with it. The whole point is don’t set yourself up for failure!
Procrastination: This is my biggest failure! I tend to put things off even when I don’t mean to. This can hurt your homeschooling because you may not have anything for your kids to do, your state may require that you turn certain things in and your late. Being late for state-ordered paperwork can bring law enforcement to your door and no one wants that. Procrastination is the bane of many homeschool moms and many have quit due to it. If you are natural procrastinator making a schedule may not always be the answer but I know for me planning ahead does. If I set a plan in my mind and write it down, if I know what is coming I am better about getting things done. If you know you have to plan your child’s curriculum then do it early, make a plan and stick to it. If you do it every Friday that still gives you two days to have fun with your family and you’re prepared for the week ahead. I have learned procrastination is a mindset and if you work to change it you can. Stick to your plan and not allowing yourself to get distracted can seem hard but remind yourself this is for your child’s education. I use a scheduler on my phone and it beeps at me, it is hard to ignore and makes me feel urgent to get my task done. Find something that put your plan at the forefront of your mind and see if it helps.
Defending your choice to homeschool to others: You may have heard the questions. What about socialization? Are you qualified to teach your kids? What happens if they struggle? They need interaction with kids their age, don’t they? The looks you get when in public during school hours. The shaking heads or sideways glances when you say your homeschooling. I know for many of us our first reaction is to defend ourselves and our choice. Please don’t so this! For one, you owe no one (even family an explanation). For two people who ask these questions often times don’t care what your reasons are, they have their opinion and you won’t change their minds. Thirdly, they are your kids and you’re doing what you think is best, end of story! New homeschooling families feel they need to defend themselves often and they really don’t. That stranger in the store knows nothing about you and just made a snap judgment based off one thing about you. Let them! Your mom thinks you may not be smart enough to teach your kids all they need to know. Doesn’t that mean she is sort of doubting the way she raised you? The only explanation most homeschool moms will tell you, you need is they are my kids and I’m doing what’s best. After that don’t discuss it. It’s not being mean, it’s not being secretive, it’s saving yourself an argument and headache. Not everyone will understand or support your decision but it’s alright. Let them have those opinions and you do what you need to do for your kids! Shut it out! I will repeat you may never change their minds and you don’t have too!
I hope this list helps you realize why these are mistakes and why you should avoid them. Homeschooling isn’t always easy and there is no reason to add to your stress and worry. Enjoy your kids, have fun and learn with them! This is the best thing you can do for everyone!