Homeschooling Mistakes I’ve Made and Why You Should Avoid Them Too
Homeschooling is not a decision that I took lightly. I’ve spent around 6 years researching every aspect of homeschooling. I’ve stayed at night researching different philosophies, reading blogs, learning about learning styles, social opportunities, and researching curriculum companies. I was almost certain that I was going to make a magical homeschooling experience for my children. In reality, our first year didn’t go as I envisioned. My oldest son resisted almost everything that I did, my house was loud and unorganized. I would be completely burnt out at the end of the day. I was so close to giving up. After talking to experienced homeschooling mothers, they assured me that the first year is the hardest. They also made me realize that the problems were in myself. I wasn’t listening to my instincts. Instead, I was listening to my fears. I was trying to mimic a schoolhouse at home, trying to imitate mothers on Instagram and I was trying to push things on my children before they were ready. I also found it incredibly hard to get the traditional school idea out of my head.
Believing That My Children Should View Me as a Professional Teacher
When I first started homeschooling I believed that my children were supposed to view me the same way that they would view a professional teacher. So many moms wonder about how to separate the two roles. The truth is that YOU are your child’s first teacher and you will always be their most influential teacher. There is no need to compare yourself to a professional teacher. I use to complain that my children don’t listen to them the same way that they would a professional teacher. This is when I realized that I needed to view things differently. I needed to focus on manners, respect, and communication. Homeschooling became so much easier when I started to embrace my role as a mother and started to believe in myself. Motherhood is holy work and educating your children is a part of that package.
Comparing My Children
Parents are continuously reminded not to compare their children. Many of us try not to but sometimes negative thoughts creep into our mind. There are times when I am talking to another mom and she tells me that her child is reading at an advanced level and writing cursive. My brain suddenly starts going in doubt mode. I start questioning myself and end up pushing my child harder. We all end up frustrated and burnt out. Childhood is not a race. My children are individuals. My children have a lot of amazing strengths. My children need me to support them where they are at. The beauty of homeschooling is that it offers individualized education. I can focus on a subject until they master it well.
Not Embracing the,”Home” in Homeschooling
I’ve been reminded to not imitate a traditional school at home a million times but it is hard to unlearn this. This is probably the hardest part about embracing homeschooling. No, we don’t need rigid schedules, we don’t need to educate them for 7 hours a day, we don’t need a specific schoolroom, or desk. We should embrace what makes homeschooling unique. Your child can learn by moving around, taking nature walks, going to the library, going to the museum, or even snuggling on the couch while you read out loud. You can find a learning opportunity in everything.
Buying Too Much
I am guilty of buying too many learning books. The truth is that all you need to start homeschooling is love, determination, simple supplies, and a library card. Even if you get the so-called, “best” programs you still have to personalize every curriculum. On days that were hard I was quick to look for another program. There will never be a perfect one. The key is to be consistent and approach the topic in different ways. I regret not saving this money for field trips instead.
Researching Too Much
The more that I research the more I buy. Facebook homeschooling groups, blogs, and Instagram are great ways to learn about different books and new ideas but they will lead you down a rabbit hole. It will waste your time and take your attention away from your goal.
Not Going With My First Choice
After doing my research I end up coming up with great ideas or a program I want to use for my children. I am normally set on it until I start researching again and hearing too many opinions. I end up buying another one and it usually doesn’t work out. I always regret not going with my first choice in the end.
I am trying to work on owning my decisions once I make them. It is really easy to doubt yourself when you homeschool. It goes against societal norms. Every time I get asked a homeschooling question whether it is from family, pediatricians, or someone else I start doubting myself. I have to remind myself why I started in the first place. I also have to remind myself that I am the one who has stayed up late at night researching this for my children, not them.
Trying to Imitate Other Families
Trying to do everything that you see a mom on Instagram or YouTube doing will only lead you to failure. Many times we compare families to other families that are completely different. For example, there are many times that I thought I was homeschooling wrong. In reality, their children were either older or only had one child. Another example is when I tried to embrace the morning basket concept that is so popular in homeschooling communities. Morning basket is a beautiful concept but it did not work for us. Instead, we have a morning connection. My family does not look picture-perfect, there are sibling fights, tantrums, bad days and my house is messy most of the time. I try to remind myself to embrace what is unique about us.
Focusing Too Much on Book Work and Less on Connection
Homeschooling is a holistic experience. Building connections, strong bonds, and communication is the most important part of homeschooling. There were days that I was too focused on getting lessons finished that ignored the importance of connecting with my children first. It’s so important to sit and connect with your children before you start any task. It will make your day easier and give them beautiful memories.
Trying to Take on Too Much at Once
When I first started homeschooling I planned on doing reading, handwriting, math, science, social studies, physical education, Arabic, Spanish, and art all in one day. I quickly learned that that is now how it works. I now just focus on reading, writing, and math. I read aloud and follow my children’s interests when it comes to history, social studies, and science. We have learned so much this way from the Vikings to parts of birds. With foreign languages, we just try to incorporate them naturally throughout our day. With religion, I just try to focus on being a good example and reading stories with them. Certain things need book work sometimes and I just alternate days with those.
Trying to Formally Homeschool my Children Under 5
People may disagree with me on this one but I don’t push academic work on children under 5. I am a huge advocate for letting children embrace their childhood. I did not always think this way though. Several years ago, I tried to formally homeschool my first son when he was 3 years old. I ended up unnecessarily stressing myself out over this. I educated myself better and realized that playing was his way of learning. I have two other children ages 2 and 4 and I don’t plan on doing any formal work with them anytime soon. They have picked up on small things that their older brother does though. Right now I try to focus on reading to them, getting out in nature, doing art projects, and getting out in different social situations with them.