Mistakes all new homeschoolers make
I vaguely remember deciding we were going to homeschool, I can’t even remember how old Gator was (it was before she was school aged). I do remember being incredibly excited, going to Target and buying things like Dry Erase boards, world maps, and flashcards. Completely necessary things when your child isn’t even in Kindergarten yet, right? We all make mistakes when it comes to homeschooling our kiddos, it’s not your fault, it’s a learning curve, and you’ll mostly get the hang of it eventually. Here are some common mistakes homeschoolers make, especially those first few exciting years.
Mirroring the public school day
Homeschooling is not public school at home. You don’t have to sit at the table with your kids for 8 hours making sure they complete all of their subjects. School is full of disruptions, lining up to move from place to place, answering everyone’s questions, cleaning up to move onto subjects. So when you’re working one-on-one with your kids at home and eliminate all of that, you’ll probably end up with only a couple hours of schooling a day. Most homeschool families finish school in the morning and do more of an unschooling approach in the afternoon (chores, cooking, baking, and much needed free time for your children to do what they’re interested in.)
Making a homeschool classroom
You’re excited, you have the perfect nook for homeschool. You cover it in brightly colored maps and cute decor with your childrens names. You use the space for a week or two, but homeschooling, it doesn’t happen in a confined space. Sometimes we sit at the kitchen table if there’s a whole lot of writing. We read upside down on the couch. We take an art project outside. That homeschool classroom will most likely be forgotten about.
Homeschoolers have this reputation of being weirdos that can’t hold a conversation because they don’t socialize enough. In our best defense homeschoolers have found ways to overschedule our kids to make sure that they are uber socialized. We have playdates, co-ops, organized sports, music lessons, art classes, homeschool meetups, gym classes, Scouts, Sunday School and more. Why is this bad? It’s exhausting. It interferes with actual homeschool lessons. It gets to be too much too fast for everyone involved. Pick a few things that your kids really want to be involved in and stick with those. By the way, my child is the chattiest kid I’ve ever met. She’s not afraid to talk to anyone, and she makes new friends almost immediately. If I were more like my poor “unsocialized” homeschooler I’d probably be more of a people person and less of a “I’ll stay home with my dogs” person, I’m pretty sure public school didn’t help with socialization for me.
Investing a ton of money on curriculum
You shouldn’t be spending a ton of money on curriculum right away. Mostly because you probably don’t know how your child learns best. Some kids flourish with workbooks. Some kids are born tech savvy and would prefer learning on a computer or tablet. Maybe you have a hands-on learner. Maybe you have a learner that learns best from watching others. Maybe you have a child that would thrive with unschooling. If you buy a years worth of curriculum, you’ll probably want to finish it, even if it’s not the best fit for your kiddo. Curriculum can cost a fortune, and even if you can sell the unused portions down the road, you’re still losing a ton of money. You should look for curriculums with free samples, or free trials and try a few and see what works best for you and your family. Right now we’re using a blend of different curriculums.
You think you can teach your 3rd grader long division while folding laundry. Do you know where that leaves you? Upset that your child isn’t grasping long division and now you have a table littered with laundry that needs to be put away looming over your head. You’ll probably lose your mind a little. Instead, sit down with your child, teach them long division with undivided attention, then take 10 minutes to fold the darn towels after. You can even enlist the help of your little division mastering genius.
Not taking advantage of the flexible schedule
The flexible schedule is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. Sometimes we can be too flexible, realizing that you spent your Monday running errands and forgot to formally teach your child anything. Well, that happens quite often. When your friend texts on a beautiful sunny day to see if you’re up for a park picnic in 20 minutes, you shouldn’t feel guilty about giving up on your homeschool plans for the moment. Compromises are a huge part of homeschooling schedules, maybe you’re not working on math, but you can have your kiddo help you pack lunches for the impromptu park picnic you’re planning.
When I first started homeschooling I had a schedule that we had to follow. If we missed the work we would make up for it later in the week. It was stressful on everyone, now we’re much more relaxed with our lesson plans, and if we don’t finish what we planned for the day we don’t finish, not a huge deal.
Being a teacher first
You’re a mother first, not a teacher. Don’t lose your cool over math (it’s always math isn’t it?) In a lot of ways you’re all they’ve got, they don’t have that separation between school and home, between parents and teachers that most kids do. This is what makes homeschooling hard. No one is perfect, just try your best to be respectful of feelings, and try to keep an open dialogue about everything and anything.