The idea of homeschooling can be both exciting and frightening. On one end of the spectrum, you are looking forward to it and cannot wait for it to start. Your mind is just full of fun and enjoyable things planned ahead for you and your child. On the other end, you fear that you may not live up to the challenge of being a parent and a teacher at the same time. You fear that you will only waste your time as well as your child’s time, or worse, you fear that you might damage your child’s learning experience with after effects that are far too great and may take years to repair.
These are all normal, especially for first time homeschoolers who hailed from a family who all attended a traditional school. All emotions are building up. But, behind it all, you just want your homeschool experience to be a success. You simply want it to be memorable and enjoyable for you, and most importantly for your child. The only way to do it is to be well-prepared. They say that life on Earth is too short to commit mistakes. So let’s run through a list of the biggest mistakes in homeschooling by parent/teachers who have been there, and make sure that you don’t go down the same route.
- In no particular order, the first on the list is comparison. No two individuals are the same. Even identical twins have differences. So try to avoid the habit of comparing your child to other homeschoolers. It is pointless and unfair. It goes the same way to you. Never compare yourself to other parent/teachers as well. There are different learning styles and there are also different teaching styles. The style that worked for other kids may not necessarily work for your child so save yourself the trouble and avoid comparisons. Sub category of this is unrealistic expectations. For instance, your child is having difficulty with a particular subject compared to other kids. You cannot focus on that subject and cover a whole year’s worth of lesson in just one month and expect your kid to be good at it all of a sudden. You will just frustrate yourself and you will have your kid burned out, which is not a very ideal combination for success.
- A disorganized school room. Don’t you just hate it whenever you often see an item that is just lying around, but when the time comes that you already need it, you just can’t seem to find it? Everybody hates that feeling. It ruins the momentum when you have to spend extra time looking for something. So before the school year starts, make sure that you schedule at least an entire day to clean up your designated school room at home. To make things fun, involve your kids in designing the room. Not only will it build up the excitement of your kids to use the room that they helped decorate, you would also know the exact location of the materials and you would also find out which supplies are still missing. That will give you more than enough time to complete all the tools you need for homeschooling.
- Mini public school. There is a reason why you are at home and not in an actual classroom. One of them is for you to do as much fun stuff while learning. So do not turn your homeschool into a mini public school. Let go of those classroom equipment. Especially for the younger homeschoolers, you can’t expect them to be serious throughout the day. They have to have fun, so just enjoy each moment and play more with them. Allow them to have their childhood.
- Over scheduling and under scheduling. Do not cramp up your kids’ schedule by signing them up in all sorts of classes in the afternoon right after your morning study time. The intention is good, but the effect may be harmful. But, do not leave your kids’ schedule free throughout the day either. You must learn to find the balance while allowing your kids to enjoy their time. It is okay to have other activities throughout the day, but you have to remember that the top priority is schooling. If you find that nothing is lined up for afternoon activities, you can go to the park and have fun or you can visit other homeschoolers to give them time to socialize. Sub category of over scheduling is skipping breaks. Since you have too many things to do, you resort to skipping breaks. This almost always ends in a disaster. Your child is just a kid. The attention span of kids is much shorter than adults, so they cannot stay focused on the lesson for too long. Kids are full of energy and they need to release some of it through short breaks and playtime. If you deprive them of their breaks, they may lose their interest and be cranky for the rest of the day.
- Ignoring their input or not grading their work. This is one thing that you should avoid if you truly want to succeed in homeschooling. Do not let your child experience the feeling of not being recognized by their own parent. That will hurt them real bad and will make them lose interest in learning your lessons. A simple “good job” means a lot to your child if it came from you. So be generous in giving your feedback. As a child, they need positive reinforcement. So give them all that they need.
- Getting angry. This is never a good thing. Remember that you are dealing with kids. Whatever words or actions they witness you say or do, there is a high probability that they will imitate you so be careful. Besides, it doesn’t get the job done much faster. Actually it is the exact opposite. It delays your progress. Keep in mind that there are better ways to get your point across than getting angry.
- Becoming a slave to your curriculum. If after a month of using a particular curriculum, you don’t see any progress, do not force the issue. It is understandable that there is no greater feeling than finishing something that you’ve started. But there are times when you should know when to quit. Learn to pick your battles. Do not get caught up in finishing a curriculum that doesn’t fit you or your child. It’s pretty simple. If it’s not working, just drop it.
These are some of the huge mistakes of parents in the past that you might learn from. Remember, homeschooling must be a fun learning experience for your child and a rewarding experience for you. But you cannot escape those days when nothing seems to be working for you. If that day comes, take a quick peek at this list. Who knows, you might find the answer that you are looking for.