Today I’m taking a moment to reflect on the last couple years we’ve been homeschooling, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I made a lot of mistakes in our first couple years!
Six Homeschooling Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
1. Not celebrating the small victories
Homeschooling is hard, y’all. When you decide that you’re planning to homeschool for the long haul, you’re taking about 12 years… per child. And education isn’t something that you just do on a Tuesday, and call it done- it’s a process.
A long, frustrating, time consuming, process. Sometimes that process comes with joy and laughter and fun crafts and happy kids… and sometimes everyone is crying because long division is hard, and they can’t remember what sound the letter C is supposed to make, and no one knows how to spell “especially.”
On days when it feels like nothing gets done, you’ve got to take a deep breath and a step back. You have to count the little things that went right, even if the only thing you can think of is the fact that Mr. Man remembered to put a capital letter at the start of his sentence.
Baby steps. Educating your kids is a process. Celebrate the baby steps.
2. Letting the schedule take over
I know I blog a lot about scheduling, and lesson planning, and trying to find a way to fit all the little things you need to get done into a neat little routine.
Neat little routines are great. But you know what else is great? Not missing out on the little things that come up that make life more fun.
For example, your husband ends up with an extra day off, or the sun is shining and it’s a wonderful day to go to the beach. Take the day off and go!
One of the best things about homeschooling is having the flexibility to have adventures and take advantage of all the fun things going on in your area. Be flexible!
3. Not listening to your kids
I don’t think I can stress enough the importance of knowing your child’s learning style, and working with it. I don’t mean letting your child call the shots, but life is so much easier when you are working with your child!
I know you have a list of things you have to get done, and topics you have to cover, but there is flexibility in how you cover them.
Don’t be afraid to let them weigh in on their preferences either. Maybe they really love horses, so you can do a year of Equine Science, or maybe they love comic books, so you can try some comic book math.
Adapting your curriculum plans to your child makes for a much happier home.
4. Thinking the curriculum is the end-all
Repeat after me: You do not have to do everything the curriculum says.
Many programs include more activities, and reading ideas, and substance than any of us could hope to accomplish. If you add that in with programs that overlap (for example, your spelling program and your writing program both cover grammar), you’ll have way more lessons to teach than time in the day.
When you sit down to look at your curriculum, do it with a highlighter. Mark the lessons you want to complete, and give yourself permission to skip the things you don’t. Your child will survive even if they don’t mummify that chicken, or complete yet another worksheet on nouns.
Along the same vein, feel free to skip lessons your child has mastered. For example, many math programs include built in review at the start of the year to account for knowledge lost over the long summer months. You can “test out” of those chapters, or just skip ahead to the new material if you are confident your child still knows her stuff.
5. Ignoring your toddlers and preschoolers
I know a lot of people think you don’t need to do school with toddlers and preschoolers. And they are right, you don’t HAVE to. There is plenty of time for formal schooling when they get older.
However, your day will go much more smoothly if you fill your little one’s cup before starting one on one work with the older kids. Take a little time to do something with your little ones, even if it’s as simple as a bath in the morning, a story read, or letting them help you do the dishes.
During the school day, you can have the big kids take turns playing with the little ones, or even provide them with a coloring page and crayons and have them “tag along” with lessons.
If you need ideas on homeschooling with a toddler underfoot, check out our series!
6. Not taking care of yourself
This is a big one, and the one mistake I make the most often. It feels like there are a million things I have to get done, and making time for myself just doesn’t seem that important. More often than not, I am in yoga pants with my hair in a ponytail… and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if I felt good about myself like that.
But I don’t. I feel better in cute clothes with my hair done nicely. I need to make the time to let myself get ready in the mornings, so I can have more pep in my step all day long.
I don’t mean you always have to get “done up”- some people don’t need to do that to feel human. This is about more than clothing and hair though. You have to make time for things like the dentist and doctors appointments, and eating well, and keeping your home at whatever standard you deem liveable.
Make time for you. Even if it means having the kids work independently a little more, or dropping one of the extras on your list.