When I first began to homeschool, I knew very few people who were doing it. Whenever I would talk with a mom who was a couple of years ahead of me, I would try to glean as much as I could from her. I wanted to figure out what was working well for her so I could do the same thing! These moms were my lifeline. I learned so much from all the experiences they shared with me. Now that we have been homeschooling a little while, I can share with moms behind me so they can learn from our experiences. Here are mistakes I’ve made after 10+ years of homeschooling and what I have done to change them.
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When our oldest started school, I felt very much alone. Homeschooling was not nearly as popular then as it is now. We were really forging uncharted waters. It was exciting and scary at the same time. I did know a handful of people ahead of me and that provided some encouragement. It’s just that when you are doing something for the first time, you’re not sure how it’s going to turn out! So whenever things go awry, I would wonder, “Maybe it’s because they are homeschooled?” or “Maybe I’m doing a bad job?”
The truth is that God gave these kids to me and my husband. Though we have lots of flaws, we love them more than any person alive.There is NO ONE who cares more about their success or who will work harder to find them the help they need than I will! Although it is not without difficulty, I absolutely LOVE learning alongside my kids! That makes me very well suited to this task.
Worrying That The Kids Are Missing Out
Let’s be honest. There ARE things that kids are doing in school that they will miss. The uptake on this is that anything they might miss is replaced by something else that they wouldn’t be able to do if they were in school! It may just look a little different. For example, it is so nice to get out of school a month earlier than school kids. Additionally, our kids get to go out places in the middle of the day with friends. I remember one particular breakfast when we went out with other homeschool friends early in the morning to Duck Donuts for breakfast. Another time, one of the kids was taking a cultures class at our co-op, so every week, they went to a restaurant to try the different cultural tastes.
Here are just a few of the interesting classes they have taken at our co-op. Charcoal and Graphite Mixed Media Drawing, Church History, Card-making, Black American Literature, Science Experiments, Soccer, Cultures and Geography, Drama, Theatrical Design, Future Nurses, Science in the Garden.
I could go on and on with the many unique opportunities that they have had because they are homeschooled. Anything my kids missed by not being in a school setting was only replaced by something just as great that they would have missed if they were in school. It just looks different.
Prioritizing Academics Ahead of Relationships
I want to be careful how I say this. Don’t misunderstand me, I had great relationships with my kids. They have always been a priority to me. We had so much fun in those early years. It wasn’t that I didn’t have good relationships with them. Those early years are treasured, precious memories!
No, it wasn’t that. It was that without experience, I didn’t have a good gauge on a balanced approach. I did more than was necessary. Because homeschooling was new to me, I (unnecessarily) felt the need to prove to myself and others that homeschooling was an excellent education.
I read EVERY book on the list. We completed EVERY lesson. I was afraid to cut any corners. We could have done less and accomplished just as much, maybe more! It would have made learning more fun.
Another part of this is that with your oldest, you are learning many things for the first time, so the academic part can be a little more of an obstacle. With every other child, it’s a repeat lesson.
There was a definitive moment when this changed for me. When our oldest son hit middle school, I realized that our time left with him at home was less than the time we’d already had together. This was a gripping moment. From that point on, I took an about face internally. Our relationship became my #1 priority. I eased up more on academics because I had enough experience under my belt to know that the kids are going to be just fine. Vacations and playing games together suddenly became highly important to me. Relaxing in the evenings, laying around talking or watching our favorite show replaced my “to do” list.
Treasure the short time God has given you with your kids. Give academics their place, but prioritize your relationship most of all.
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Worrying About How the Kids Will Turn Out
It’s hard not to question yourself, especially when your kids struggle with things you can’t fix. Whenever our kids would have problems, my first inclination was to think, “Maybe it’s because we homeschool?” Cindy Rollins, author of “Mere Motherhood” once said that school was the one place she could send the kids where everything that went wrong wasn’t her fault! Ever feel that way?
The truth is…all kids struggle. Our kids would struggle in school. They might have different struggles in school, but struggles none-the-less. Difficulties are a part of life. Overcoming obstacles might be the very tool the Lord is using to grow your kids in certain areas. Commit your child to the Lord. Ask for His wisdom and help. Listen, really listen when your child opens up to you. Be their best cheerleader. Get help, if needed. Pray with them. When kids are struggling, what they need more than anything is their parents unconditional love.
Comparing Myself to Others
Whoah boy! This is a biggie for all homeschoolers! And it caught me in its trap a few times as well. The temptation to compare yourself to others is very real!
Because we all have different personalities and interests, the way we learn at home looks widely different. Your weakness might be someone else’s strength. And your strength might be their weakness.
Put your blinders on. Look straight ahead. It’s ok to ask for help in certain areas. But accept the help only so long as it is helpful. If it becomes burdensome, get back in your own lane and do what works best for you and your kids!
Not Enjoying a Hobby
Homeschooling can be all consuming! I know! But if you allow homeschooling to take over all your thoughts and time, you might find yourself burnt out or depressed over time. Want to really see your kids eyes light up? Let them see you flower in something other than “homeschool mom” role. What interests do you have outside of homeschooling and kids? Invest time in something you enjoy. Enjoying a hobby will give little bursts of life back into your life and your homeschool.
Underestimating the Value of Life Skills
From the time they were little, our kids have always had chores. But with lots of people in a house all day, even with chores, the housework seems to be a constant battle. I always felt that I could either do school or I could keep up with the house, but not both. As the kids grew older, I saw the advantages of allowing housework and academic work to intermingle. I now see these two things more fluidly. Doing laundry in between lessons, working on a sewing project in the afternoon, baking cookies after lunch…they are learning valuable life skills in these moments! And because our academic work can be done in a much shorter time than is typical for school kids, they have time to learn these life skills alongside their academic work.
What Homeschooling Mistakes Have You Made?
If you have changed something in your homeschool because it wasn’t working well, why don’t you leave a comment and share with others? We can all learn from each other! What mistakes have you made and what are you doing differently now?