Every new homeschooler makes many mistakes as they try to create a great homeschooling experience. Here are 15 of the most common mistakes beginner homeschoolers make and how to avoid them.
Are you about to begin homeschooling? You are about to embark on one awesome ride! But before you get deeper into that, there are mistakes every new homeschooler (including us, in the beginning) makes and this article talks about how to avoid them.
We’ve been homeschooling for thirteen years. Thirteen. Even just typing that is amazing to me. If you’ve ever read our homeschooling story, you know it wasn’t some lifelong dream that made us choose to homeschool, but rather an act of obedience.
Neither Dean nor I were homeschooled and it wasn’t even on our radar before we had kids. But it became a part of our family culture and has remained a huge blessing for all five of us. It’s been such a fun journey and adventure teaching our kids and watching them grow every single day.
But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made mistakes. Because we definitely have. Many of the mistakes on this list, in fact. The key with homeschool mistakes, as with all mistakes, is to learn from them.
15 homeschool mistakes that every new homeschooler makes + how to avoid them
1. A disorganized school room
If you have a disorganized school room, you will find It hard to find the materials and supplies that you need for your learning sessions. Learn to organize them as this will reduce the time you spend looking for important materials, even if you don’t have a dedicated school room. A good tip would be to organize things well with baskets or other containers.
2. Comparing your kids to others
You could be having a kid who is struggling with writing whilst a neighbor has a kid (in the same level) who can write in Cyrillic. Do not compare them. Every child has their own learning curve. It would be unwise to push them to learn faster to cope with the expectations of the society. It will only be adding pressure to the poor kid. This goes doubly for comparing your own kids to each other! Everyone is completely different and will learn at a different pace than someone else.
3. Not seeking support
Today, beginner homeschoolers can get massive support from lots of places. Seek the input of those who have been there and done that successfully. They will provide invaluable information about how to deal with a variety of issues when they crop up. And they will, I promise. No one is an island, you will need the support of other homeschool moms at some point, even if it’s just to talk about homeschooling with someone who really gets it.
4. Not turning failure into learning opportunities
Whilst we try to avoid failure most times, it can be a wonderful learning opportunity for our kids. Let them fail at times when it’s safe and then correct them, making sure they learn from that. They will be less likely to repeat the same mistake in future.
5. Isolating your kids
Do not isolate your kids from others in the community, as tempting as it may be. Let them interact, supervised if that makes you feel better. There are human connections that cannot be made or learned from a homeschooling set up. Isolating your kids will work against them in the long run. Invite neighbors over for coffee, play out front and invite neighbor kids to join in.
6. Overspending on curriculum materials
Do you know what is the best curriculum material to buy when you are a beginner homeschooler? Probably not. That is why you need to seek counsel and learn about this before you rush to the bookshop to spend thousands of dollars on the material your kids won’t need. We’ve got a post here FULL of ways to save money homeschooling, which includes more than 30 links to free resources!
7. Ignoring the input of your children
You kids have a voice and a right to air their opinion on a number of matters. After all, they are the ones getting homeschooled, not you. As long as their suggestions are not ridiculous and they contributing to their learning process, encourage them to speak. Take into consideration their particular bents and learning styles. Let them choose an additional language to learn or elective to take.
8. Do not skip breaks to shorten your learning day
Some parents rush their kids through sessions so that they can have ‘the afternoon off’ or ‘the rest of the day off.’ It’s a mistake. The learning process should be broken down into bits and with breaks in between to allow the brain synthesize and absorb what they learned. Kids will feel refreshed and ready to continue learning after a break. Of course, if your kids can focus for long periods of time, go ahead and teach longer. Just pay attention to how much they’re absorbing.
9. Not asking or answering questions
You will need to ask a lot of questions to gauge whether the kids have understood what you teach them. Be prepared to answer a barrage of questions as well. This is exhausting on some days, for sure. But it encourages a healthy engagement and a good learning atmosphere.
10. Having unrealistic expectations
Do not expect your kid to be solving trigonometric equations in the first year of study. Be realistic, follow the curriculum and cover the basics first. You will make more headway this way while avoiding stress at the same time.
11. Neglecting other family members
Do not put your marriage in jeopardy by neglecting your partner. Most beginner homeschoolers rush into this 120%, forgetting that there are other members of the family who need them too.
12. Getting distracted easily
Avoid easy distractions. Switch off TVs and place phones away from the learning area. This will minimize distractions to your learning session. Phones will become a particularly difficult thing to deal with when you have teenagers. If your teenagers want to listen to music while they study, it can be helpful to employ a parental control with scheduling on your internet/wifi. We use KidsWifi to control our internet here and love it!
13. Not connecting with other homeschoolers
You are not alone. Link up with others and find out how they manage. You will be surprised to find a quick solution for an issue that had been bothering you for some time. Plus, your kids will appreciate having friends who are experiencing some of the same things as them in homeschooling.
14. Being Rigid
Many beginner homeschoolers are rigid. It’s their way or the highway. You need to learn how to be flexible. Allow other people to critique your methods and be willing to change to what is more effective.
15. Forgetting what fun is
Are you too engaged in your homeschooling experience you forgot what fun was? Most beginner homeschoolers are caught in this trap. Relax. It’s never that serious. Have some fun. It’s easier to deliver when you feel relaxed and great.
I could go on and on. New homeschoolers feel pressurized to deliver and transform their kids into super-performers overnight. Relax. Learn from these tips – and our mistakes – and many others out there and prepare yourself for a fantastic homeschooling experience.