Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Ten Homeschooling Mistakes – Part One

I started my homeschooling journey ten years ago, when the summer before my oldest son was about to start kindergarten he contracted a serious neurological illness, and school was not even an option for the near future.  Our family suddenly became “accidental homeschoolers”, without having ever even considered what that might mean.

mistakes After doing as much research as I could (there was no free “Welcome to Homeschooling” guide back then), based on the materials available to me at the time, I jumped head first into my homeschooling adventure, learning as I went.  As you can imagine, this mostly involved learning the hard way.  Mistakes became the norm.  In fact, if things went well our first time doing something new, I would begin to doubt it’s effectiveness!

Anyway, all this trial and error has given me a unique perspective on things, and I see it as an opportunity to share some of that hard-earned wisdom with those of you who aren’t quite as far along on the path.  So for my next two posts, I’m going to share with you my “Top Ten Homeschooling Mistakes,” in order of what I think are the least egregious all the way to the mistakes that can do a homeschool program in. 

Are you ready??  Are you taking notes??  Then here we go…

10. Procrastination

If homeschooling wasn’t high on your priority list, and seems daunting to say the least, you might be tempted to put off your research and planning in favor of say… having your toenails removed with pliers.  This is a common beginner mistake, but one that will lead you to purchasing homeschool curricula you don’t like, hanging out with support groups that don’t fit you, and asking the wrong people for advice.

9. Listening to the Naysayers

If you are one of the few people in your family or circle of friends who homeschools, you are likely to hear any number of reasons why homeschooling will damage your children.  9 times out of 10 these well-meaning advisers have no personal experience with homeschooling, and are simply falling back on uninformed opinion or faulty information.  Unless these people have experienced homeschooling for themselves, and know your children as well as you do, their judgment is not really trustworthy.

8. Impulse Buying

Many first time homeschoolers attend curriculum fairs or book sales.  These are wonderful sources of information about the materials available to homeschoolers, but they can also basically be crack dens for homeschoolers jonesing for a fix.  The materials that look so beautiful and effective on the display tables may end up as clutter on your coffee table if you give into your urges instead of taking home brochures or samples to study carefully when you aren’t under the influence of the bright lights and colorful book covers.

7.  Short-Term Thinking

I’ll never forget the year I decided that handwriting was a useless art.  My line of reasoning was that computers were everywhere, and anything my boys needed to write could be done via keyboard.  So imagine my surprise when my oldest son signed up for a volunteer position at a local non-profit animal shelter, and one of his main duties was making notes on the condition of each animal that arrived - - on a handwritten form!!  Besides my own embarrassment at leaving such a crucial gap in his instruction, I had to face my son’s frustration at not being prepared for something he really wanted to do.  It was at that point that I started looking further into my children’s future, to see what skills they might need for the different choices they might make. 

6. Recreating School at Home

Our first home “classroom” was adorable.  I had a little desk situated under a little dry erase board, educational centers around the room, and was stocked up on sentence strips, math manipulatives, and magnetic letters.  Any kindergarten teacher in the world would have been proud.  My son, however?  Not so much.  He despised the desk that kept him from acting out the stories I was reading.  He preferred to use the sentence strips to create makeshift murals of the Pilgrim ships.  And doggone it if the dry erase board didn’t become his preferred method of working out his math problems.  I discovered the hard way that “school” is “school” because teachers need conformity.  My son needed individuality.  School-at-home was a bust…but the dry erase board still comes in handy when I need to remind my hubby that we’re out of milk.

Stay tuned next Tuesday to catch the TOP FIVE HOMESCHOOLING MISTAKES.  And in the meantime, why not share some of your own snafus in the comments…


  1. Great post. I linked to it from my own blog: http://www.yourhomeschoolconnection.blogspot.com. My own feeling is that if there are only ten big mistakes in homeschooling then its probably worth the effort.

  2. Re: #8 - That's exactly why I waited until my 3rd year of homeschooling before going to a convention. I can't say that I didn't make any impulse purchases, but I know I did much better than I would have before my first year! :)

    That's not to discourage anyone from going - coventions have lots of great resources and information. I just had a much better idea of what I was looking for after some experience.


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