So I’ve given you a week to ponder five of the top ten homeschooling snafus: procrastinating, listening to naysayers, impulse buying, short term goals, and recreating school at home. I figure that is just about enough time for you to have stopped feeling guilty. (If you are still huddled in the corner in a fetal position, you might want to take another day or two before you jump into this post)
For those of you who are brave enough, though, let’s look at the next five homeschooling blunders. These are the deal-breakers. The ones that can have you at your kitchen window, binoculars in hand, calculating the distance between the closest public school building and your front door.
So to keep the love of home education flaming in your heart, I’m sharing my “boo-boos” with you so you won’t need to repeat my mistakes.
5. Going it on your own
Want a recipe for homeschooling disaster? It has only one ingredient: ISOLATION. If you are trying to homeschool without the guidance of at least one person who has been down that road before, you are going to find yourself second guessing everything that you do. This is one of the key reasons to find a local homeschool support group and talk to some of the more experienced members. Ask questions – even dumb ones! (Don’t worry, they’ve heard them all before) And, if possible, find one sucker among them that will let you add them to your speed dial. Even if you are certain that you are the only homeschool mother in the world whose son reads his books upside down, you probably aren’t. Having a support system will bring you the assurance you need to continue homeschooling when you just aren’t sure you are doing the right thing by your kids.
4. Over-focusing on Assessments
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we are all swayed by the movements of the public school system. And one of the biggest of those was the “No Child Left Behind” act, which ushered in unprecedented focus on assessment-based learning. Whether or not this strategy is appropriate for the education of children en masse is not my beef for this post. The argument I will make is that it should NOT be the focus of a homeschool. One of the main advantages of homeschooling is the ability to individualize education. A homeschooling parent does not need an abundance of assessments to know where there children are, educationally. And by over-focusing on standardized tests, both parents and children alike can lose sight of the goal…falling in love with learning!
3. Comparing Your Child to Others
I’ve had moments in the last ten years when I have wanted to throw in the homeschooling towel. Almost every one of these moments was preceded by a conversation with another homeschooling mom. As soon as I hear that Suzy’s daughter, who is the same age as my son, has memorized every state capital, and can even sing them in alphabetical order, I start tearing apart the hall closet in search of that U.S. map that I know is in there somewhere! I have caused myself and my children untold grief by trying to compare what we do at our house with what Suzy’s family does at theirs. Every child is unique, and learns at his or her own pace. If we try to fit into another homeschooler’s mold, we will have already lost what is so precious about home education: individuality!
2. Not Understanding How Your Children Learn
I’ve stood on this soapbox for so long that I’m starting to gather dust! But one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned throughout the homeschooling journey is that every child learns differently. By taking the time to explore your child’s personality and learning style, you can save yourself months - - even years - - of grief, frustration, and expense. Finding a homeschool curriculum and method that fits with your child’s learning style can make the difference between a child who wakes up crying at the thought of having to start another day of homeschool and a child who jumps out of bed yelling “I want to learn math first today!”
1. Taking it all too seriously
As you can probably tell, I tend to dish out a little humor in my posts. Some people who comment on my personal blog ask me if I fancy myself a comedienne. I usually answer, “Nope. Just a seasoned homeschooler.” Laughter has been the saving grace of my homeschooling adventure. From the time when my boys insisted that their pet turtle carry their math papers to me taped to his back, to the time we tried to create a volcano using baking POWDER and vinegar, to the time we sat in front of the ice cream parlor eating Moose Tracks and practicing probability with men with facial hair vs. men who were clean shaven - - we have had FUN with learning. Hardly an hour goes by in our day that we don’t find something to laugh about.
And why shouldn’t we? We are free. Free to laugh. Free to learn. Free to homeschool - - mistakes and all!