As our family finishes up our 8th year of homeschooling, I can’t help but look back over the years and think of what a crazy, awesome roller coaster ride this has been.
We’ve had some amazing opportunities because of the freedom we have with homeschooling. We’ve taken vacations during the school year because they’re cheaper and there are fewer people around. We’ve gone out to many lunches with the Hubs during weekdays during the school year. We have had friends over for days.
But of course, I’ve also made mistakes along the way. There are so many… these things I wish I could go back and undo or redo. If you’re new(ish) to homeschooling, believe me, you should hear these and take them to heart.
Pushing learning too early
I remember the early days. You feel like you have to prove homeschooling works to skeptical family and friends. So you push. Homeschoolers are supposed to be super smart, right? Reading at 3 years old, college by 12? So you push.
You will be so tempted to push. Please, resist that temptation. Your child may read at 3, or 5, or 9. They will learn to read before college, so please don’t push. You will kill their natural curiosity and natural drive to learn.
We all have those nay-sayers who whisper in our ear the lies that our child will be behind. Your child will not be behind. He will be exactly where he is supposed to be at that time.
Obviously we need to be diligent in teaching and training our children. But that does not mean you need a curriculum when they’re 2! Or 3! Or even 4! Kids are so interested in life that they will learn without your interference. What should you do instead of a curriculum?
- Read to them
- Play games with them
- Go on hikes
- Take them shopping
- Explain what you’re doing all the time
- When they ask “Why?” answer them. Yes, even the 2,385th time.
- Play with friends
- Go on field trips
- Let them help make a meal
- Let them help clean
- Take something apart just to see how it works
If they’re reading and wanting to read at age 3, then go gently at their pace – not yours. If they’re not, do not push. They will read eventually when they are ready. These young years do not last forever. Soon enough they will be writing book reports and figuring out math equations.
2. Comparing your kids to others
I think we can all raise our hands on this one. Yep, guilty. It’s hard not to, isn’t it? We want to make sure our kid is right where all the other kids his age are – or if truth be told, we may even secretly hope he’s waaay ahead. Ahem.
It can be a tough habit to break. But all kids, homeschooled or not, are different. Just like all grown ups are different. We all have different abilities and talents.
Vocalizing a comparison can make your child feel inadequate, less than, dumb. Ouch, that hurts just to write that. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Oh, how I regret it.
Instead of comparing your kids to others, take special note of what they do well. Point out their talents, abilities, and ways that they are special.
And then tell them these things. Make that a goal everyday – to find some way that they are wonderful and unique – and tell them!
3. Comparing myself to other homeschool moms
I have a few “homeschool heros” I call them. Moms who I have aspired to become more like.
These are moms I know in real life and hang out with on a regular basis. I know them. I know they are genuinely amazing women. There is definitely value in “sitting at the feet” of homeschool moms who are more experienced.
My kids, my hubby, my home, our family dynamic, all these things are different. Comparing myself to them is not an apples – to – apples comparison.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
We can all learn from a “homeschool hero”. It is truly a blessing to have moms who have walked this road who can guide us. Glean knowledge, let your ax be sharpened -but be careful not to compare.
4. Trying to recreate “school”
I wish I had a picture of my homeschool room 7 years ago. Yes, we had a dedicated part of our house set up with 4 desks and chairs (even the baby I was pregnant with had a desk and chair). I had a larger desk with a rolling chair.
My plan of keeping a 4, 2, and 1 year old in desks worked about as well as nailing Jell-O to a wall.
I drove myself crazy trying to recreate a school atmosphere. Why? Because that’s what I knew. I went to public school my whole life and I literally didn’t know anything beyond that.
This is something that many new homeschoolers do. After a while, desks are abandoned replaced by kids piled on mom on a couch, reading a book aloud.
Busywork worksheets are replaced by games that not only teach math, but also skill and strategy.
Project tables are replaced by the dining room table. Experiments are done in the kitchen and dad is to be alerted to any possible odd-goings on in the fridge, freezer, cupboard, or counter.
Don’t try to recreate school. You have freedom in homeschooling. Enjoy that!