George Santayana once said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.’ So, in this article, we’re aiming to dig up the past and see what common errors or blunders home educators make and how you can avoid them. In this article, you’ll discover some of the biggest mistakes homeschool moms make (which they might not have made had they known it was a common problem).
Contents of this page:
- Not deschooling your children before homeschooling
- Giving up too early
- Making home education too much like school education
- Insisting children finish all their homework, even if they know the material
- Not allowing children to make mistakes without jumping down their throat immediately
- Letting the stigma of homeschooling get to you
- Believing the world will fall if the house is messy
Being aware of these mistakes before you start homeschooling can help you avoid them and put into place a plan of action to counteract them.
Not Deschooling Your Kids Before Homeschooling
When you have been working for six months in a job you hate, and someone says you have to keep work for another six months, you’re going to be hating every moment. But, if you take a break for a few months, you’ll be itching to get back to work – especially if you’ve changed jobs and you now have a job you really love.
And this is the boost deschooling can give your children’s education. But, what is deschooling?
Deschooling is the process of deinstitutionalizing individuals from their school experiences. It involves some months where new home educating families relax and do fun activities, trying to re-spark a love of learning in their children.
When we deschool our children, we encourage them to forget that education means ‘boring’ or worse, ‘painful’.
We give them time to relax and start asking questions like they used to before they went to mainstream school (whatever happened to that barrage of questions that used to flow so readily from their mouths? Public school happened.)
Failing to deschool before homeschooling can give educators a nasty headache because children will likely try to resist anything to do with education or any school-like activity unless they’ve been distanced from it for a time.
Giving Up Too Early
American politician Newt Gingrich once said, ‘Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.’ Perseverance is also a key ingredient for a successful homeschool. It isn’t always easy to start with. You may find yourself confused about different laws or find you’re not using an educational method that’s right for your family.
When you start homeschooling. there are many things to figure out, like:
- What’s the best homeschooling curriculum?
- How do I deal with homeschool criticism?
- How are my kids going to graduate and become productive members of society?
Sometimes it feels like you have to admit defeat and say, ‘homeschooling just mustn’t be for our family.’ However, for some parents, this point comes after about two weeks of homeschooling. In this case, you have to tell yourself to persevere and keep going. You shouldn’t believe homeschooling – or you – is a failure. Rather, realize you might need to fine-tune some things and iron out some issues.
Two weeks is not enough time to adequately test if homeschooling is better for your family than a school. Give it more time – a year is a good amount of time to commit. Most parents will find these issues disappear as they become more familiar with their own personality and their children’s personality and learning style.
Making Your Homeschool Like School
Replicating school practices in your homeschool is a massive mistake new homeschool moms make. It’s a mistake that can break moms and make them send their children back to school before they’ve figured out the problem.
There are two big problems with trying to duplicate school practices in your home, namely:
- Unless done with a large degree of flexibility, doing a school-at-home model is too stressful and too much work for one parent
- Implementing a rigid school-at-home model kills learning and isn’t the best homeschooling method available for long-term use.
I’m not saying you can’t use prepackaged curricula from good homeschooling providers (sometimes one-and-the-same with the providers of Christian school curriculum materials). I’m just saying you need to be flexible and be okay with your children not finishing all the work they’re given.
Some curriculum providers put so much material into the curriculum that children can’t possibly do it all. Making your children try to do it all will give everyone a headache. For example, BJU does this. There’s nothing wrong with their curriculum, but parents have to realize it’s not always necessary to complete everything therein.
What do you do instead? Check out the different homeschooling methods and choose the one that best suits you.
This method means you can choose the parts you like out of every educational method and incorporate them into your home education. You can be flexible in other ways too, like choosing how long your children will study for each day (three hours is average, but you can do less) and what days of the week you will study on (many home educators are opting for a four-day week homeschool (see video below). You may find these options help to relax you and your children and restore their love of learning.
Insisting Your Kids Do Finish ALL Their Homework, Even If They Know It
Sometimes the homeschooling curriculum we’ve been sold has busywork. Busywork (also called fluff or curriculum padding) is work the children already know that contains questions students have to answer repeatedly.
This is because the curriculum packages are often designed for schools that appreciate the fluff. This fills up all the hour’s students need to stay in school for (I believe we waste brilliant minds on monotonous work by giving them so much busywork).
However, making our children complete busywork at home makes no sense when they can swap to an activity that engages their minds. Also, making your kids do busywork may embitter them toward education and make it harder for you to motivate them next time they sit down to that subject.
So please do yourself a favor, and don’t insist they need to do all the work all the time.
Not Letting Your Kids Make Mistakes Without Jumping Down Their Throat Immediately
I heard a wonderful story in A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul I’d like to repeat:
I recently heard a story from Stephen Glenn about a famous research scientist who had made several very
important medical breakthroughs. He was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who asked him why he
thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother that occurred when he was
about two years old. He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator when he lost his
grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor-a real sea of milk!
When his mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture or punishing him,
she said, “Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of
milk. Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few
minutes before we clean it up?”
Indeed, he did. After a few minutes, his mother said, “You know, Robert, whenever you make a mess like
this, eventually you have to clean it up and restore everything to its proper order. So, how would you like to do
that? We could use a sponge, a towel or a mop. Which do you prefer?” He chose the sponge and together they
cleaned up the spilled milk.
His mother then said, “You know, what we have here is a failed experiment in how to effectively carry a
big milk bottle with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the backyard and fill the bottle with water and see if you
can discover a way to carry it without dropping it.” The little boy learned that if he grasped the bottle at the
top near the lip with both hands, he could carry it without dropping it. What a wonderful lesson!
This famous renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment that he knew he didn’t need to be
afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something
new, which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. Even if the experiment “doesn’t work,” we
usually learn something valuable from it.
Having a generous attitude like this can really help us become best friends with our kids and give them a childhood worth remembering!
Letting the Stigma of Homeschooling Get to You
Sometimes homeschooling is the easy part; enduring the criticism about your decision to homeschool is the hard part. One mother put it like this:
I feel it takes more patience from me to deal with outsiders than it does to homeschool. Homeschooling is a breeze compared to defending our choices or responding to criticism and ignorance! I don’t think it takes any more patience to homeschool than it does to have kids in general, it’s the naysayers that I need patience for.
After all, it’s hard to take it lying down when your mother-in-law questions whether you’re making her grandchildren into illiterate dummies. Some good ways to deal with homeschooling doubters are to:
- let your actions speak louder than your words. When your children are grown up, and they’re productive and well-spoken members of society, your choice of education will be vindicated (I’ve seen this so many times. And I’ve seen former homeschool-haters turn into outright advocates of home education!)
- brush up on some homeschooling statistics and have them on hand for conversations with homeschool doubters.
Because I have a strong faith in God, it also helps me to remember that I shouldn’t be worrying about what everyone else thinks. I should be following my conscience and only care what God thinks about the situation.
Believing the World Will Fall Down if the House is Messy
When I was young, my mother had us vacuum the house almost every day and mop it every second day. If things were messy, mom would become more frustrated and shout more. While I love my mom so much and don’t hold anything against her (she was an amazing mom), I remember lots of shouting in my childhood years.
If you talk to my mom these days, you’ll find her regretting the amount of housework she did. The following poem echoes her thoughts:
IF I HAD MY CHILD TO RAISE OVER AGAIN
If I had my child to raise over again,
I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I’d do less correcting, and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less, and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging, and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.
It matters not whether my child is big or small,
From this day forth, I’ll cherish it all.
So, if you ever find yourself constantly annoyed at the mess, remember this poem and remember the house won’t fall if the place is a little messy.
Being aware of the biggest mistakes homeschool moms make can drastically reduce the stress in your homeschool. Knowing about these mistakes, and looking for them in your homeschool, can help you figure out why homeschooling has been so painful for you of late! Ironing out your homeschool mistakes can help you feel more in control of your homeschool. Furthermore, it will definitely help you have more fun with your children and make them excited about learning!