Homeschooling is a journey. Whether you are a multi-generational or a first-generation homeschooler, there are homeschool mistakes to be made.
But thankfully, there are several you can avoid, if you know what they are ahead of time. I can’t guarantee avoiding these mistakes will make your days flawless, however, I can tell you they will be more enjoyable!
13 Common Homeschool Mistakes
1. Over Scheduling
When we began our homeschool journey, I knew my son needed structure. So I set up a detailed schedule with time slots that “needed to be followed.”
We also joined a local homeschool group that had activities throughout the month. I wanted my son to feel involved and not miss anything just because we homeschooled, so we did a lot. There were, almost daily activities that took us away from the house. That didn’t even include errands and church functions we attended.
By the end of the year, we were all burned out. We took the next few years off and then moved states, so we started over. This time with a much less strenuous schedule.
2. Under Scheduling
While I don’t believe “homeschoolers are unsocialized,” I do think we can under-socialize them. By being afraid of doing too many activities, we often shy away from everything. And while that is a good thing in short spurts, our children still need to get out and be around other people.
Finding a balance of outside activities and in-home schooling can be difficult, but necessary.
3. Disorganized Homeschool Room/Area
I love to be organized. That being said, ever since children came in to my life, organization doesn’t always happen. However, there are a few areas of our home that must remain organized – the homeschool area is one.
If our homeschool area isn’t organized, I feel chaotic and stressed, which my children feed off of. While the area may get disorganized during our studies, I always make sure to get it re-organized either after we finish school or in the evenings to start us off right in the morning.
It is important for our area be organized, so I can quickly find and pull out what I need during our studies – such as flash cards or study aids as we work on a letter or subject. This is a major homeschool mistake that I need to avoid letting happen.
4. Setting Expectations too High
I had high hopes when we started homeschooling our oldest, and truthfully, he didn’t disappoint. He was reading short chapter books by October of Kindergarten and he breezed through math like he’d been doing it for years.
However, our second child didn’t take off quite like our oldest and I was very hard on him. I was hard on him until I realized my expectations were too high for him.
I’m not saying don’t challenge them and push them, but be mindful of where they are and what they can do. Push them to do their best and excel, but don’t force them too early or they will resent both you and school.
5. Forgetting to Listen to Your Child(ren)
If you don’t challenge your child, then they won’t push forward. However, we as parents can get caught up in the excitement of them excelling and forget to listen to our kids.
Maybe pre-algebra is a little more difficult for them and they need to take it a little slower. Maybe they are struggling with reading…dig in and find out why.
On the flip side, don’t dismiss their passions. If they want to learn typing (like my 6th grader), find a typing class and get them started. If they love animals, plan a study on pets.
Listening to your children – whether their passions or struggles – will make your homeschool journey that much more enjoyable.
6. Playing the Comparison Game
This is a common homeschool mistake. As parents, we are naturally proud of our children and we want want to shout their achievements from the rooftops. But, we are often just as hard on ourselves when they don’t “compare” to other homeschoolers.
This year, my middle three joined a soccer league. Now, we know they are probably not going to be the best athletes – at least not without a lot of work. However, comparing our children and the way they play soccer to others who have been playing for several years is unfair.
The same goes for homeschooling. Be careful not to compare your children to other families – or your children to each other. Our children are created equally by an Almighty God and have their own unique abilities. Its our job to find them and help nurture those abilities.
7. Skipping the Breaks
Breaks are a necessary part of life. Everyone needs them. Make sure to take breaks during your homeschool day, by watching for cues from your children.
If they are getting frustrated about a subject, take a step back and refocus. Play a fun game that might help them grasp a math concept or a matching game to work on letters and sounds.
Just as you need breaks during the day, don’t count out breaks from homeschooling altogether. Take a day off here and there for field trips or just to refocus. I know many families that follow the Sabbath schedule and school six weeks on and take a “Sabbath week” off. We often take Fridays off, as that is when my husband is off from work.
Find what works for you, just don’t skip the breaks.
8. Schooling through the Sick Days
Often times we homeschool on “normal” school holidays, because well, homeschool. However, there are times you need to take a break and just do nothing. Sick days are one of those times.
Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you need to school when the entire family is sick. Be sure to make room in your schedule for sickness. Take a day off, rest up and move on.
9. Leaving out the Fun by Sticking to your Assignments
We are not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants homeschool by any means. Sometimes that gets me in trouble.
My boys are like to get their assignments and get them done. My girls, while they enjoy finishing their work, they also enjoy coloring and crafting – it really helps them learn. After schooling my two determined boys first, there was an adjustment period with my daughters and their creative spirits. They have taught me that school can and should be fun!
Even if you have no-nonsense kids, don’t forget to bring some fun in to their homeschool day.
10. Not knowing your Child’s Learning Style
I made a mistake early on with my second child, expecting he would learn the same way my oldest learned. While we want each of our children to learn the same, the truth is they just don’t.
Once I realized that #2 was a tactile, hands-on learner life became a little easier – for both of us. My oldest daughter is a visual learner and could spell names and identify letters long before she knew what they were by name. This makes for some interesting reading lessons, but we are getting there.
If you don’t know your child’s learning style, check out this site.
11. Do It All Mom
While I would love to be super-mom of the year, I know its not practical. With a newborn in the house now, I have realized that there are just some things that won’t be perfect all the time.
My laundry baskets won’t be empty every night, the dishes might pile up for a day (or two) and my floors won’t get mopped daily. My children do help with chores, but there are still things that just don’t get done.
My house will not always be perfect – and that’s okay, because I’m raising children and enjoying the time I have with them. Dishes can wait.
12. Go it Alone
The biggest mistake I made our first year was thinking I was in this journey alone. Even though we joined a homeschool group, there weren’t too many people I related to. I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone about challenges I was having.
However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once I got over the stigma that homeschool moms have it altogether and their lives are perfect, I realized there were some amazing women to talk to.
Whether you find a group in your local area or online, homeschoolers are some of the most encouraging and uplifting people. They have the same conviction that homeschooling is best for their family and want you to succeed in this journey. Reach out and don’t be afraid to talk – chances are, someone else feels the same way or has gone through it before.
13. Not putting on the “teacher” hat
I am still struggling with this one, but it is important to establish with your children early on during “school time” you are their teacher, not just mom.
Our children attend classes at church and are expected to sit and listen respectfully, so I expect nothing less at home. When I am talking, they are not. When its time for school, they are at their chairs with proper utensils and ready to listen. Don’t let them get away with talking or interrupting just because you’re at home.
This is especially important when working with multiple children. When they are allowed to talk out of turn, it disrupts the learning and can complete derail a lesson or day (ask me how I know).
Keeping your kids on track as a teacher, helps alleviate frustrations and will ensure a more pleasant homeschool day.
Have you ever made homeschool mistakes? What would you add to this list?
More Homeschooling Tips:
- Transitioning From the Child to Teen Years for Homeschool Success
- Stop the Homeschool Chaos: Practical Strategies for Independent Learning
- Balance Amongst the Chaos: Tips for Homeschooling, Work-at-Home Parents
- Homeschool Planning 101: Creating a Sane Schedule