10 Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool

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Homeschooling is a big commitment. It can seem overwhelming at times. Lots of people have advice for how to make your homeschool successful. Today, I want to offer you 10 ways to ruin your homeschool. You know, in case you ever feel a need to purposely sabotage your efforts.

10 Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool

1. Expect all of your children to learn the same way. Just like they all have different personalities, each of your children probably has a different learning style. If you really want to ruin your homeschool, be sure to fail to recognize how each of your children learns best and don’t allow for their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Compare your homeschool to someone else’s. Your family is not someone else’s family. You can make great strides toward ruining your homeschool by overlooking the fact that God put your family together for His purposes. Be sure to look for any opportunity to compare your home, your school and your family to someone else – housework and schoolwork are great places to start.

3. Be inflexible. Kids get sick. Washers break. Curriculum isn’t a good fit. Stuff happens to throw your homeschool day off track. Sometimes, it’s even your homeschool week, month, or year.

You can ruin your homeschool by forgetting that homeschooling is more than a means of educating a child; it’s a way of life. Don’t leave any room for flexibility during those times when life happens.

4. Be too flexible.  You know the saying: Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Different teaching and parenting styles will result in different needs when it comes to planning, but I need a basic outline for the year, the week and the day. A flexible homeschool planning schedule keeps me sane and on track. It also helps me get going again when things inevitably get off-track.

With that in mind, a good tactic for ruining my homeschool is being so flexible that I don’t have any sort of plan.

5. Let the curriculum dictate your day. I guess this kind of goes with flexibility, but letting the curriculum dictate your day is a quick way to ruin your homeschool. Don’t let your curriculum be a tool for you to use, but rather, allow it to be a master for you to follow.

Make sure you follow your curriculum to the letter. Don’t leave out things that don’t fit well for your family or with your available time. Never, ever skip things, put them off until another time, or supplement other resources that might be a better fit.

6. Never make it fun. If you really want to ruin your homeschool, don’t ever make it fun. Don’t go on any field trips. Don’t do any hands-on learning activities. Don’t read any historical fiction or biographies. Just stick with textbooks. Keep those kids’ noses to the grindstone. Make sure every textbook is completely finished every year. No matter what.

7. Try to make it all fun. You can also quickly ruin your homeschool by trying to make it all fun. It’s your job, homeschooling parent, to entertain your kids. They shouldn’t have to learn that not everything in life – or school, or home, or homeschool – is fun. Make sure they don’t discover that some things you do just because you have to. Be sure to burn yourself out trying to be your kids’ ongoing entertainment.

8. Never leave the house. Stay home. All day, every day. If you have a basement, that’s a good place to store your kids. Don’t go on play dates or field trips. Don’t do co-ops or outside class. Make sure you never leave you home during the school day. Ever.

9. Never stay home. If you don’t want to always stay home, then, another option for quickly ruining your homeschool is to never stay home. Make sure you’ve got something going on every hour of every day outside of the house. Do scouts, sports, band, outside classes, clubs…whatever you can think of as long as you’re not at home.

10. Don’t pray over your homeschool. If you really want to wreck your homeschool, make sure that you never seek God’s will, wisdom, and guidance. Make sure you’re doing this totally on your own strength, based on your knowledge and understanding. Don’t bother God with your questions or concerns.

Those are my suggestions for ruining your homeschool What tips would you add?

(Not everyone seems to get my particular brand of humor. In case you didn’t get it, this was meant as a joke, so there’s no need to leave ugly comments about what a horrible parent I am. Unless it just makes you feel better to do so.)

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

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  1. This is a fantastic list. Here are a couple I thought of: Lie awake at night, wrapped up in anxiety that you are ruining your children. And: Listen to and consider thoroughly every criticism that people freely offer you. Do this especially if they are uninformed about homeschooling in today’s world.

  2. I really love your blog. You’ve been very inspirational to me over the years. I don’t comment much because, well, I’m lucky to have time to READ the blogs at all and commenting is just one of those things I tend to “let go” in order to make more time for more reading.

    ANYWAY, number 8….we are currently down to 1 car and will be for the next 6 months or so. We are home all day, every day. In order to take my husband to work I have to get the kids up by 6:00 and drive him an hour downtown and an hour back, then an hour back to pick him up and an hour back home. Okay, maybe it isn’t quite an hour but in traffic, it certainly could be. Nearly 4 hours in the car? That is not working for us. So, no field trips, no friends to visit. I’ve learned a lot.

    And we are going stark raving mad. I feel a little lost. Our homeschool friends are all too busy to shuttle us around (and I certainly don’t blame them). We hardly see anyone or play with anyone. It’s really hard on us right now to be here all the time. It’s been hard for me to see that while I was always more than willing to take an extra kid or two, not everyone else is.

    However, we are spending a lot more time together and we’ve been able to really focus on our schooling. We are trying to look on the bright side and enjoy a little down time. Knowing that we will have our busy season in the Spring when get our second car and our freedom back.

    I guess I didn’t have a point. Just wanted to chime in that we’re trying number 8 and praying that it doesn’t ruin our homeschool! Thank you for being inspiring!

    1. It’s only for a season. I think you’re safe. πŸ™‚ I can’t imagine the cabin fever you must be experiencing, but I pray it’s a time of drawing your family closer together — and giving you a greater appreciation for mobility when you’re back to being a two-car family!

    2. We’ve been a 1 car family off & on, and I grew up homeschooled in a largely one car family. The solution for my mom was that dad usually took the car, and if there was a field trip or outing that we wanted to do, we’d just keep the car that day. And shopping was usually done in the evening after dad was home. Hope that gives you at least an idea. Perhaps you’re stuck at home most of the time, but as you stated, that has its benefits too – and no, you probably don’t want to be signing up for an ongoing activity that meets weekly, or something. But occasional trips out are just fine. Hope that might work for you. πŸ™‚

    3. Great list! We are a one car family too and have our homeschool room in the basement! I guess we fail number 8 as well. My husband’s work hours are a little different so we can have the car in the morning, but most activities are in the afternoon or evening. We don’t get out much during the week. We usually do field trips on the weekend and church is important for social aspects. I also try to schedule play groups at my house. The other moms have a second car so that usually works.

      We have always been a 1 car family and I don’t see a season ahead of us with 2 cars. It would be nice to have that flexibility, but we need to work with what we have and do our best with that.

    4. Ohhh those commute times sound horrible. I know traffic makes it even more stressful. Maybe try to get creative about making the trips a little more entertaining. How about books on tape? Let each child take a turn at playing navigator. Take different routes to his work. Look up any kind of interesting sites along the way and allow time for exploring those either on the way there or on the way back.

  3. Kris, I love when you write these kinds of posts. Balance is the key to successful homeschooling. Not an easy thing to do, but as long as we are constantly working at it homeschooling our kiddos can be great. Thanks for the reminders.

  4. Man, did I ever need this post. Our family has been under the weather for over a week and I have been alllll stress thinking about how our schooling is off track. Really hit home for me today, thank you!

  5. I am not a homeschooler, but found this post to be quite refreshing. The concept is something for me to remember and think about as we go about our family life! Thank you so much for this post!

  6. I followed a link on facebook to this post & it couldn’t have come at a better time – my son & I definitely had an off day today! #3 was our big one.. on a day like today, I have to just step back & say “this isn’t working… now how can I do it differently?” Happily, we got through the day’s schoolwork & even ended in smiles. Tomorrow will be a better day!

  7. “You can make great strides toward ruining your homeschool by overlooking the fact that God put your family together for His purposes.”

    Thank you so much for reminding me that God has a purpose for MY family and it may not look like all the other families out there. Thank you, thank you, thank you. πŸ™‚

    Oh…and for reminding me to PRAY!!

  8. Proud atheist homeschooling parent here and I must point out you do not need God to homeschool effectively. We determine our own fates and are not dragged around by some dictator as a flock of sheep. I feel saddened by the fact that religious parents indoctrinate their children and force their religion upon them. I, however, do not force my lack of religion upon our son. We talk about ALL religions across history as they are most certainly a part of history. I will give him the knowledge and power to make a decision for beliefs, or lack thereof, on his own when he is old enough and capable.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your perspective, Luther. I am so sorry that some legalistic Christians (I’m guessing) have given you such a negative impression of the God I serve. My God is a loving Father, not a cruel dictator. He doesn’t drag me around, but lovingly invites me to follow Him. He doesn’t force a relationship on me, but I choose a relationship with Him of my own free will.

      I think it’s wonderful that you’re exploring the religions of the world with your son. I hope that, as you do so, you would be open to studying the God I serve, rather than the skewed version some Christians have presented to the world. The Gospel of John is a great place to learn more about the true nature of God.

      I hope you have a wonderful homeschool day!

    2. LB,
      I completely agree with you.
      Point number 10 is completely judgmental and off putting. What was a cute and funny piece quickly turned into another Christian telling non-Christians that they can’t possibly do any thing right with out her version of G-d.
      I’m so over it.

      1. Jo, I wanted to let you know that my intent was never to judge non-Christians. In fact, the thought never crossed my radar. As a Christian homeschooler, the reminder to pray came from my personal belief system. Sometimes I forget, with a large Christian reader base, that I have secular readers and visitors. That would not, of course, change what I posted because, truthfully, if the things we say and do aren’t born out of our personal belief system — whether we be Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever — what good is claiming a belief system at all? The call to pray was intended as a reminder for myself and other Christians, not as judgment on anyone else.

        I’m glad you thought it was funny up to that point. That was my intent. Have a great day!

        1. Kris, ((hugs)) i didn’t find you offensive at all! I am one of your Jewish readers, have been reading you for years and especially appreciate your thoughtfulness. I found the post altogether funny! And I know where you are coming from–having read so much from you.

          You responded with great grace and kindness. I admire that. (I wouldn’t have been so nice πŸ˜‰ )

          Thanks for being one of my favorite blogs to read! I keep coming back to your blog b/c I enjoy your “company.”

          1. Thank you so much for such a kind and thoughtful comment, Stacey. I’ve been a little apprehensive reading comments on this post because I never even considered that anyone would take offense. It’s nice to hear that you got where I was coming from. Please, keep coming back. I enjoy the company of my readers so very much.

        2. Kris,
          I loved reading your post and just found your blog thanks to pintrest. Your response to the above comment is so well said and thaughtful that its amazing. I appreciated the fact that you responded in love but at the same time never backed down from your own faith or beliefs. I do plan to return to read more of what you have to say often. May God Bless you and your family.

  9. Wow, I needed this today, especially the part about being flexible. I can be so rigid at times in my desperation to accomplish the tasks that I’m sure I disappoint my children quite often. The Lord is showing me how to be more flexible. (And I really have to be with 2 active boys under 3, and a 6th baby on the way!)

    Thanks for writing this. Very inspiring!


  10. Bahahahahaha! That is too funny! I needed to hear number 5, and I will need to hear it again next week. I struggle with directions and details because I am OCD. That is so hard for me to let go, even though I know that I should and need to. Sometimes we go on a lapbook or Unit Study road trip just so I can force myself to let up on the schedule. For this reason I have an attatchment to Unit Studies because they are blessings of peace when we do them. I think that one would really be in trouble if they found themselves at fault in all these areas, but I would think that all of us have struggles with one or two of these issues from time to time. Thank you for such a thoughtful and fun post!

  11. Great post Kris!

    I know that I’ve ‘swapped lanes’ into breaking some of those rules at various stages of our homeschooling journey.

    Another point I’m guilty of (or another ‘how I’ve ruined my homeschool’) is staying up late fretting about curriculum plans and staying on the internet so I’m a grumpy mum in the morning. It just doesn’t work well.

    I’ve enjoyed stopping by your blog. It’s been a little while. πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you, Karen. I’m glad you found it entertaining. It was never my intent for the post to be otherwise.

  12. “Stay home. All day, every day. If you have a basement, that’s a good place to store your kids. ”
    LOL!!! My favorite.

  13. Love the article. I have been there, done that on most of the 10 points from one extreme to the other. I thought that another point was sometimes we focus so much on where we think our kids should be (comparision to public school) that we forget to enjoy the reason why we choose to home school in the first place. I know I have to stop myself from overwhelming my kids with TOO much for their age as I want to use everything that I have and I have a lot of resources after 15 years of doing this. My youngest are going to be in the 4th and 5th grade and I hate to see things go to waste, so I use multiple resources to make sure the get the subject and sometimes it it too much. I try to step back occasionally and make sure I am not overwhelming them and creating an early educational burnout instead of instilling a love of learning and positive inquisitiveness.

  14. Love your post. I am guilty of several of these, and some at the same time. LOL

    You are very gracious. It is a real shame that you take the time to write a post to be helpful to others and people have to be negative. I think some people need to get a life and use that energy to help others instead of being critical.

    Keep the great posts coming.

  15. Thank you. Today is the last day of our first year of homeschooling. Just last week God gently but powerfully convicted of #10 While my boys were in a traditional school I was ever-so-faithful to pray for their school. Somehow, I talked to God about it A LOT this year. But never truly prayed, asking Him to bless our school and be our gracious headmaster. This encouragement is timely. Blessings to you as you encourage us, Wen

  16. Thank you Kris! This will be my first year of homeschooling my 4 children, ages 15, 13, 10, and 6. I am so nervous about wrecking the experience by doing the things on your list. πŸ™‚ I will be referring to your blog many times throughout our journey so thank you for your insight and wisdom on homeschooling. I love that you are a “normal mom” even though you homeschool. lol. Thank you for your humor. Oh, and your grace in handling criticism on your blog is so refreshing in a world full of hate and anger. I’m sure your the same wherever you may get criticism about homeschooling your kids. What a wonderful example you are!

  17. Dear Kris,

    My daughter, Ruby, and I have decided to step out of the frazzle-dazzle of public school and home school, unschool, and learn to live or live to learn (I had no idea there were so many concepts of school at home!). The idea of home schooling has been entertained several times over the past four years. Ruby has been in public school for five years. She has cerebral palsy and began her journey in public school in a ‘physically impaired’ or PI classroom. Just the name made me cringe. The disabled label makes our skin crawl since disabled means broken, and handicapped doesn’t feel to good either. We are promoting uniquely able as the best of all worlds, which can be applied to every person on the planet!

    We have both had positive and negative experiences with her school experience, but a few weeks ago the Holy Spirit led me to an understanding that ‘it’s time!’ and He has continued to guide me. Well, now I want to say us, because I am grasping just how truly life-changing this experience is becoming for both of us.

    Today I was searching for the ‘best way to home school’ and came across your blog. Over the course of the day things kept coming up and though I wanted to read your article, I mistakenly closed my browser without bookmarking your blog. I was so disappointed, but when Ruby finally fell asleep I bee lined for my computer and typed in ‘best way to home school’ and voila. Thank you so much. I can’t say I laughed too much, though I love your sense of humor, but I smiled. It was just way too long of day and I don’t have the energy to do more than smile. I feel so grateful to you and all the other folks who are posting things about their home schooling experiences.

    I go to sleep a lot more open and even way more excited than I was just a few short hours ago! I’m going to share this with the two other moms I know who home school. I am sure I will know many more before too long, and this is probably something all parents, inexperienced or experienced at this gig who could be reminded to laugh…or even smile if they’re just a little too tired!

    Thanks again and God bless you!


    1. Thank you for your comment, Maya. It is very touching to me to learn that something I posted was so meaningful to you. Have a wonderful homeschool year!

  18. I so loved your post and needed it so bad! We are homeschooling an adopted grandchild and receive so much discouragement from a daughter-in-law who is sure he will NEVER get into college because of being homeschooled. Receive comments often about his lack of contact with other children also. But someone who is so against homeschooling and does not understand it is not open to anything I can tell her. I just know it is the most enjoyable thing I have ever done but also the hardest. I love encouragement like yours!

  19. I think I would like to add something to this list. Love. I simply fail at this everyday. I let small things steal my peaceful meek spirit. I was abused a lot as a kid and even to this day I have a hard time trusting, and loving even when it comes to my kids. It hurts, I wish I could fully love them how a mother should. So for me love is something I really have to be aware of. The feeling of being afraid to hug or console your own children is shocking, but also a horrible feeling. So on days I can’t “make” myself be more loving I pray and try to let my children lead. It’s painful to see my children turning out just like me. I’ve given up trying to be someone I’m not, but knowing we have weaknesses is the best starting point. Thanks for this piece I will be printing it off to read often!

    1. I’m sorry that you’re struggling in this area, Danielle. It is painful to see our kids struggling in an area that is difficult for us, as well. Saying a prayer for you today.

  20. I just want to say thank you for your post. It was awesome and always something great to hear, and yes I have been guilty of more than one at one point or another in our homeschooling career. You are such a gracious writer at handling others comments. Thank you for standing up for your beliefs.

  21. I’m new to homeschooling…..I’m so scared….so tired…so unsure….and so excited all at the same time….and after reading this I’m reminded of everything I need to be reminded of to keep going….you reminded me most importantly to let God lead me….and I needed that so much….thank you for letting God use you this way….I’m also incredibly impressed with your ability to show love to all….I heard something this morning on the radio that your actions have confirmed for me….”just because you like Jesus doesn’t mean you’re like Jesus”….you were like Jesus….and it was inspiring…so glad I stopped by…..

  22. I admit that I forget to do #10 often. I do everything else but forget the most important part. I’m printing this out and putting it on my refrigerator! Thank you for this wonderful and humorous post. May the Lord continue to bless your blog in reaching other homeschool moms that need the encouragement!!!

  23. Wow!!! I am still amazed after so many years how much God loves me!! This is my 1st year homeschooling my 13, 11, 11, 8, 7, 6, 5, 2, and 2 year old kids. I feel that God has asked me to do this, so despite my fear and my doubts he has kept assuring me that this is what he wants for us. I have been really struggling as my 13 year old really wants to go back to public school and it is causing some heartache for both of us. We are making it a matter of mighty prayer and I have been feeling very fatigued and wondering if I should just give in because it would certainly be easier for me. I like easy….but obedience to God isnt optional, so I have really been unhappy and feeling like a failure lately. Now I feel I was led to this site and I am again renewed that I am doing the right thing. Thank you so much for being the way God has reached out to me today to remind me that I am his and I am loved.

    1. I am humbled and honored. Praying for God’s best for you and your family during this time of transition, doubt, and worry.

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