A couple of years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I posted a list of Homeschooling Do’s and Don’ts. Since it’s been awhile, I thought you might be ready for more homeschooling tips and encourage – or 10 more homeschooling do’s and don’ts.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it all has to be fun.
Y’all know that I’m a huge proponent of hands-on learning and making school as fun as possible. However, that does not mean that I am my kids’ entertainment coordinator. Sometimes we all have to do things that we don’t want to do and that aren’t fun. Don’t believe me? Are the toilets clean at your house?
I will endeavor to make our homeschool as engaging as possible, but I will not make its entertainment value the litmus test for a good homeschool day.
Don’t lie awake at night worrying that you’re ruining your kids.
The moment my head hits the pillow at night is when every doubt and fear imaginable is going to pop into my head. Do you know what purpose that serves? None, other than keeping me awake.
I’ve have learned to assess my doubts by asking:
- Is there any validity to what’s worrying me?
- Is it something I can change?
- Is it something I need to pray about?
If what you’re worrying about is based on truth and it’s something you can change, change it. If not, you’re only tormenting yourself. If I’m tossing and turning worrying that my kid is doing horrible at math and my kid is doing horrible at math, I need to make some changes – change curriculum, slow down and review, or find a tutor.
If I’m tossing and turning worrying that my kid is going to be scarred for life because she doesn’t have any friends, I need to ask myself: Does she have friends? Are at least a couple of them close friends that she sees or talks to regularly? If those answers are yes, I’m probably worrying for nothing.
If those answers are no, then I need to find outlets for her to make more friends – an interest-based club, church, scouts, sports, or homeschool group activities that fit her personality. My introverted, homebody tendencies are not an excuse for not providing my kids opportunities to forge or foster friendships.
Don’t despair if you don’t have those “love of learning” kids.
If you have kids who view the formal part of their school day as something to get through so they can do what they want, you are not alone. How’s that for transparent honesty?
There are subjects or topics that engage my kids about which they don’t complain. If you asked them to name a favorite subject, they would – it might be the lesser of the evils, but they could name one. There have been times when they’ve asked me to continue reading a gripping read-aloud or papers that have been some of their best because the topic intrigued them.
However, there has never, in the history of our homeschool, been a day when we haven’t had school that they’ve begged for schoolwork. They don’t usually complain about school, but there are any number of things they’d rather be doing.
And, you know what? That’s true for me, too – and I’m okay with that. As long as we all have relatively good attitudes most of time and the kids are getting an education, nobody needs to jump for joy over school in order for me to feel like a successful homeschool mom.
Don’t stress if your homeschool day isn’t “pin-worthy.”
The science experiment failed? You went through the entire day without a single moment that made you think, “I need to take a picture of this and post it on social media!”?
That happens all the time at my house – and I’m a blogger. Most days are just trudging along with the mundane. Life is not a Pinterest party. It’s messy and ordinary and sometimes boring. And, that’s okay. Those exciting days are fun, but they can also be exhausting and very often the memories are being made in the mundane routine of the everyday.
Don’t be the naysayer in someone’s life.
Y’all, I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that it was another homeschooling family, rather than the stranger at the store or the unsupportive relative, who was the most critical of their choices. I don’t think that we should sweep homeschool abuses under the rug. It would be naïve to say that there aren’t families out there who aren’t living up to their obligations to educate their children, just as there are public and private school teachers who are abusing their position.
However, the criteria for failing to meet one’s obligation to one’s children is not: they don’t homeschool like me.
Radical unschooler does not equal lazy parent who doesn’t teach her kids anything. School-at-home mom does not equal exacting taskmaster who never gives her kids a break.
Homeschoolers, better than anyone else, should understand that not all kids learn the same way. If we think every kid’s education should be identical, why are we homeschooling?
Do follow your child’s interests every chance you get.
When you make the effort to capitalize on your child’s interests, amazing things can happen. Do you have a child who is fascinated with World War II? Run with that! One who can’t get enough of Minecraft? A quick Google search will show you dozens of ways to milk that for all its educational value. (Just don’t suck all the fun out of it while you’re milking.)
Do let your kids have as many different experiences as you can.
Give your child as wide a variety of experiences as your schedule and budget – and maybe your sanity – allows. You never know what’s going to spark a life-long interest. My kids have done things like:
- Leather working
- Mission trips
- Horse camp
I have discovered that I have a gifted musician, a talented gymnast, and an aspiring make-up artist. Give your kids a chance to explore their interests so that they can discover their gifts and talents.
Do schedule in lots of “white space.”
For the past three years, we have done a six weeks on/one week off schedule and it has been a sanity-saver for all of us. I get up before the kids (which is pretty easy since they’re late sleepers), so that I’ve got some time alone, in the peace and quiet, before they wake up.
In addition, we take a long lunch each day – usually an hour and a half to two hours. We eat and enjoy some downtime, then, I usually get some online work done while the kids do things like paint, play music, write – or watch some TV and play video games.
For us, days that are packed from start to finish are very stressful. Having some unscheduled time helps us to be more creative and focused.
Do take mental health days.
Sometimes we all just need a break and sometimes the times when we need them most don’t fit into our neatly arranged schedule. With our flexible schedule, the need for a mental health day that’s outside of our regular breaks doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I call a day off and don’t feel guilty about it.
Homeschooling is not all rainbows and unicorns. Some homeschool days are hard. Some weeks or even months are hard. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, though. On the days you want to quit, think about why you chose to homeschool. Has that changed? If it has, maybe your homeschooling season is over for a time, but if it hasn’t, resolve to remain fully committed – even on the hard days because even those lousy days serve a purpose. They make the good ones so much sweeter.
What would you add as a homeschooling do or don’t?