10 More Homeschooing Do’s and Don’ts

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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.

10 More Homeschooling Do's and Don'ts from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

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.

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 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:

  • Plays
  • Blacksmithing
  • Leather working
  • Gymnastics
  • Art
  • Music
  • Softball/baseball
  • Volleyball
  • 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.

If we think every kid’s education should be identical, why are we homeschooling

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.

Do persevere.

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?

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  1. Kris, thank you for the encouragement this morning! I remember your last do and don’t list and needed a reminder today… I have lost sleep over thinking I was ruining my kids’ lives, especially in the first years of homeschooling, and the doubt comes back periodically. My children have been free to pursue their interests and I’ve made so many wonderful memories with them that I just push that feeling to the back of my mind and focus on the positive. I can’t even imagine how different our lives would be if we hadn’t chosen homeschooling for our family. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Great post, Kris (although I am disappointed about the lack of rainbows and unicorns). After 10 years of homeschooling I still have days where I worry about many of the things you mentioned – and then a kid will turn around and blow my mind with something completely unexpected.

    1. Sorry about the rainbows and unicorns. 😉 I know exactly what you mean, too, about those times when your kids just amaze you. Love it.

  3. I so agree with you on those. I have definitely been unable to sleep imagining my children failing their SAT’s and unable to get into college. I think all homeschoolers face that. I find myself looking at what another homeschool mom is doing and thinking, “Oh no, we don’t do that. We need to do that too.” Sometimes we do, but normally we don’t. I homeschool so that each of my children can grow into the person God created them to be, so our school will not look like everyone else’s. Thanks for reminding me that other homeschool moms struggle with these issues too.

    Dana at https://littlewomenontheprairie.blogspot.com/

    1. Yep, I do that, too – see what someone else is doing and panic over it. Like you said, sometimes it winds up being something we start doing, but not often.

  4. You just said everything I have ever thought about homeschooling. I am one of those that lies awake at night wondering what I could do better. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s almost one of those things I cannot help. I have been known to wake my husband and talk to him in the middle of the night. The funny part is (whether it’s his want to go back to sleep or not is probably part of it) 🙂 Anyway he normally asks me those questions you mentioned. It makes me feel better when I answer them and leads me to action when I need to take action. I am an avid reader of your blog and I thank you for your willingness to share.

  5. Ok, so how on earth did you know that I Desperately needed to hear this today. I have been overwhelmed and stressed the past few weeks because of the chaos in our school days. So much so that I’ve dreaded school each morning. Thankfully, the Lord showed me this week that the chaos is something I can fix, and that a lot of it is due to a lack of structure on my part. Your post helped me to see areas where my expectations have been unrealistic, and where I’m putting to much pressure on myself and my kids. Thank you for the encouragment!

  6. Great list! My son is a senior, and I still have some of those moments wondering what we need to do better. Thankfully, my husband is there to get me to chill out! The best piece of advice is to follow your child’s interests. My son LOVES history, so we do A LOT of history. Just yesterday, he had 2 different students taking 2 different AP History courses in public school come to him and ask him for help/explanations with what they are studying in school.

  7. “Life is not a Pintrest Party” Had to chuckle at that one. 5 years in and is that ever true! So thankful for Grace and new mercy every day. Receiving Grace and extending it to my kids has been one of our biggest lessons this year. Thanks for the post:)

  8. Thank you! Thank you! In the first trimester of pregnancy, and between the nausea and weariness, the last month or so has definitely NOT been rainbows, unicorns, or anything close to Pinterest. : )
    I feel so defeated that we are “just” getting the book work done, with no extra projects or field trips.
    Even though I know that this is just a season, it is so encouraging to hear from experienced moms!

  9. What? Life is not a Pinterest party? LOL

    I’m a new(ish) homeschooling mama but not new to homeschooling since I am a homeschool graduate. This list was very encouraging!

  10. Kris, this is great! I am actually going to be reading this and discussing this WITH my children. Sometimes I get the feeling that they forget what public school was like. Like the time I was walking down the hall and heard my son’s teacher yelling at someone. (I was volunteering that day. I was the VIP Coordinator for their school.) I poked my head in to see what the commotion was about and discovered it was MY son that was being yelled at, and he had tears coming down his face. Grrrrr. Anyhoo, I love this post.
    Also, there was a line of comments (somewhere else? I was on my tablet…) for this post in which a certain someone posted something…less desireable. (Something to do with cosmetology school and parents being unqualified.) I just have to say that I totally applaud you for keeping your cool and making your stand. It’s interesting how you as the writer have to remain calm and respectful but commentators can be rude and uninsightful. Anyhow, I can write a book about that, but all in all, I’m just very impressed with your stand and how you handled it.

    1. Thanks so much, Lindsey. I try to remember that if I go with the initial (sometimes snarky) response that pops into my head, it’s forever going to be there in black and white. It might make me feel better momentarily to be snarky, but in the long run, I’m going to feel guilty and I’m going to be a poor representation of homeschoolers. With that in mind, I try to play nicely. 🙂

      I’m proud of my daughter and I’m thankful for people from all walks of life who make the world a better place to be, whether they are performing service industry jobs or performing my surgery. We all have a purpose in life. If we find the profession that makes us happy and fulfilled, that’s the definition of success.

      And good job at restraining yourself upon discovering your child crying and being yelled out. I probably would have regretted my words and/or actions that day.

      1. And yes, you should be proud of your daughter. She’s pursuing something she loves!! She’s becoming an interesting, passionate individual. I know that as homeschoolers we all have our own values and missions, but mine has changed so much. I used to be so proud of my son when he was AP (advanced proficient) and brought home 100s. So when I first started homeschooling I was all about “I want them to know this” “I want them to accomplish this…” But now in our third year my goal is more along the line of “pursues interests, is resourceful, spiritual, honest, emotional healthy”. I guess everyone’s idea of what success is is just different.
        BTW, I can’t get over how awesome your website title is. I love it! I laugh everytime!

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