by Holly Williams Urbach
I love homeschooling and homeschoolers. As a long time homeschooler (since 1993) and the director of an enrichment academy for homeschoolers, I talk with many parents about the issues that they encounter in homeschooling their children. Here are the five most common mistakes I see folks making.
- Comparing your homeschool to someone else’s homeschool. Folks, comparing what you can do to what someone else in entirely different circumstances can do is one of the most damaging things you can do to yourself and your children. Some people school year-round, some people school four days a week. Some people’s children have a propensity for languages and speak more than one, while some children struggle with English. Try to take inspiration and encouragement from what others are doing, instead of using their accomplishments as a way to make yourself feel inadequate. Please, please, please-if you take away only one thing here-do not compare what you are doing to what others are doing!
- Doing too much.
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to choose classes and activities for our children. I often see homeschoolers whose children are involved in so many activities that they are rarely home, family life suffers, and the children begin to suffer burnout. The younger the child, the less they should be involved in formal extra-curricular activities. A low commitment activity such as park day is likely a better choice than a high commitment activity such as a full season of soccer for a young child. Older children also need to be helped not to have too full of a schedule. I have had students at our academy who told me that they were exhausted because they worked, did sports, played an instrument, had rigorous honors and AP classes, and also were in Scouts or other youth civic organizations. We all want our children to be well rounded and have a great education, but it is important to find balance and make sure that every family member (you too, Mom and Dad!) has time to just be. Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing. Everyone (even kids) needs a work-life balance.
- Doing it all yourself. The homeschooling life is a full life. By choosing to homeschool, you took on another full-time job in addition to what you were already doing. It is all too easy as a homeschooling parent to feel overwhelmed by all your responsibilities. You do not have to do everything yourself. You should not do everything yourself. Get your children involved in helping to make meals as well as to clean and maintain your home. Even young children can be taught to do real jobs that are a big help to the household. Get other adult family members to assist you with your homeschooling. Grandma and Grandpa (if they are supportive of homeschooling) can be great resources in your family’s homeschool endeavors. If there is a field trip you would like to take, see if the grandparents want to go with you or take your child for you so that you can do something else-like earn some money for new curriculum. 🙂
- Not having an end to your school day. One of my children taught me a valuable lesson early on in our homeschool, when she asked me to spell a word for her one evening. I suggested that she get the dictionary and look up the word for herself. She responded, “Can’t you just be my mom right now and spell the word for me?” At that moment, I decided that the school day would have an end, just as public and private schools do. While it is true that we have teachable moments outside of our lesson plans, we also need to designate school hours. This is a help to us and our kids. Knowing that we have only so much time to complete work helps all of us to be better managers of our time. It also allows us to be a family after school is done for the day. Our kids need us as their parents as well as their educational facilitators.
- Not making time for yourself.
Making time for yourself as a home educator is very important. You may think you don’t have time to exercise, go out to dinner with your spouse or partner, or go to that really cool monthly Moms Night Out. But the truth is, those things are what give you the physical and mental energy you need to homeschool your child. I neglected the physical care and upkeep of myself as a homeschool mom until 2009, when I woke up and realized that I needed to make my health a priority. I feel better today than I did twenty years ago. I wish I had made time to care for myself earlier. If you have not made your physical, mental, and social well being a priority, I encourage you to start immediately. You and your family will benefit immensely!
So there you have it-the top five mistakes you are making in your homeschooling and I didn’t mention curriculum. As homeschool parents, we need to consciously create balance in our lives so that we have endurance for our whole homeschooling career. What are some of the challenges you have overcome in your homeschooling and what did you do to solve those challenges? Please let us know by clicking on Leave a reply above this post.