April 15, 2010

Homeschooling Mistakes I’ve Made

flag For all the homeschooling parents out there, who are feeling like everyone has it all together except you, I want to share the homeschooling mistakes I’ve made.  If I could REWIND, keeping the knowledge I now have, I would not make these mistakes again:

  • I would NOT purchase curriculum without praying about it first. –The first few years of homeschooling I spent serious $$$$.   I was swayed by the “latest research shows” claims and products that appealed to MY style of learning.  My daughter was even damaged learning wise with her reading.  You can read my post about that here.
  • I would NOT be under the false assumption that purchased products are always better than freebies.  The price tag attached to a product does not determine it's actual value.  There are many talented parents who make products and activities for their children who share them for free or for a small cost.  Monetary investment is sometimes a stumbling block for families considering homeschooling. There are lots of FREE resources available.
  • I would absolutely NOT model school at home.  I would not expect my child to sit at the table or desk and read a text book and fill in workbooks for hours a day.  You can read more about my thoughts on that here.
  • I would NOT expect my child to work totally independent while I did other things like clean the house.  It's not fun working all alone. It's nice to have some company.  I rarely work on my chores alone.  Either the children are working with me or I am talking to a friend on the phone while I work. My oldest who is now attending college, loves to have me work math problems with him.
  • I would NOT make completing an assignment more important than a happy relationship with my child.  Seriously, how much is it really going to benefit your child to do those last few problems? If  your child has reached a point of frustration, be the mom and take the teacher hat off for a bit.  One of the things we want to learn is how to have strong, healthy and happy relationships with family members.  Don't let that goal fly out the window when conflict over a particular assignment comes up.
  • I would recognize that there are several ways to do just about anything.  Some people or programs will say "This is the best way to do .... " you name it.  The truth is - there are tons of different ways to teach art, math facts, or any other subject matter.  Take advantage of that variety and mix things up. 

I occasionally have people approach me - wanting to pick my brain on homeschooling.   They seem to be under the impression that I have all the answers.  After several years of homeschooling, and making plenty of mistakes, I believe I do have many of the answers.  They are probably not the answers you might expect, but they are the answers I've found to be true.

Question: What does homeschooling in your house look like?  What do I need to do? What do I  need to teach?

Answer:  No two families will homeschool exactly the same way.  Each family and each child and parent are different.  Successful homeschooling is finding what works for YOUR family – not copying that of another family. Pray about it and you will be guided.

Question: Which curriculum should I use for each subject?  What is the best program?

Answer: No matter how much you research and study, you will never be able to pick out the “perfect curriculum” for your child.  It is true, that you can read reviews and get ideas and information that will help you in narrowing down the options, but ultimately, your child has a mission that is uniquely his or her own.  The things your child needs to learn in his or her life will be different from what others might need.  The ONLY one who truly knows what your child will need to learn is The Lord.  So before you waste money and time and potentially cause learning problems for your child - PRAY!  You will be guided to material that will help your child grow and progress.

Question: We just started homeschooling recently and my children aren’t happy.  They fuss and don’t do their work when I tell them to.  What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Children do NOT learn best when sitting in a desk for hours each day doing worksheets, and reading through textbooks.  Don’t model your homeschool after the school system.  I truly wish I could scream this from a high tower.  In the beginning and sometimes for a few years there after, many - if not most - homeschooling families (who have other schooling experience) model their home education after the institution they were schooled in.  

There will come a time when your children will be doing most of their work independently, but until that time and even beyond, I recommend modeling after Christ, the perfect teacher. Christ sat among those he was teaching, he spoke of His Father often and how did he teach?  He told stories – parables.  This is a powerful way to teach.  That’s why many veteran homeschoolers and wise mothers are fans of living books, diaries, historical fiction, journals, etc.  These stories help us relate and understand more about the people and places we are reading about.  We invest emotion in the subject matter and the learning becomes more than skin deep.  Have you watched THE TESTAMENTS?  This is a historical fiction video produced by the church that is very moving. 

Question: My child says he wants to go back to public school.  He says he misses it. What should I do?

Answer: When kids say they miss school, what that typically means is that they  miss the interaction with other kids.  This is easily solved by getting together with other homeschoolers.  You can meet with a homeschool group, have play dates, join a coop class, and on and on.  Having friends is VERY important.  Don't let this part go when you homeschool.  We meet weekly with a homeschool group and do a variety of activities.  Friends bless lives, so take advantage of that.

Do you have a homeschool question you'd like to ask our AUTHOR PANEL?  Leave us a comment and we may use your question in a future Q&A post.

Feel free to visit Dana♥ and her crew at Noggins & Nonsense.

4 comments - Add a comment below -:

JRoberts said...

I may not have homeschooled as long as you...but I have to say AMEN! We have learned alot since we started and it really is by trial and error...and LOTS of praying!

Thanks for the truly inspired article.

Amy said...

I think this was written for me. We have been homeschooling for about a year and a half, but I still feel so lost. I don't know where to begin. We used an on-line school for K, which helped get my feet wet. This year we have been doing our own thing. It has worked and it hasn't. We moved at the beginning of December and that really threw us. I'm trying to get myself back into the swing of things, but the reminder to PRAY was just what I needed. Thank you.

Roblynn said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto! I think I have pretty much made all the above mistakes, and then some. Thanks for narrowing it down. I would like to think after 30 years I would have learned something, but every child and every year I learn something new. Homeschooling is the great teacher of humility!

Dana ♥ said...

I so agree. Humility is in full practice. ☺