My elder son is 13, the younger 11 and they’re doing great on life. One went to school briefly the other never, so we’ve been doing this homeschooling thing for a long time. Every new homeschooling parent learns as they go along and I was no exception. So here for you, are my new homeschooler mistakes to help you not make them.
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New Homeschooler Mistakes Not to Make
Too Many Activities
I signed them up for tennis lessons, drama classes and swimming lessons as soon as I was able. Not much by many over-scheduled kids’ standards but I did it purely because, as a new homeschooler, I thought I should. They never enjoyed any of the above, taking them was a chore and it cost me too much money. Let them pick their own activities when they’re old enough to do so. Just let kids play.
School at Home
We were going to sit at the dining room table, with a stack of printed work sheets, new pencils and notepads, watch our carefully selected videos and online programs and do something resembling school for several hours every day. Yeah, no surprises that it didn’t work. Sorry kids, but mum had a lot of deschooling to do back then.
Doing Things Before They Were Ready
I remember “teaching” child 1 to tell the time over and over again. By the end of the day he kind of had it. As soon as we revisited the topic it had vanished from his memory. I was SO stressed that he couldn’t tell the time at 7, 8, 9, 10. I thought I was a failure and there was something lacking in him. Now he’s 13, he can tell the time. I’m not sure at what point he learned, but he did. Maybe when I stopped trying to shove it down the throat of a disinterested child.
Buying Them The Books I Enjoyed as a Child
Times have changed. Writing styles are different, books are more exciting. There was no way my two were ever going to happily read Enid Blyton or Tarka the Otter. Let them pick their own books.
Being Scared by Too Much Internet
The internet, and that includes gaming, is where they have probably learnt the most. They amaze me with their depth of knowledge on topics I’ve never introduced. I’m pretty sure Minecraft is where my younger son really learnt to read and their numeracy was boosted enormously by early game scoring. It’s as ridiculous to limit their screen time as it is to limit their book time.
Stressing Over Them Not Writing
I was so incredibly stressed and worried that my elder son all but point-blank refused to ever write anything. In those days we had to turn in written work samples to the Australian Government, so he had to write, like it or not. Once we left Australia we lost that pressure and could relax more but it still used to worry me that he couldn’t or wouldn’t write. Yesterday, at 13, he sat and wrote a story “for fun”. It was beautiful. Years of forced essay production would only have served to turn him away from the written word.
Dragging Them Around Museums Explaining Things
I love a good museum, so do the boys. But when they were tiny, trying to make them learn from museums was pointless and painful. Now they’ll browse the displays in the same way I do, reading, observing and interacting. They even love kids museum audio guides. Don’t force it on them when they are too young, take them to the zoo instead for a good run round or let them enjoy museums their way.
Being Too Worried About What People Think
I have a very judgemental family background so I was constantly trying to prove to them that this homeschooling thing was working out fine, the boys were geniuses and they were years ahead of their school peers. I have more confidence now, total confidence even, to look them in the eye and tell them that what we do is working, we are all happy and the kids are learning amazing things. It looks nothing like a school education, neither should it. And then just end the conversation. I can’t give you my confidence, it’s come with years of experience and observation, but just know that it does work, the kids come good.
Not Trusting in The Kids Enough
Everyone says that kids are naturally curious sponges capable of self-directed learning, well I saw little evidence of this for years and was convinced that my boys were either different or “everyone” had got it wrong. It came eventually and when it did it was a joy to see. Around 9-11 was the magic age for us. Everything changed. Now I’m almost happy to never try to educate them again, they’re doing a great job all by themselves.
I think it all boils down to trying too hard, expecting a lot and doing too much too soon. Leave them alone and let them develop and learn in their own unique ways. It’s been amazing to watch it happen. What mistakes would you add?