Another school year is just around the corner. So many mixed emotions. You may be excited for the start of the year, worried about how your child (or you) will do, hopeful that the curriculum you chose will be everything that you hoped it would be, or anxious that you will mess your kid up.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw a new homeschool mama asking other homeschoolers what some of the biggest homeschool mistakes to avoid are.
As I read through a well thought out response of a homeschool mom of 11 years, I kept thinking, “yep, I’ve done that” and “ooooo, this is still a struggle.”
Looking at the comments, I saw that I was not alone. So many mamas could identify with making the same homeschool mistakes.
Today, I wanted to share these homeschool mistakes with you so that 1.) You don’t feel alone and 2.) You can try to avoid some of them!
Thank you, Jami Wilson, for your generosity in sharing these tidbits of wisdom from your many years of experience.
This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure for details.
Biggest Homeschool Mistakes to Avoid
Lets jump in to some of the biggest homeschool mistakes to avoid.
Homeschool Mistake #10 “Not teaching basic life skills (cooking, cleaning, sewing, budgeting, car repair, taxes, etc…)“
There are so many kids that graduate from high school and don’t know how to perform basic things that you need to be successful in the world. Do these things as a part of your school! Yes, these learning activities can count toward your school days! These skills are invaluable. Take the time to teach your kids these life skills as you are doing them. Your kiddos will thank you one day!
Homeschool Mistake #9 “Worrying that my kids were behind if they didn’t get skills when I expected them to. Each child is unique and on their own schedule for development. Be patient. It always comes eventually.”
It is easy to try to compare our kids to other kids in the same grade level. The beauty of homeschool is that your child doesn’t have to feel pressure of not being where everyone else is. You don’t either.
If you are planning on sending your child back to school in the future, I can understand the desire to keep them on track.
This is a good desire, and working with your child on their areas of struggle is a good thing. But don’t let this come at the cost of the joy of learning. If frustration creeps up in you or your child, pause, reevaluate what you are doing, and come back later when everyone is in a better mindset and possibly with a new approach.
Homeschool Mistake #8 “Pushing through the tough days just to check all the boxes and say we finished instead of realizing when my kids or myself needed a break. It’s okay to just stop for the day and hit the reset button tomorrow, no matter how much or how little work has been accomplished.“
When everyone is frustrated and crabby, learning just doesn’t happen anyway. Pause, take a break, and reconvene the following day.
One of the most mind-blowing ideas for me was coming across “reverse homeschool planning.” This is when you write down what you have learned at the end of each day instead of trying to check off all the boxes that you thought you “should have” done that day.
You can still have a general outline of what things you want to accomplish each week or month, but you don’t have to feel guilty or behind because you didn’t get to all the things.
Homeschool Mistake #7 “Being too stubborn to admit when a curriculum just isn’t working and being afraid to toss it and try something else.“
Ugh, this one makes me cringe! So far in my homeschooling journey I have been happy with our curriculum selections, but the thought of purchasing a curriculum and then having to toss it out the window and start again makes me feel queezy. I mean, how can I even justify the cost?
But, when I think it through, the daily frustration that comes from a curriculum that is not working and the possibility of that curriculum stifling the desire to learn in my kids is just not worth it!
Find some free resources while you are searching or saving for something that works better.
And maybe that curriculum that didn’t work for kid #1 will work for kid #2, so the cost wasn’t a total waste!
Homeschool Mistake #6 “Not studying the things that interested my kids most. This develops a natural love for learning instead of dreading it because it’s boring or not of interest to them.“
The first thing that I learned in Education 101 is that our goal as teachers is to develop life-long learners. This is much easier to do at home with our kids than in the classroom. We have fewer students and have the freedom to shift what we do in our school days.
Don’t be so paralyzed by “checking things of the list” that you neglect the important element of teaching your children to love learning.
But what about the standards? What if we don’t check all those off the list?
Checking those off the list means nothing if what you cover doesn’t actually stick and if your child walks away dreading school.
Y’all, I am SO guilty here and am totally talking to myself.
Homeschool Mistake #5 “Buying curriculum sets. Kids learn differently with each subject but most sets teach all the same way.”
Curriculum sets seem like such a breath of fresh air that take away the stress of homeschooling and curricula shopping. Buuut, before you invest in one (because these can be pricey!) make sure that you look into each subject individually.
Will the style of instruction fit well with your child’s learning style? Will it fit well with all the children in your family?
Check out the samples of each of the subjects from the set. This will give you a good idea of if the curriculum (or the set) will work for your family.
Boxed curriculum sets are not necessarily bad, just make sure you consider every aspect of the set and each child before just concluding that *this* is what will make your homeschool life easier.
Homeschool Mistake #4 “Feeling like I had to keep up with the public schools.”
The stress that comes from keeping up with the public schools is probably what I sense the most from homeschool moms. Is what I’m doing enough? What if my child falls behind? Does this curriculum cover all the standards?
You do NOT have to keep up with the public schools. You don’t have to go at the same speed. Remember, your first goal is to help your child love to learn. If they love learning, you can fill in any gaps at any time.
Honestly, most curricula will have gaps and that’s OKAY! Just be diligent to notice the areas of struggle for your children. And despite many homeschooler’s hate for standards, it is fine to look at them if you are concerned about any pieces you might be missing.
Many people noticed a shift in teaching instruction with the introduction of Common Core Standards. Buuuut, Common Core Standards are not HOW you teach, they are WHAT you teach. You can still choose to teach how you want to and you can determine if your child is developmentally ready to learn the specific standard.
The Common Core Standards are for math and language arts.
If you want to stay away from Common Core Standards, you can find state standards online for all the subjects.
I do want to mention that not keeping up with public schools is not the same as choosing to not teach certain subjects because of parent insecurities or child’s lack of desire.
My sweet mother in law taught for 30 years and this was something she saw over and over in her classroom – homeschool students coming into the classroom having huge gaps because parents didn’t want to teach a subject matter or the child did’t want to learn it.
So, no, you don’t have to keep up with the public schools, but do be diligent about noticing the areas of struggle for your kids, and don’t accidentally not teach something because you are uncertain about HOW to teach it.
Homeschool Mistake #3 “Too much busy work, not enough play (which is still very much learning).”
You really don’t need a lot of “seat work” time, especially in the early years. Let you child play. Your child is most certainly learning as they play.
Dr. Peter Smith and Dr. Anthony Pellegrini address the various types of play and their benefits in this article. Read it and then make play count as “school” in your day. And if anyone questions that decision, just show them the article.
Exploration, games and free reading are also incredible for learning. Here are some really fun educational toys and games for your kids!
Homeschool Mistake # 2 “Trying to make homeschooling just like public school.”
If you have never homeschooled before, you might think that homeschool NEEDS to look like public school. Thankfully, we don’t have to make that happen.
Your schedule can look different. You don’t need to spend as long on subjects as they do in public school. Your child dosn’t need to sit at their desk to learn or do seat work all day long.
Start the morning by reading books with your children. Yes, even if you have older children! Cook and bake together, go on nature walks, include your child in daily chores and teach them life skills. Take field trips and plan trips to other countries with your children – even if you don’t take those trips. Just think of the things they will learn about new places, life skills, money, languages, etc…
Take the learning opportunities that present themselves and veer away from your curriculum if you need to. It will be worth it and THOSE experiences are what your children will remember and learn from.
We were learning fractions with my kindergartener and she was breezing through them… Until it came time to apply them to real life. We started to bake and I asked her a question related to what we learned. Turns out that she really didn’t understand, and I had the opportunity to teach her and show her in real life.
THIS is why I homeschool. This is not the kind of deep learning that happens in public school and this is exactly why you DON’T want your homeschool to look like public school.
Use your curriculum as a spine and a guide for what you will learn, but find (or make) opportunities for learning to come to life.
Homeschool Mistake #1 “Not tying the Bible into whatever subject we studied and not making sure my kids understood the meaning of Bible verses instead of just memorizing them.”
I know that not all families will find this one relevant to their families, but it is to ours.
It can be easy to teach Bible as a subject and set it aside. But I don’t want my children to see Bible as something separate from the rest of their lives. And what a beautiful opportunity we have to teach our children that Christ is at the center of all things and is present in all aspects of life.
How Do You Homeschool Well?
Well, we talked about the biggest homeschool mistakes to avoid, so what does successful homeschooling boil down to?
Focus on your child – nurture and encourage their strengths.
Notice the areas of struggle and gently find ways to help them become successful.
Build the relationship with your kids, play, read together and learn together.
And throw out the checklist: the comparison checklist, standards checklist, the to-do checklist…. and if you’re like me and just can’t throw it out, at least be okay with not marking all the things off… But for sure throw away the comparison checklist – that one’s killer.
How to Make Homeschooling Easier
Let’s talk about a couple ways to simplify your homeschool life.
- Don’t try to do it all.
Start with the basics. Especially if you are new to homeschooling. If you try to add in all. the. things. there is a good chance you will burn out. Start small. You can always add those extras later.
- Choose an open & go curriculum.
As much as I love planning, I need it to be optional. If I have a curriculum that I can just pull out and teach from, I don’t have to stress about finding time to plan my lessons. But if I want to plan a fun extra activity, I obviously still have the freedom to do that.
Here is the curriculum that we used for homeschooling in kindergarten. Most of it was open and go which was perfect! I am switching to a different social studies and science curriculum for first grade since that one required a bit too much planning for my liking.
- Find a homeschool community.
Don’t try to homeschool alone. Especially if your family doesn’t support you.
There are many homeschool programs that children can attend where parents can also make connections with other like-minded families.
Join homeschool Facebook groups – especially the local ones where you can find other mamas who teach from home.
And of course, I would personally love to support you on your home schooling journey. So please reach out if you need ANYTHING.
Yes, I’m talking to YOU.
Biggest Homeschool Mistakes to Avoid
Have you made any of these “Biggest homeschool mistakes to avoid?” Which one do you struggle with the most? Let me know in the comments!
I find myself saying, “Yup, me too!” for many of these, so don’t feel bad if you are too!