August is the time for back to school for many homeschooling families and many families are starting this task for the first time.
I remember my first year of homeschooling and as I reflect on that experience, I realize how many mistakes as I tried to find my way. Mistakes that many first timers make going in with expectations as to how it will be, only to find out it's much harder than expected.
For my first entry of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop, I'd like to label some of the common pitfalls those new to Homeschooling often find themselves into and hope that I can help just one person from making some of the same mistakes I made early on.
Trying to copy the same structure as public schools.
So many of us went to public schools and believe that is what we're suppose to be doing. After all, it worked for us. We think our school should start around 8am and last until 3pm. Usually we think we need to teach six subjects of an hour each with a 1 hour break for lunch. You don't!! The public school system needs this time in order to teach classrooms of 30+ kids at various degrees of efficiency at one time. However, in a homeschool setting, you are giving your children undivided and dedicated one on one teaching which is much more efficient. You'll often find a lesson might only take 20 minutes to complete and most homeschool families finish all their lessons in two to three hours, allowing more time to be spent on other projects.
Thinking curriculum that work with one child will work just as well with the next.
All children learn differently, even those in the same family. One child might be a visual learner while the other is more hands on. Because of this, a curriculum that works well for one child might not be the right curriculum for the next. This can be extremely frustrating as curriculum is not cheap. However, there are so many resources out there for the homeschool community that can help reduce the cost while figuring out what works for your child. Websites such as SchoolhouseTeachers.com offer various offerings for different teaching styles for a low price while Easy Peasy All In One offers a free curriculum on their website that just requires access to a Public Library.
Expecting every day to go as scheduled.
Just like us, kids have their off days. There will be days that your son doesn't want to read or your daughter refuses to write. There will be periods of time where the thought of doing math will cause your children to instantly erupt into tears. When this happens, take a break. Find another project to work on for that day or that week. Eventually you'll get back on track or even if you don't, that's okay too. If they are learning then you are doing your job.
Thinking you have to follow the book.
The nice teacher's guide with your curriculum says this week you're teaching about butterflies and next week you move on to ants....However, in the process of the lesson, your child wants to study more about various types of butterflies. What do you do? Follow their interests!!! The beauty of homeschool is that you can put the book aside, take a trip to the local library, find an educational video or head to a local butterfly garden and further explore those topics that interest your child. Where public schools are on a very strict schedule and cannot take side trips to explore the individual interests of thirty children, you can. The curriculum book will still be there when your child exhausts his interest in the other subject and then you can move on to the next subject. When you allow your students to do interest driven learning, you'll quickly find that they will absorb way more information then just what the curriculum provides.
Doing it alone.
Homeschooling is a rewarding task but it can often be extremely frustrating. Maybe your family doesn't understand you're desire to homeschool and criticize you. Maybe the kids refused to do their work that day. Or maybe you burned dinner and the dog ran out of the house when you opened the door for UPS and you spent 2 hours trying to chase him down. We've all been there and we know how you feel. This is why it is highly recommended you connect with others in the homeschool community. There are so many wonderful social media groups made up of homeschooling mom's just like you where you can sit with a cup of coffee in the morning (or a glass of wine at night) and get advice or share your thoughts and frustrations. I have been blessed to have found many wonderful women who have offered wonderful tidbits of information that I have been able to incorporate into my own homeschooling routine and I am amazed at how much that has impacted my own experience with educating my own kids.
Each one of us has a reason why we homeschool. My reasons are surely different then yours. However, by avoiding these 5 pitfalls early on, you can help to guarantee a great start and kick your homeschool year off on the right foot.
Have a wonderful school year :)
This is Day 1 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop brought to you by the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connections. With over 50 other homeschool families participating, you'll find lots of great information from some wonderful homeschooling blogs throughout the week. Here's just a few suggestions to get you started :)
Marcy @ Ben and Me
Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Amy @ Homeschool Encouragement
Missica @ The Open Window: An Autism Blog
Misty @ Year Round Homeschooling
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Clarissa @ Counting Our Blessings
Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Monique @ Living Life and Learning