If you have decided to educate your child at home this year, you want to avoid homeschooling mistakes. It does not matter if homeschooling is your top choice for your children or you have to adopt this mode of education due to some factors outside your control. Some common oversights that happen when you start out are not very damaging and they can be fixed with time. However, some slip ups can have long-term impacts. We can show you common mistakes you can avoid.
#1 Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Sometimes parents believe their children to be capable of achieving as much as they do themselves. It can be as simple as writing a 1,000 words essay in two hours, or as complicated as mastering a mathematics lecture in one sitting. The truth is that children have younger and smaller minds They very well may have different learning speeds for different subjects. In traditional schooling, teachers can provide extra attention to a particular lecture or come back for a second time if the students face difficulties in learning it in one go. Likewise, homeschooling parents also need to be mindful of this fact. They should put together a curriculum prioritizing children’s interests, abilities, and strengths.
#2 Choosing the Curriculum for Wrong Reasons
You might want your child to go into the field of medicine but your child might have a better aptitude for physics or arts. If you design the curriculum based on the motivations you have for your child’s future career instead of their specific interests, you will be setting them up on a course of difficult, boring, and ineffective education. Similarly, choosing a curriculum because it worked for some other child you know is equally harmful. It is good to seek guidance from experienced parents. But when it comes to determining the curriculum for your child, the chief concern for you should be the child’s own interests and abilities.
#3 Trying to Keep Up with Others
Parents who are homeschooling their children are likely to know and interact with other parents following the same educational model. While this is helpful in determining goals and overcoming challenges through discussions and mutual assistance, there is risk. The downfall of chatting with other homeschooling families, is the feeling of competition between parents. If your neighbors’ child has finished an algebra course before your child, that is not something to worry about. Let your child advance at their own pace and allow them to navigate different subjects according to their own strengths.
#4 Forcing Something
This is similar to the above argument where an experience from another child might seem like the perfect homeschooling objective. Or maybe parents might choose to stick to a particular curriculum regardless of their child’s interest or progress. It is imperative that parents follow the child’s lead and incorporate subjects that are of interest to them. This does not mean completely laying off important subjects if the child is resistant towards them. But it should be a combination of what is necessary and what is interesting to the child.
#5 Hitting the Books
Sometimes, laying off of books and indulging children into practical experiments is a much better educational strategy than sticking to theoretical knowledge. Some of the subjects – such as science, technology, mathematics, biology etc – are considered dry by most students. Directly diving into formulae and historical knowledge does not allow children to develop interest in these subjects. An alternate approach is to go through practical experiments first. You can simply take help from free online videos of science experiments. Or, maybe invest in proper science tools to bring about such interest in their children. In either case, for complicated subjects it is better to begin with hands-on learning and then move towards book work in the curriculum.
#6 Over-scheduling or Under-scheduling Classes
Every parent wants their child to be a prodigy in everything from science to music and from math to gymnastics. However, if the children are slammed with classes and their schedules are crammed up, chances are that they will not learn much of anything at all. Children will burn out and so will the parents, so it does not benefit anyone. Likewise, too much free time or keeping one day for only one subject is equally harmful. While children need time to process what they learn, their minds also need to be kept busy to a certain extent to keep them energized and motivated. The solution then becomes to focus on two to three activities a day, for instance two subjects plus one trip or physical activity in one day.
#7 Believing that You Have to Take Care of Everything
This is one of the most common homeschooling mistakes that parents of homeschooled children make. If you feel like you have to teach every subject yourself, rest assured, you do not. Just like a professional teacher cannot teach everything, it is unlikely for any parent to do all that by themselves. The better way for parents is to take advantage of their own skill sets and expertise for some subjects, and choose online lectures, co-operatives, or other such options for other subjects.
#8 Treating Homeschooling as a Job
While there is no need to overburden yourself as a parent when it comes to homeschooling, there is a definite need to actively participate in the process. Thinking of preparing study lectures or notes might seem like an extra load of work, but it is important that you do your share of the homework and class-work as a teacher as well. Do not let the work pile up and do not hurry your children to finish the coursework either. Stick to their learning routine and adapt your own responsibilities accordingly.
#9 Trying to Make Homeschool Like Traditional School
Discipline and punctuality are as important in homeschooling as they are in traditional modes of education. But it is impossible to create the same environment as traditional school at home. It is also counterproductive. One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is flexibility and allowing children to learn and progress at their own pace. So it is perfectly fine to schedule classes at different timings as compared to regular schools. Also, avoid aiming to finish the same subjects in one term as a traditional school would do.
#10 Thinking that Family-time Fulfills Social Interaction
While homeschooling does not need to follow the stringent routine of traditional schooling, some aspects such as interaction with peers is imperative even for homeschooled children. Children can only learn so much from the people who live in the same house as them. For learning better social skills, and values like cooperation, sharing, and friendship, children will need to spend time with their peers as well as other older and younger people. Allow them exposure and the freedom to make friends in your locality.
#11 Not Getting Help
Finally, seeking help for yourself and your children is never a bad idea. This might sound like a no-brainer, but in truth, several parents consider it embarrassing to seek help from anyone when it comes to their children. This is a big homeschooling mistake. This might be for something as little as asking someone to look after the children when they are going on a trip to the zoo. Or it can be as complicated as seeking help from a professional psychiatrist to develop patience and healthy boundaries for the homeschooling routine itself. Being considerate about the health and anger management of parents is as significant in homeschooling as the curriculum and study schedule of children.
If you are new to homeschooling there are some mistakes that are bound to happen. Now you are equipped to know that mistakes can and will happen. But you can reduce them. You’ll increase the effectiveness of homeschooling and make learning more easy for you and your child.