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Some parents approach homeschooling with fear and trepidation; others with excitement and enthusiasm. Some may feel backed into a corner with no other options while others look forward to homeschool as a way to invest in their children. Regardless of their perspective, everyone wants to do it right and enjoy a successful school year full of rewarding learning experiences and enjoyable time with our children.
1. Over Scheduling
In my first year of homeschooling, my children were involved in art classes, gymnastics, classes at the zoo, science center classes, chorus, piano lessons, physical education, and community sports. When there weren’t any scheduled events, we would get together with other homeschooling families for field trips, writing classes (which I taught), or just for fun.
2. Under Scheduling
Over scheduling is a nightmare, but under-scheduling can be just as bad. Kids need variety and opportunities to be with other kids. There are so many learning opportunities out there!
A great idea that worked for us was to get together with several other homeschooling families and plan out a year’s worth of field trips—one per month. We assigned one for each parent to organize, picked dates (which we all reserved), and everyone looked forward to the monthly outing. We would also get together at a local playground or state park for another day of fun or learning.
SOLUTION: Build a network of families to plan activities and provide support and accountability.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
It is easy to fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations. Many homeschool Moms get upset because their three-year olds are not reading yet or when their sixth grader is not succeeding in Algebra I. I have watched families try to cram a whole year of World History into one quarter with a World History Fair to culminate the experience. This approach will have you and your child burned out and struggling by Christmas!
On the other hand, children will quickly adapt to a lack of direction, formal curriculum, or goals in mind, and really enjoy themselves for a time... Until, usually within a couple months, they long for the structure of school and become bored and antsy.
Homeschooling opens the door for students to master concepts much quicker than in a classroom full of distractions. However, you can easily coast through the year without really accomplishing anything.
SOLUTION: Planning. Make sure you know your child, then put a curriculum plan together that addresses their abilities, struggles, weaknesses, and passions.
Bridgeway Homeschool Academy can guide you through this planning stage with placement testing, open dialogue, and the expertise of certified teachers, experienced homeschoolers, and a trained staff. We can help identify your child’s unique strengths and abilities, then design a learning plan to help you reach your educational goals.
4. A Disorganized School Room
Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find what you need when you need it. This is especially true when you are trying to keep your children current with their schoolwork.
5. Skipping Breaks to Shorten the Day
We all do it! It seems like a wonderful thing to tell our kids: “Hey, if you can get this all done this morning, we will have all afternoon with no school!”
Guess what? Across the board, homeschooling kids are saying, “We’d rather have a break!”
I am ashamed to say, I fell into this one my first year of homeschooling. At the beginning of the school year, I was really good about taking breaks. I would announce, “RECESS TIME!” and we would head outside for a good 20 minutes of fun. It never ceased to amaze me how easy it was to get back to a difficult task after a quick breather.
6. Becoming a Slave to Your Home School Curriculum
Another big mistake I made my first year of homeschooling was to allow my curriculum to drive me. Even on days when it was obvious that my kids weren’t getting it, I pushed them to complete all the assignments for that day.
Occasionally, you may need to abandon an entire course and try a different approach. Do not be too quick to make this decision—as these decisions can be costly. Take time to evaluate whether it is the curriculum or your misuse of it that is causing the struggle. Sometimes a fresh look or just slowing down a little will make a course work better. But when you find that something just does not work, do not be afraid to set it aside or move on to something else.
7. Doing it Alone
Too many homeschooling Moms try to do it alone. Our pride often keeps us from asking for advice or we become overwhelmed with task of schooling children and don’t find a support network. We might even believe the misperception that this the way it is for homeschoolers.
This is a huge danger! Moms who try to do it alone invariably become frustrated and lonely. While the issue is often overstated for homeschooled children, it is often overlooked for homeschooling moms: YOU need socialization!
8. Super Mom Syndrome
Probably the most difficult part of homeschooling for me was accepting that my home would no longer look like the homes in all the magazines. Maintaining that standard is like trying to rake leaves in a tornado! Your meals will not always be healthy, your errands will not always be run, your bills may be late, and your bathrooms may not always sparkle.
9. Ignoring the Input of your Children
Ironically, it is easy to get so wrapped up in your plans and ideas that you forget to check with your children. This is especially challenging for Moms who were teachers or managers. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that it can be a two way street.
10. Fear of the Internet
Yes, the Internet can be dangerous. There is so much out there that we do not want our children to see and so many people out there we do not want them to meet. However, there is also a wealth of information available that is absolutely invaluable to any homeschooling program. From educational and interactive games, to live pictures of our solar system, the possibilities are endless.
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