I recently realized I have been homeschooling for 12 years — Preschool through junior year in high school. While I know this doesn’t make me an expert (only you are an expert for your family,) I have found some ways to guarantee failure in homeschool. I know these work because I have tried them out myself.
1. Allow chaos to reign at home. Yes, these are real pictures of my house. I’m sorry. Sometimes life just happens and it looks like it all happened in my house! What really happens, usually, is I schedule too many fun field trips and other activities, and no one is home with a minute to put away dishes or pick up their clothes. Does this happen in your family?
Well, allow me to reassure you that no one can do their best work in such an atmosphere. I know, I’ve tried. Yes, it’s important to allow the mess. But when the creativity is over– stop, clean up a little. You don’t have to make it spotless. No one wants to eat off your floor. You don’t even have to mop. You just have to get the chaos under control. Then — go back to school. Whatever learning you had planned can even wait until tomorrow if necessary, and everyone learns lessons about self-control, neatness and priorities that will help throughout life
2. Schedule every minute. Please tell me you’ve done it, too. You know, the schedule that looks like this:
7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Breakfast and shower
8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Piano lessons
9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Teach math to Lucy, then Max. Do laundry
10 a.m. to 10:45 English with Eden.
10:45 to 11:15 Math with Brett
11:15 to 11:40 . . . . you get the picture
I have done this more often than I care to admit, and it is a trap I still frequently fall into. Demanding too rigorous a time frame guarantees you will not enjoy your homeschool day. Schedule in some “wait I didn’t understand,” time, and a little “Mama needs to breathe for a second(and use the bathroom),” time. More learning will be accomplished and the whole family will be happier.
3. Expect Rome to be built in a day. You mean there is a 6-year old on your block that is already reading at a 6th grade level? Your sister-in-law’s nephew is 14 and entering college? Your cousin’s son is 8 and starting Pre-Algebra? So what? That doesn’t have to mean anything for your family. Relieve a little pressure by looking at the long shot, the whole picture. What you do today will not shape your child’s entire future. It’s the life course that really matters. Look at your learning over the course of weeks, months or years, and ask yourself, “Is my child turning into a young adult I can be proud of?” If so, congratulate yourself and don’t compare with the accomplishments of others. Learning takes time, and you have the time to take. Enjoy it.
While I am sharing this “expert” advice with you, I am also trying to accept it myself. Do you have expert advice you’d like to share with a new homeschool mom? How about with a veteran? Please leave me a comment below?