Once upon a time, there was this mommy who wanted to homeschool her children. She did extensive research and bought the top of the line curriculum before their first homeschool year started. She had confidence that the children would be overwhelmed with the gift of learning. Oh, you should have seen the adorable homeschool room and gadgets she thought would aid her in this magnificent homeschool adventure.
She was heartbroken and wanted to give up after the first month. It wasn’t as FUN as she imagined. There were daily tears from her children and herself that drenched the pretty schoolroom that she worked so hard on the summer before.
Does this sound familiar?
Yes, that was me ten years ago!
It was only because my husband didn’t give up on me and cheered me on that I didn’t send my children on the yellow school bus the very next day. However, I only wished someone would have warned me against a few things that could have made a huge difference in our homeschool days. I was guilty of all these things.
The 7 Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool
- Demand Your Child Stay on Grade Level. This was my biggest mistake in all my homeschool years. I felt that it was imperative that my children complete what the public school was teaching. It took me four years to get the grade level thing out of my silly mind. Once I made the decision to teach according to my son’s abilities, it was smooth sailing. He is now a senior in college studing to earn his business degree.
So please don’t push your child when he isn’t ready.
It will only result in tears and frustration.
- Believe all Children Learn the Same Way. Since I am a frugal mother, I insisted on saving all the FUN curriculum for the next child. It worked for the first two children, so apparently, it will work for child 3 and 6, right?
Just like children have different personalities, they have different learning styles. Finding out what learning style accommodates your child’s needs and can make all the difference in the world.
- Don’t Take Advantage of a Homeschool Support Group. I can’t stress this enough. The first year we homeschooled we were not involved in any sort of homeschool support group. We only knew one other family that chose the homeschool path. I needed someone holding my hand that first year because I had so many questions. And fears.
You might have dear friends who support you, but if they haven’t been in your homeschool mother’s shoes….they truly won’t understand.
- Don’t Have a Homeschool Mission Statement. Since I didn’t have a homeschool mission statement, it was easier for me to forget why we were initially homeschooling. Once I created a homeschool mission statement, I was able to revisit our mission and was easily encouraged to keep on the homeschool journey when things got tough.
Trust me, you will have BAD DAYS!
- Use Your Curriculum As a Bible. Yes, I am a rule follower. I thought we had to do the entire curriculum in its entirety and according to the author’s suggestions. Once I gave up on the fact that our curriculum wasn’t going to dictate our days, we all became less stressed.
There is no perfect curriculum, so pick and choose what works for your family. I had to remind myself at times that the curriculum was just an outline or a tool.
- Don’t Believe Life skills is education. Life skills today are forgotten in education. When I decided to teach character and life skills as part of our homeschool, I felt a lightbulb went off. Just because we weren’t all sitting down doing workbooks, didn’t mean they weren’t learning what they need to succeed as an adult.
Teaching life skills daily is preparing them for adulthood.
- Be Inflexible – Things happened. Children got sick. Cars broke down. I had a baby. Life happened and I needed to embrace the daily grind that got us off schedule. I had to realize that reading historical fiction was ok if we all were feeling under the weather.
Use your homeschool planner loosely, and adjust when needed. Yes, you will survive!
(continue with the story)
After the dedicated mommy chose to change her vision of what a perfect homeschool day was supposed to look like, Mommy and children all became happy again. There were still those crazy, not-so-good days, but they were able to move forward and say, “Tomorrow is another blessed day!”
Thank God for his mercies each day. Please don’t make the same mistakes I did. And if you are guilty of one or all of these things, you can make a change today. Don’t give up on something that God has called you to do. Stay in His Word.
Have you ruined your homeschool days before?
Wonderful, encouraging post Jill! I’m pinning it and sharing it with my local Catholic homeschool (support) Group 🙂 As I go into my 10th year of homeschooling, I am guilty of these for sure! I’m slowly, but surely trying to get the hang of this homeschool lifestyle, though I think I will never perfect it as each year brings new family dynamics, challenges, triumphs, questions, doubts, and blessings! Actually, looking back in my blog archives at “A Slice of Smith Life” helps me realize how blessed I am to homeschool and that progress is being made one moment at a time, whether I realize it or not! Thanks again for the great post!
I am so tickled that you are finding this post helpful. It’s my prayer that it will help others in the homeshcool journey. Thanks for sharing it with your friends.
Great job Jill! We share some of those big bloopers in common! I’m thankful to have a husband in support of me as well. I am still wishing for a good support group around here but so far – that hasn’t materialized. Still praying over that one. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Have you thought about starting one in your area? I had to do that. Let me know if you need any suggestions. Hey, sounds like a good post, huh?
Yes! Please do write a post on starting a group in your area! I am going to start homeschooling our oldest (3 1/2) in about a month (as in add a little more structure to our day and the activities we already do to get her used to the concept) and I would like to start a group in our area so we have a support network.
Thank you so much for this post!!! I am glad I found it now because I’m starting to homeschool my 4 and a half year old these days and going through those rough days almost everyday! I will definitely try and keep these tips in mind. Thanks again!
Welcome to the homeschool journey. Hang around a little, we have an amazing support system here.
I have been homeschooling for 12 years now. I can relate to all these things. More than one of them has happened to me. My son is going to be a junior in highschool and my daughter will be in junior high. (6th grade) for the new school year. I cant believe how the time has flown by!! We have had our ups and downs. I have Multiple Sclerosis and there were times I didn’t feel very well. But, I stuck to it and I taught my kids everything they know. They have never been in a public or private school. The Lord has blessed us so much. My husband has always been supportive and worked very hard so I could always stay home and homeschool my kids.
You are an amazing woman! I can’t imagine teaching when I don’t feel well. I am very grumpy when I am having back pain.
Jill, how do you properly report to the school district if you are not “on grade level”? My concern about going off the beaten path, so to speak, is the aptitude test that he will be required to take next year (5th). Aren’t those tests aligned with what they learn in that specific year?
Still figuring it out… thanks! ~Amanda
You bring up a very good question. I happen to live in a homeschool friendly state where no testing is required. However, I would just keep going where your child is at. I just meant for example, my son wasn’t ready for multiplication and I pushed and pushed. It totally backfired on me. It might just mean waiting another month or so. I didn’t teach my son division until he was going in 5th grade. He understood it and learned it in 20 minutes. HTH. I could have spent a year or two trying to get him to master the subject, but instead concentrated on other areas.
Amanda, This same issue has come up where I live, but the standardized tests that the children are given seem to be assessing the teachers more than the students. A neighbor of mine is a school principal and tells me that our district does use the test results to show if a student is showing signs of learning disabilities, but also they can see if their teachers are effectively teaching the curriculum to the students. Likewise, are the students understanding and able to demonstrate their knowledge. Some districts offer families the option to not participate in standardized testing, though this is rarely publicized. You have to check with the district to see if the testing is actually mandatory or if opting out is within your rights.
Here is MN we have to do standardized tests every year and though we don’t worry to much about teaching to the grade level our kids have always done fine. So as long as your children are learning and you aren’t just sitting at home doing nothing I don’t think you need to worry. In our case we parents are the only ones that see the results unless the school district asks to see them which they never have in our many years of homeschooling.
I totally agree with you! Just keep on moving forward and take every opportunity to learn.
Thanks for sharing your heart Jill. Pinned.
What a great post! I haven’t homeschooled (well unless you count the K I did with my son this year) but what you said makes total sense to me and are things that I want to remember if we do choose to homeschool in the future. I’m pinning it so that I can easily find it later…and hopefully encourage some other moms to read it as well!
Oh thank you so much Lydia for your sweet words and sharing with others.
so timely!! I really needed to hear this as we begin our 2nd official year homeschooling. We have three special needs boys and a baby girl and I have really been feeling overwhelmed and like I am going to drop the ball and ruin my children. I love your mention of life skills; that is literally a subject in our curriculum! it is so important for my guys. thanks for the wisdom – very encouraging.
It’s a perfect reminder before another year. I used to have the same fear–and it occasionally still plagues me. When I feel the pressure of bearing the sole responsibility if my children ever learn to read or do math, I remind myself that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips those he calls. Lean on Him, and you WILL be equipped! (And remind me of that when August rolls around.)
This is such a very helpful post especially for beginners like me. Thank you so much! God bless!
Hi, what is your advice for someone that doesn’t have a homeschool group? In my country homeschooling is not known so there are only about 40 families doing it….
On-line support is key for me! Follow your favorite homeschooling families and INTERACT with them. We live in the middle of NOWHERE, and it can get lonely. Following on-line homeschoolers helps you know that you’re not alone. Interacting with them helps you FEEL less alone. And we love it when you interact with us 🙂
Jill, I am so fortunate to have read every “How To Ruin Your Homeschool” article that I could find for an entire year before starting. Posts like this helped me SO MUCH in the beginning. We still have bad days, but then we can have a prayer huddle and regroup. When all else fails, there’s always tomorrow. Thank you for your gentle reminders.
I am so glad that you found this post helpful! Happy Homeschooling in the middle of nowwhere! I think might be neighbors. lol
I thought very hard about homeschooling my daughter. I was licensed and bonded to run a preschool/daycare from my home in Ohio. But at 3 yo my daughter called some children who were her friends stupid while teaching the ABCs. She ended up in a christian preschool while I continued with the 5 left at home. They were all approx the same age 2-4 yo. She was extremely smart. When she was in 4th grade she tested out reading and comprehending 11th grade. Then came her teenage years’ which were extremely rough. Kudos and prayers to all moms and dads who can homeschool
Great encouragement as I look forward to our second year! Thank you
Happy Homeschooling, Jamie!
Thank you for this article. We are about to begin our first year. It’s exciting and daunting all at the same time. We are leaving the “comfort” of public school for this new, unknown world and I’m terrified of ruining our kids education. Your words remind me I’m not perfect, I will make mistakes, but I’m not the first to go down this path and I have some wonderful friends to will help guide me and with God’s blessings and help we will all be OK. Thank you.
Welcome to the homeschool journey. We are here for you, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
We haven’t started our journey yet but I love the idea of a mission statement.
I homeschooled for 12 years and loved the experience. All my 3 children learnt differently but all excelled.we have a great relationship. Due to my ill health my youngest is now in mainstream school for his final two years. He adjusted so well and his teachers have nothing but praise for him. Well mannered, cooperative, self starter, problem solver, respectful, motivated and the list goes on. I prayed hard so many times and our creator strengthened me to continue for as long as I could. Their morals and values are visibly part of their personalities. Yes it was a journey, a warm and nourishing one. I have so much to be grateful for. Be organized. Be patient and above all be flexible. Laugh often. If someone was grumpy I banned them from smiling for the rest of the day. Always worked for me.
Been there done that. It’s so freeing once you let go of grade levels and let your kids move forward at their own pace. And flexibility is one of the BEST things about homeschooling… so we need to take advantage of it.
I remember the days when I used to scold my boys because they were laughing too much and it was “time to get serious.” Oh boy! I’ve come a long way… I still have my days, though… 🙂
I’ve been homeschooling for 22 years. I still have my three teenagers to get through the last years of their high school and I still make mistakes. It isn’t easy choosing to home school. Hang in there and don’t give up. Everyone makes mistakes you just have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and move forward. God’s mercy is a wonderful thing!!!! “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil.4:13
Thanks for a great article on home schooling!!! Thanks too for being willing to share your mistakes so others might learn from them!!!
Maybe it resonates with me more b/c I’m a homeschool alumni who is now a teacher, but I LOVE your points about working with the child and not getting married to a curriculum for all children.
I think just applying those two concepts would remove 80% of the stress for most parents in the day to day process of homeschooling.
I just did, yesterday, on our 3rd day of homeschooling. I would add “don’t have school on days when you spent the entire previous night in an ER waiting room.” There will always be another day.
I’m nearly I’m tears reading this post. God placed the call to teach on my life as a college student. I was only able to teach at a Christian school 2 years before getting married. Life happened and priorities had to be shifted and now that our daughter is 3 I’m finally starting to do preschool with her. I’ve been stressing and pushing and expecting too much. She’s a smart cookies, but she’s always been a step behind children her age. I’ve been determined to catch her up and get her ahead because I see the potential. Things have not been pleasant. I sat up late last night looking through everything AGAIN, knowing their has to be a happier way to do this. After reading this, I’m putting everything on hold until next week so I can do things on her level, at her pace, in her learning style. It’s going to be difficult to leave some of these expectations behind, but it’s for the best. Thank you for this post. I needed this.
You are so welcome. I have a senior this year and I can’t wait to write that post about his graduation. I recently come across an old journal that I kept when he was younger. Let’s just say, there is hope!
A great post to remind me to step back sometimes to see the big picture. I truly believe in life skills as part of my child’s daily education.
Thanks for this article! I have made ALL of these mistakes. I’m printing this out as a reminder & encouragement 🙂
Thank You! We started homeschooling this past August and I can easily check off all 7 of these! We must have the same personality. We have had so many tears and struggles. I have gone as far as driving up to the public school to sign her up! Thank goodness tomorrow is another day full of grace and forgiveness! I will be wholeheartedly changing things right away. This is the ONLY post I have read that is real and honest to my situation. Thank you again!
I have driven up to the ps my first year, too. He is 17 now, and is graduating this school year as a homeschooler.
You hit every nail on the head!! It took me 5 years to “get” this. Thank you for encouraging homeschool moms!
Thank you for your article – may I put this with a link to your site in our homeschool support group newsletter?
I would love for you to share the article with your group, but please direct them to my site to read the article.
I hope you will edit all the typos in this blog posting. I would love to show it to my husband, but he will view you as having lost ALL credibilty due to the many mistakes, and so the soundness of your message will be lost.
Apparently, you missed the entire point of the message. I’m not trying to build credibility with anyone or your husband. So I will ignore your rude comment.
I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to be rude though I have a major fever today and am cranky…. Some of us have husbands who are unsupportive of our homeschool efforts (he thinks it’s easy, how ridiculous!) and I would love to have things to point to that say there are commonalities to it and it will turn out ok. But, to a Type-A perfectionist professional, they will only see the grammar/typos and then never even get the message. That’s all. I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry.
THANK YOU for this post! It was exactly what I needed for where I am at in life right now. 🙂
You are so welcome, Becky!
Hi. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed about homeschooling. I have a daughter who started 10th grade this year and a son who started first grade. Our son is doing well in the public school atmosphere, so we’ll keep him there, for now. Our daughter has been in public school since she was 5. She started changing last year, not for the better, but my husband and I chalked it up to “being a teenager” and “normal high school stuff”. We were both brought up in public school and didn’t know there was another way. Our daughter is very intelligent, but has been led astray by all the drama of high school. I was terrified for her and we pulled her out. My husband and I are intelligent people, but not education past high school. I’m not as organized or crafty as I’d like to be, but I have God, my husband and a wonderful homeschooling pastor’s wife to support me. I enjoyed reading your blog and will definitely be back. Be a blessing and be blessed.
You will do fine with this homeschooling thing! God will get you through this! You go girl!
This is so encouraging! I LOVE the missions statement 🙂 My husband are going to write ours tonight! Thank you for this post. Joy and blessings to you.
[…] Seven Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool — also at Blessed Beyond a Doubt. Another great list of things NOT to do! […]
This is so helpful as I am just starting out on my homeschool journey with my soon to be 5 year old. I also have a 2 year old, I am 30 weeks pregnant, and sometimes I have unreasonably high expectations for how I want our school year to go. Thank you for the advice from someone who is been there…I needed it! Have a good day. 🙂
I gave birth in November the first year we started homeschooling. Relax and enjoy this precious time. Have fun reading books together snuggling in bed.
Lol. This is me this year. I was scared to do my own thing and not follow a curriculum and ALL directions to a tee. My oldest son does well with the structure. Do what you have to do and you’re done. My youngest however has NEVER done well, but I was determined we had to be rigid. After 10 years of tears from both of us I decided my relationship with him is more important. He will get the necessary requirements and practice to score well on the ACT. We will do what works for him. I’m looking forward to this year more than the others.
I was homeschooled for ten years, so I definitely know the stresses and those “bad days” you’re referring to. I think that experience is the key to homeschooling children. It’s hard to homeschool kids when you haven’t experienced it yourself. And the pretty little Pinterest pictures and blogs and all that make homeschooling look easy. It’s not easy. AT ALL. I loved every second of being homeschooled and it taught me so many things. A group is what makes the big difference, though. Socializing with other children and moms who are also homeschooling makes it so much easier. Every mom has been through similar struggles and they always have advice to give. I’ll have not one, but two children starting homeschooling at the same time (they’ll be 16 months apart). And I know for sure it will be the hardest thing ever, but as I know what to expect, it won’t be too hard. It’s just a lot of managing and making sure they’re reaching fulfillment in learning. Making learning fun for children is what opens their minds, not making sure they’re following a strict guideline based on school.
OMG Thank you soooooo much! I just started last august homeschooling my 3 year old hyper baby boy. THIS gives me hope!!! THANK YOU!
You are very welcome! Enjoy the blessings of homeschooling.
Great read. After a long day of homeschooling 3 of my 6 blessings, I know I have much to learn still. This is day 6 of our new homeschooling adventure. Our kids have always been in public school. Our oldest until 8th grade and we pulled our daughter from 1st grade. (And some inbetween) Our 2 littlest ones will probably never know what it’s like to public school. I really like the idea of a mission statement. Getting going seems to harder then I expected and I’ve already had doubts about our choice to homeschool. Thanks for sharing!
This is so true! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
I am author of Student Of Word (SOW): A Bible Centered Curriculum for K-12th subjects & Students. I was cleaning out my email folders & found a Mom’s party invitation from you. I decided to click real quick to see if you still had a blog & were homeschooling. I went straight to this article…I loved it. All homeschooling Moms will identify with what you have said & learned. After 30 years homeschooling, director & teacher of SOW Co-ops, graduating all 5 of my children in 2010, I have been on a mission to update the SOW including A SOW Discipleship Devotional For All Ages & creating a SOW Mentorship to teach & train parents & teachers how to disciple their students not just educate them. Our website has not been changed to include the 2016 changes, yet, but if you contact me, I will send you samples of all changes. May God Bless,
First, thank you for the blog post. I am a late comer to the blog.
I ha e to say, I never really get the first one. I am not sure we will always be able to homeschool our kids. Because of that, I feel driven to keep them ‘on grade level’ because I want to ensure that if they need to return to school, it won’t be a huge hurdle for them. I read a lot of blog posts who address this issue from the standpoint of Moms who plan to homeschool for the duration of their child”s academic career, but do you have any tips for those of us who might not? As much as I would like to take the advice to not force them to stay on track (and as much as I realize you can’t really “force” some e to learn something before they are ready), that issue is always in the back of my mind.
It is difficult to relax about it all when I don’t know for certain that homeschooling will be something we will be able to do throughout.
I would go at the pace they are learning. If your child reads at a second grade level then I would stay there until they were ready to move on.
I am no longer homeschooling and I’m actually a teacher, my kids are excelling in the public school. I never worried about grade level, but just went with their pace. HTH.
Thanks for your post. We’re getting ready to pull my sixth grader from ps now due to the school system not working with us on her learning disabilities. I have been so nervous about this new journey. I know it’s the best thing for her, because she can work at her own pace and we can make adjustments to her curriculum as needed, but at the same time, I’m feeling the weight of being solely responsible for her education. We’ll be officially starting in two weeks, after getting our new computer delivered. Any advice?
I agree with all these things! I’m actually going to do a similar post this week about how to start homeschooling. So glad you shared this.
thank you. My (almost) six-year-old is learning addition and super into engineering, global studies, time, calendar stuff, and American history but, he struggles with reading and writing. I see kids his age reading books and writing cute notes (in both homeschool and public) and its hard. I forget all the things he knows that they don’t yet. Because they fallow a curriculum. It’s hard feeling like he will never learn those things, I say that, but he gets lessons on them every day. He IS learning. Just slower. Because, as you said, they WILL learn it eventually. Thank you. I need to hear it sometimes from a mom who has done this.
I loved your article. Since you’re a seasoned homeschool mom I hope you don’t mind me asking a question. We’re 3/4 of the way through the school year and our kiddo is saying she doesn’t like school and doesn’t want to do school. Usually she loves school and would even look forward to it. I can’t tell what’s going wrong. The workloads the same as it has been. I was hoping for any suggestions?
I would do a book study or unit study. Make it FUN!