What You’re Doing Wrong as a Homeschool Parent
I’m kidding. But seriously, I have never questioned if I am failing or succeeding so often during a single adventure in my entire life. Since you decided to read this article, I’m going to guess we share that feeling.
First, we are probably all doing better than we think. How can I tell? We have all concerned ourselves enough with our child’s education to come to the conclusion that homeschool is better than public school. A great start counts for something, right? Second, since they seem to give a teaching degree to just about anybody, the chances that we will fail completely are pretty slim. Studies show that children who are homeschooled are smarter overall than children who attend public school. My guess is that the average homeschool parent does not have a degree in teaching, yet we seem to be providing better results. “This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students which found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement.”(1) So that’s good.
Homeschool is better for our children and can be more taxing for parents. Naturally, because it requires a higher level of commitment and patience. It requires much more work than simply sending your child to school in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. There are things we need to be aware of and things we need to remind ourselves of daily. Things we need to cut ourselves slack on and things we need to put more effort into. That’s what I will be going over in this article.
Frequently trying new things is part of the job.
If your child is struggling, then you need to change what you’re doing (And that’s okay). Our children are not always going to learn the way we teach. Sometimes they will and other times we will have to search, endlessly if we have to, for what works best for them. It can be frustrating for parents during these trial and error periods but we have to remember that it is equally, if not more, frustrating for our children. It is critical that we are patient with ourselves and our children. Our children will enjoy learning when we have found what truly works for them. Do you remember the book you were reading when you finally thought “I love to read”? That’s what it will be like for you and your child when you find the teaching method and materials that are right.
Baking totally counts as a science project.
Baking is a great way to teach science. Even if you have done it with your children a million times before the hands on of creating something from specific ingredients will have their wheels turning. Something I have planned for next week is showing the kids a basic recipe and then asking them create their own. Then we will mix it up, bake it, and see if it works. Once it’s finished, we can examine it and compare it to the original recipe to see where we may need to add or subtract something from the recipe they created. So why am I mentioning this? Because, sometimes life is hectic. We all have those days where we come home from the doctor, finish the dishes, finish the laundry, do our work on the computer and realize we haven’t got a lick of school in for the day. Obviously, these days are not frequent but they happen. That’s when you take a deep breath, round up your kiddos, take them into the kitchen, and do a science project from the cookbook (or Pinterest).
Play time is a necessity.
Kids teach themselves when they play. They use their imaginations. One of the greatest tragedies going on in public school is their recesses keep getting cut shorter and shorter. Not to mention all of the be-quiet-rules implemented. It’s always funny to me when people say, “Your kids won’t be socialized if they are home-schooled.” Aside from the fact that most of the kids in public schools are not peaceful parented and therefore not suitable to play with my children on a regular basis; children get organized socialization in public school, which I’ll definitely pass on. Sorry, I digress. Back to my point. Take them to the park regularly. Let them explore outside. Give them the freedom to play what they want alone and with peers. It is easy to feel like we are not providing them with enough knowledge when they play sometimes but don’t stress over it. Children need regular autonomous play time. And don’t forget to play with them.
Listen to your child read to you everyday.
I don’t know how many parents do this but I think it is something everyone should do. To do this you must make sure the books you and your child are picking are in their reading level. I have had too many long hours (yes hours) listening to my child struggle through a book that is too advanced. All it causes is frustration for the child and the parents. While I am sure it is not necessary for your child to excel in reading, I think logic would strongly suggest that the child will gain great confidence from their parents dedication to their learning of such a trying task. This dedication shows your child that you deeply care about their success. I think it also teaches children to have confidence in reading out loud without the pain of being forced to do so in front of a class of kids who might ridicule them. This one will require extreme patience.
Routine isn’t a bad thing.
Just because you don’t have to have your kid at a certain building at a specific time doesn’t mean you can’t have a routine. The kids and I like to get the bulk of their school work done before noon, give or take an hour. Then we eat some lunch together, I do some work on my computer, and then we do our reading. We found this great app called EPIC that has a lot of books to read on a tablet or computer. The kids and I read on the iPad and the book selection really helped both of my children become excited about reading. They have a free trial and then it’s only $4.99/month. Score. Again, I digress. I found that once I planned out what and how much I wanted to get done my days ran much more smoothly. This is what works for our family. The great thing about developing a routine is you get to design it specifically for your own family.
Your routine should not be mandatory.
Your routine should not be something that makes you feel anxious if it isn’t followed to a T. Why? Because children don’t operate that way. One day your child might do their writing assignment in 35 minutes with minimal errors and distractions. The next day he might be looking out the window daydreaming about playing soccer with a dinosaur. One day your child might do her math flash cards using her memory. The next day she might be forgetful and need to count out marbles for each equation and the next thing you know it’s time to start dinner. I look at the routine as a guide for things that I would like to get accomplished for the day. The more I stick to it the more I will likely be able to get done. The thing we have to remember is we are teaching little people and it’s not always going to be on our schedule, which is perfectly fine.
You may not be doing it perfectly but you are doing something amazing.
My mom’s favorite saying is, “This is about progress, not perfection.” Remind yourself everyday that you are doing something amazing by homeschooling your child. You are investing in and securing your child’s future. No one is perfect and you don’t have to be to be a fantastic parent. We all screw up. We all make mistakes. We all have things we need to work on. When we realize we screwed up all we need to do is make the proper amends. When we realize we made a mistake all we have to do is commit to doing it differently the next time. When we realize we have things we need to work on all we have to do is make ourselves aware and vow to use every opportunity to progress in our efforts. As long as you’re progressing in your efforts to be a good parent and teacher, then you are doing a truly remarkable job.
1) Academic Statistics on Homeschooling (Many studies over the last few years have established the academic excellence of homeschooled children.) October 22, 2004, https://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp