Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Ten Stupid Things Homeschoolers Shouldn’t Do

I found this article last night and before I post the link, let me issue a warning: stupid should hurt. It is not a quality article by any stretch of the imagination. We’re not even going to talk about the grammar…

However, this is the kind of information that is out there and I admit that I feel a certain responsibility for clearing up blatant misinformation, so this is my attempt to do just that.

Right off the bat, we’re informed that homeschooling is a ‘tedious task’, but that the we can be sure that the kids will learn what they are supposed to (presumably if we make education tedious enough… I guess if you use a non-traditional and dynamic method, your kids are doomed to idiocy). We’re also cautioned about parents who simply ‘claim’ to homeschool with very little progress. Thankfully, we’re given a list of blunders to avoid so that we don’t all into that category.

1. Preaching about homeschooling – Not every parent favors homeschooling. Some are just too busy and others do not have the ability to teach their kids at home. Pushing the idea of homeschooling only alienates you and your child in the community which is dangerous because your kids need a strong community presence.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who ‘preaches’ about the virtues of homeschooling. Most of the homeschooling parents I know are advocates of homeschooling, yes, but I think we all realize that it is not the right choice for every parent. Homeschooling takes a tremendous amount of effort and it definitely is not feasible or desirable for every family. We know that. We even know people whom, if we found out about their desire to homeschool, we would actively discourage from trying to homeschool. But if you’re on the fence about it, talking to a homeschooling advocate can definitely give you a confidence boost enough to go ahead and try it. It’s not like ‘deciding’ your child’s educational path is the end-all, be-all decision. If you try it and it isn’t for you, then you can do something different – no harm done.

2. Setting a homeschool without additional help – There are too many ideas outside your home that can be used to properly implement homeschooling. Learn as much as you can from various groups online or in your local area. This will constantly give you fresh and smart ideas in teaching your kids.

However badly presented, this idea is a good one. I wouldn’t say that it’s ‘necessary’ to utilize outside resources (after all, few schools make use of the educational resources that their community offers to their full advantage), but it certainly can and does enhance your homeschooling experience. You’ll also offer a more dynamic lesson when your lesson incorporates ‘out of the box’ locations and resources.

3. Accepting all teaching responsibilities – Do not think that you can teach everything to your kids. This can only damage their learning process especially on the young ones. Identify the subjects you can’t handle and seek help so that you will maintain the quality of education.

This is one of those tricksy worded ‘helpful guidelines’. I daresay that as a reasonably educated adult, I am more than capable of teaching my elementary school aged child the basics of a 5-8th grade-ish education all by myself. With the inclusion of the local library and internet access, I might even extend that through high school. Personally, I would say that it is more in the later years – high school and beyond – that homeschooled students might benefit from having specialized teachers. Certainly if one knows oneself to be woefully lacking in any given subject, the responsible homeschooling parent will seek a mentor for their child.

4. Difficult schedule – One of the reasons why parents want to homeschool their kids is that they want their kids to have more time at home. Do not remove this advantage by establishing a hectic daily schedule for your kids. It is stressful for you and your kids.

This one makes no sense to me. Even the most rigorous homeschool schedule I’ve seen is less hectic than a schedule where the kids are being shuffled back and forth to classes every hour. Add in after-school stuff and that makes for a very full schedule. I don’t know of any homeschoolers who over-schedule themselves or their kids.

5. Overspending – You have to expect to spend a little bit more on books and other supplies for homeschooling. But you still have to be smart about the budget as overspending will not translate into a well-educated kid. It might even be the reason why the kid is not concentrating enough.

This one is reasonable, and makes a good point: Overspending does not result in a well-educated child. I don’t understand how more money = not concentrating, so we’re just going to ignore that part.

6. Moving forward without feedback – Assumption is the number one enemy of parents. Do not just think that your kid already knew the subject because it will only confuse your kids. Consistently ask for a feedback so that you can adjust the pace or even your teaching techniques.

The number one enemy of parents? I hardly think so. I don’t think this one makes much sense either; most homeschooling parents can see within a lesson or two whether or not their child ‘gets it’ and/or if this book/curriculum/style is working and will make those adjustments accordingly and automatically. Feedback in the form of discussion is kind of like flogging a dead horse. I will say that discussion with your child and getting ideas and input from him/her about how and what is being learned is a good idea – but that’s kind of a different point than the one being made.

7. Asking too much from your kid – Avoid stressful situations by setting realistic expectations from your kid. This will even be beneficial for your kid since he will have a good learning experience. Easy to understand subjects will be easier to learn which can be slowly adjusted depending on the kid’s response.

Again, however badly worded, this one contains a little nugget of useful insight. As a homeschooling parent, I think it is very easy to have high expectations – maybe even unrealistic expectations. Good communication with your child can help keep you both on the same page, as will resisting the urge to push them ahead or compare them with other kids.

8. Ignoring school-based ideas – Homeschooling is not a very unique system compared to regular school environment. Learn from regular teachers regarding their teaching methods and techniques and implement some of those ideas at home. Teachers are professionals who know what to do with kids so their ideas can really help in homeschooling.

I’m gong to flat-out disagree with this one. Homeschooling IS a very unique system when compared to institutionalized school environments. Classroom teachers and homeschool teachers have little on common and therefore their teaching methods can and should vary greatly. Homeschooling parent/teachers have any and all teaching methods at their disposal – the traditional teaching environment and style guarantee a good education in the exact same way that expensive materials do.

9. Pushing for more activities – More free time does not mean additional activities for the kids. Let them decide what to do with their free time and simply supervise or simply be a parent that prevents them from danger.

Again, disagree. More free time means exactly that there is more time for additional activities for the kids. Without spending 8 hours a day in a classroom, they will have more free time for activities of their choosing – academic or otherwise.

10. Not knowing when to stop– Your kid will reach an age that homeschooling is no longer an option. Parents have to recognize this stage so that they can help their kids have a normal adolescent development. Homeschooling is still a good option but should not be the only option parents should push to their kids.

Aaaaaannnndddd…. disagree. Completely. Utterly. In every way. There is no age when homeschooling suddenly becomes less beneficial. The benefits of homeschooling continue as long as there is an active parent involved. While the individual circumstance might prompt your family to choose other schooling options, homeschooling is a viable option from Kindergarten through High School Graduation – and even college or trade school (via correspondence) should one desire it. The idea that a child ‘needs’ to be in an institutionalized school environment in order to develop normally is absurd.

Since this is supposed to be a quick list of things not to do, here’s mine:

  1. Don’t spend a bunch of money on curriculum in the first year. Your style will change as will your expectations over the first year. Get a better idea of how you’ll homeschool before committing to a curriculum.
  2. Don’t stress about whether or not this is the ‘right’ thing. If you’re worried about it, that means that you’re mindfully considering your options and whatever you decide, it’s the right decision for your family right now.
  3. Don’t compare your kid, yourself or your homeschool to others. It’s not a contest.
  4. Don’t over-explain. Homeschooling is legal in most states. Learn your state’s rules and requirements and fulfill them. You don’t owe a single thing else to anyone.
  5. Don’t push – yourself or your kid. Take your time; you’ve got plenty of it!
  6. Don’t go it alone. Find like-minded families either in real life or online. Connecting with other homeschooling families is key in homeschooling success.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Utilize every resource available to you – not all in one day, but do use them. There are a ton of resources and opportunities in your community and region. Find them.
  8. Don’t ‘cover the material’. Homeschoolers have the luxury of being able to be ‘mastery oriented’. We’re not on anyone else’s time table. Master each concept in turn, then move on – regardless of what ‘grade’ it is.
  9. Don’t burn out. Take regular breaks for yourself. You need and deserve to be well rested and centered so that you can continue giving your best to your kids.
  10. Don’t put too much stock in anyone else’s lists.

Warmly,

~h

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