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Three Habits That Hurt Your Homeschool

Homeschoolers are generally optimistic and enthusiastic parents who are willing to take on the responsibility and challenge of homeschooling their children. But even with that “can do” attitude, little habits can creep in that undermine those efforts if they aren’t careful. If homeschooling isn’t going quite right, consider if one of these three habits might be hurting your homeschool.

#1 – Not Finding Your Rhythm

Every family has an optimal rhythm to their day, week and year. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can identify that rhythm and work with it. Too often families feel obligated to keep a rhythm that they think they should keep (like traditional school) or that they see other families keeping. Instead of going with the natural bent of their family, they try to impose something that simply doesn’t fit who they are.

As long as you are operating within the laws of your state, you are free to set up any schedule that you wish. Find the natural rhythm for your family. If you are early risers, do school in the morning. If you are late risers, do it in the afternoon and evening. If you are winter sports enthusiasts, homeschool from March to November and make December through February your “summer” vacation. If fall is your busy season, homeschool from January through September and take the rest of the year off.

You can homeschool four days a week or six. Some families are totally committed to their morning meeting time to start the day and other successful homeschoolers have never done such a thing. Simply find what is natural for your family and run with it!

#2 – Ignoring Reality

This well-known saying makes it clear: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

If you find yourself feeling like you are constantly running into the same roadblocks and issues, you may be making this very mistake by ignoring the reality right in front of you.

That math program your child hates is not going to magically transform into her favorite book. If it really isn’t working for her, get rid of it and do something else.

That science approach everyone else in your co-op loves but that doesn’t work for your children isn’t going to suddenly draw everyone in. Face reality and do something else that does work for your family.

It is fine to go Scarlett O’Hara once in awhile and decide to think about it another day. But if you find yourself ignoring reality and always pushing the need for an honest assessment out to another day, you are only prolonging the pain and frustration in your home.

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#3 – Trying to Do It All

No one does it all. Not even that blogger you read who does all of those fantastic hands-on projects with her seven children. Chances are she has weeds in her garden and mildew in her shower.

It’s an unhelpful habit to think that you can do it all and try to constantly act on that assumption. You can’t do it all and thinking you can will only hurt your homeschooling efforts. It will hurt them, in part, because you will constantly feel frustrated at your perceived failures. But it also hurts your children because you are modeling to them an unrealistic perfectionism that is unhealthy. It is far better for them to see you model real life with real limitations. It’s a greater learning experience for them to see you negotiate trade-offs in life so they learn how to do the same in their own life when they are older.

Homeschooling is a challenging task for any parent. Don’t make it more difficult by cultivating habits that undermine the important work you are doing! Identify those bad habits and then replace them with those that work in your family’s best interest.

About Sallie Borrink

Sallie enjoys homeschooling her only child, Caroline, in beautiful West Michigan. As relaxed homeschoolers, they enjoy learning from all of life. Sallie creates learning materials and writes about homeschooling, parenting, faith and simple living at Sallie Borrink.

One comment

  1. Well put! One of my favorite things about homeschooling is being able to work around Daddy’s schedule (2nd shift) and allowing the kids to be early risers while Mommy struggles to get up.
    Of course, the second point is essential as well since it’s easy to go for ages with somethings getting lost in the shuffle because there isn’t a set time to do it. I try to think through where the holes are forming about once a month and find a workable slot to put important subjects into so things get done.
    And I can’t imagine trying to do everything we run into in the homeschool community. If you take a minute to look around, you’ll find families who are world class at every subject imaginable. And that’s before seeing some of the school rooms people post online.
    What you say about the bloggers and their real lives is right on. Sure, my kids know more about worldview, the Bible, and science than most, but I won’t let an authorized camera into my house, or near my bathroom!
    It’s all about recognizing the limitations of reality (we don’t get extra hours just because our work is important), finding what will help develop the future adults we are responsible for, and assuming God gave them me as a parent for a reason and letting external pressures go.
    Thanks. 🙂

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