Have you felt like quitting this homeschool thing? Have you unintentionally fallen into one of these homeschool traps? Maybe you can identify with some of these thoughts that can trip you up, lead to frustration and steal your joy. Have you wondered about:
-your child falling behind academically
-how to set up your classroom
-your child reaching grade specific milestones
-teaching to the test
-how many hours of school should you do
-how strict should your schedule be
-do we have to finish every problem in the workbook
Listen to today’s video as I share with you from my own mistakes PLUS tell you the exact truths that I learned which brought joy into our homeschool journey. I know you will breath some deep sighs of relief … come on, let’s dive in together!
Hey there, Gina Hamby here with Help for Homeschoolers. And today, my entire goal is to bring encouragement and refreshment and to help you walk away feeling less stressed, less pressure.
I want to talk to you about common homeschool traps, things that we all fall into, especially when we want to do the very best for our kids!
I want to tell you what the traps are, I’m going to help you identify them, and then I’m going to give you the thoughts to combat it. Okay, are you ready? Alright, let’s go!
The Little Judgemental Man
The first one is when I say, ‘you are teaching to man and not to your personal convictions’… Let me explain, when I first started home schooling, at the time I pulled out my first grader from school (he was my second son), my oldest, was a third grader, he was still in school. I also had a pre-schooler and then a toddler … also at the time, my husband was furloughed from his job, and he wasn’t a big fan of home schooling.
I felt this pressure, like I had to be amazing, I had to all of a sudden have an amazing gift of teaching, but I didn’t… I was a nurse by trade, I was a mom.
But here’s the thing I learned! You do have the gift within yourself, and you need to learn to teach to your personal convictions what you want your child to know, the character you want to instill in them and stop worrying about…
Well, I termed it … this little man … he sits on your shoulder and he judges you.
Sometimes … I will still catch myself, even up to last year when I was homeschooling my last son through his senior year … I would be kind of frustrated.
I thought, “Oh, I don’t know if this is good enough for our English studies”.
It was as if that little man was there saying, “This isn’t 12th grade work, I really don’t think you know what you’re doing”.
Instead, I should be saying, “Yes, I’m teaching to the way my son wants to learn, how he is best at learning.”
I was no longer focusing on what man says I have to teach him. I was focused on , “what did I want him to walk away from his senior year with, his last year of homeschooling with me”.
Is This Where Your Stress Starts
That’s what I want you to consider when you start to get stressed, when you feel like the day isn’t going well, when… Your lesson isn’t working out like you thought it was going to. When your kids attitude is not working out like you thought.
Instead of being stressed, feeling the negativity of that little man sitting on your shoulder and just judging you… I want you to release that.
These are your children.
They are your children, they are your responsibility and they are your gift. You’ve been entrusted to teach them.
You can remove that little man, brush him off of your shoulder, he doesn’t belong there 🙂
Focus On Character Over Curriculum
Another example, how this could look…
You are all sitting at the kitchen table and one child pics on another, maybe he makes fun of him, maybe he calls him names, or says, “you’re stupid”.
Instead of saying, ” oh, quiet kids, let’s just get this workbook page done!”
Instead of doing that, your conviction is … you don’t want your kids to call each other stupid or to make fun of each other. You don’t want to raise bullies, you want to raise kids that instill life into one another.
So what you’re going to do, you’re just going to pause that workbook page and you’re going talk about it.
Talk about why we don’t call each other names … We’re supposed to breathe life into each other, we are not supposed to make fun of them.
We’re not supposed to make the other person feel bad about themselves.
Everybody is doing the best that they can.
So you’re going to stop, you’re going to pause and you’re going to teach character and stop worrying about that curriculum so much.
You’re going to focus on their heart.
Brush that little man off the shoulder brush, that little man that says,” You have to finish every workbook problem”.
No, you don’t. You need to progress in math for that day, but if that also includes addressing their heart issue, that’s a huge win.
Alright, another one is your…high expectations.
As if you believe that you must be amazing and you must complete every workbook problem and everyone is stressed and…
Let me tell you something, when it’s a stressful environment, no one is learning, children don’t retain knowledge when they’re in an environment of stress.
They’re just trying to do whatever they can do to get done.
That’s not what we want. We want our kids to progress, to get a little smarter every day to gain more knowledge. I don’t want you to worry about these high expectations. It’s going to work out.
I want you, when you get that feeling like,” Why aren’t you getting your math?”
I want you to pause.
I want you to say, “Alright, let’s come back to this. Go take a break. Go, take a breath of fresh air. Take a walk around.”
Give everyone a break, set a timer and say,” Okay, we’re gonna come back to this and a half hour”… If it was a really bad day, you say, “You know what? We’ll come back to this tomorrow.”
Okay, there is nothing gained from stressing over deadlines.
Boys Often Mature At Different Ages Than Girls
Another one, boy versus girl. I had four boys, and I know that boys learn at different ages, they learn at different maturity levels. Some boys mature more quickly, some girls mature more quickly.
Often girls will read sooner than boys and that’s okay. You don’t have to say, ” Oh my goodness, my second grader, he still can’t read fluently”. You want to make sure there’s not a vision problem or a problem with dyslexia, and that’s okay to investigate that further, but then again, also relax a little.
With my sons, I waited till they were eight or nine till we really dug into reading because I knew their brains were still forming.
I knew that was normal for boys.
If they want to read, if they want to run with it, fine, but do not stress if your girl or boy isn’t up to their peer level yet. I’m telling you, once you get to upper middle and high school, it all shakes out.
You don’t have to stress about it in elementary school… Okay, remove that from you.
So you’re forgetting the milestones … that they’re reading at this grade, they’re doing long division at this grade… Let that go. That will come in time.
The True Goal
Your goal is to build upon concepts … that every day they’re progressing a little and they feel a sense of achievement.
When they feel mastery or achievement, when they feel confident that they’re learning, confident that it’s okay because I did really great on these five math problems or on diagramming these sentences … whatever it is, it’s okay.
Slow down, stop worrying about those major milestones. What you’re supposed to do is just to be building into them every day, a little bit more.
Too Strict On the Schedule?
Another thing … and this will get us hung up.
How many of you… Try to follow a very strict schedule. You say from 8 to 8:30, it’s math, from 8:35 to 9:05, it’s English.
And then let’s say, your mom stops by or the baby gets sick, you’re called away for a minute. Then we start to get stressed because we’re like,” Oh, I’m not getting anything done today.”
Life will happen. Your kids are watching. How do you react to it?
It’s okay to set up a pattern, a pattern is very important.
Kids thrive on structure, they need a certain pattern to the day.
But if something comes up unexpected, if somebody drops by unexpected … and there is a time to set boundaries … and you do that as well for a family that just wants to stop by and see everything you’re doing … but if somebody… This is somebody you haven’t seen in a couple of years, or they just needed to come grab a quick hug … say, “You know what, guys, we’re going to take 20 minutes, Mommy’s going to visit with this person real quick. You guys can be drawing, you can be reading quietly, you can be playing.”
You have to be okay with unexpected interruptions, that’s just the way life is.
It’s not about strictly following that schedule.
I used to say that the books were my servant, I was not a servant to the books.
The schedule, the pattern is your servant, it’s a framework for your day, but it isn’t your master.
If (when) life happens, if things come up, it’s okay. Relax.
Do I Need A Classroom
Alright, this is huge.
A lot of home schoolers think they have to mimic the classroom… Exactly.
That’s not your job. Your kids are at home, you’re not trying to recreate a classroom.
That is for when a sweet lady or man who’s teaching 20 plus children, and they’re trying to keep them on task and on focus, and they have a certain way of doing things to try to facilitate that.
You’re at home, this is a warmer environment.
This is where you are instilling in them, you’re building character, you’re teaching them, but you’re not getting stressed.
Okay, I don’t want you to stress, you do not need a desk, you do not need a classroom.
Oftentimes, our school work was done at the kitchen table or it was done on the couch.
If it was beautiful outside like it is right now, we’d go outside and do our learning.
That’s good. That’s refreshing.
You don’t have to sit at a desk for a certain number of hours a day.
How Many Hours
Now, that’s another thing, we get hung up on. Thinking that my kids must be in school from 8 to 2: 15, whatever it is.
That’s not true. You are getting so much one-on-one mentoring time, and even if you have a multiple number of children, they are still getting far more mentorship and personal attention than they were in the classroom.
The classroom is there to serve 20 plus children. You probably don’t have 20 plus children, if you do, you deserve a gold star 🙂
You need to realize it’s okay, I am not mimicking the classroom at home.
We do not have to meet a certain long number of hours a day. Now, you should cover subjects each day, but let’s say your child is very gifted at math and if they finish building and learning concepts or it takes them just 20, 25 minutes… That is one good math day. It doesn’t have to be the 45 minutes or an hour.
It is covering a subject for the day, and sometimes your subjects will take longer, maybe you’re very interested, maybe it’s beautiful outside and you’re doing science and you’re looking at the change of seasons, and you’re collecting leaves, and if that takes a couple hours, that’s fine, you can do math and language the next day, maybe you’ll double up a little bit, but it’s up to you, it’s not… Don’t say, Okay, 45 minutes one hour or whatever it is, you know, you’re just trying to build upon concepts, what happens if your lesson plan… Does it work out perfectly low… Well, that’s life. Life doesn’t work out perfectly well, you have a plan and you’re hoping to cover these materials or these topics, but it’s okay, you do not have to be down to that lesson plan, you can run off with what things that spark your kids interests. They’re very interested in a caterpillar, a wool that they saw, and if you wanna pause a minute and just look that up, that’s okay. Even if it’s not on the lesson plan and you don’t have to stick to dry and dull and boring, you don’t have to stick to textbooks, the only places I ever used a textbook was for math and language, the rest of it… We were using library books, life experiences, we were watching interesting documentaries or videos or doing projects together, a textbook is usually dry, lifeless boring. Real life is exciting, that’s where a real learning takes place.
Also, you don’t have to grade unless your state, and you can look up if your state requires testing, but for us in Maryland, we did not have to do testing or grading, there were times that I would give them quizzes just to see if they were retaining it, but you don’t have to… You don’t have to do everything is a test, everything has to get agreed.
Okay, because we don’t want them to… If they’re giving their very best effort, let’s say one of your children, they are trying so hard in their spelling and in their language, but they’re still getting a lot wrong, you don’t wanna give them a C or a D, and just… That just wrecks their confidence, we don’t wanna break their confidence, we wanna instill joy into them.
Here is my favorite, and I’m almost done.
My favorite. Ready? No homework.
I love this. That is the biggest bonus to me, no homework, no big projects. You are the teacher, you are the facilitator of their learning, they’re getting everything they want during the day, you should not have to give your kids homework to be doing that night, unless you’re working on character and they said something wrong and they’re writing sentences about why there should be good things coming from their mouth and not bad, but that’s the exception, for the most part, there is no homework, no project, that’s all the things that you can get done during the day. And I want you to remember this, I’m gonna wrap up with this above all you, our mom, you are not professional teams or you do not… That’s not what your role is supposed to look like, you are supposed to be warm and responsive and loving, you do not have to switch roles and go From sweet mom to rigid, stressed out teacher, relax. You’re a facilitator of their learning. You’re helping setting up a learning environment in my video next week, I’m going to cover how to set up learning environments in your home that like little stations around the home, just quick, little creative ideas to spark you to create your home into a place where your children are thriving and learning, and it’s exciting, and you see the spark come back into their eyes… Alright, moms, you are doing great.
Take a deep breath. I know you can do this and I’m proud of you.