It’s so exciting starting your first year of homeschooling. It is exciting to think about all your children will learn and how you’ll have the opportunity to grow closer as a family. It’s also fun to research and choose out a curriculum you think will be great for your family.
However, with all the excitement also comes a little bit of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that when all is said and done your year won’t measure up to your expectations. I think it’s these fears that can sometimes lead you off course your first year of homeschooling.
This last year our family completed our first year homeschooling. It was an amazing year and we all learned a lot along the way. However, I am sorry to say that at times I let my fears creep in and I made some mistakes. I want to share with you three common mistakes I made my first year homeschooling so you can avoid making them too.
3 Mistakes to avoid your first year homeschooling
Mistake #1: Trying to do too much
With so many excellent curriculum choices and different directions you can take your homeschool sometimes, it’s hard just to narrow down your options.
I remember last year as I was preparing for our year I picked out a math program, history, reading, spelling, and science. Then after reading different homeschooling forums I started to doubt that I was planning enough. So I ended up also adding in geography, language arts, creative writing, and literature studies. Have I mentioned yet that my daughter was in first grade?
On top of that, I joined a couple different co-ops for field trips and signed my daughter up for a homeschool gymnastics class. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was planning too much.
The biggest problem with planning too much is eventually either you are going to get burnt out or your child is. In our case both were true.
Homeschooling takes much less time than traditional schooling but that doesn’t mean you need to pack your days full to fill up the time. Take your first year slow.
Start with just the basics and add in additional subjects as you wish once you get into a good groove that works for your family.
Mistake #2 Trying to live up to someone else’s expectations
Do you know what you hope to achieve by homeschooling?
If you haven’t done so make a list of goals for your children. Then make sure every choice you make in your homeschool is helping you to meet those goals.
I have a list of goals that I hope to help my children achieve as they grow. However, this year as we were homeschooling, I found that the least enjoyable times in our homeschool were when I lost sight of my own vision in order to compete or conform to someone else’s academic expectations.
Obviously, you need to know your states homeschooling laws and abide by them, but other than that you should let your vision for your family be your guide. Don’t worry about making sure your kids know exactly what you think everyone else’s kids do.
Your child is a unique individual and it’s more than okay for their education to be individualized as well.
Mistake #3 Not understanding your child’s learning style
While it’s important to keep your vision in mind, it’s even more important to keep your children in mind as you plan your homeschool year.
As I was choosing curriculum for our first year, I tried to choose programs that I thought would be fun for my daughter. I thought that if I was excited about it and found it enjoyable to teach that she would find it enjoyable as well. I learned that isn’t always the case.
After reading “The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Tobias I had an ah-ha moment. I discovered that my daughters learning style is dominate concrete sequential which means that one of the things she thrives with is structure and clear directions.
This made me think back to an afternoon this past year. I had chosen out what I thought was a fun writing prompt for my daughter. It was to write a letter to an alien. She was more than a little displeased with the assignment. After lots of time wasted and frustration I finally let her trade in the page for a new writing prompt.
I thought she was just being stubborn and uncooperative. Now after understanding her learning style better I realize that the problem was that I was choosing an assignment that didn’t fit with the way she learns.
As you work to understand and teach how your child learns your homeschooling experience will become more enjoyable.
I hope that you can avoid making these three mistakes I did your first year homeschooling. Good luck with your year. You are going to do great!
Don’t let your fears creep in and keep you from your vision.
What mistake do you wish you would have avoided your first year homeschooling? I would love to hear!