Is there some magical way to become a better homeschooling parent? Well, learning the right way to do something and the wrong way are both important. We’ve compiled a list of things you don’t want to do as a homeschooling parent. So, let’s jump to the 20 Don’ts of homeschooling. Created and approved by veteran homeschool parents that know what they’re talking about.
The 20 Don’ts of Homeschooling
1. Don’t Overwork and Overwhelm Your Kids.
Keep your lessons short, sweet, and simple. Many homeschoolers think that they need to cram in an abundance of ‘work’ during school time. In order to keep up with traditional education. Don’t do this. When you overwork your kids with workbooks and lessons. It can actually overstimulate them and cause them to become overly frustrated with their education. When you choose to overwhelm and overwork your kids, you are undeniably choosing stress for them. And that stress is a quick step to a learning block. So, don’t do that.
2. Don’t Over Schedule.
Homeschooling in itself takes up a huge part of your day. Additionally, the default homeschool parent is often the one that is also responsible for housework, and for some, working from home too. Therefore you should always aim to keep your family’s schedule light. Society has this way of making us believe that if our kids aren’t in ballet, ice skating, gymnastics, basketball, hockey or some other extracurricular activity. That they won’t be on the same level as their peers.
That’s false. While it can be nice to have those extra activities, it’s vital to protect the schedule. Perhaps your child is extremely talented in one area and you want to cultivate that – that’s totally fine. I’m not saying you should give up on all extra activities. But, over scheduling with activities that they probably don’t even enjoy? What’s the point? Stop over scheduling. Aim for a simple schedule instead.
3. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself.
Number 3 of the 20 Are you the type of parent that is quick to cut up your 9 year olds waffle for him? Stop. Let your child learn how to be independent. Doing so by allowing them the opportunity to actually accomplish tasks on their own. When it comes to class work, are you sharpening the pencils? Are you sitting at the table for hours while your child finishes each question of their lessons? Don’t do that! There’s a reason this is number three on the 20 don’ts of homeschooling. Because it’s important.
If your child is old enough, implement checklists for homework. This can look like ‘Today you need to complete pages 90 – 93 of your Language Arts.” If you know that it’s just practice work, and you don’t necessarily need to teach them directly. Then allowing them to use a checklist to complete these tasks is an amazing habit to get them, and yourself into. Teaching your kids to be independent is one of your greatest goals as a parent, so aim to reach it!
Homeschooling pro tip for teaching multiple grades: Click Here
4. Don’t Compare Yourself.
Please, please, don’t compare yourself to other parents. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool parents. Above all, don’t ever compare your child to another child. Doing so will just create a complex in their mind and put them on the comparison path for the rest of their life. Rather you should remind yourself that your kids are unique, you are unique, and your homeschool is a reflection of that. Everyone is going to be a little different. And, every homeschool is going to look a little different.
5. Don’t Tear Other Homeschoolers Down.
This is just as important as being sure not to compare yourself to other homeschooling parents. You should never, ever criticize someone else’s homeschooling style. Why? Because you really never know when their style will become your own. Homeschooling changes, constantly.
As your children grow, your homeschool changes. You’ll find different ways that work best for your children. Often (most) times one way of learning will be great for one of your kids and absolutely not for your other kid. It’s easy when you first start homeschooling to assume that you are going to continue to homeschool in that specific way forever. But, you won’t. Your homeschool will change and evolve. A homeschooling style that seemed to be totally foreign and off the rails for you, just might become the style that you end up gravitating towards one day.
It’s also just really important that we should never criticize another individual whether behind their back or to their face. It’s not kind. This is especially true for homeschooling families. Rather than criticizing, we should be supporting them while also learning from them. Homeschool families need to stick together, whether your styles mesh or not.
6. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment.
This is why it’s also so important not to criticize other homeschooling styles. Because it’s paramount for you to find your own style, schedule and even curriculum that works best for your family. Changing things up is a great option when things are getting messy and no one seems to be enjoying the homeschooling journey. Please don’t be afraid to change things up!
7. Don’t Imitate a Public School Classroom.
It’s totally fine to have a schedule, we aren’t saying that everyone should just jump to unschooling. But listen, if that’s your jam than obviously – do it! The point is, you don’t want to get tied up by an unrealistic schedule. It can be hard to wrap your mind around what an alternative educational model can look like when you’re accustomed to the public school model alone.
8. Don’t Feel That You Need to Cover It All.
You don’t need to jump into every subject the first day, week, or even month. Homeschooling is often a really big adjustment for the whole family. So instead, you should give your family and yourself time to get familiar with your learning content and routine. Focus on one or two core subjects, and sprinkle in something that your child really loves! This could be art, music, physical education, or even a nature study. As time goes on, you can start to sprinkle in the other subjects.
9. Don’t Cram It All Into One Day.
I feel like I’ve said this before. But that’s fine. I’ll say it again, especially for the 20 don’ts of homeschooling. Because it’s an important point that needs to be recognized. You do not need to do Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, French, Arts and Music all in one day. Schools don’t even do that! When you choose to homeschool in this way, your child can’t properly grasp all the concepts that they should be grasping.
It’s so much better if you choose one or maybe 2 subjects per day. Take time to really dive into them. Look up neat videos to go along with your lessons. Check out library books, do research together. Find different ways to teach a certain concept. And then reiterate the lesson using different styles (on different days). You can do this until you’ve figured out the unique way that your child learns at this time. Notice I said “at this time”, because their learning style will change.
10. Don’t Belittle Your Children.
This really is just a general tip for parenting. But we can cross it into homeschooling as well. If your child is trying to dig deeper into a topic, or is struggling with something and trying to tell you that they are. Don’t ignore that. Never assume that it’s just ‘them’. And belittle them into getting the work done. Never belittle your children, period. Adding onto that, just please never belittle your children in the name of getting them to accomplish their school work. It’s not worth it, and can and will have lasting negative effects on their lives.
11. Don’t Be a Taskmaster.
I get it. You want to get all the work done so you can enjoy an amazing winter break with no school work, just holiday music playing and cookies baking in the oven. Regardless of that goal, you should never turn yourself into a taskmaster on behalf of trying to have your children reach their goals on the timeline that you have created. You don’t want to get to the point where your children think of school as yet another chore they must accomplish. And, you don’t want your child to look at you and think ‘Now what does she want me to do?’. I know you want to aim to get it all done, and quickly. But that kind of crammed learning isn’t learning. It’s chaos. So don’t do it.
12. Don’t Force a School Day.
Did your kids wake up with runny noses and they’re complaining of sore throats? Are your children just really tired from a busy weekend? Maybe you’re feeling exhausted and needing a break? Then take one. You don’t need to force a school day just because you saw the school bus go by the window outside. Because your child will not fall behind because you took a breather. Forcing school on a day that you know no one will want to participate will really cause more frustration than good.
13. Don’t Teach When You’re Frustrated.
DON’T TEACH WHEN YOU’RE FRUSTRATED. This ‘don’t‘ of the 20 don’ts of homeschooling is really, really important so I had to write it twice. Never teach when you’re frustrated. As a homeschooling parent you will still have life to deal with on top of homeschool. Sometimes you can be teaching a simple lesson of math, the day seems to be going great. Then all of a sudden your youngest comes in with a suspicious grin.
You hear a weird sound and notice water running down the hallway. Suddenly, you come to the horrific realization that while you were happily teaching math to your older child. Your younger child tried to dump their crayons in the toilet. Now there’s a flood down the hallway and you probably need to call a plumber. Ok, Math is done for the day. The frustration you’re feeling in that moment will only come out in your teaching style.
Even if you think you can suffocate the feelings, you can’t. It’ll come out in your body language. If you know you are frustrated, avoid teaching until you’ve gotten yourself into a better headspace. That doesn’t mean you should give up on the lesson for the day. It means you refocus, regroup, and come back to it when you’re more relaxed and able.
14. Don’t Add More Curriculum.
It’s tempting, when you’re walking by the piles of curriculum books at Costco to think ‘Oh this would be great practice work!’. You don’t need to do that. As homeschoolers we are constantly feeling like we need to do ‘more’. Or like our kids aren’t learning or doing enough. So, this feeling of ‘adding more’ just continually pops up. Your child did their Science lesson quickly and didn’t fuss? Does that mean you should add more practice? Make it harder for them? Absolutely not! Learning doesn’t need to be crammed in there, and difficult. It should be simple, fun, relaxing and engaging. Finding that balance will make a world of difference.
15. Don’t Fall For Homeschool Parental Guilt.
You are doing enough. And your kids are learning enough. Also, your home is clean enough. And your kids are eating healthy enough. We love to torture ourselves with these ideas that we just aren’t enough. Or like someone else is doing it better, so why can’t I? Stop! Turn the switch off when it comes to homeschool parental guilt. It literally ally gets you nowhere. Your kids really are learning enough, and you are truly doing such a good job. There’s no room for parental guilt, because you are totally filled up with positive affirmations on how awesome you are.
16. Don’t Assume That Your Kids Are Behind.
They aren’t. Your kids are right where they’re supposed to be. Let go of this idea that your child needs to be in the standard for their age group. Your child is unique and their learning style reflects that. Maybe your child is 9 years old but is reading at a grade 2 level. That’s ok. Your child isn’t behind, they don’t need to catch up. Just move along at the pace that works for your child and yourself. Then all the pieces will fall into place when they’re supposed to.
17. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help.
It’s so good to ask for help and support when you need it. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t strong enough to be a homeschooling parent.
18. Don’t Worry About Messing Up as a Homeschool Parent.
Life is messy! Literally everyone messes up sometimes. Some people just clean it up faster or hide it better. If you’ve messed up as a homeschool parent, learn from that mistake and move forward.
19. Don’t Get Stuck in the Oops!
If you did mess up, or loose your temper, or taught your kid the wrong concept. Don’t get stuck in the mistake. Look at it as a learning opportunity for you too! When you’ve mad a mistake, own it. Take ownership of your mistake, apologize, and strategize how to move forward in a positive way.
20. Don’t Underestimate Yourself.
You are more than capable of teaching your children. Be proud of the choice that you’ve made. Embrace the unknowns, and work diligently towards the future. Because you are capable of accomplishing some really, really amazing things. I’m so proud of you, and I hope that you are too! The very fact that you are searching out ways to be an amazing homeschooling parent, like reading the 20 don’ts of homeschooling, speaks volumes. Don’t cut yourself short, ok?
Read: 20 Do’s of Homeschooling
Do you have any ‘don’ts’ to add to the 20 Don’ts of Homeschooling? Let us know!