Homeschooling isn’t rocket science, despite the claims of “Oh, I could never do that! I don’t have the patience for it” that I hear over and over again. What homeschooling is, in reality, is an exercise in on-the-job training. You get better at homeschooling…by homeschooling…by making mistakes with your kids and their schooling, and by making subtle corrections along the way.
Here are 10 things that successful homeschoolers invariably do once somewhere along the line, but never do again, adapted from Dr. Henry Cloud’s article, titled “10 Things Successful People Never Do Again”:
- Return to What Hasn’t Worked It could be a curriculum, an extracurricular activity, a daily schedule, or something else you encounter during your homeschooling day. Whatever it is, maybe it sounded like a great idea at one time, but you hate it now and so do your kids. If it doesn’t work for you and your kids, stop doing it.
- Do Anything that Requires You or Them to be Someone You’re Not I advocate a style of homeschooling that is, right now, pretty off the beaten path. It doesn’t resonate with everyone, and if it doesn’t resonate with you, you shouldn’t do it. I frequently see advertisements for Classical Conversations communities and several of my friends have raved about their involvement with CC, but I know it isn’t a good fit for someone with my beliefs about education or for my kids, so I have never joined one.
- Try to Change Another Person And yes, this does include your kids. If you’re butting heads with your kids over schooling, resist the temptation to make any character judgments about your kids. Instead, collaborate with them to uncover a solution that will work for both of you.
- Believe They Can Please Everyone Don’t even try; it won’t work. Make the decisions for your homeschool that work the best for you and your kids, and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. I created a group for homeschoolers in my area to do field trips together about seven years ago. My vision for the group was that it would be for people who are actively homeschooling at least one school-aged child. When people whose oldest children weren’t even yet out of diapers began applying for membership, I gently directed them toward a MOPs or a MOMS Club for the time being. That decision was very unpopular with a few vocal members of my group. I invited those folks to start their own groups if they wanted to have things done the way they wanted them done, because I recognized that I couldn’t please everyone.
- Trust Someone or Something that Appears Flawless What can I say? If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If Sally Homeschooler tells you that she’s got it all together – she’s trim and fit, her house is immaculate, her kids are in Mensa and never argue with her, meals are always homemade, she creates all of her own curricula, and she never has a moment that has her thinking public school sounds like a good idea, don’t believe her. She’s lying. It isn’t just other seemingly flawless homeschoolers you have to be wary of, curricula has a way of looking absolutely fantastic…in the catalog or at the homeschool convention. If it’s making outrageous claims about how it can turn your child into a genius or transform a math-hating child into a math-loving child doing problems well above grade level inside of a semester, be suspicious. Be very suspicious.
- Take Their Eyes Off the Big Picture If you don’t already have one, I suggest that you draft a homeschool mission statement. Put down, in writing, why you’re homeschooling your children and how you will know that your homeschool is successful. Review it regularly. Doing so will help you stay the course when the going gets tough.
- Neglect to do Due Diligence Every homeschooler has their favorite resources, styles, groups, and activities that they will brag about or promote shamelessly. There are pros and cons to every resource, style, group, and activity. Not every resource, style, group, or activity will be a good fit for every parent or child. You need to evaluate each opportunity that comes your way with your own strengths and weaknesses in mind.
- Fail to Ask Why They Are Where They Are By and large, your homeschool is the way it is because of the decisions you have made. If something isn’t working well, you need to evaluate your situation for what’s not working, why it’s not working, and what you can do to fix it. Look beyond conventional wisdom and keep an open mind.
- Forget that Their Inner Life Determines Their Outer Success Self-talk is a powerful thing. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I have said that to my kids. More than having brilliant, booksmart kids…more than having a clean house…more than having curricula that works well for all of your kids…more than being a member of a fantastic homeschool support group, your experience as a homeschooler will be largely influenced by what you tell yourself about homeschooling. If you’ve found your calling in homeschooling, the ups and downs of daily life as a homeschooler won’t shake you.
If you’re interested in more information about how to be a confident, happy homeschooler, I’ve created a free e-course titled, “7 Steps to Becoming a Confident, Successful Homeschooler.”