How to Make Sure Your Kids Hate Homeschooling
Let’s get real. Homeschooling isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it’s downright painful.
I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes over the last 17 years. Just ask my kids. It’s remarkably easy to make your kids hate homeschooling.
You might think this blog post is in jest, but I’m serious! These mistakes can be fatal to the health and happiness of your homeschool.
So, if you want your kids to hate homeschooling, make sure you do these 10 things:
10 Ways to Make Sure Your Kids Hate Homeschooling:
1. Replicate public school at home.
Gah! I cringe about the way I initially conducted our homeschool. I bought tiny, adorable desks for my 5-year-old and my 4-year-old, along with enough curriculum to choke a Harvard undergrad. I installed a flag in the corner of our basement classroom, and hung a blackboard and an alphabet banner. Any kindergarten teacher would have been proud.
We’d start each morning with the Pledge of Allegiance, and then my kids were supposed to work silently while I nursed the baby and entertained the toddler. I scheduled in recess, during which we learned how to play team sports and games I remembered from my PE experience.
I even wanted my children to raise their hands for permission to use the bathroom or to ask questions. What was I thinking?
Luckily (though I didn’t consider it luck at the time), my 4-year-old was completely uncooperative! He was a howler monkey and a sloth and an angry kangaroo all rolled into the body of a little boy.
My oldest would have submitted to all the schooling I wanted to shove down her throat. But my second would have required sedation. Plus I had a two-year-old and an infant. My dream school did not last long!
And that’s a good thing. Because now, with 17 years of experience under my belt, my best advice to new homeschoolers is to slow down and relax. The best learning happens on the floor, at the kitchen table and in the backyard.
2. Forget to consider each child’s interests and learning style.
My oldest was pretty amenable to whatever I brought home. She’d sit nicely in her little chair and complete everything I asked of her.
My second devoured only the things he was interested in and eschewed the rest. And he learned extremely quickly and thoroughly, but refused to complete worksheets or busy work, even in subjects in which he was interested.
My third wasn’t interested in academic pursuits. He was a much more physical kid. He was a great reader and would read for fun, but he resisted my attempts to interest him in pretty much anything. I persisted, like a dummy, and enrolled him in a couple of online classes for a year at around age 12, thinking maybe a different teacher was the answer.
He earned straight F’s, not kidding. I was at a loss for how to help him, but I knew the answer wasn’t to keep throwing money at resources, so I let him be. All of a sudden at age 14, he flipped like a light switch. He was interested in everything, voluntarily signed up for classes at our local university and earned straight A’s.
Each of my eight children is bright and intelligent, but each of them is also very different in learning styles and interests. In a public school setting, my second surely would have been diagnosed ADHD and medicated, and my third would have been placed in all of the remedial classrooms and he would have felt dumb.
No curriculum, no teaching methodology, no discipline will be a perfect match for all of your children. That’s exactly the problem with public schools. You have the opportunity to differentiate and individualize everything for each child.
3. Overwork your kids to make them hate homeschooling.
I don’t know about you, but I had visions of my 5-year-old doing Calculus, speaking Latin, publishing novels and conducting scientific research. Of course we all want the best education possible for our children. So, naturally, we load them up with educational opportunities and schoolwork from dawn to dusk.
More schoolwork must equate to more learning, right? Um, no, actually.
All it leads to is exhaustion, complaints, resentment overwhelm and burnout. It’s a great way to make your kids hate homeschooling! And in the end, your kids will actually learn less.
Raymond Moore is a huge proponent of delaying formal schooling to age 8 and then conducting it only in a relaxed method. Charlotte Mason recommends short lessons for maximum learning. In fact, many child development experts, like John Holt recommend unschooling altogether.
4. Overschedule your family.
You know all the hats you wear as a mom — chef, nutritionist, maid, chauffeur, laundress, nurse, accountant, CEO, psychiatrist, and so many more. Now add to that being the principal and sole teacher of a private school.
Aren’t you exhausted?
I used to be so tired I’d fall asleep every time I sat down. And then I went and signed my kiddos up for soccer and swim team and ballet and irish dance and orchestra and every extracurricular activity known to man. Duh!
I just didn’t want them to be ‘deficient. In all seriousness, I was my own worst enemy.
Fortunately, I came to my senses. We quit everything except music lessons and orchestra. My kids weren’t even sad, and I was positively giddy!
When you feel overwhelmed, you probably aren’t the nicest person to be around. Homeschooling will begin to feel like a burden instead of a blessing. Trust me, your family will benefit far more from nightly family dinners than they will from another dance class.
If homeschooling itself is the problem, you could consider outsourcing part of your homeschool. My older kids take classes at our local university, and it’s been the nicest thing in the world to hand off the grading and let those kiddos worry about their educations themselves.
5. Avoid a routine.
Maybe this is just me. Maybe other families thrive in bedlam.
But I’d guess that most families function better with a solid, predictable routine. Routines allow children to feel safe, and to develop competence and confidence. It helps them to constructively manage themselves and their lives.
Good routines can eliminate power struggles in your home by helping children to understand parental expectations. My kids know that school starts at 9 am and that they are expected to arrive at the table with morning chores completed. They know that they don’t eat lunch until school work is finished and checked and corrected.
Not only does our routine help save my sanity, but it help my kids to develop and maintain schedules and organization skills. Routines even give children things to look forward to each day. My children work hard to finish school early on Mondays so we can go ice skating.
6. Constantly test your kids and make them write book reports.
Book reports just feel evil to me. I can’t think of a better way to make reading a chore than to quiz understanding at the end of each chapter or make them write a book report after finishing the book.
I don’t give spelling tests because I worked really hard to give my children a thorough understanding of phonics, so they are naturally good spellers. I don’t give history tests or science tests or math tests because I learn alongside my children and I can tell when they are paying attention and whether they understand concepts.
Testing seems pointless or worse in a homeschool setting when grades aren’t being given. Even when I was in school and was being graded, I’d just throw my tests away after checking my grade. I didn’t go back through the test and make corrections and re-learn the things I hadn’t learned. Why bother when the class just moved on to new material.
Why waste the time and the effort? Or worse — make your children hate the subject?
7. Pretend things are okay when they’re not.
Sometimes we moms ignore the fact that things aren’t working. We feel like we’re the problem — like we should be better at keeping up with housework and schoolwork and grocery shopping and music lessons and practicing.
We see everyone else’s perfect homes and children on social media and we compare our real lives to their photoshopped snapshots, and we feel like we should be doing more and being more.
First, remember that those snapshots are not reality. And second, you are enough.
When things aren’t working, there’s a reason. Until that reason is dealt with, things will keep on being ‘not okay’.
Do you ask for help?
My hubs is willing to help, but he doesn’t notice things. He’s never going to jump up and wash dishes or fold laundry. I have to ask him.
My mom doesn’t realize that I’m juggling 37 balls and barely breathing when she’s demanding. I have to tell her. I think sometimes people see homeschooling moms as a willing, able-to-do-it-all resource, just because we’re home all day.
I give you permission to not be everything to everyone. Your children are your priority and you are doing a marvelous work. You deserve to be happy!
Don’t you dare feel like a complainer or a grump or ungrateful for realizing that there is a problem — that you are overwhelmed — and that something needs to change. Ask for help. Throw the extra responsibilities you’ve taken on yourself out the window as long as they don’t involve keeping a little person alive (bye-bye canning, bye-bye homemade bread) if this season is not the right time for them.
Just don’t swallow your feelings, please. They are valid.
8. Follow the experts rules.
Who says you have to complete all the subjects every day?
Who says you have to follow the suggested syllabus or complete all of the curriculum?
Who says you have to finish all of the problems in a problem set?
Who says you have to take tests at certain points in the curriculum?
Call me rebellious, but I’m so much happier when I trust myself and my children to know what they need as opposed to some educational expert who has never met any of us. I typically let my kids skip the first 30 or so problem sets in every Saxon textbook, because I don’t feel they need the review. But if I felt any of my children needed the review, I would insist on it.
That’s the thing, though. I’m in charge. I have been given stewardship over my children and I am best equipped to facilitate their growth. You’re in charge of your family — and you make your rules. Make them work for YOU!
9. Make homeschooling boring.
Let me just state upfront, unequivocally, that I do not believe we have to make things fun for our children. I don’t believe I need to make their chores fun (a million nopes to cutesy chore charts and dollar-store incentives), nor do I need to make school fun. The things is, kids are naturally playful and they create their own fun.
My job is simply to not prohibit their fun — I don’t need to make school boring. I don’t need to demand that my children work in silence or raise their hands for permission to speak. I don’t need to load them up with dry textbooks and workbooks.
What you can do (easily without having to print and laminate things you’ll throw away next week) is use games where possible. We learn geography with a card game called the Fifty States of America and Geo Puzzles and by using map shower curtains and tablecloths.
You can take your children on interesting field trips (there are so many free field trips out there)! You can keep school short when needed, or forego it altogether in favor of a snow day or a beach day when the kids (or more importantly, YOU) need it. Don’t feel like you need to create the magic, though. The learning is the magic.
10. Fall into the comparison trap.
Comparison is the thief of joy — it just causes sadness and heartache all the way around.
My mom has told me many times that she was in the lowest reading group in grade school. She has felt dumb ever since! One of the most significant blessings of homeschooling is that our kids can progress at their own paces and never, ever feel stupid or less than anyone else.
What good will comparing your homeschool or yourself or your children to anyone else do? I’m sure you’ll run across little girls who read at 4 and learn Algebra at 7. But do you honestly think she’ll have a better life because she’s precocious right now?
I always think of Albert Einstein’s mother. The story goes that young Albert was sent home from school with a note. Seemingly mentally deficient, Albert couldn’t read. With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Einstein read the note to Albert, “Your son is a genius. Our teachers are not qualified to teach him.” She taught him at home thereafter.
And he was a genius.
There’s a similar story about Thomas Edison.
I don’t know how true those stories are. But I do know that positive mental reinforcements work wonders on children and on their mothers. You will become what you believe, and your children will become what they believe.
Your children need you to believe in them. They need you to cherish, hold, listen to, read to, tickle, cuddle, talk with, play with and love them.
You are exactly who your children need. God sent them to you because he knew they needed you!
So how do you make your kids love rather than hate homeschooling?
Easy, peasy! Do the opposite of these 10 things! The interesting thing is that your feelings about homeschooling will pretty much mirror your children’s feelings about homeschooling.
Do you have some great techniques of your own for making your kids hate homeschooling? Lol! I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!