The wrong way to homeschool

Wait – I thought there was no wrong way to homeschool! Well, that’s somewhat true. Families homeschool in many different ways and their children learn and thrive. However, there is one mistake that new homeschoolers make that often ruins the experience. Here’s how it happens.

Let me tell you a story…

The Smith family thinks, “Let’s homeschool!” Great idea, Smith family. You’re off to a good start. Next they wonder, “Where do we start? How does this whole homeschooling thing work?” Good questions to ask, Smith family. They begin to do some research, but it all seems a little confusing and overwhelming. Then, they meet the Beekman family. The Beekmans have been homeschooling for eight years and love it. They are happy to answer the Smiths’ questions and share about what has worked well for their family. Well done, Smith family! It’s great to find others to talk with and learn about their experiences. Here’s where things begin to go wrong, though. The Smiths are so relieved to have someone telling them what to do (note that the Beekmans were not actually telling them what to do, just sharing what they do) that they take notes, go on-line and find the curriculum the Beekmans use, make a schedule like the one the Beekmans follow, and begin homeschooling with the Beekman method. Only, they don’t get Beekman results. The kids are unhappy, learning is a battle, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith are stressed out and don’t feel comfortable with the curriculum. The schedule doesn’t seem to be working well, either. By this time, the memories of their discontent with public school have faded, and they reflect wistfully on the good-old-days when someone else had the responsibility of educating their children. They stick it out for a few more unhappy weeks, and then begin explaining to their friends that homeschooling just wasn’t a good fit for their family and they are all so much happier now that the kids are back in school.What went wrong? Are the Smiths really unsuited for homeschooling? Maybe, maybe not.

What went wrong?

Do you remember the part of the story where the Smiths learned about different homeschooling methods, thought about their kid’s learning styles and their own family schedule, looked for curriculums or resources that would suit their kids and involve their interests, and paused after trying a few things to evaluate what was working and tweak a few things that might work better in a different way? No? Neither do I.
And that, folks, is the wrong way to homeschool.
There is probably absolutely nothing wrong with the Beekman method. It’s been tested and tweaked over time and works great for the Beekmans! The problem is, it doesn’t work for the Smiths, and they put all their eggs in one basket.

What can I do instead?

First, visit our how to homeschool page and sign up for the free e-book (spoiler alert: one day later you’ll also received a printable journal you can use to organize your thoughts about homeschooling!).
Next, do some research. New homeschoolers need to take time to learn about different methods and learn about their children. Read up on different curriculums. Learn about how a variety of families approach homeschooling (there are books that highlight the experiences of different families, or you could join a co-op or an on-line group).

Think about your unique family

After learning about what other families do, consider what might work well for your own unique family. Your family isn’t exactly like any other, so your homeschool probably won’t be, either. Think about what you want your children to learn. Observe your kids. What time of day do they do their best thinking? Which subjects light them up? What kind of activities or learning experiences lead to those “aha” moments or further thinking and comments later?
What do you want your homeschool days to be like? What advantages do you have? What challenges do you face? Are you creative or organized? How many kids will you be homeschooling?

Patience, persistence, and flexibility

Realize that some things will work for your family and other things won’t, and that’s okay. Be ready and willing to adapt and try new ideas and approaches. Give it some time.
Maybe homeschooling really isn’t a good fit for your family. Given the wide range of methods and possibilities, though, it seems likely that you’ll be able to find something that works if you really want to continue. Just try to avoid feeling like you have to homeschool the same way as someone else. Keep learning and seeking new ideas, and make adjustments until everyone is happy. Take the time to find out what your family’s unique homeschool adventure will look like, and enjoy discovering more about the people you love.

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