Do you ever feel pressure as a homeschool mom? The kind of pressure that leaves you feeling less than worthy or ill-equipped to take on such an important task. Most often, it is a pressure that you put on yourself without even realizing it. And the result? You grow weary. Or even flat-out bored. If you have ever felt that way, maybe you need a little freedom and grace offered to you. And maybe, just maybe, you are making one of these four homeschooling mistakes.
Common Homeschooling Mistakes
Comparison. You are at your co-op or monthly moms get together and you overhear Sally talking about this great Bible study she’s doing with her kids. And then Jane shares this great new science experiment kit that she just started with her kids. Later in the evening, Suzy shares all the fun math games she does at home. And Jill – well she re-creates every history lesson they study.
Before you know it, you suddenly doubt your teaching. Your mind races and you can’t wait to leave the meeting so that you can scour Pinterest to add to your curriculum. You feel your shoulders tense and worries overtake your mind. Embarrassment sinks into your heart and deep down you want to hide, fearing others will find out your incompetencies.
When we get caught up in comparison, we rob ourselves of contentment and the simple joys before us. We will always fall short when we compare the ins and outs of our homeschool with the best of someone else’s.
We often only hear what is going well in other’s homeschools. Not the struggles. Even if someone else does share a struggle, what do you tend to remember? Most likely only the ways you feel you are not matching up, right?
Remember no homeschool is alike. Each will have its own strengths and weaknesses. Discipleship is at the heart of it. Give yourself grace. If you feel your kids are growing in knowledge and character, rest assured. You don’t have to copy what everyone else is doing.
Gain ideas from others, yes. Compare, no. The former is using wisdom, the latter is tearing oneself down.
So the next time you find yourself playing the comparison game, take those thoughts captive. Instead:
- focus on the positives in your homeschool
- humbly learn from others
- thank God for the freedom and joy you share in homeschooling your kids
Letting your curriculum dictate your week/year. Sometimes I call this the “check-the-box” syndrome. And let me tell you, this is a constant battle for me. I like to scratch things off my list. It brings a sense of accomplishment and completion. While using your curriculum as a tool and a guideline, and sometimes a strict guideline, is helpful, becoming a slave to it at all costs, is not.
Again, allow yourself freedom and flexibility. Freedom to stray from your lesson plan at times. Maybe there is a certain topic your kids are really into. It’s okay to spend longer on it than you planned. Or, if the Spirit prompts you to stop what you are doing for a season, it’s okay to do that too. He might just have something different for you that you never anticipated.
Sometimes breaking from your routine can bring a much-needed spark to learning. Some examples might include:
- take science outside once a week
- spend some extra time on math facts playing games
- take a whole day to study history because your kids are so wrapped up in it
- pause your Bible memorization plan and do an in-depth study of what the Bible says about a character trait that needs attention
Holidays are also a great time to take a break from the norm and add in some fun twists. Here are just a few ideas:
- Use a study of Christmas Around the World to enhance your geography in December
- Pause to read some Pilgrim books in November even if you aren’t studying US History
- Study the character trait of love in February
- Or do a lesson on the Resurrection around Easter
No curriculum is perfect. It’s a good idea to take a moment throughout the year to see what needs adjusting, tweaking, changing, and scrapping altogether. Allow yourself the freedom to make those Spirit-led changes as needed.
More Curriculum Slavery
Another way your curriculum can dictate your year is by sticking with it, even if it is not working for you or your child, just because you bought it…or because you think you have to. There is so much freedom. If your math or spelling curriculum isn’t working, don’t feel like you have to finish it. Ask around for other ideas. Borrow from a friend. You might have to go “back” a level if the new curriculum has a different scope and sequence, but that’s okay. Your child will move through quickly and get back on pace. It’s their own pace anyway, right? That’s part of the beauty of homeschooling!
If your child picked a piece of literature and she really doesn’t like it, remember that there are so many quality books to choose from. As long as it’s not a habit, allow her to pick another book from the library (offer a few options you pre-approve).
You want your kids to enjoy learning. Allowing for flexibility can create a sense of wonder and foster a love of learning! So the next time you are tempted to just check-the-box, ask yourself if adding some flexibility would cut boredom and be beneficial.
Over-commitment. You register for every class that sounds interesting. Every extracurricular activity, you jump at. Before you know it, you are running to a science co-op, piano lesson, art class, reader’s theatre, soccer, computer 101, and karate. Whew. You thought that homeschooling would be relaxing and yet you find yourself running ragged all over town.
Consider asking yourself what’s your motivation. Is it trying to keep up with the Joneses (see #1)? Are unrealistic fears overtaking your mind? Are you overly worried about socialization? Sometimes taking a step back to ponder your motivation and evaluate your schedule can be a great antidote to weariness.
While we all face certain seasons of busyness from time to time, there is a real beauty of allowing unrushed time at home together rather than racing around town. If you feel you have over-extended yourselves, pray about your commitments and see which ones God might have you surrender. Kids tend to learn much better in an unrushed environment. While some commitments are good and can help maximize our children’s education, having too many can become a detriment.
There are a lot of great opportunities out there. But just because they are good, doesn’t mean you have to do them all!
Carrying the weight of too much responsibility. Do you ever fall into the belief that the outcome of your kids’ education, job, future, or even salvation depends on you? Do you bear the weight of all their decisions? Maybe not consciously, but subconsciously? What incredible stress that is! While you are to faithfully love, serve, guide, lead, pray for, educate, and train your kids, you are not responsible for their ultimate decisions and paths in life.
Only God is in control of their futures, not us. If we are faithful to our calling, His grace will faithfully cover all the gaps and faults that we leave. And it is only by grace through faith, that our kids are saved. Not by our own doing (Ephesians 2:8-9). Make a commitment to stop carrying the weight of responsibility that was only intended for God to carry.
So, remember your part and do it faithfully. And let God do His part. Trust Him with the hearts, lives, and souls of your kids – He loves them more than you can imagine!
From Weary to Hopeful
If you have recognized you make some of these homeschooling mistakes, take heart. Most of us have done some if not all of these before. Consider what you can change so that they don’t lead to weariness. Rest in God’s sovereignty and love.
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