A number of you have asked for more homeschooling posts, since you’re unexpectedly joining the homeschooling ranks this year.
I love reading “here’s what you’re doing wrong” types of list posts, so I thought it might be fun to do one about homeschooling misconceptions.
1. You do not need a decorated/dedicated homeschool room
So many new homeschoolers think they need a specific room for school, decorated in a specific way, with specific furniture designated for homeschooling.
And maybe some homeschoolers DO operate that way long-term…I dunno for sure.
But I can tell you that most homeschoolers I know are much less formal than that!
We do school in the bedroom, in the kitchen, in the living room, at the table, on the floor, in the car, on the desk, and any number of other places.
If a designated homeschool room helps you, then great! Go for it.
But if you, like me, do not have space for (or inclination toward) a homeschool room, know that you’re going to be fine.
2. Your kids don’t have to get dressed to do school
School in pajamas can work great.
School not in pajamas can work great.
Figure out what works for you and your kids and do that.
3. You don’t need to prepare lessons for every kid, every day
If you have a class of 20 kids, then yeah, you’ll need to do some organizing and planning.
But with just one or two kids in your “class”, you don’t need to get up and present a lesson every day.
A lot of homeschool curriculum is designed so that the kid can read the directions and do the work on their own (assuming we’re talking about kids who can already read).
Most homeschooled kids do a lot of independent work, which is one of the main reasons homeschooling is feasible for parents of many kids in many grades.
4. This is not going to take six hours every day
Your kid IS normally at school for six hours, sure.
But your kid is definitely not doing focused school work for six hours.
There’s lunch, recess, moving between classes, waiting for other kids, distractions from other kids, and so on.
So, that means you should not expect that your child is going to need six hours of focused schoolwork at home.
If your student works hard and gets their daily assignments done in three hours*, there is absolutely no need to panic. It’s normal!
If the work is done, that’s what matters.
*this is a random number. Early grades, such as kindergarten, do not even require three hours at home.
5. There’s not one right curriculum out there
The homeschool market is seriously overwhelming, right? SO MANY CHOICES.
This is great in one sense, but frustrating at the same time.
I have a thought that can help, though:
Remember that when you shop, you’re not trying to find the one right curriculum out of 3789 bad curriculums.
Instead, you’re probably looking at at least 3,000 good curriculums, and any one of those 3,000 are probably going to be fine.
Good enough is good enough, and it’s ok to do a reasonable amount of research and then just pick something.
6. You’re not stuck with a particular book/course
If you do pick something and you find it to be terrible or just a terrible fit for you, you can change it up, even midyear.
This is not the cheapest thing to do, of course, but it’s good to know that it is an option.
And remembering that it’s an option will help you feel less stressed about choosing which books to buy.
(On a related note, you can almost always sell non-consumable homeschool curriculum, which will help you recoup some of your cost. I sell mine on eBay and here’s how I do it.)
7. You don’t need classroom-y items
Kinda related to #1 on this list: some school items really are designed for a classroom experience (blackboards, whiteboards, posters, and so on).
They’re not going to harm your homeschool experience, but you’re probably not going to find them necessary.
And sometimes, you can just make do with household items since you have a small class.
For instance, when my kids were in early math, I didn’t buy coin manipulatives; we just used actual coins! That’s not feasible in a classroom, but it totally works at home.
8. You can’t make your kids love learning/have a good attitude
No matter how peppy or excited or interesting you are, your kids are going to have a bad attitude sometimes.
I’m not saying this to discourage you, but rather to help you set your expectations properly.
No parent is able to make a kid like every subject every day of the school year. Do your best to set a good tone, but don’t consider yourself a failure if your kid isn’t enraptured by their education every day.
On a related note, I find it annoying when people won’t just let me dislike something. No one likes everything! So as parents, I don’t think it’s helpful for us to say, “Oh, but quadratic equations are SO FUN.”
If your kid doesn’t like a subject, telling them it’s really fun is probably going to be counter-productive.
I figure this is a great opportunity to teach kids that sometimes, they don’t have to like it; they just have to do it.
And that’s a great life lesson.
9. You do not have to already know everything your kids are learning
It would be really handy to be well-versed in all of your kids’ subjects. But no parent out there is, except for maybe parents of really early grade kids.
You can learn along with your children, or slightly ahead of your children, and it can still be beneficial. You aren’t really the teacher; the curriculum is there to guide both you and your student.
For instance, I am not a math expert, but I’ve gotten all four of my kids through Algebra 1 now, and I’ve done plenty of refreshing along the way by reading the relevant lessons when my kids are stuck.
I am pretty well-versed in Algebra 1 by now (!!), but I wasn’t all brushed up on it to start with.
(I originally did Algebra 1 in 1993. It’s been a while.)
10. If you think this will be terrible or wonderful, you are wrong either way
I see parents approaching this homeschooling thing with dread.
And I also see parents with a, “This is going to be such a fun time of learning! Woohoo!” approach.
I think these are both slightly wrong (or maybe they’re both right) because like everything else in life, homeschooling is a mix of upsides and downsides.
There will be days that are terrible and days that are wonderful; there will be times when this seems like the best decision in the world and there will be times when you will desperately want to quit.
Both of those feelings are utterly normal. At least, they’ve been normal for me!