15 Homeschool Mistakes That Take the Spark Out of Learning

Are you homeschooling because you felt like sending your kids to school would take the spark out of learning? I completely agree with you because, to me, the harmful effects of compulsory schooling on children are obvious.

With that being said, it’s also crucial to point out that the same thing can happen in a homeschool setting, unless you are careful to avoid these: 

15 Mistakes That Can Ruin a Homeschool

#1- The overuse of textbooks.

Just because schools almost completely rely on this method of education doesn’t mean that you have to. Take advantage of the freedoms that come with homeschooling and replace the dull, dry textbooks with some out-of-the-box learning methods.

#2- Insistence on following lesson plans.

You know what? I’m a planner. I love writing out lists, charts, and schedules, but it was almost the downfall of our homeschool. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with planning ahead, refusing to get behind or deviate in any way from the schedule will only bring you heartache and stress.

#3- Long, tedious lessons.

I don’t know who ever came up with the idea that hour long lessons are the only way to instill knowledge. Just today I saw a sample homeschool schedule, and it listed 30 minutes for most subjects, but then moved on to 60 minutes for math! My kids would revolt.

Always keep in mind that children don’t have the attention span of adults, and they shouldn’t be expected to because they’re kids! Shorter lessons offer your child an adequate amount of information without overloading them or putting them to sleep.

#4- Drill and kill.

Drill and kill sessions are usually a part of the aforementioned long, tedious lessons. There are some math curriculums out there that feel it’s necessary for your child to do 50 long division problems on one page in order for them to understand. That’s crazy! No wonder so many kids hate math!

Just as with #3, shorter lessons and a more reasonable amount of problems assigned will make for a more content homeschooler. And remember, just because your textbook’s lesson plan says your child should complete them all, remember that you are in charge of your child’s education, not the curriculum publisher. I’ve often assigned only 1/2 or even 1/3 of the problems in their lessons.

Common sense, ladies, common sense.

#5- Going overboard with unit studies.

Unit studies are our #1 learning method in our homeschool. We love them.


It is possible to go overboard with them. I don’t mean doing too many, although that might bother some families. I mean focusing on one topic for too long.

There are no rules saying that you must complete every unit study activity you have planned. I know you may want to, but if your children are losing interest, it may be time to move on. Your kids aren’t going to remember something they aren’t interested in.

#6- Turning everything into a lesson.

I’m a big believer in teachable moments, but please, for the love of all that is holy, do not turn every.single.thing that happens into a homeschool lesson. Pretty please.

Moderation is the key. 🙂

#7- Insisting on finishing a curriculum.

Just because your curriculum states it’s a 36-week lesson plan doesn’t mean you must complete it in 36 weeks. Those 36-week lesson plans aren’t written to include any leeway for life to happen in the midst of homeschooling.

Guess what? Sometimes you won’t get to a lesson or two, or any, for a few days. Embrace life as it comes. Your kids will still learn along the way.

#8- Not allowing for enough free time.

You’d think that the fact that someone is homeschooled would automatically mean that they have lots of leisure time. This just isn’t the case. There are many homeschool families who homeschool for 6 hours, move on to music lessons, head out to baseball practice, and finish up with youth group.

Don’t overschedule your kids. Remember that most of your kids’ learning happens from day-to-day life, not from their homeschool lessons.

#9- Not giving your child input on what they learn about.

A lot of adults have this notion that kids don’t know what they need, and, I’ll admit, I agree to a degree. They may not have the knowledge and experience to know everything they need, but they sure do know themselves, and they will be aware of what’s going to hold their attention.

Take their opinions seriously.

#10- Not taking your child’s interests seriously.

Just because you have no interest in anime or theatrical makeup and can’t see any value in them doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time. Remember, many children begin to show an interest in what will one day become their future calling while they are still young.

Integrate their interests into their lessons in any way you can.

#11- Not taking their learning style into consideration.

I love reading to my kids. Love it. Unfortunately, my 16-year-old doesn’t love listening to me read. He’d rather be moving around, doing hands-on activities. Sure, I could make him sit and listen, but what would that accomplish? Not much more than the two of us being aggravated at each other.

Let your child learn the way they’re wired to. You’ll get much better results and a more peaceful homeschool.

#12- Refusing to ever go with the flow.

Last year while my kids were playing in the yard before we started school that morning, they came running in the house to tell me about a fledgling they found sitting in the grass.

I could have said, “That’s nice,” and told them to come inside for their morning read-aloud, but I didn’t. Instead, I allowed them to stay outside with the bird, feeding it and loving it. Before long, they were in the house looking up what kind of bird it was and what they should do to help, if anything.

I don’t think we ever did school that day, but you know what? If I had made them come in and do it, their minds would have been on the bird, anyway. Learning to go with the flow has really helped us to take life as it comes and continue to be educated along the way.

#13- Being impatient with your kids.

I’m going to admit. This is a tough one for me. Trying to homeschool while having a slew of other children needing me every few minutes can be a stressful thing, but this is worth working on because children who are anxious are not going to learn. It’s that simple.

#14- Assuming that learning can’t be fun.

I think this is one of those old-school notions because it’s usually older people who insinuate this.

Guess what?

Learning can be fun! If you’re not sure how to make that happen, I can tell you the first step right away- get rid of your ideas of what school is “supposed” to look like and replace them with enjoyable books, games, lessons, and activities that fit your child’s interests and learning style.

#15- Not being flexible.

There are so many different ways that homeschooling can look like, and there is no reason you just have to pick one method and stick with it. Change things up a bit. Add some variety. Surprise your kids with a movie day or a park day and see how fast your homeschool begins to shine!


Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sure to keep homeschooling and learning fun for your kids! What would you add? Leave a comment.

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

25 thoughts on “15 Homeschool Mistakes That Take the Spark Out of Learning”

  1. Some good points! I find with one of my kids, drill and kill works. I just present the drills in different ways like on the computer one day and hand written another. It’s made a big difference in his understanding of Alg. Textbooks, we use for 1/2 of our curriculum because having my older kids in college, they’ve had to learn to read, comprehend, take notes, answer questions in Textbooks – almost independent of lecturing or online classes. If they didn’t learn the skill of making flashcards for their notes and reading textbooks, this would’ve been a deficit in their learning. My kids also love online interactive classes as well as online self-paced courses and I am glad I exposed them to it. Both of my kids learn a bit like me. They spend 15 to 30 minutes on a topic and take a mental break or have to fiddle with something. I give them the freedom to get their work done however they want. If they want to put off work to the weekend (their own time) it’s their choice. Really great advice you gave. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OhMyGoodness, what a great list! #6 made me laugh – I have a friend who is a teacher and she insists on turning EVERYTHING into a lesson – like the rides at the fair – and so often, I just wish she could let her kids enjoy the moment. (& guess what? They’d still be learning!) #3 drove me crazy in the classroom – every.single.minute. of my day was mandated and I HAD to teach math for 60 minutes, reading for 90 minutes, etc. and there could be NO break within that teaching time!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Recently, I just asked someone what they meant by work time or schooling when they’re watching children. I was vetting her to watch our littles. I feared she’d do one of these things, even as my boys are still so young and (in my opinion) should still be playing to learn and explore. Thankfully, she said she teaches through life and directed learning is limited. I was so happy.

    As an aside, I’m also so happy to read one of your posts. I’ve fallen so far behind in different things and I’ve missed so much. Nonetheless, I’m here tonight and that makes me happy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is SO important to have discipline in homeschooling. It is probably the number one key to success. And yet everything you said here is true. If you can’t do these things, then the kids might as well be at school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, discipline is another I could have added. I think the problem sometimes is that people think they must replicate the discipline in school instead of using discipline in a more out of the box way.


        1. I was talking about a little bit of both. Keeping a basic routine requires a bit of discipline from both parent and child, but it is so beneficial. As for behavioral issues, sometimes discipline in homeschooling might have to include a change in homeschool approach or even taking time off from academics to deal with character issues. It’s about so much more than telling a child to write “I will do my work” 50 times or having a detention. It’s about using a form of discipline that will have a lasting impact.


  5. Shelly, I just love reading your blog! My background is in education, and I have to keep all of these things in mind because the goal is to keep kids engaged and learning, and knowing how to identify quickly when something is not working or needs changed up. Flexibility is huge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had trouble with flexibility at first because I was one of those kids who did very well in schol, so at first it was really hard for me to empathize with my kids when they had any sort of difficulties. Thankfully, homeschooling allows the parents to grow right along with the child!


  6. I can be so guilty of #13 and I hate that because I deeply desire to not rush them and to be very present in the moment. This was a great post- thank you for writing it. I am currently working on revamping our homeschool because I feel we are doing too much. This encouraged me to take off some of the edge that’s crept in.

    Liked by 1 person

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