10 Things You Need to Avoid for a Better Homeschool

There are some things you just don;t want to make a habit of in your homeschool. Here are 10 of them!

The new homeschool year is upon us. If you haven’t started your home education routine already, chances are you’re busy preparing for it.

What better time can there be to share a few reminders about what not to do in your homeschool than today, right? I mean, let’s face it. There are just some things you don’t want to make a habit of in your homeschool.

Here are 10 of them. 

10 Things Not to Do If You Want a Better Homeschool

1. Don’t become preoccupied with sticking to a traditional school model.

While there are a great many reasons that people decide to homeschool, one of the most common is that people are dissatisfied with the public education system, and understandably so. The question is, then, why do so many people try so hard to imitate a system that clearly isn’t working?

The answer to that is simple. It’s all most of us know. That does not mean, however, that it’s the only way that learning can happen. For a great many children, the traditional school model is the least effective way to educate a child.

Claw your way out of that box and create a homeschool environment that fits your family’s needs, not the expectations of society.

2. Don’t be rigid in your homeschool approach.

Taking on the responsibility to educate your own child is a lofty decision. Unfortunately, what often results is a parent that, in her efforts to do the best job she can, finds herself checking off boxes instead of remaining flexible when things come up.

Always, always remember that life happens in the midst of homeschooling. It may be frustrating at times, but it is completely normal. Refusing to deviate from the day’s plans to embrace unexpected opportunities or circumstances is a recipe for burnout.

Believe me, I know.

3. Don’t fall into the comparison trap.

There are a lot of homeschoolers out there. Whether you’re reading a blog, watching homeschooling videos, or chatting with someone in your co-op, always remember that there is no such thing as the perfect homeschool. While it can be a great thing to pick up new ideas from those who have traveled this road longer than you, it can be far too easy to start feeling inadequate simply because your homeschool doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

Guess what? It isn’t supposed to.

4. Don’t obsess over timelines.

Our culture is just obsessed with timelines and milestones.

By age 2, your child should be doing this…

By 4th grade, your child should be doing that…

Early literacy! Early literacy!

If you’re child isn’t reading by 4th grade, he has a better chance of someday going to jail. **Yes, someone once made this comment to me.

As a mom of 11 who has two adult children, can I just say how misleading these premises are?

Children are individuals. They are not cookie cutter images of one another. Homeschooling allows you to take advantage of your child’s gifts, and work a little harder on his weaknesses.

Stop. thinking. your. child. is. behind.

The only reason schools make these timelines is because they need some sort of uniformity in their classrooms. After all, there are anywhere between 25-30 kids in one class nowadays.

Unless you’ve beaten out the Duggars, I don’t think that applies to you.

5. Don’t overlook the need to take a break when things get tough.

As much as I love homeschooling, I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Kids get crabby. Moms lose their tempers. New concepts won’t click.

Instead of stubbornly pushing through until everyone is on the verge of a meltdown, know that it is okay to take a break. Go to the park. Pop in a movie. Declare an impromptu week off if you need it.

Sometimes taking a break can be more beneficial than trudging through without thinking about the consequences.

How to have a better homeschool year!

6. Don’t put your curriculum before your relationships.

What’s more important to you? The relationship you have with your children, or finishing the curriculum?

Remember when we talked about being too rigid? This can be one of the fallouts.

If you’re finding that you’re spending inordinate amounts of time yelling at your child over her school work, chances are there’s a relationship issue that needs to be settled.

First things first. Ever heard the saying, “Not religion, but relationship”?

I’m going to add, “Not rigidity, but relationship.”

7. Don’t go too easy on your kids.

While I’ve been dealing with the one side of the homeschooling issue- expecting too much from your kids- now is a good time to add this one.

Don’t expect too little of them.

Your kids need you to assign some responsibility to them. I’ve heard some arguments that in order to retain a good relationship with our kids , we should refrain from “telling them what to do.”

We really need to remember this one thing:

Children are not miniature adults. They are children.

Setting clear expectations for your children shows them that you trust them to get the job done.

It’s all about balance.

8. Don’t refuse to acknowledge when something isn’t working.

Have you ever gotten really excited for an upcoming homeschool year because you just knew your new curriculum would be perfect?

And then it wasn’t.

It can be tempting to press on through, despite the fact that we see our kids struggling. After all, most curriculums don’t come cheap.

The fact is, though, you’re not helping your child with that outlook. If you know a curriculum isn’t connecting with your child, think twice before insisting to finish out the year with it.

Chances are, that year will be wasted, and for what? A little extra money in the bank?

9. Don’t neglect to set aside a time specifically for homeschooling.

I know there are a lot of people who homeschool throughout the day without having any specific time set aside to do it in, and if it works for them, that’s great!

There are two reasons, though, that I honestly think you should consider at least setting aside some time each day specifically for this purpose.

  • Having a formal homeschool time will enable you to tell people not to call or stop by at those times. It’s very hard to do that if you’re never sure when it will happen.
  • Sometimes when you don’t have a set time for things each day, they tend to get neglected. You develop this, “It’ll get done when it gets done attitude,” and too often, well, it just doesn’t get done.

10. Don’t forget to accept the limitations of yourself and your children.

I’m going to say it again. Educating your own children can feel pretty intimidating. We all feel that way at times.

That’s why it’s so important that we continue to remind ourselves that we are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. Sometimes our best has to be good enough.

Homeschooling can be such a rewarding way to raise and educate your children. Always remember, though, that wherever you are in the game and however you’re doing things, you are doing a wonderful thing for your children, and this will not go unnoticed.

What about you? Is there anything you would add to my list? Leave a comment!

And don’t forget to join my FB group!








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.

16 thoughts on “10 Things You Need to Avoid for a Better Homeschool”

  1. Shelly, I absolutely love this post and appreciate the timely reminders. I’m excited for this new homeschool year. For me I would add- Don’t forget to find joy in each homeschool day and live in the moment! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still struggle with knowing when to throw in the towel for the day and take a break and when to push through. There are times I feel like our lessons are awful bu mostly because the kids just don’t want to work and I hate to take a break at those times; feeling like I have to push through because hey, we have to do school at some point! But other times I look back and wonder if I should have taken a break and gotten us all back to a spot where we were willing to work together (in which case the lessons would have gone by twice as fast!). It can be tricky navigating these waters! 🙂 Great post as always. Pinned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous, as always. And, btw, I finally got through my library book pile enough to read Weapons of Mass Instruction! While I was reading it, I realized that the reason I hadn’t read that one before (remember how surprised I was when you mentioned that title, because I’d thought I’d read all his books already?) is because it came out AFTER I’d read all his books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the post, but what about if you live in a state that requires you to report?
    We are in PA, my kids are both actually ahead of where they are supposed to be in the school district’s eyes, BUT I feel like we can never take a break because we have an evaluation where we have to show that we did 180 days of school. And, while I know that some parents say “Oh, we count baking or watching tv, or whatever”, I just don’t feel comfortable writing that in our schedule for the day unless I really am teaching them.
    Granted, I know there is a huge disconnect between what the schools require for a group of 25 kids and what they require fromm kid sitting at home with Mom, learning without distractions. However, if they require 180 5 hour days of instructional time, I feel like I should be compliant as a follower of Christmas and do that, even if my kids end up ahead.
    I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts on that? Most homeschooling mom’s I know will tell me to just count days because they don’t look at daily activities, and not worry about it. But that violates my conscience big time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I live in PA, and I completely agree with your friends. Baking, board games, trips to the park, etc. are all learning experiences, thus can all be counted. As a society, we’ve been conditioned to believe that learning can only happen from textbooks and lectures. That is simply not the case. The most effective learning is that which children see in real world context, not on a worksheet. Education as we know it has only been as it is for the past 150 years, or so. I highly recommend you read Learning All the Time by John Holt and Dumbing Us Down- The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. They are both eye openers into both the world of learning and the world of schooling, which isn t what many people think it is.


  5. Re: timelines, the idea popped into my head of two little girls coloring at a table and talking about their parents “So, has your father maximized his retirement contributions yet? You know there’s a chance he’ll have to wait an extra few years to retire, that’s be a shame.” “Oh, your mother only has an associate’s degree? Hmm, you know my mother finished her MA when she was 22.” If it sounds silly to hear kids talking like that about their parents, we shouldn’t talk that way about our kids. Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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