Are You Overcomplicating Your Homeschool?

I know it's tempting, but don't do it!

When it comes to homeschooling, there are many temptations that come with it, both good and bad. Unfortunately, as is often the case, we parents will ignore our God-given instincts about what’s best for our children and, instead, try to stick with the status quo of what school is “supposed” to look like.

Think about it.

How often have you been tempted to take the day off and just do something fun, only to give in to guilt and continue with your homeschool routine as planned?

How many times have you suppressed the urge to just let your kids sit and play together quietly in order to interrupt an intense period of play so that your kids could learn about consonant blends?

And how many times have you gone against your instinct as a parent to keep your homeschool simple, and alternatively jammed as many things as possible into your everyday routine?

If you’re anything like I am, probably quite a bit.

Today I just wanted to talk to you about that last one: the oh-so-common pitfall of becoming obsessed with covering everything, only to find that not only does it not work, but it’s likely to impede a child’s learning as a consequence.

Doing too much will only hinder a child's learning.

When it comes to overcomplicating your homeschool (because that’s what this really is), I’ve found that no matter the reason it happens, there is always one common thread – fear.

It’s time to tackle this today.

3 Reasons Parents Overcomplicate Their Homeschool

1. They’re brand new to homeschooling.

Becoming a brand new homeschooling family is so exciting, but can seem more than a little scary. Deciding to take the reins on your child’s education is a big deal.

Not surprisingly, most parents will try to replicate a traditional school setting, by default. They simply don’t know any other way.

Add to that the fact that states each have their own set of guidelines about what subjects to cover, and it can seem like a lot.

In Pennsylvania, we must cover:

“English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art.”

Phew! Is it any wonder new homeschooling parents can seem overwhelmed?? And how do they typically respond to this? Very often, they assume that all of these subjects must be taught separately, and with a complete curriculum for each.

Needless to say, that is not the case.

There are few things in life that make me sadder than seeing a new homeschool mom post a list of twelve separate textbooks for her first grader.

Before finding yourself in that situation, let me assure you that you do not need to teach all of the required subjects separately. Neither must you use a textbook to cover all of them.

The truth is, many of these subjects seamlessly fit together. Additionally, they can easily be covered without textbooks. For example, reading a biography of Nikola Tesla not only covers science, but also history and language arts.

A leisurely trip to a creek can include science, physical education, geography, and (if a nature journal is kept) writing and art.

Do not crush your child’s curiosity by making learning feel like a chore. The key to an effective education is simplicity, not a dozen textbooks.

2. The high school years have begun.

Parents who have already navigated the hump of letting go of that schoolish way of doing things often experience a period of smooth sailing during which they’re completely confident that life learning is just as important – if not more important – than any structured learning time they accomplish.

And then high school happens.

As with brand new homeschooling parents, a panic can set in. A feeling that what has, up until now, been working will no longer be enough for this home stretch.

So what happens? These veteran parents revert back to the insecurities they had as new homeschooling parents and begin piling on the curriculum again, effectively snuffing out any interests their teens might have at the time.

Let’s take a moment here to think about how much you, as the parent, actually remember from high school. If you’re anything like me, I’m going to guess not much. Why then, would you decide to repeat the same old routine with your own kids?

What teenagers need during their high school years more than anything is to be given the opportunity to actively participate in things that will prepare them for adulthood. Getting a job, managing a checking account, acquiring budgeting skills, and honing their researching capabilities will have far more of an impact than memorizing the years Alexander the Great lived and died.

I’m going to say the same thing that I mentioned above: required subjects do not have to be covered separately and no textbook is ever an absolute must.

Take a deep breath and relax. You’ve got this.

3. Comparison rears its ugly head.

I had to save this one for last, because this is something that can happen to any homeschooling parent, at any time.

We live in the world of social media. No matter which way you turn, you’re bound to find yourself surrounded by post after post of homeschooling families who:

  • always seem to produce picture perfect art projects.
  • work in a soup kitchen, volunteer at a children’s hospital, and pack 12,000 Operation Christmas Child boxes, all in the same day.
  • speak four languages and are currently working on learning how to translate Sanskrit.
  • have produced three children who were surgeons by the time they were 18.

And on and on it goes…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…most homeschooling families are not like that. In fact, they’re quite average, and, truth be told, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Wanna know another secret? There are quite a few homeschooling families who only ever share their absolute finest work. They don’t share their struggles. They don’t share about a child who is having difficulty reading. They don’t share that they lost their temper and hid in a closet to eat all of the chocolate in the Advent calendar.

hiding in the closet eating chocolate

Never feel like your homeschool has to look like every other. You do not have to teach your kids Latin simply because you know of a family who does. Your kids do not have to do all of their learning through a popular homeschool curriculum just because that’s the prevailing method used by the people in your homeschool group.

What works for one family doesn’t always work for another, and, quite frankly, you don’t know what that family’s homeschool looks like in reality.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

One more thing…stop comparing what your kids are learning to what their public schooled friends are. Never forget what the true purpose of compulsory schooling is. I’ll give you a hint – it’s not education.

One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is the freedom that comes with it. Break the chains of overcomplication and begin your homeschool journey anew – a journey in which home takes precedence over school, as it rightfully should.

Homeschooling and education are my passion. It is my fervent hope to one day devote more time to creating content for you. If you’d like to support this ministry, consider supporting me on Patreon

Thank you so much. I appreciate each and every one of you!


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.

7 thoughts on “Are You Overcomplicating Your Homeschool?”

  1. So much truth to this! I keep looking at the public high schoolers around us and they all seem stressed out! They’re also in a kazillion activities outside of a full school day. I’m so glad we keep my son’s base subjects to a minimum, and when I’m tempted to compare his one outside activity to his peers who are in multiple sports and then some, I remind myself that more does not equal better. He has time to read for fun, spend time with friends and older siblings, give service in our community, etc. I pulled him away from his math textbook today to help me with holiday baking and we had so much fun together. He made the fudge, following the recipe himself. And you’re right, I remember very little of anything I learned in high school. I just know I was stressed for most of those years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We chose home schooling as a life style for our family before our children were even born. The single best thing I did while awaiting their arrivals was to read anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding the subject. So, while my boys are only 6 and 7, I feel I have read sooooooo much advice, often contradictory, not always helpful. I can say with all honesty your posts have been some of the most helpful reading I have done. Not only are they encouraging but they are practical (Amen!) I read one of your posts and have something concrete I can actually do (or NOT do, as the case may be.) Thank you so much for using your vast experience to help others. Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure, for many parents, this takes practice, some insights, and trial and errors, but learning is happening all of the time. Getting the books the schools are using, and then perhaps getting the books that better speak to the children, bringing home real historical books, then letting the kids pick books they find interesting, which can go into science and other arenas such as business building, construction, designs, and so forth, letting the interests lead itself with some guidance. The learning can have a huge upward curve if interests and parental supervision supports.

    Liked by 2 people

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