As I finished my 31st and final year of homeschooling, I thought back over the years. There are so many things my husband and I learned, as well as lots of changes we made. It’s a journey I would do all over again, but there are a few things I would change if I had it to do over. After 31 years of homeschooling – here are the things I’d change if I could have a homeschool do-over.
3 Things I Would Do Differently In Homeschooling
1. I would take better care of myself
As a young mom, I was able to get away with staying up late, getting up during the night with babies, and getting up early with toddlers. I was tired, as all busy moms are, but I was able to do what I needed to each day. I didn’t exercise regularly, because I didn’t feel I had the time. There were always better or more important things to do. Eventually, it all began to catch up with me though.
I hit a spot where I started to struggle physically, and ended up with chronic fatigue, and stressed adrenals. I was burned out – physically, emotionally, and mentally. At that point, I realized that I HAD to take time for self-renewal. I needed to adjust things so I could get the rest I needed.
This required making some changes in our activities, and I had to pretty much stop all outside activities. I also started to take a break now and then with some friends. It’s amazing what a little time away, laughing with some like-minded moms, will do for you! Laughter is good medicine.
As I took those steps, it helped me improve mentally, and have clearer, more focused thinking, as well as more positive thoughts.
Fatigue will always lead to negative thoughts, such as: “I’m not doing a good job – my kids would be better off in school”, I’m such a bad Mom – I never have the energy to play with the kids”, “I can’t handle this anymore”, etc. Everything seems worse when you are fatigued.
If I am burned out and can’t function, I will lose my ability to do what God has called me to do. I wish I hadn’t had to learn that the hard way!
2. I would stress much less about WHEN a child “got” it with reading or math
How can homeschooling be less stressful?
I would focus on making learning fun and waiting till they were ready. For each child that readiness comes at different ages. They also learn in different ways. If I had known that when I first started teaching the kids, it would have saved me many hours of tears and frustration (mine and the kids’!)
I want my kids to enjoy learning, but if I keep pushing them when they aren’t ready and don’t get it, they will dislike learning. Also, if I use a curriculum that doesn’t work with their learning style, it will be much more frustrating for both of us.
How can I improve homeschooling? Over time I realized that it doesn’t hurt to take a break from the phonics, or new math concept if they just aren’t quite ready for it yet. It’s better to put it aside for a time, do some learning games that aren’t intense, and then try the subject again a few weeks later.
3. I would focus less on making sure the rules were being obeyed.
I would focus more on building the relationship that would make them want to obey those rules! Rules are necessary, but as the saying goes, “Rules without relationship breed rebellion.” It is easy to strive for compliance while forgetting the relationship that will bring that compliance.
Because of our strong desire to be good parents, in an attempt to be firm we were often too harsh. The relationship with our kids was damaged as a result of the harshness. We learned that it worked much better when we appealed to our children on the basis of love, rather than intimidation. A similar error was that we tried to protect them from wrong. Wrong activities, wrong influences, wrong friendships — all while failing to befriend them the way we should ourselves.
What makes homeschooling successful?
In order to develop a relationship that would bring compliance, we needed to spend time with them. We needed to be available when they wanted to talk, and we needed to show an interest in what was important to them. It was important to accept them for who they were, and let them know we loved them. That in turn leads to winning their hearts, which brings the desire for them to please us.
We learned it is better to work hard at keeping their hearts, than having to try to repair damage and win their heart back. (By the way, I believe that keeping our children’s hearts is the most important thing we can do as parents!)
There are many other things my husband and I have learned along the way, but these three stand out above the rest. I hope they will be a help to you on your homeschooling journey!