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Homeschooling can go smooth like butter… but when it goes wrong… it can go SO wrong!
I’ve been the primary educator for several homeschool and virtual school families.
Some of them did an amazing job with it! And others… not so much.
In today’s episode, we’re talking about the 3 most common mistakes homeschool and virtual school families make – and how to avoid them!
July has become the ultimate month for Homeschooling Newbie families here on The Learning Corner and that’s because I’ve had homeschool on my mind lately. And can you blame me, with COVID19, this flash sale for the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle starting on Monday, and the amazing webinar coming up on Friday the 24th about socializing children? Be sure to check the links in the episode description for more information on those.
Now, I’ve worked with so many homeschool and virtual school families and I have to tell you, those fears you have about homeschooling your child: they are real, and they are valid concerns. I’ve likely seen every one of your fears play out at one time or another with one or more of my families.
On the other hand, I’ve also seen your biggest and best dreams for what it could be.
So let’s jump right into the top mistakes homeschool and virtual school families often make – as well as how to avoid them!
Homeschool Mistake #1
The main mistake I’ve seen, especially with virtual school families, is thinking that socialization will just take care of itself and that completing the online lessons is enough. There is so much more that is learned in school beyond the lessons. If your child is not making friends, pursuing hobbies, and developing their leadership skills at school, they will need an alternate avenue to learn these lessons.
I had one student complete the Florida virtual school program and he even graduated high school who only left his house to eat dinner with his family on Fridays, watch his mother do stand-up comedy on Saturday nights, and walk to the corner gas station for snacks with his brother.
I could have enhanced his learning so much, if the family had only allowed me to branch out beyond the virtual school curriculum.
Family and sibling dynamics are nothing like the social dynamics children learn from interacting with peers, friends, bullies, teachers and even the school security guards that catch you skipping class. Hobbies help students find their interests and skills, and also help them learn that with focus and practice, skills can be improved and you can become great.
So how do you avoid this mistake?
Sign your child up for extracurricular activities. Sign them up for a co-op or team sports in the community. Encourage them to volunteer. All of these are occasions to interact with people of all ages and all social dynamics.
And in case you didn’t catch my last episode, which you should absolutely go back and listen to… there is an incredible webinar coming up this Friday the 24th called: 5 SOCIAL LESSONS EVERY CHILD MUST KNOW
Homeschool Mistake #2
Another mistake I’ve seen made is not striking a balance between the flexibility of the schedule and the learning structure.
I work from home. I get it. I know the eternal struggle and battle between indulging in the flexibility that comes with being at home and maintaining the routines in place that help you be productive.
Sure, some days I may need to do laundry or run an errand in the middle of the day. That is OK – it’s certainly a perk of running my own business from home. However, that doesn’t mean that each day can be a free-for-all. The same goes for homeschooling families.
I have had families choose to end a class early with a minute’s notice. Or cancel lessons while I’m making the drive to their home.
I’ve had parents leave to run a quick errand and leave my student to supervise their younger siblings.
Now, first of all, you should not leave your tutor alone with your child. Their job is to educate, not to babysit! But I digress.
This lack of structure on a consistent basis makes it harder for children to set routines around their learning. Another effect of not having that structure is that students don’t develop the frameworks of learning or perseverance to complete an assignment effectively.
I had another student who completed the curricula well enough, but had not developed the grit and perseverance that comes with getting consistent teacher feedback. He was unable to research a topic for more than 10 minutes without grumbling. He did not know about structuring a proper essay, and moaned if you requested a paragraph be more than 5 sentences long.
Now, don’t get me wrong – learning should happen naturally in life and not be limited to the hours spent sitting at a desk with a book in your lap.
However, some subjects need that structured time. If your child is in a higher level math such as trigonometry or calculus, sure, it may come up some times if you are creative enough to see a real-world example. But it won’t come up often enough in the real world to provide sufficient opportunities to practice. Higher-level subjects such as math, or English Literature need focused practice problems and essay-writing in order for students to really hone the skills.
To fix or avoid this mistake, I encourage you to help your child come up with a structure that you can both agree on. This will have three super sweet benefits for you:
First, feeling like they have no control in their own lives is one of the primary reasons children tantrum and act out. It’s their way of exerting control over some aspect of their own lives.
Second, if their opinion went into designing the schedule and routine, they are more likely to follow through with it
And third, it will help them begin to take initiative and ownership in their own lives. When you’re an adult, your day isn’t necessarily all planned out for you. Whether it comes down to the day job or the household chores or fitting in a visit to the gym, you need to manage your own time to ensure everything gets done. But this is not a skill that comes naturally, and having your child give some input into their own schedule will help them start to develop these skills earlier in life.
Homeschool Mistake #3
And the last of the mistakes homeschool and virtual school families make?
Assuming that homeschool should look similar to brick and mortar school.
The fact that there isn’t a parent as the authority figure and that they aren’t surrounded by other children shouldn’t be the extent to which homeschool and brick and mortar schools are different.
This is a very easy mistake to avoid or fix!
First and foremost, learning happens much more quickly when its done 1:1 than when it happens in a classroom. So don’t insist on having 8 hours per day completing bookwork. Instead, take the extra time to develop their physical activity, strength, creativity, and leadership.
The experience is already going to be vastly different from a brick and mortar school – so you might as well make it different in a way that benefits your child’s learning!
You can plan field trips and excursions, encourage them to take on interesting projects, and bring in outside resources such as the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle I keep talking about, or private tutors for subjects that they are especially interested in.
So there you have it.
the 3 mistakes homeschool and virtual school families make – and how to avoid them.
Thank you for spending time with me today, till next time!