Overview: It’s impossible to have NO homeschooling regrets, but maybe you can lessen the list by avoiding the ones this veteran homeschool mom has.
20-20 hindsight is an amazing thing. :-)
We all have regrets, don’t we? We have all made mistakes in our lives, some bigger, some not so big. We look back and wish we had done something more effectively, been a better person, and spent more time slurping ice cream than forcing down brussel sprouts, am I right?
Homeschooling is definitely an area of life that generates regrets. When we choose to homeschool, we are giving over a big chunk of our lives to one particular emphasis; and something that encompasses so much energy and time is bound to include its share of blunders, wrong turns, and outright failures. Some of them may be short-lived and easily fixed; others we don’t realize until much time has gone by.
Awhile back I posted an Ann-Notated that included a list of articles from veteran homeschool moms about what they would have done differently. I’ve been intrigued by the topic ever since, and so I thought it was time to add my own hard-won experience to the record. If nothing else, I’m hoping it will help young homeschool moms to start out well — and to avoid my mistakes, lol. I’m also hoping it will encourage older moms to know that they are not alone — sometimes that’s all we need to know to have the courage to keep going…
What are my homeschooling regrets?
1) I wish I’d done a better job of keeping up with the daily paperwork. I tend to get easily distracted doing other things, and I figure the kids are chugging along just fine; and before I know it, WEEKS have gone by with me not checking their work. The problem with this mistake is that it snowballs. When I don’t grade the math test from chapter five until many days or weeks after it has been taken, and then I find that my “oh I’m fine, Mom” student really did not understand a fairly major concept, it’s sometimes too late to do anything about it. They may have moved so far on that they don’t even really remember chapter five anymore. Or they’re in chapter seven and STILL doing the same things wrong that they were doing in chapter five. Sigh. This has happened more times than I like to admit…
2) I wish we’d not been so secluded and going it alone for so many years. I’ve shared about our homeschool journey, and how we moved to very rural Missouri when our children were still in the elementary years. Partly due to finances, and partly due to lack of effort, we became quite secluded homeschoolers. We didn’t belong to any homeschool group, we just schooled by ourselves, mostly staying home. This is not a problem if it only lasts for a short season, but for us it lasted many years. Over time doing things yourself can mean feeling lonely, lacking support or encouragement, being without accountability – all of which lead to a shortage of motivation. We got burnt out and my kids were not happy with homeschooling. This year (ten years after the move) is our first time back into a regular co-op situation. We’ve joined our local Classical Conversations group, and the kids are already finding school much more interesting. :-)
UPDATE: While we are no longer with Classical Conversations, we are still in a local co-op. I would be fine staying home, but my teen would not, LOL. Are you stuck for ways to socialize your teen? Check out this list for ideas: 100 Ways to Socialize Your Homeschooled Teen.
3) I wish I’d been more willing to learn from other moms. All along I’ve battled my own pride in homeschooling. I think it’s a pretty widespread phenomenon among homeschool moms, actually. Most of us are self-assured, self-sufficient types who get things done. This means we rarely want to listen to the way others do things. We think we’ve got it covered, so we chug along doing it our own way. This can be good to a certain extent – we don’t want to be whining bundles of insecurity, after all – but humility is always a good choice. Other moms have lots to share. Our way is not always the right or only way. We can learn even from the newbies. We can admit when we need help. I didn’t do that enough.
4) I wish I had not worked outside the home for two years while the eldest was homeschooling high school. I left her in charge of four younger siblings for 20+ hours per week, expecting them all to get along and get their schoolwork done. I was very concerned about our budget – and we did pay off some debt – but the costs to relationships and to learning were very high. I could write an entire blog post about the consequences of that decision; but suffice it to say that if you are a homeschool mom, please try to make extra income any other way before finding a job that requires you to leave your house!
UPDATE: But if you do have to work an outside job—and I’ll confess I’m back at one now that there is only one kid left in our homeschool (and I may end up regretting that, too, but needs must… sigh…)—then definitely check out this article by Jen Mackinnon at Practical by Default to gain encouragement and ideas about how to make it all work (haha pun intended): Can You Successfully Work and Homeschool Your Kids at the Same Time?
5) I wish we’d had more fun. It’s easy to get into a homeschool rut. Somehow over the years, school became something to get DONE — we had to finish the lesson each day; we had to complete the curriculum each year — and fun activities like field trips or learning games went by the wayside. Homeschooling is the chance to infuse the learning process with all sorts of variety! I didn’t take advantage of those opportunities like I could have.
This getting older stuff can be tough, and not just because of the wrinkles, LOL. As our kids grow up, we look back and see all the things we could have done better over the years. But that’s OK; mistakes and regrets are part of being human — and by identifying and analyzing our failures we can grow beyond them. And it’s never to late to improve. After all, as Anne of Green Gables has said, “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet.” Don’t you find that comforting? I do. :-)