I was a professional school teacher who then homeschooled my daughters for over 23 years. Many of my school teacher attitudes and approaches did not work for us in our homeschooling. In those early years, I had many fears and flaws and I had to learn a new and better way. May this list of 10 F-word of these flaws encourage you to avoid these pitfalls.
- FEAR – Most moms are afraid. They fear not doing the “right” thing or not knowing what to do. New homeschool moms are terrified. I was. I remember that sick, cold feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach when I ordered my first, expensive, bells-and-whistles curriculum, and I desperately hoped that I had made the right choices. I was afraid that my children would fall behind if I didn’t keep to the schedule. (Hint – They do not fall behind!) Fear nagged at me and dragged my heart down. I was afraid of what my family thought of us, of how my children didn’t do things like they “were supposed” to … just so many fears. May I suggest that homeschooling requires faith?
- FORCE – You cannot force a child to learn. No nagging, badgering, or pleading will help. Either the child is not ready, the work is not at their level, or the approach does not fit. Adapt, adjust or amend your approach.
- FAST – Don’t rush. When homeschool feels like a continual FRENZY or you are FRAZZLED, slow down. It is not necessary to stick to the exact schedule. Remember that learning is like a travel itinerary. Learn to trust your family’s pace, take time to pause for scenic detours and or to rest. I shared my best homeschool schedule advice = take more time!
- FORMAL – Homeschooling is NOT the same as school-at-home. You can learn without textbooks or a teacher teaching, or children sitting at desks in a classroom. While discipline subjects such as handwriting, spelling and maths should be done with children sitting at a table, rather relax and sit together and use living books to learn most of the other subjects. Ease into a daily rhythm rather than a strict formal classroom schedule. Cuddle together and read-alouds on the couch, read poetry under a tree, or work on projects in the kitchen or while lying on the carpet.
- FACTS – Don’t focus entirely on only learning facts. Charlotte Mason encourages the child to develop a relationship with the subject matter and the author who share their experiences in living books. The focus of a wholehearted education is not on simply memorizing facts but accurately recalling the details described, the emotions connected to these experiences and the child’s relationship to them.
- FIXED mindset versus growth mindset. A fixed mindset is limiting, whereas a growth mindset is a freedom, especially in dealing with struggles and difficulties. A fixed mindset performs to achieve success and wants to prove intelligence or talent. A fixed mindset compares itself with others, is threatened by others’ successes and avoids challenges that may lead to failure. Fixed mindset moms often compare themselves and their children to others, feel threatened, feel anxious and are usually desperately striving. When one has a growth mindset, you are inspired by others’ successes, look for ways to improve and overcome challenges, and treat difficulties as opportunities to persist and improve. Encourage a growth mindset in yourself and your children.
- FLUCTUATE – Stability and consistency in education are important. Avoid constantly changing your approach, exchanging your curriculums, vacillating on your choices, or wavering on decisions. Of course, it is natural to doubt yourself when you are unsure or beginning something new. I recommend you ditch a book or curriculum that genuinely does not fit, but at some stage, settle down and make the best of the situation and persevere and figure things out. Disillusioned children and parents who keep changing things do not learn to persist and persevere, which leads to a weak character.
- FRET & FUSS – Mom, your job is to hold space for your child for deep, intentional learning and connection. Avoid nagging, interrupting, fretting and fussing. Give your children a calm, loving atmosphere where they can focus and learn. When your plans overwhelm you, spend some time and prepare yourself, your lessons and your homelife so that you are not scurrying around looking for lost books, stressing over what to cook or fussing over a child who is distracted.
- FLAT – Avoid dull, flat learning as this will quickly quench your child’s natural, in-built desire to learn and discover. Develop a rich, wide education for your children. Find fascinating books, watch interesting videos, listen to marvellous music, observe nature, look at amazing art. Take time and go on educational outings, go to museums, and meet interesting artisans and artists, farmers, builders and inventors. Provide your children with a full, flavourful education.
- FAIL – Fear of failure is crippling. Let me reassure you that you and your children will not fail. Avoid curriculums that require tests and exams, especially with young children. Your child does not require 12 years of exam-based curriculums as preparation to be able to write their school-leaving exams. They do not need quarterly tests and exams to ascertain whether they understand their work because homeschooling is often one-on-one and you will quickly see if your child can manage their work. My eldest daughter wrote her first formal, timed exam for her Prelims in her final school year. A few months of preparation at home using the previous years’ exam papers and a timer prepared her efficiently for her actual exams. When a child shows signs that they did not understand or master the work, gently re-do the lesson or find an alternative approach.
I recommend you tailor-make your child’s learning and make child-led choices in projects, activities and subject choices. Grace and gentleness provides mercy that produces natural growth.
Please share your experiences with us. Feel free to write to me with any questions. Fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page, and I will do my best to advise and encourage you.
Grace and mercy to you and your family this year.
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