Five Roadblocks to Homeschool Success
Vicki Bentley helps HSLDA members homeschool children in preschool through 8th grade. She and her husband homeschooled 17 children and led a support group of over 250 families. Read more >>
Whether you’re a brand new homeschooler or a veteran of 10 years, it is not unusual to anticipate a new school term with a bit of nervousness. Some of the common challenges that parents face in homeschooling usually stem from misconceptions, fear, and unrealistic expectations. Here are five roadblocks along the “homeschool highway,” adapted from the how-to-begin seminar presented by Yvonne Bunn, director of homeschool support and of governmental affairs for the Home Educators Association of Virginia.
Myth No. 1: “There is only one way to homeschool.”
What works for one child or one family may not work for another, regardless of how wonderful the material is. Your homeschooling neighbor may seem to have the perfect situation and use the best curriculum, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Another friend may be very structured, or yet another may seem to be able to just put together the right program of study with only a library card. There is freedom in doing what works for your family! (If you don’t believe me, read A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackelford and Susan White, or check out the stories at A Day in Our Homeschool.)
Misconception No. 2: “This is the way I was taught. It worked for me so it will work for them.”
Children have different learning styles; parents have different teaching styles. Read our section about learning and teaching styles, and find the key that will unlock their minds—it may be different from the key that unlocked that world of learning for you. Encourage and appreciate the joy of discovery. Make learning fun and be enthusiastic about it yourself—it’s contagious!
Unrealistic Expectation No. 3: “I thought I’d be able to use this curriculum with all my children.”
Anticipate change; do what’s best for your family. Different children learn in different ways, and your family goes through different stages. The curriculum is a tool; make it work for you. You are free to change methods, curriculum, your schedule, and even your philosophy of education!
Fear No. 4: “I’m so afraid I’ll make a mistake and ruin my children.”
We all make mistakes; hopefully we learn from them. We are blessed to have a God of grace! We can admit that we’ve made a mistake, re-direct our steps, then move on. If you are afraid that you will leave gaps that ruin your children, remember that it is not your job to teach your child everything there is to learn; it is your job to teach your child how to learn and to provide tools and support along the way. (And how many of us learned everything we know now by the time we were 18?)
Doubt No. 5: “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all...”
Renew your vision by reviewing the goals you first established. Homeschooling is not a cure for every imperfection in your family—in fact, it often serves as a magnifying glass! While there may be bumps along the way, the joy of sharing in the thrill of your child’s discoveries and insights, both academically and spiritually, can make it all worthwhile!
Remember that home education is just one facet of home discipleship. Keep your eyes on the prize—children who know and walk in truth.
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens consultant