You’ve heard the old saying: If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we always got. It’s true. Nothing changes unless something changes.

How does this apply to homeschooling?

If you listen to homeschool parents in support groups or online, you’re apt to hear comments like these:

  • “I constantly have to hound my children to do their work.”
  • “Stress over workbook assignments leaves my oldest daughter in tears.”
  • “Even though we brought him home, my son still acts like he hates school.”

If any of those statements describe your house, you may be confusing “homeschooling” with “doing school at home.” If so, it’s no surprise that your children dislike the same things about school that they disliked before. If you’re honest, you probably didn’t enjoy aspects of your school experience either, but homeschooling gives each family the freedom to try something new!

Getting up early

Not being a morning person, I hated the clanging alarm that rousted me out of bed in time to catch the bus for an hour-long ride to school. Some early risers experience peak productivity first thing in the morning, but that does not mean that night-owls are lazy. Contrary to popular opinion, the “whole world” does not work from 8 to 5. Many people work nights or swing shifts and are more alert and creative later in the day.

Yes, children need to develop good discipline and a solid work ethic, but they also need sufficient sleep. If you are able to indulge your homeschooled children with a late-start day–even as an occasional treat–you may find they reward you by accomplishing more once they’re well-rested…and YOU might get something done while the house is quiet!

Sitting still

This is a big challenge, especially for boys. Many children’s need for activity is mislabeled as misbehavior, contributing to great frustration with “formal” schooling. Some quit altogether.

Is it necessary for children to spend hours sitting quietly in hard chairs in order to learn? There is a tactile component to learning. Homeschool can allow children the time and space they need to move, explore, and get their hands dirty.

Boring textbooks

Tell the truth. Do you remember one thing you read in a textbook? Probably not, but I’ll bet you could name any number of things you’ve learned by reading good literature and non-fiction material.

There are times when a good textbook lays out material in a concise, logical format, but in your homeschool you are also free to draw information from other sources, many of which are much more vivid and memorable…and often less expensive or even free!

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Copy work and workbooks

I’m not saying that we should dispense with all written assignments or neglect the need to master knowledge and skills, but must our children’s days be full of activities that make learning a drudgery?

Save copy work and workbooks for those subjects where drill and repetition are truly of value. If you want to raise eager learners, never use written assignments as busywork simply to fill time when there are so many more delightful and effective ways of learning!

Tests

Written tests are a fairly efficient way to gauge the general progress or minimum proficiency of multiple students, but they aren’t always effective in isolating specific trouble spots for individual students nor do they identify the upper extent of understanding. From the student’s perspective, tests mostly catch us when we do something wrong. Failure is a scary feeling.

When we homeschool, we deal with a small group of students on an intimate basis. A written test is one way to make sure they’ve mastered a concept before we move on, but so is a conversation or a project. Our goal should never be to instill a fear of failure, but to measure mastery and clear up misunderstandings so that our children are prepared to succeed at the next level.

If you’ve made the decision to opt out of traditional school, don’t bring the failures of the system home with you! Homeschooling gives us marvelous freedom to adapt the methods of learning to the needs of the child.

What are some of the things that frustrated you in school? What changes have you made to improve your children’s experience?