I am the first to admit when I make a mistake. I mean, nobody likes to be wrong, and it isn’t fun to eat crow, but it’s necessary. Some things are trial and error and you grow from your trials and your errors. I try not to look at it as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn, so I don’t really mind admitting when it happens.
Believe it or not, I tried to start homeschooling when my oldest child was only two years old. TWO! So that’s 4.5 years of mistakes we have made as homeschoolers. And yes, trying to school a two-year old was my very first mistake. Ha! Without further ado, here are some of my failings as a homeschool mom and how they have shaped my homeschool philosophy into what it is today.
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
Thinking My Kids Will Learn in the Same Way I Did
Obviously starting homeschooling or any schooling at the ripe old age of two is not a great idea. It didn’t last long because it just didn’t work. By the time she turned two, my daughter already knew her uppercase letters, shapes, and colors…and I knew I taught myself to read at age four, so my thought process was kind of like this:
“I have a child genius who will learn even faster than I did!!!!!”
Yeah, no. While I do still believe my oldest is gifted, she’s one of those awkward 2e kids who excels at certain skills and struggles with others. I think most kids are like this, but kids who are gifted have a lot of idiosyncrasies that people don’t expect. She is just now getting the hang of reading after a lot of frustration, mostly on my part, because of…
Having Unreasonable Expectations
The child genius feeling went away pretty quickly. But I still thought reading would click for her if I was more diligent or just pushed her harder, or if I just used another method. Still…no. And it led to me feeling like a failure, and I imagine she didn’t feel so good about herself, either.
She turned three and I had a full-on curriculum I had designed for her. I had a set schedule of what she would learn and what would be covered each day, spanning about seven subjects. It was waaaaaay too much for her! If you look at traditional schooling, kids may be in preschool all day but is the teacher giving instruction that whole time? No. We ended up sending her to K4 at a private school and it was only 2.5 hours a day, and much of it was play. As a first time mom, I was doing what I thought was right, and having no experience and nobody to really ask about it, I just did what I thought was appropriate, but it totally backfired. This was not a reflection on her intellectual abilities, it was a reflection of her AGE. And I would feel horrible if I made her feel “less than” because of my own expectations.
Not Letting Kids Be Kids
The biggest mistake was just not letting her be a kid. Expecting that she could do book work and be happy about it (I’m happy about book work because that’s my learning style – going back to expecting that they will learn in the same way as me). Children of all ages need to play and be curious and explore. They need physical activity. They need to be loud. They need to make their own mistakes. This is as much an error in my parenting as in my homeschooling! The two go hand in hand, obviously. But I will say that I have relaxed so much as a parent over the last 6.5 years, as we add each child. So of course my homeschool style will relax some also. And I feel I’m in a good place now with everything.
My goals as a homeschool mom now look like this:
- teach to their pace, pushing only as much as is necessary for their motivation
- let them explore subjects that appeal to them
- incorporate as much play time as possible, allowing them to be loud at times (preferably outside, but we live up north and that’s not always possible)
- first and foremost, teach them to love God and love each other, and to know that they are always loved by the Lord, even if they don’t live up to the unreasonable expectations from others…including their mom. Their self-worth is in Christ, not in any man or woman on this earth, and God sees them through the lens of Jesus and He loves them despite anything they may fail at.
I have since read Better Late than Early by Raymond Moore. I would suggest anyone struggling in this same way give it a read. It is out of print but I found a copy at my library and there is a Kindle version. It details what is age appropriate for learning and how the school system has pushed kids into things they aren’t ready for, which causes them to struggle. If you have young children or are stuck in the mentality of the school system, please read this book. I wish I had read it before I started trying to homeschool a two-year old. 😉