We all strive for it. Perfection. We want the perfect house and the perfect family and the perfect kids. But are we placing unrealistic expectations on our homeschoolers?
I have flash backs to when my oldest son was in first grade. Picture it- we’re in our living room, we just finished reading a history book that came recommended by e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. I get the activity book and ask him questions…and he’s not able to answer them. I’m furious! Why did I just spend time reading to him if he didn’t pay attention?! Except he did pay attention. He was six years old, and I was expecting too much out of him.
Where do these unrealistic expectations come from?
I think that as homeschoolers we feel that we need to prove something to other non-homeschool families. Our kids have to be smart to prove that we’re succeeding at homeschooling. Our kids have to behave like angels in public to prove that they’re well socialized. You know what? You don’t owe any body any proof of anything! (Sometimes we just need that permission from someone else, don’t we? Well, here it is.)
When kids are young, they don’t need the pressures that society puts on them, especially when it comes to schooling. On an online homeschool group I’m a part of that has members from all over the world, there are often mothers on there fretting over their 4-5 year olds not being able to read, not having any interest in school, and not learning their letters and their numbers. We put so much pressure on our kids and ourselves at such a young age that we don’t even realize how much they’re learning outside of a workbook.
Learning through play
Young children learn through play. They learn social interactions (think about how they play store-that’s a favorite for young kids!), the learn about the world around them (there’s rarely a day where my kids don’t come home covered in mud from getting into something outside), and they learn through imitating you, their most influential role model.
Bake cookies, take nature walks, read stories, and play make believe. Even at nearly ten years old, my son gets so much out of these activities that are preparing him for life in ways his text books never could. Even though I had set unrealistic expectations on him before, I’ve been able to change what we’re doing so I no longer put that pressure on him.
Give them real life experiences
This is a huge reason why we travel. Seeing different places that are different than your home opens your eyes up to so much. We try to take advantage of what our community has to offer even while we are home. Take your kids to parks. Take them to museums. Take them to local festivals. Give them real life experiences to learn about the world around them.
Going to the grocery store, a chore that I dread myself, is such an amazing learning experience for kids! It teaches them planning (we have to go in with a list or mom will forget what we need…it never fails). It teaches them math (which kind of cereal out of our options is the least expensive?). It teaches them manners (how many times do YOU say excuse me while at the grocery store?). And it teaches them patience (The grocery store is not a park…how long can your kids last before trying to turn the clothing racks at Walmart into a jungle gym?).
Letting kids be kids
One thing I love about homeschooling is that it gives me the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate what is truly best for my child. I can tailor learning to fit their needs and their learning styles. I can change things up if they’re not working. In almost all cases, you don’t have to do something you know isn’t working! It’s sometimes hard to make that change, but sometimes even throwing that curriculum out the window is what’s best for you and best for your child.
Let them be kids. The beauty of homeschool is that you don’t have to make it be school at home. You can let them enjoy learning. You can give them a relaxed environment. You can give them opportunities to get out and explore the world around them. And, believe it or not, they will still grow up to be smart, capable adults. Maybe even more so because you gave them the opportunity to be a kid while they had the chance, and didn’t put unrealistic expectation upon their shoulders.
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