What Happens If You Make a Homeschooling Mistake?!
By Linda Dobson
Let’s face it. When your family is homeschooling, it’s basically an exciting, scary, sometimes mind-boggling experiment. You’ll lose less sleep and spare yourself a few gray hairs if, from the starting gate, you accept that, because it is a grand experiment, you will make mistakes along the homeschooling journey.
When Thomas Edison set about to illuminate the world, he tried many methods that didn’t succeed before he actually got a bulb to light up. It’s important to understand that the nature of experimentation includes a good dose of frustration and constant “return to the drawing board.”
Homeschooling Mistake? Good!
It very well may have been in school that you learned that mistakes are bad, bad, bad. You were surrounded by same-aged peers just waiting for someone to stumble so they could have a few laughs. There is, however, a much more positive view of mistakes noted by nineteenth-century philosopher William James:
Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we have to work on…Mistakes are the portals of discovery.
Now, isn’t that a kinder, gentler approach to mistakes?
Accept from the beginning that you will make mistakes within your homeschooling experiment; no one is promising you a rose garden. Undoubtedly you’ll try a resource or learning method that just doesn’t turn on the light of understanding for your child. Rather than immediately assume that one or both of you aren’t cut out for homeschooling, use the failed portion of your experiment as the learning opportunity it presents.
Homeschooling Mistakes Are Easily Corrected
Because you’ll be working so closely with your child, you will see failures very quickly. No doubt there will be times that you feel like someone is shining one of Edison’s lights upon it!
“I wish someone had told me that no matter how messed up your first year of homeschooling seems, it is the best growing experience you and your children will ever have,” explains Florida’s Terri Brennan upon completing her own first year. “We’ve gone from being formal to unschooling, unit studies to eclectic. There were times I thought I had damaged my children permanently,” says Teri, “but looking back, I see how much we learned from trial and error. I found out that I enjoy my children much more when I let them tell me how they want to learn. My children have discovered that learning is fun and exciting.”
Quick recognition leads to quick resolution. Learn the lesson, adjust your experiment, and, just like Edison, try, try again.
What I Wish Someone Had Told Me
During My First Year of Homeschooling
I wish I’d known that you never have all the answers. Homeschooling is much more like parenting than it is like teaching school, and your child changes constantly – sometimes as a result of what you are doing and sometimes for unknown reasons. What worked on Tuesday won’t work on Friday. What works with the first won’t work with the second. What you think homeschooling will be like has as little resemblance to real homeschooling as that fantasy of nursing your newborn in a rocking chair has to colicky screaming at 3:00 AM. Don’t start that first year thinking you know what homeschooling is because you have a friend who homeschools. Learn everything you can and, as with parenting, let love take care of the unknowns.
~ Sarah Rose