You are considering homeschooling and that’s great! But there is so much information available, and it is so hard to find a starting point, that it becomes overwhelming. So instead of telling you what to do, I’ll talk about my beginners mistakes. After 6 months of homeschooling my toddler, here’s what I learned and changed.
The 5 mistakes I made in the beginning of our homeschooling journey
1. Falling down the Pinterest hole
I started by submerging myself in pinterest crafts. It didn’t take long to feel like I was drowning in glitter. The crafts were all over the place, they didn’t have a flow, and let’s be honest here, with a 2 years old, I was doing most of them. And Big T being a bit more special, she wasn’t on par with the activities offered for her age.
2. Planning too far in advance
After scouring the depth of pinterest, and moving past the crafts, I had a plan on how and what I wanted to teach her. I followed the experts in the field and seasoned homeschoolers. I created themes, planned crafts months and advanced, and lost whole weekends! Within 2 weeks it was obvious the intensity was too high. What had worked for others, wasn’t working for my child. She wasn’t able to follow the activities intended for her age. So I did the same, read up on special needs curriculum, activities intended for younger children, created a new curriculum, spent hours on end, only to not find her interest in the more laid back activities. See where this is going?
3. Buying a curriculum
That’s when I took the liberating decision to buy a curriculum. It came highly recommended by other homeschoolers with toddlers. I finally felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It is play based curriculum, one of the best forms of teaching toddlers and preschoolers. The activities looked fun, hit all subjects, and gradually increased in difficulty as the child learned new skills, switching themes every 2 weeks. They showed ways to accommodate the lessons to fit all learning style and offered some flexibility in timing. I felt as though it was the answer. With everything pre-planned and built to gradually increase in difficulty, I wouldn’t lose precious time researching lessons and money wasted on unused supplies. Only, we quickly had to change all lessons to the bare minimum. We had to skip over the discussions, limiting the language development opportunity, and after a month and a half, we were still on the first subject. I was bored, she was bored, so I gave up and moved to the next subject. 4 months later and she hadn’t learned the new skills we should have observed, according to the curriculum. So we scrapped it for the moment, and I promised myself I’d revisit it when she’s much older and able to communicate.
4. Asking social media for guidance
That’s when I turned to social media, only to be caught in a hurricane of advice and information. I was comparing my daughter to kids her age, younger, always feeling bad about our progress. I doubted myself, felt I was doing her wrong. She wasn’t counting, naming letters. I sensed as though I was failing and started considering preschool. I was told to look into Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Waldorf. I was spiraling in information and my daughter was losing interest in homeschooling all together, something she used to love so much. That’s when I stepped back from it all. We continued doing educational activities but with no intent. We gave ourselves a break.
5. Not following my instinct/doubting myself
This was by far my biggest mistake, which came to light during our break. I realized she learned the most when we were just having fun, before I had even considered homeschooling. We were playing, and she started to catch on some things. Some very unusual things, but still learning! She was able to show me where animals could find moss in the wintertime during our hikes even while snow covered. I finally came to realize that she doesn’t absorb the same information in the same way. She needs sensorial input, movement, and interest to take in something new. My gut told me to keep going with it, and I finally listened to it. She made leaps and bounds in all aspects of her development after. She started putting the few words and ASL she knew together to create two words sentences, her play enhanced in quality, amongst other things. Her therapists were amazed with all the new skills she learned in such a short period. She can’t be compared to other toddlers, since her neurological markup isn’t the same, but what child should be? They all have their own interests they want to explore. I just needed a little push to catch on.
I hope this helps anyone starting homeschooling little ones. As per learning, teaching has its own journey entirely and yours will lead you a different path then ours. Some aspects like a curriculum can definitely work with some families, and social media is a fountain of amazing information and advice. You just need to take the time and find the right balance.