Homeschooling is challenging for me. I don’t mind sacrificing my personal time, working more, or being with my kids 24/7. However, the most challenging thing for me is ensuring my kids get the best education and learn what they need individually.
From me? Just me? Really? That’s a pretty overwhelming thought, and I guess that’s why I made mistakes. I am sure I will keep making mistakes, but I think it’s good to write my mistakes down for myself and others, so we can help each other learn from our mistakes and make fewer in the future. Hopefully, one day I will master it!
Are you ready for my confessions?
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Mistake #1: Over Scheduling
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the social media, and other people’s amazing lesson plans. Every time I saw an amazing craft, song, or fun activity that somebody else posted, I just wanted to try them all with my kids! It is kind of like walking into a candy store and feeling excited and overwhelmed by the billions of different candies. I just want to eat them all. All of the materials I find online look great for my kids, and seem very easy and simple to do. I want to try them all, so I try to cram all the activities and new ideas into our weekly lesson plans.
Then, it turned out that it was impossible for us to finish every single of the activities I planned. Also, since I teach three kids, it made it even harder, and we could usually only get through two or three activities maximum a day. I ended up trying to hurry through the activities so we could complete them all, so I sometimes forgot to really enjoy the whole process of each activity.
Mistake #2: Pushing my Kids too Early
The world is pushing our kids to know things before they are ready. We all think that kids should start to learn their ABCs around age 3 and write them by age 4. Or that they should know all the 30 basic Chinese characters by age 4. Why? I don’t know, but everybody seems to think this is correct, so I thought my kids shouldn’t fall behind. Thinking like that is a dangerous habit because as parents try to compete with each other, we end up pushing our kids too much.
In Hong Kong, a lot of parents fall into this dangerous way of thinking. Everyone tries to get their kids into the best kindergarten. Some of them will even pay for their 2 year-old to take interview classes in order to learn how to pass the preschool’s interviews. Once the kids are in preschool, they not only go to school 5 days a week, but their parents also fill the rest of their time with different classes instead of allowing them free time to play. It’s a crazy system!
Even though I decided not to do this with my kids and have chosen to homeschooling my kids, sometimes I wonder how much I should teach my kids. My second child probably suffers the most from my thinking because she is so clever that I often forget she is younger than her older sister, so I often expect her to perform at the same level as her sister. She started joining our “school time” when she was just 2, so we have become comfortable with her participation and often forget her real age and probably push her too much.
Mistake #3: NOT Having enough Fun
Being a homeschooling mom is different than being a public school teacher. I am still learning how to be both a mother and a teacher for my kids. Discipline is vital to managing the class, so everyone can focus on listening and learning. When I was a student in a traditional Chinese school, I was taught to sit still and listen to the teachers all the time, so I think it’s easier to teach when students are sitting still. Fortunately, in college, I learned that there are 8 intelligences or learning styles, and I was able to experience these styles when I lived and taught in the U.S..
However, most of the time I take our school time too seriously and do not have enough fun. I worry during the activities because I don’t want to make too big of a mess or am afraid that one of the kids might get hurt. It is much easier for ME if we don’t make a mess that I must clean up or the kids don’t get hurt and need extra comforting, but it is also important to remember the kids also need to have fun.
Mistake #4: Not Having any Plans
I am not any professional teacher, and even though I taught Mandarin in an elementary school before, it does not mean I am a very good teacher. Also, I am a full-time mom with so many things to do that I could never finish it all in 40 hours each week. There are definitely times when I am out of ideas, lose my motivation, and just want to be selfish and rest for a couple of days.
However, I noticed the difference between giving my kids a meaningful in the morning versus just letting them do whatever they want. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but my kids’ behavior is much better and they listen more closely when I give them something to do, even if it is just a coloring page. On days when I don’t have time to really plan or just didn’t want to plan, I just read some books to them and ask them to finish some printables or let them watch some videos or movies related to the theme. On the other hands, whenever I am doing my planning, if I found any activities or resources that I really like, but not related to our theme, I will save it on my computer or my Pinterest account, or even make a list of all the fun activities that you can do in the future. Whenever I am sick, or the lesson turns into chaos, or when I have no plan, I have something for back up.
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Mistake #5: Staying in My Comfort Zone
I always stay in my own home and my own homeschooling corner, so it is easy to stay in my comfort zone and not change or improve. Trust me! I wasn’t like this before – I changed after I became a mother. I guess one of the reasons is because I don’t feel very confident in myself, so I prefer to do things the way I know how instead of trying something new. Trying something new isn’t really one my strengths anymore, especially when my kids don’t want to listen, or there are too many other things to do. Sometimes I just get too lazy or too scared to try new things and new methods.
- Sometimes I need a break to rekindle my fire. I will request my husband take the kids watch the kids while I will get out of the house for a bit.
- Share what I prepared and how the kids liked it with others.
- Read positive feedback from others and my kids to help me have the motivation to keep on going.
- Go through my kids’ OLD art projects, photos, journals, to remind myself how much they have learned and grown.
- Browse through different blogs for new and fun ideas to try.