How to (Hopefully, Not!) Sabotage Your Homeschool

Eight Ways to Sabotage Your Homeschool
by Wendy Young

The power of a successful homeschool journey cannot be over emphasized. Every parent who home schools wants to enjoy the adventure, grow close to their children and have well rounded children at the end of it. But moms hold the power to sabotage their own homeschools and often they do not even know they are doing it. Here are some warnings (and remedies) for homeschooling parents so that you do not become one of them.

Warning #1 — You have no systems in place

How do you know this is happening? You cannot find your school books, the children cannot find their pens and pencils, your laundry is piling up and your cupboards and fridge are empty.

Solution — Take one afternoon on the weekend to plan your meals, do your grocery shopping, get your books ready for the next week and get your children to make sure their desks and pencil boxes are ready for Monday. Set up a laundry system in your home to make sure that your family has clean clothing and linens.

Warning #2 — Your children take forever to do their work

Some children are slow workers, but many are dawdlers. If your junior grade children are taking more than a 3 hours to do their work or your high schooler more than 6 hours then chances are that they are wasting time.

Solution — Make sure that you are giving your children short lessons so that dawdling is discouraged. Ensure that you alternate a hard lesson for a easier lesson. Take the time to train your children in the habit of attention so that they learn the importance of giving something their full attention and completing work in a timely fashion.

Warning #3 — Your children spend more time on school work than life

If your children are spending more than a third of their day in formal academic pursuits, it is a sure fire way of producing burnout in mom and child.

Solution — Raymond and Dorothy Moore, grandparents of the homeschooling movement, make use of a head, heart and hand principle. They said that a child’s day should be balanced equally between these three occupations. Head refers to academic pursuits; Hand refers to work in and around the home like chores and entrepreneurial activities and Heart refers to spiritual and moral training a parent should impart.

Warning #4 — Your children are allowed unlimited daily doses of TV and computer

Children should not watch TV or work on the computer everyday. It is an unhealthy situation as the stimulus that the brain receives from these two activities causes a dumbing down process where the child forgets how to entertain themselves, play out imaginary games and be productively and creatively busy — to mention just a few negatives.

Solution – Make a list of all the productive pursuits that your child can do and put to when they nag and ask for TV or their computer games. Ensure that you draw them alongside you in your day to day activities — and set the example yourself!

Warning #5 — Mom does not ensure that she is sufficiently rested

When a mom is tired, burnt out and running from play-dates to sports all afternoon and never takes a moment for a quiet cup of tea and a book, she is bound to be tense and overwrought. When mom has nothing left, she cannot give to her children and be a healing presence in her home.

Solution – Mom needs to set aside small moments in her day to take a breather. This can be a chapter of a good book, a walk around the garden, a cup of tea — on her own. It could also mean getting to bed earlier so that she can rise before her family with a small head start on her day. Mom needs to take time out monthly as well, so that she can set her hand to a craft or hobby where she can take off the “homeschooling mom hat”.

Warning #6 — The homeschooling parents talk of nothing but their children

Does it seem like whenever mom and dad go out or have a moment together, all they talk about is homeschooling and parenting? While there is time for that, it is also very important that they take time to remember that their relationship ranks right up there in importance.

Solution — Make a pact that you will do something special together, weekly or monthly, where you do not talk about homeschooling, parenting or household matters. Just enjoy being together.

Warning #7 — Parents control their children rather than build relationship with their children

This is a tough one, isn’t it? We want the best for our children; we want them to be all they were created to be and to achieve much in their lives. But often a parent will go overboard and forget that the reason they are raising children is so that they can be strong valuable members of a community.

Solution — Like a young sapling tree, protect your children as they need it. Train them in moral and spiritual guidelines as you take hold of those truths as well. As they grow and show maturity in certain areas, permit them to begin making their own decisions within the realm of what is permissible to your boundaries as a family unit.

Warning #8 — A homeschooling mom who spends too much time feeding on other lives

I left this for last because this one point can be the single most damaging thing that can happen to any homeschool. When a mom is always comparing herself and her children to what the next person is doing, what the other children have achieved, the projects that they are doing, instead of getting on and living her life with her children, she is bound to become frustrated and defeated.

Solution — Accept the season that your family is in — perhaps you have just had a baby and an in-depth unit study will send you teetering over the edge! Perhaps your children have special needs and are not able to concentrate for long. Whatever the reason, accept the season. Also remember that each home and family is unique and your family has a specific flavor to it. When you try and bring in another family’s culture to your own, you dilute the beauty of your family.

Wendy Young is a homeschooling mom to 4 children aged 7 to 14 years and they have always been at home. She has been married for 19 years. Her website, Homeschool-Curriculum-For-Life, is dedicated to helping moms choose curriculum, get organized, and enjoy the homeschool journey by equipping them in their roles as wives, women, and moms.

Reprinted with permission from The Homeschooler’s Notebook, a newsletter put out by Heather Idoni of http://www.familyclassroom.net
Thank you, Heather!


  1. Thanks for posting this, Penney! She hit so many of my nails on the head, that I’ll have to think about where to start! 🙂

  2. Yeah, thanks for posting this, Penney! Once again you hit the right topic not only when I needed it….but was ready to hear and receive it. I won’t tell you what numbers I related to, though! lol. ♥

  3. This post resonates with a lot of us homeschool moms today! As soon as I read it, I wanted to share it with my friends. I like how she warns us and gives us solutions. She has a lot of wisdom. I’m glad it ministered to my friends, too!

    1. Thank you for coming by, Rosemary. I visited you at your blog today, too! I enjoyed your post about your daughter’s new fish.

      I think I’ll keep referring to this post and make sure I’m remembering these warnings (and solutions).

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