How to get out of the Public School Mindset

When we first started homeschooling, I knew that I did not want to follow the “school-at-home” model.  The school-at-home model is essentially what you would think of when you think of public school – kids sitting at their desks with a teacher at the front teaching them.  I’m not saying this model is wrong, I’m not even saying setting up cute little old fashioned school desks is wrong (I totally did that!), but rather that I wanted to try something different in our homeschool.  Our relaxed, year-round, literature-based, interest-led model emerged.

You have most likely come to the same conclusion.  You decided to homeschool for a specific reason, and realized that there are so many amazing ways that you can teach your children – you did not want the traditional school model to be picked up from the public school and placed in your living room (or wherever you may choose to do school).

What is the problem then?

The problem is that even through my kids have never attended public school in their lives, we have, and because of that, we look at the traditional school model and constantly wonder what we are missing at home.

I remember my first official year of homeschooling, and trying to figure out how I was going to fit in all of the required subjects every.single.day.  Then I realized that we did not need to do history five days a week, and science five days, and all the other subjects five days a week.  What a relief it was to figure that out!  I should know that in the traditional public school model, the kids are not doing every subject every day, yet I still felt the need to do that to myself, and to my children.  Why?

The reason is because we were always trying to “keep up” with the public school, even if we weren’t doing their prescribed curriculum.  We would add in extra, just to make sure that we were “on track,” but what good was that for our homeschool, or our sanity?

How do you shift your thinking from traditional public school to a homeschool that works well for your family?

One of the most wonderful reasons parents choose to homeschool their children is the freedom it brings.  Not just the freedom of a schedule that works for that individual family, but also the freedom to be able to teach in a way that is meaningful to each individual child in the home.

How amazing is that?  You get to choose what is right for your family!

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That isn’t to say that it is easy to figure out what that is for your family, and there is definitely trial and error, but you have the freedom to make that choice.  Whereas at the public school there are set parameters that need to be followed.  These parameters are not bad in any way, and are often needed to measure the progress for large groups of students.  You may even find that you want your children to still continue to learn within these parameters in your own home, but you have the freedom to make that choice.

If you, like me, are not deciding on the “school-at-home” model, but you still need to fight against that public school mindset, here are some practical ways in which to combat that.

First, sit down and look at everything you are studying on a daily basis – everything.  Include life skills here as well because those are an important part of any day, especially as we are raising the next generation, and want them to be productive members of society.  Now sit back and look at the list and breathe.

Mama, you are doing a lot.  Even when you feel like you ren’t getting through all of your lesson plans, you are still reading, you are still engaging in conversations about all manner of topics with your children, you are still getting outside, doing projects.  You are still teaching them every.single.day – even if you aren’t using curriculum, even if you aren’t finding particular resources and saying “this is school.” Be encouraged in that!

Am I falling behind?

There will be seasons where you think they are falling behind, or perhaps you were too ambitions with your homeschool plans for the year, and you aren’t nearly close to completing what you planned out and expected.  However, you are still doing amazing things for your kids.  You are showing up for them, and that is just as important as learning grammar in my book.

We have to realize there is no “behind” in homeschooling.  You aren’t concentrating on an arbitrary list of topics that a board decided somewhere at some time that 7 year olds need to learn in order to progress.  You get to make the decision about what is important for your individual child and move at their individual pace.

Next, have a conversation with your child.  Talk to them about their homeschool experience, let them speak and just listen to all they have learned and what they hope to work on in the future.  Yes, even the littles can have this conversation!  You may find that they really enjoy trains, and then, boom, you look for books and activities on trains.  The history of trains, the engineering of trains, how fast they go compared to a car (math), draw trains, dictate a report to you about trains, and there you have covered all of the core subjects required.

I am amazed when I listen to my kids.  They are always coming up to me with new facts they have learned.  Entire experiments that they have created in their minds and now need to physically do to see if their hypothesis is correct.  The stories they want to write – even if they don’t finish them. I’m sure your kids are the same way, if you step back and listen to what they are saying, you will realize they are learning so much!  And you may even figure out some areas of interest that you could delve deeper into during your homeschool.

My goals in Homeschooling

One of my primary goals in homeschooling is to give my kids an immense love of learning.  I want to give them the tools they need in order to learn whatever it is they set out to learn.  Whether that is baking a cake, writing a book, or building a computer.  In order to do that we have to let go of a lot of the public school mindset on what “education” means.  Instead we need to let our kids follow their interests, and then work as the teacher to show them what we feel they need to learn through these great interests.

Often I have to get out of my own way, since I can hinder that love of learning by trying to get them to shut down a project so we can move onto the next lesson I have planned out for them.

Getting out of the public school mindset is not an easy thing to do.  Especially for those of us who went to public school.  But, it is essential that we not use the same mindset in our homeschool because it is not at all the same thing.  We are not sitting with 20-30 kids for 6-7 hours each day, trying to teach them compartmentalized subjects.  Our schooling does not stop when we put a math workbook away, it continues all day, every day.

Learn to Get out of the Public School Mindset with my workshop below!

Kids naturally love learning, and are curious creatures.  It is our job as parents to foster that love of learning no matter what type of education model we, as parents, choose.  But, as homeschoolers, we have the unique opportunity to dedicate more time to the individual child’s learning style and passions.  We help them shape their ideas, ask questions when we know something isn’t going to work the way the child expects, and guide them on their path.

This doesn’t mean that homeschooling is easy, or that we don’t need to teach our children what an adjective is.  But, it does mean that we have the ability to change the way our “school” looks, as often as needed, in order to encourage our kids in their learning.

No teacher will be able to teach every single thing they think the student should learn.  Not in public, private, or homeschool.  But, if we give the students the tools they need in order to problem solve, and to research, and to understand, we have done them a great service.

Do you fall into the trap of the public school mindset in your homeschool?  What ways do you try to combat that mindset?
How to Get Out of the Public School Mindset in Your Homeschool

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