4 Ways You're Stressing Out Yourself and Your Kids

Frustrated mother rubbing her temples
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Homeschooling is a big responsibility and commitment. It can be stressful, but far too often we homeschooling parents make it more stressful than it has to be. 

Are you guilty of stressing out yourself or your kids unnecessarily with any of the following?

Expecting perfection

Expecting perfection in yourself or your children is certain to put unnecessary stress on your family. If you’re transitioning from public school to homeschool, it’s important to remember that it takes time to adjust to your new roles.

Even if your children have never attended a traditional school, transitioning to formal learning with young children requires a period of adjustment.

Most veteran homeschooling parents would agree that this period of adjustment can take 2-4 years. Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate.

You may be caught in the trap of expecting academic perfection. is a popular phrase among homeschooling parents. The idea is that you’ll stick with a topic, skill, or concept until it is completely mastered. You may hear homeschooling parents state that their children get straight A’s because they don’t move on until the skill is mastered.

There is nothing wrong with that concept – in fact, being able to work on a concept until a child fully understands it is one of the benefits of homeschooling. However, expecting 100% from your child all of the time can be frustrating for you both. It doesn’t allow for simple mistakes or an off day.

Instead, you may wish to decide on a percentage goal. For example, if your child scores 80% on his paper, he clearly understands the concept and can move on. If there is a certain type of problem that caused a grade less than 100%, spend some time going back over that concept. Otherwise, give yourself and your child the freedom to move on.

Trying to finish all the books

We homeschooling parents are also often guilty of operating under the assumption that we have to complete every single page of every piece of curriculum that we use. Most homeschool curricula contains enough material for a typical 36-week school year, assuming a 5-day school week. This doesn’t account for field trips, co-op, alternative schedules, illness, or a myriad of other factors that could result in not completing the entire book.

It’s okay to finish most of the book.

If the subject is one that is built on previously-learned concepts, such as math, chances are that the first several lesson of the next level are going to be review. In fact, that’s often one of my kids’ favorite aspects of starting a new math book – it seems easy at first because it’s material they’ve already learned.

If it’s not a concept-based subject – history, for example - chances are, you’ll come back around to the material again before your kids graduate. If there is material that you feel you simply must cover and you’re clearly not going to have time, you may want to consider skipping around in the book, dropping some of the activities, or covering the material in a different way, such as listening to an audio book on the topic while running errands or watching an engaging documentary during lunch.

Homeschooling parents may also be guilty of expecting their child to complete every problem on every page. Most of us can probably remember how happy we were when one of our teachers told us to complete only the odd-numbered problems on the page. We can do that with our children.

When my oldest was in 3rd or 4th grade, the number of problems on one day’s math page could be overwhelming. It was not uncommon for me to instruct her to complete all of the problems for a new concept and do half of the rest of the problems on the page.

If she got the problems she completed correct, we moved on. If she struggled, we had the other half of the problems to go over together for more practice.

Comparing

Whether you’re comparing your homeschool to your friend’s homeschool (or to the local public school) or your kids to someone else’s kids, the comparison trap puts everyone under unnecessary stress.

The problem with comparison is that we tend to compare our worst with someone else’s best. That causes self-doubt as we focus on all the ways we don’t measure up rather than capitalizing on what we’re going well.

If we want to produce cookie-cutter kids, what’s the point of homeschooling? We can’t tout individualized instruction as a homeschool benefit, then get upset when our kids aren’t learning exactly what someone else’s kids are learning.

When you’re tempted to compare, it helps to look at the comparison objectively.

  • Is this something your child should probably know or be doing?
  • Is it something that would benefit your homeschool?
  • Is it a good fit for your family?
  • Is your child physically, emotionally, or developmentally capable of performing this task or accomplishing this skill?

Sometimes, comparing helps us identify skills, concepts, or activities that we would like to incorporate in our homeschools, but if it’s something that doesn’t benefit your family or your student, move on. Don’t let unfair comparisons add stress to your home and school.

Not allowing your homeschool to evolve

Recently, I read an article on ProBlogger about updating old blog posts. He stated that one reason a blogger might want to do so is because the blogger’s opinion on the topic had changed. He stated that having one’s opinion change over time is human nature. 

The was a relief to me as a homeschool blogger because I have sometimes read old posts on my site and thought that my original opinion was harsh or simply not in line with my current views.

That concept applies to us as homeschooling parents, too. We may start out as staunchly school-at-home parents, but later learn that our educational philosophy is more in line with Charlotte Mason. We may begin as radical unschoolers, only to discover that our children prefer textbooks.

It is not uncommon for a family’s homeschooling style to change over time, becoming more relaxed as they get more comfortable with homeschooling or becoming more structured as their children grow older.

Allowing your homeschool to evolve through different ages, stages, and family schedule demands is normal and positive. Trying to hold on to methods, curricula, or schedules that no longer make sense for your family will likely put undo stress on you all.

Homeschooling comes with its own set of stress-inducers. There's no need to add more to it. Let go of unrealistic expectations and unfair comparisons, and let your homeschool adapt as your family grows and changes.