How to Let go of the Traditional School Mindset

Traditional school mindset

One of the biggest challenges of homeschooling is breaking free from the traditional school mindset. It’s highly likely that you will want to school like you were schooled.

You’ll likely want desks and a globe, textbooks and maps on the wall, tests and exams, terms (or semesters – depending on where you live) and set times for holidays (vacations).

But, guess what? Homeschooling is not meant to be a replica of the public or private school system.

It’s an entirely different breed. 

Homeschooling is teaching that is tailored to individual children instead of a standardized set of guidelines for the masses.

The problem is, we tend to gravitate toward what we know because… well… that’s all we know, right? And anything else feels insecure!

How can you break free of the mold and find your own style of homeschooling that suits you and your children?

How to let go of traditional ideas of school

Homeschooling requires you to think differently. And letting go of traditional ideas takes two things:

  • Recognising you have been molded
  • Re-educating yourself

Let’s take a look at some traditional ideas about school that, if changed, will set you free to enjoy the beauty of homeschooling.

#1 You can’t teach unless you’re a trained teacher

One of the greatest joys of homeschooling is learning alongside your child. (I re-did math this way and found out I wasn’t as dumb as I thought I was!)

In homeschooling, you learn along with your child. You don’t have to know everything in order to teach it. You can explore new ideas and information together. As you discuss, question, and interact, your child is learning.

It’s more important to know where to find information than to learn a bunch of stuff by rote (Hooray internet!).

#2 You must have a classroom setting

When I first started homeschooling I set up a school room, and guess what? We ended up spending most of our time at the dining room table because it was closer to the kitchen and I could dash between the stove and the schoolbooks. It also had windows that showed the view of nature – birds, monkeys, cats, dogs, rabbits, buck, cattle etc. (It was highly distracting at times but so much more fun!).

Our school room became a place to store our school stuff, but we rarely did school there.

Aside from the dining room table there are a bunch of other good places for school:

  • The couch
  • Outdoors on a blanket
  • On the floor
  • The trampoline
  • On the bed
  • In the car
  • In the library
  • Online
  • The kitchen table

#3 School must happen 7-8 hours a day

Welcome to doing your own thing! If your kids are done with school within 3 hours, yay! More time for creative learning, and other exciting things!

When you break free of this thinking and let the needs of your children rule the time you spend at school, you’ll experience the joy of true homeschooling.

Related: Juggling Homeschool and Work – Can you do Both?

#4 You have to use a certain curriculum

Great news! You can pick and choose, put together your own curriculum, or create your own lessons. You may want to use a complete boxed curriculum, or you may want to use different curriculum for different subjects. Either way is fine.  

You are free to tailor the material to the needs of each child in each subject. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. And that’s ok.

Don’t teach books. Teach children. Don’t be a slave to curriculum.

#5 You have to follow the same timetable as the schools do

Nope. You can school during holidays and take your holiday when it suits you. This was one of my favourite things about homeschooling – the freedom to decide when we did school. We benefited from out of season rates because we could go camping when everyone else was in school, or have the beach to ourselves on a weekday.  

#6 Your kids will be anti-social without same-aged peers

On the contrary, your kids will do really well associating with those of different ages and backgrounds. Doing this will create kids that can interact effectively with the world around them – which is definitely not made up of people all the same age as them.

Be intentional about exposing your kids to people from all walks of life. Teach them to respect older people and care for those younger than them.

You may need to redefine your understanding of socialisation. It as, after all, being able to associate – communicate, relate, interact – with people of all ages, not just peers.

#7 Your students have to progress at the same pace in each subject

Nope. You’re free to allow your kids to progress at their own pace in each subject. Let them fly ahead in the subjects they’re good at or take a little longer with the subjects that are harder for them. In this way learning will happen according to the individual needs of each child, not according to a standardized expectation.

It can feel daunting to break out of the box and go against societal norms and expectations around schooling. Take courage! Before long you’ll start enjoying the freedom from those expectations and revel in the joy of creating your own way – unique to you and your children.

Enjoy the journey!

What was/is the hardest idea of schooling for you to let go of?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer homeschooled all three of her kids-with no teaching qualification. Her kids are grown now but she is still passionate about homeschooling. She lives in South Africa.


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