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Five homeschooling do's and don'ts

A few simple guidelines can prevent angst

homeschooling, do's, don'ts, kids, flexibility

Avoid homeschooling crises by reminding yourself of a few basic principles that work throughout life but are especially important when you're taking on a big project like the education of your children, says homeschooling mom Barbara Danza, a mom of two kids.

Don't worry about being perfect. Perfection is not only overrated, it's impossible. Aim for a process of trial-and-error, with the successes celebrated and the errors supplying useful information going forward. You and your kids are learning together, designing a grand new adventure. There's no need to put a lot of pressure on yourselves.

Do be flexible. It's good to start with a plan, but expect the plan to change. In fact, it might take a whole year before the schedule falls into a pattern that feels right—and then it might change again. There's no cookie-cutter arrangement or prescription to follow, so allow for creativity and frequent adjustments to resources, approaches, and schedules.

READ MORE: Learn more about homeschooling

Don't compare yourselves to others. What gets posted on Instagram might look more orderly and efficient than what you've got, or more wild and free, but they're just pictures, and every family's homeschooling needs and directions are different. As long as you're teaching your children to be fair and kind, and you see evidence of academic learning over time, you can congratulate yourself on doing a fine job.

Do avoid drudgery. If you buy an online syllabus and find yourself wishing you didn't have to slog through it with your kids—maybe you don't. Sometimes you have to put up with a certain amount of tedium in life, but for the most part, homeschooling gives you the right to throw away stuff that's boring. If it isn't working for you, it's probably not working for you kids either. Stick to learning programs that excite your interest and theirs. 

Don't try to duplicate school. The point of homeschooling is that you get to improve on school. Your kids don't have to sit in rows and do what everyone else is doing. They can follow their curiosity deep into a subject and learn at a level that's not available to them at school. They get a learning experience tailored for them, in the context of family and the world around them. So don't worry if it doesn't feel like school. It's not supposed to.

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