The Spaghetti Homeschool: How Academic Coaching Combats Unhealthy Trends
Why throwing multiple homeschool methods at your child to see what sticks costs more than a coaching investment
My friend Martha decided to try homeschooling her son because she was influenced by our family’s journey. Unfortunately, she started it secretly to show she could handle it. With so many different curriculums to choose from, she ended up just throwing them all at him and seeing what sticks.
Martha has been a stay-at-home mom for the past four years since her son was born. She was been debating whether or not to homeschool him for the upcoming school year. After doing a lot of research, she’s realized that there are many different ways to homeschool and it can be overwhelming to decide on a curriculum. Instead of getting a clear picture, she goes it alone.
She met with other homeschooling moms for some advice but still could not decide what was best for her son. Finally, she decided to try a few different curriculums and see which one worked.
Unfortunately, the $3K curriculum that worked for the scholar did not match Martha’s teaching style. She confessed that she saw herself as more of a “10- minute mom”, where her child would only need 10 minutes of her time per subject and then could work independently, with moderate supervision, of course. This curriculum requires a lot of oversight and daily manual grading-something she did not anticipate. She is spending 5 solid hours actively teaching each day, on top of her job and other household obligations. Her son is growing academically, but her brain is burned out.
My Parent-Teacher Homeschool Intervention
If you’re anything like me, you love being a mom. But there’s one part of parenting that can be really tough- trying to figure out what works best for your child AND your self-management.
For the first two years of my children’s schooling, I threw everything at them- traditional school, extra tutoring, homeschooling- and it seemed like the small gains were taking big chunks out of my joy as a parent. I thought Martha would have learned from my journey, but she forgot one factor: Get an accountability partner and build an academic network.
It wasn’t until I remembered to practice what I had preached for years in parent-teacher conferences; learn to listen to your child and give them the space, encouragement, and accountability to show you their strengths.
My sons needed me to focus on what was strong-not what was wrong- if I were to gain peace of mind and they were to become independent learners. Taking a dose of my own medicine and sharing it with Martha, things started to improve. I put her in touch with a parent coach, and she began to flourish. Her “spaghetti-lined” walls are now clean with creative college-ready and career prep activities.
So if you’re feeling lost as a parent and don’t know where to start, try following this one essential tip:
Get a Parent Coach or Professional Homeschool Partner!
No offense to friends, but sometimes getting homeschool advice from friends is like getting a remedy for nasal congestion: everyone has a regimen, but only one will be the right fit for you. They may have the best of intentions, but they typically have not seen the end result to know what to do at each stage of your child’s academic growth.
This is not to say that you should never take advice from friends – just be sure to vet it against more reliable sources.
Here are 8 reasons why you should be careful about taking homeschool advice from friends:
1. Friends may be biased toward or against homeschooling.
Your friend may be convinced that homeschooling is the best thing since sliced bread and may have difficulty providing an objective perspective on the topic.
2. Friends may not have enough experience with successful homeschool methods.
Your friend may have been homeschooling for one year or one day and feel confident in giving advice, but they may not have enough real-world experience to back up their claims. On the other hand, your friend may have immersed themselves into ‘homeschool horror stories’ and doubt your competence. This leads to a lot of back-and-forths, with the parent often feeling inadequate or excluding their friend from their homeschool journey altogether.
3. Friends may not realize that they are not experts.
Your friend may be so excited to have found the “best way” that they aren’t willing to listen to contrary information. If they are an experienced educator, they may see your homeschooling method from one perspective- not professional or proficient.
4. Friends may be misinformed themselves.
Your friend may have been led to believe that homeschooling is just for the very best of the very brightest students, or that it’s a sure-fire way to support their child’s needs and desires. Even close family members can be discouraging due to misinformation about laws, requirements, and available resources to help you succeed.
5. Friends may not be aware of how much they don’t know.
Your friends who homeschool may not realize that they don’t have all the information they need, or that there is more to homeschooling than simply “doing it”. When asked about their methods, many often claim that they regularly pull free worksheets off of social media sites. Rather than focusing on talent identification and skills-based learning, many resort to the ‘free and cheap’, only to learn that approach limited their child from college and career opportunities.
6. Friends may be unfamiliar with the issues surrounding homeschooling.
This pertains especially to the legal, testing, and transitions to college or career. However, it also extends to the intrinsic value of having fluid oversight. Children receive continuous support from one adult and a coaching team. This provides a level of academic momentum that a changing faculty cannot easily provide.
A coach can more readily anticipate needs 3-5 years later. They can also prepare you so that you are not caught off guard. Some family members may unintentionally encourage an imbalance in your parent-scholar relationship. Homeschool challenges often center around misinformation regarding healthy parent-scholar bonds and communication.
When faced with an audit, a curriculum challenge, or an unexpected life circumstance, parents will turn to spaghetti homeschooling to try and hold things together. This often does not work for the mental health or success of any family member.
7. Friends may not be aware of the impact their child’s homeschooling has on themselves.
It is unfortunate when a parent does not have a workable self-care regimen. Some parents will refuse to ask for consistent help or vary their child’s academic network. They may pass on their poor habits and practices to unsuspecting new homeschool parents. Often, many parents stop homeschooling because they are not aware of the impact of helicopter parenting while homeschooling.
8. Friends may be uncomfortable with sharing their child’s “curriculum”.
The curriculum my son used at home was much more aligned to the state and national standards than what he used in traditional school. We also use integrated academic networks as a curriculum. Some urban parents have access to these resources.
This may include access to competitive pre-college programs. A friend may be reluctant to share a limited access program, especially if your children are the same age.
Do you feel like your child is constantly working? If so, you may be one of the many parents who spaghetti homeschool their children. While it can be a very rewarding experience to have total control over your children’s education, there are also some drawbacks.
One of these drawbacks is that often times homeschooling doesn’t provide as much structure and guidance as traditional schooling does. This can cause problems in socialization and discipline. Additionally, some children learn better when they have a mentor who challenges them and gives them specific guidance.