How Pinterest can Ruin Your Homeschool

by Jimmie Lanley on February 21, 2012

Pinterest is great fun, but beware. It can ruin your homeschool.

I don’t mean that you may spend too much time repinning instead of planning and teaching lessons although that could happen.

I mean something else, something that is probably more likely.

Too Many Choices = Paralysis

Pinterest is a visual overload of exponential creativity. All those brilliant ideas can be paralyzing for a homeschool mom. They are all so cute, so perfect, so educational, so “pinnable.” As you are busy repinning and categorizing those brilliant ideas, you can begin to doubt your own homeschool.

We never do creative activities.

I never think of fun projects like these, and when I see them it’s too late.

I don’t know where to start. Which of these should I do?

You may begin to compare yourself to other moms, somehow forgetting that you are seeing excerpts from millions of blog posts from thousands of bloggers over many years. It’s not like every one of those crafts was completed by a single household in a single academic year. But it’s easy to forget the reality when you are looking at a neatly organized Pinterest board.

You can start to feel craft paralysis, lesson plan overload, activity indecision.

You may begin frantically pinning in an effort to keep from missing all these great ideas.

Here’s the Reality

Even if you plan a semester long unit study, you are not going to be able to do all the incredible science or geography activities you have pinned. And if you do accomplish them all, you will be exhausted and burned out.

If you do only one or two of those three dozen activity ideas on that Pinterest board, it will still be a fantastic unit study.

If you miss another dozen relevant printables and activities after the unit study is over, it’s okay. It really does not lessen your curriculum. Let it go. Pin them “just in case” if it makes you feel good.

But realize that you cannot do it all. There is an infinite number of homeschool ideas and materials. You cannot pin them all, and you can’t do all the ones you pin.

So go enjoy Pinterest. Get inspired. Collect loads of ideas and categorize them well. But refuse the doubts that creep in which make you feel inadequate or that paralyze you with the need to make “perfect” lesson plan decisions.

I’d love to know your thoughts about Pinterest. Does it cause doubts or overload? Leave a comment.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole @ Journey 2 Excellence February 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

I have not joined Pinterest yet. A part of me wants to, to maybe get some additional ideas for activities. But then a HUGE part of me is screaming, “DON’T DO IT!!” I just don’t have time for another obsession! And I am not on Facebook and I don’t Twitter. And I found out that you can’t sign up for Pinterest unless you do one of those! That, to me, was annoying! So, for now, I am still not jumping in. I find myself to be a non-conformist. If the mass is doing it, I typically do not. I like to think I’m taking the “road less traveled” and “not conforming to the patterns of this world”. But the temptation with Pinterest is definitely there. What to do, what to do.

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Michelle February 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

Nicole, I am not on FB or Twitter and have a Pinterest account.

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katie February 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm

How do you get Pinterest without either of those accounts? I couldn’t figure it out.

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Stephanie February 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Someone sends you an email invite through the website.

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Maureen February 21, 2012 at 9:22 am

This is a great reminder Jimmie. Pinterest can also cause the comparison monster to rear its head. Balance is the key.

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Stacey February 21, 2012 at 9:27 am

Must have focus in a land of great ideas. My focus for pinterest is to gather ideas for those days when my homeschool needs some spice, or we need a break, or some new fresh ideas to make a subject fun. This helps keep me from going over the edge.

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Joan April 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

I’m in exactly Stacey’s situation. I use Pinterest – not just for learning but when it comes to hairstyles, clothes, recipes, etc. – to save ideas for when I NEED ideas. Not sure what to make for dinner? Maybe something will stick out to me. Plus, when I start to see themes – like lots of blonde popping up in my hair ideas pinboard – I can take that general idea to my stylist and say, “OK, guess this is what’s on my mind!” Same for learning – if I find (or my daughter finds – she’s 12 and pins with me sometimes) a bunch of stuff all about history, you can tell that’s a topic that’s on our mind, and we’ll do “something” historical, even if it’s not anything we’ve pinned.

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JRoberts February 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

I love pintrest, BUT I can see how this would happen.

I love that sometimes as we are doing something, like learning how to read, I can check out what others have done and grab an enrichment idea and use that. It takes a huge weight off my mind to know that there are others out there that think different than I do and have come up with alternative ways to teach something.

As with all things on the internet, balance is the key. You become either too obsessed with others are doing or you can use it to your advantage.

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Michelle February 21, 2012 at 9:53 am

Amen, amen!

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Kimberly from vogelJoy February 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

Isn’t that the truth! It’s already enough just to get my own creative ideas actually finished! Maybe choosing a pin to try once a week or letting the kids choose one they want to do every month would be fun. Depends on how busy your lesson time already is :)

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Mari February 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

I use it for a place to keep my resources handy – websites with info/resources, games, online activities, etc. The ‘craft’ projects and fluff are all cute….but I’m not that kind of homeschooling mom.

What I LOVE about it is that my DD goes to my boards, finds her resources/activities and proceeds. It’s actually helped with ‘self-directed’ learning for us!

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Aadel February 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

I get that way with all the pins of beautiful house arrangements too! I keep thinking- no one lives in these pristine set-ups! It is not reasonable to expect my house to look like it came out of a magazine!

So I tend to just pick one thing that I want to incorporate, from the education pins, the decorating pins, the food pins, and then focus on that. But I do love looking at all those lovely ideas!

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Sarah at SmallWorld February 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

I can definitely get sucked into the “wow–I should do that and that and that” hole on Pinterest. I’ve begun a way to be accountable to myself, however, by blogging about *how* I am going to put Pinterest to use specifically. Here’s my first post: http://smallworldathome.blogspot.com/2012/02/putting-pinterest-to-use.html . I haven’t yet posted about how that worked, but I did at least 2-3 of the items on that list in the past week!

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Pam in Missouri February 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

You are so on target with the idea of too much inspiration being paralyzing. While I do get this way sometimes, I have (amazingly) avoided it with Pinterest. I like to think of my pin boards as a bucket we can dip into when we want to do something fun. I definitely don’t think of them as a collection of things we must complete.

I recently used Pinterest to plan a baby shower. I had one board of completely crazy random inspiration pins. From that board, we narrowed down and created a second much, MUCH smaller board of the handful of projects we actually planned to complete.

Thanks for talking about the “dark” side of something that can be a wonderful tool.

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Paige February 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I haven’t gone near Pinterest yet, I’m too scared that I’ll get sucked into the “I have to do that” mentality. You gotta know your limits :).

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Kim @ In Our Write Minds February 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

When I see all the options available to your generation of homeschooling moms, I get excited and overwhelmed at the same time. You have so many wonderful options for creative teaching!

When I first began homeschooling in the late 80s, I didn’t even have a home computer yet, let alone Internet. Or online curriculum choices. Or mommy blogs. Or Pinterest. I didn’t even have a Rainbow Resource catalog! And yet, plenty were the times when I felt I could drown in the choices before me.

I love your admonishment to pick and choose wisely. I’m so glad for the special projects we did, but I’m also grateful for our everyday moments of traditional learning. It’s great to add some fun to our schooling days, but I truly appreciate your reminder that we can’t–or shouldn’t–try to be someone we’re not, nor should we even hope to do it all.

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KackyK February 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Funnily, I have never ever had the comparison feel on pinterest. Doesn’t mean I don’t do it, I’m human! But I don’t know, I’ve never had that problem at pinterest. I’ve looked at it as just a set of visual bookmarks. I like searching on there too because it is so visual and you can eliminate some of the “dud” links that you would get on google or another search engine. I love pinterest and it’s really just another place to search!

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Jessy at Our Side of the Mountain February 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I started Pinterest about 6 weeks ago. I’m having a BLAST pinning things! I use in place of bookmarking sites as well so they were more organized (instead of a written list). I have about 400 pins and try to use a few ideas each week (mostly recipes though). I don’t worry about not using anything. I pinned a lot of “body” worksheets, but was able to download (free) a whole unit (lapbook-ish) on it and will use those instead. Pinterest for me is just a helper.

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Erin February 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I Love Pinterest, not just the visual and ideas but I can easily make it all neat and tidy, unlike my real life;)

“I’d love to know your thoughts about Pinterest. Does it cause doubts or overload?”
I can see how this could happen just the same as blogs, but I’ve been homeschooling long enough and a parent long enough to be confident in myself now. (most of the time;)

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Dawn De Lorezo February 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

This is the second time today that I have read a blog post about comparing yourself to others and blog or homeschool envy. I do not homeschool, but I still want to bob myself in the head when I see all the glorious craftiness “everyone else” is doing with their children – as if I just don’t measure up and my poor daughter is stuck with measly little old me ;) I am a teacher and mommy to a soon-to-be three year old and I am a new teacher-blogger-author ~ I have indeed been overwhelmed by where others are and “how far I have to go” in comparison. I am struggling with this in my life, so this was a timely blog post. Thank you!

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Heather February 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Oh I totally agree with this. I had a hard time for awhile with this but then my husband (and kids too) assured me that it was o.k. to pin any thing. As long as it was just to give me ideas because I might miss something. Since it is just ideas, if I do miss something, then I can go to it and adapt it to fit what I am doing right now. That way I always have a chance to do it if I want. Otherwise I let it go and I am really fine with it.

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Amy February 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Such excellent points. It’s super easy to get sucked in to Pinterest and start to doubt your own abilities/creativity.

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Kristin February 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Yes, I can see how certain personalities could get overwhelmed. However, I think that it has enhanced (just a bit) our home school! I’ve been able to see other mom’s ideas for teaching some difficult areas (fractions for instance) and have gotten BRILLIANT ideas that have helped my children overcome hurdles that I was struggling to teach! I LOVE Pinterest :)

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Mari February 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I agree. I also like it for this reason!

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Sandra February 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I’m new to Pinterest and love it. Having older kids means many of the cute projects and ideas are too young for us anyway which definitely stops me getting sucked in. I really try to only pin those things which we might realistically do – some stuff looks fantastic but I know it is just not for us. To keep Pinterest productive I aim to have us do 1 thing from my boards once a week. Some stuff is my choice. For instance dd’s love of maths was going so one goal for this year was to reignite it. Pinterest was a great source of fun Valentine’s day math stuff – I’ll be looking for Leap Day and Pi day too. I pin projects I think dd might like. Every now and again she’ll look at my boards and decide what she would like to do. To keep things from getting cluttered I have a board for stuff we’ve actually done. Once a project has been done I move it there from whatever board it was on. Making sure I regularly have stuff to move helps keep me accountable to myself in terms of actually using Pinterest productively.

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Jennifer February 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Love this post!! You are so right. Oh, how I love Pinterest! And hate it. But mostly love it. I wrote a similar post last year when I realized I was getting sucked into Pinterest & was suffering from Pinterest paralysis.
http://mywarriorkids.com/2011/09/02/pinterest-perfection-itis/

I wish I could say I am fully cured but alas it is a daily struggle .

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Steph February 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

If it wasn’t for Pinterest I wouldn’t have such beautifully organized cupboards.
Yes there are risks, and with everything we do, we need to have self discipline. For me the good has far outweighed the ‘bad’ of Pinterest.

I like to have a resource where all my ‘ideas’ are organized, and I can call upon them at any time. Especially gift ideas, or activities for the kids. Sometimes you need something new and simple to pull out of the old hat. Pinterest’s ideas have saved me a few times!

I’m now on to creating my own ‘command center’, which will also better organize my home. All these organizational tips and tricks have allowed me more time with my kids.
So for me, that’s a huge positive!

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Steph February 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Oh, and the recipes! I love something that hooks me up to a recipe that isn’t on your typical recipe site.

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Kristen H. February 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I’ve often thought the same thing about reading other homeschool blogs. There are so many great ideas out there. Everyone else is so much more creative than I am, etc. I do think the Pinterest or anything where you see great things other people are doing can lead to feeling guilty.

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Tracy February 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I love Pinterest. For me I use it as a visual favorites list. I don’t ever feel insecure or guilty about it. I love all the ideas I can find. I can keep them there and they are there when I need to look them up. There are so many talented people out there that can make life a bit easier for the next person by doing it already. Being a home school mother to multiple children , being a Girl Scout Leader, Being a Religious Ed teacher leaves me with little time to always be creative myself. So I truly rely on others to come up with good ideas. Even if I see them and tweak them a bit. At least it gives me a running start. Plus I like keeping links to recipes for dinner and such on there. All I have to do is look for the picture and voila’ , dinner!

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Susan February 22, 2012 at 7:12 am

My thoughts exactly, Tracy. I pin most ideas without even looking in to what they actually are. Then I go back and see if it’s something I actually can use. I am a busy mom of 9 year old twins, and I love the quick inspiration I get from my pins when I am looking for something specific. And the recipes? Oh, I have made so many that I have pinned and loved them all.

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Louanne February 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I am not on Pintrest because I could see myself obsessing over all the cool stuff and then trying to do it all.

But I do have quite a few friends who post the stuff they think I will like on my FB wall and I love that – and them for thinking of me.

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Pam K February 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm

This was definitely on time. I was just on Pinterest last night looking at math activities. I was in complete overload by the time I logged off. I do enjoy the craft ideas on Pinterest and am now searching out educational ideas but it can be a blessing and a curse.

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Jenny February 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm

How interesting to read this today. I just posted how pinning a few things helped me out when I really did not have the time the last few weeks to plan for the lent season. I joined pinterest a few months ago but have not gotten into the bug of constant pinning mainly because of many of the reasons you mentioned. I have to admit though, I do enjoy a spot to place those few treasured projects that I know we can do; thus, my pins are just a few. It helps this very book wormish CM mom with lots of creative natural juices but just needs a push sometimes on implementing said creativity. ; )

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Jolanthe February 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I pin like crazy, and when I am planning more hands-on activities, I know I quickly grab a few ideas, print them off and go from there. Moderation is really the key. :) I have to say that the #pinterestfail crafts crack me up ~ because there have been several times that we’ve attempted something I found via Pinterest…and it looked NOTHING like the pictured item. :)

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Jenny February 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I love Pinterest. I use it as a resource to find extra activities. I thought about adding a Pin it button to my blog, but I know I don’t have anything Pin worthy and that’s ok! LOL!

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