People choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons; one of the most influential reasons to homeschool for my family is to allow my children to learn and grow at a pace that is right for them. We’ve discussed the benefits of homeschooling multiple age/ability level children at home (and in school) in The Multi-Age Dilemma. Having multiple ages in my home is a great asset to my children’s education. But the biggest benefit is the opportunity for my kids to learn as slow or as fast they need while utilizing subjects of interest to them as opposed to a “one size fits all” curriculum in public schools.
Snapshot of Tucker
Tucker is my first born and has many of the qualities that are typical of the oldest child. He is responsible, serious, determined, organized, punctual, and a mini adult. Always has been. He strives for perfection and has a great love of learning. Currently, as a 6 year old, he has dreams of being a chef and owning his own restaurant so that he can have a house with large windows overlooking a lake. His goals and dreams are all within reach for him.
When it comes to his academics, he’s an all star. He is “average” or “above average” (if we were comparing him to standards of public school students) in all of his academic subjects. He excels in literacy (like his mama) and is okay, but not excelling in math (also like his mama).
Right now, Tucker is reading at a solid 1st grade reading level – he knows all of his consonant letter sounds, most irregular consonant sounds (ce = /s/, etc.), all of his short and long vowel sounds, all his vowel and consonant digraph and diphthongs, understands and correctly reads and uses inflectional suffixes, is beginning to use syllabication to sound out and read words, reads words with silent e, uses context to determine unknown words, uses pictures to help determine unknown words, reads aloud using punctuation correctly (ending questions with an inflected tone, excited tone with exclamation marks, etc.). Overall, his reading has been a fairly easy and fun subject to watch him grow in. I have no doubt that by the time the end of the 2018-2019 school year rolls around he will be reading at least one grade level ahead of where he is.
Snapshot of Sawyer
Sawyer is my second son. He is emotional, easily distracted, has a temper like you’ve never seen, and yet he is the gentlest most loving and caring individual there is. He adores animals, wildlife, and nature. He has a kind soul and a love for the world, but not for sitting and “learning”.
When it comes to academics, he’s a challenge. He is so intelligent, but memorization of letters and numbers is completely boring to him. Sometimes I am not even confident on what he does and does not know regarding letter and number identification because he literally, does not give a sh*t, about rote memorization. You show him a letter and he doesn’t even look at it and will just say whatever letter he feels like. A great mind, but a lack of interest or internal motivation (much like my younger brother).
Although Sawyer is able to wait to be in kindergarten one more school year, I submitted paperwork to the state stating he is homeschooled and he is considered to be in kindergarten. I am interested to see where his interests lead us as far as his academics go. Clearly identification of letters and numbers has 0 interest to him so using nature and animals to pique his interest is necessary. I full expect him to be proficient in the kindergarten standards by the end of this school year, but he will be learning in a non traditional way and at a speed that is definitely controlled by him.
Two kids. Two totally different learning styles. One is a go getter academic wise, the other wants to stop and smell the roses, literally.
In a traditional classroom Tucker would most likely be the higher achieving student who completes his work and the teacher tries to find more challenging stuff for him to do to keep him occupied while they work with students who “need” more. This would be unfair to Tucker. He would be bored, he would think school is not for him, he would not flourish to his greatest ability.
Sawyer would be much the opposite. In a traditional classroom setting, Sawyer would be considered to be on the lower end of the academic spectrum. Although these may seem true of him at times, I know that that is not the case. He would struggle in a traditional setting where the lessons were not taught in a way that is interesting to him. This would cause him to daydream and to lose focus (which he struggles with already), and he would very quickly be so far behind the teachers would be panicking.
Both of these boys, completely opposite in all ways, would both struggle in school, have a lack of love for learning, and be completely uninterested and bored in school. This is of no fault to the schools or teachers. But definitely a call to the parents to make sure their children are getting the education they need and DESERVE. For us, we believe that our children deserve an education that is engaging, developmentally appropriate, challenging, and intentional with instruction and materials that support and enhance their individual learning styles, weaknesses, strengths, and curiosity. To see how I form my curriculum, visit my post: Curriculum… What Do You REALLY Need?
We all know the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare. As cliché as it is to reference this, there is a reason we all know the lesson that it teaches. Slow and steady wins the race. I use this philosophy in my homeschool. Slow and steady and we will reach the end of the race (high school graduation). If we rush and try to be the fastest and do it all, we will burn out and have to take a break. The commitment to homeschooling is not a small one, and not one that I ever want to “take a break from” resulting in my kids having to attend a traditional school. If we put too much pressure on ourselves we will get burnt out and homeschooling will not be something we can continue to do physically or emotionally. Instead, take it slow. Do not compare yourself to the other homeschooling moms. I can guarantee none of us have our sh*t together the way we make it out that we do. Take it slow, keep it steady. If you keep your eyes on your goals and work towards them at a maintainable pace, you will find success in your journey. It isn’t about whose kid is most advanced, who has the best or prettiest supplies and decor, or even who is doing the most “work” each day, week, or month! Our children will all learn at different speeds, and our homeschools will reflect that.
Do not forget your why. Why you chose to embark on this journey. It is hard. It is scary. It is going to be a tremendous amount of effort. There will be tears of joy, tears of sadness. You will have amazing days, and days that you feel like you can’t do it anymore. (Trust me, it’s ok! We ALL have those). Take it slow, or even slow it down. Reassess your goals, and let God, your heart, and your children lead the way and the pace in which you will educate them. You got this!