So I’m learning to crochet. I’m not very good at it yet, but thanks to YouTube and a few friends and a daughter who can decipher weird drawings and obscure written directions far better than I can, I’m learning.
Sometimes I mess up when I crochet, but when I do, I don’t generally ditch the entire project! Nor do I stubbornly continue on when there is an obvious problem that needs repair. Usually the best thing to do is go back to the place where the mistake occurred and make some adjustments.
My problem in the beginning of my homeschooling experience, (and it was a serious one,) was my absolute rigidity when it came to the teaching style I was comfortable with and the curriculum I had chosen. My everybody-should-be-able-to-learn-just-like-I-learn attitude left me frustrated and feeling like an utter failure. The never-fail curriculum I was using was boring to me and overwhelming to my daughter and we both hated it.
And so I quit homeschooling. For one sad, painfully introspective year we scrounged up the money to send our two girls to Christian school and I breathed a guilty sigh of relief and told myself I’d never try homeschooling again.
But there were so many problems with my attitude and my approach, with one of the biggest issues being my complete unwillingness to make adjustment where it was needed. It discouraged my daughter, frustrated us both, and robbed me of any joy in teaching my child.
Being willing to change is vital to homeschooling success. And by success, I don’t mean having kids who have mastered the trivium and read years above grade level and do all the things I think will validate our decision to homeschool. Homeschooling SUCCESS is, first and foremost, leading my children to faith in Christ and then discipling them in that faith. I put nothing else ahead of that. But I hope our homeschool also builds strong and healthy relationships in our family and confidence in our kids, encouraging them to be life-long learners, thinkers, and innovators. That is more in line with my idea of homeschooling success, and in order to achieve it, from time to time…
- I may need to change my attitude.
Sometimes the greatest hindrance to my homeschool is not my children or our curriculum, but ME; stubborn, selfish, all too often set-in-my-ways ME. Sometimes I find myself operating in anger or in apathy or in fear, and any of the three are detrimental to my homeschooling efforts. A readjustment to my attitude can make a world of difference in our homeschool.And may I add that nothing, NOTHING reveals wrong attitudes and helps mend them like time in prayer and in God’s word. It’s part of why I have to pray and read my Bible each morning before my kids are even out of bed. I can’t do this job otherwise.
- I may need to change my approach.
Learning difficulties, focus problems, or periods of discontentment don’t automatically mean my child is disabled or rebellious or lazy, though sometimes that is the case. And it also doesn’t mean I’m a hopeless failure and I was never meant to homeschool! Sometimes learning struggles or attention issues or dissatisfaction with the whole process, (whether theirs or mine!) is just a good sign I need to change the way I’m doing things.I wish all my children learned exactly the way I do, but that just isn’t the case. My children are all incredibly different from me and from one another, which means I have to be willing to recognize my child’s strengths and weaknesses and then try new things to find what works best for each of them as an individual.
- I may need to change my expectations.
So. Incredibly. Unrealistic.
But I also came to see that each child learns at a different rate in a different way. And that’s okay, too. It’s okay if they aren’t reading at the end of Kindergarten or doing high school math in middle school. Being homeschooled doesn’t mean my kids have to be scholars. We want the best for them, of course, but it’s really okay for them to be plain ol’ normal kids.
- I may need to change our scheduling.
As much as I would like to have school started by 9:00 every morning, I cannot do it, in spite of the fact I’m usually up well before 7:00. Now I can beat myself over the head for that and bemoan the fact I’m not like Mrs. Super-Disciplined Homeschooling Mom from down the street, or I can just readjust my expectations and try some new scheduling. I’ve chosen to do the latter.I tried starting our school day with math because I’d been told time and time again it was best to tackle math first thing, while my kids’ minds were at their freshest. For us… This. Does. Not. Work. Math isn’t a favorite with any of my kids, so when we started with it every day, they all came to school with a sense of dread, which put a drag on the entire day. Eventually I found that starting with something they enjoyed helped us ease into the harder subjects later.
- I may need to change our curriculum.
Like I said before, I’m not an advocate of ditching a curriculum the moment you start having some issues. But I also can’t advocate sticking with something that isn’t working or that you and/or your child just hate, no matter how familiar you are with it or how well it worked for another child or how much money you paid for it! Sometimes a change is necessary.I spent a fair amount of money on a spelling program last spring. It was our second year using this particular curriculum and while I loved it in the beginning, lately the spelling rules have become overwhelming for my children. And for me, too! The approach had become confusing to us all and my children’s spelling had ceased to improve, so I felt it was time for a change, in spite of the fact it was mid-November! So, ignoring the more practical side of me, we started something new and, thus far, the change has been very, very good for us.
Sadly, I’ve known a few people who more-or-less confessed to me that they hated homeschooling. They complained about the incredibly long school days or the boring computer time or the pages and pages of worksheets their children were required to do. Yet when I asked them if they ever thought about switching their curriculum, they looked at me as blankly as if I’d just suggested they let their kids drop out of school altogether!
A curriculum change isn’t always necessary. Sometimes the curriculum isn’t the problem. But there are certainly times when such a change should at least be considered. Maybe you and your kiddos both could enjoy homeschooling more if you changed your curriculum. The transition doesn’t have to be difficult and doesn’t always translate into more work for you as the teacher.