Whether your a newbie unsure of what your doing or a veteran who is struggling to get through each year there are some really big assumptions us as homeschool parents need to learn to let go. It is probably fair to say most of us grew up in the brick and mortar school we sat at an uncomfortable metal desk, went to recess, drank milk out of a carton and spent hours in a building away from our families.
Some of us loved it and some of us hated it.
The fact remains we are homeschooling now. It takes place at home mostly. We don't have to stand quietly in lines, sit in uncomfortable desks or uncomfortably change in front of our peers for gym class. It's homeschool its different. Some of us though have a hard time moving away from the comfortable or the known. It's easy to follow what we know and what is the tested proven method that we think if we mirror it that it will work. Can I let you in on a secret?
It doesn't work because its a mirror of the public school setting. It works because we are teaching our kids NOT the curriculum. It works because it meets the unique needs of our kids and they aren't treated like just another cog on the wheel. There may be a few things keeping you from having that perfect homeschool experience you dreamed of because you're trying to imitate the school room. Are you guilty? I know I have been.
Here are a few myths to ditch ASAP.
1. We Need To Finish The Whole Book
Try to think back to your own school days or if your kids have been in the public school the big end of the year desk clean out. I remember bringing home broken pencils, used up glue sticks and workbooks with unfinished pages. Yes, even in the public school they don't finish everything.
If you don't finish everything don't get hung up on it. It will be ok if you only finish 75-80% of it. As long as your child has a good grasp on the material that is all that is important. If it really bothers you when the following year rolls around skip the first few lessons or condense them as they are usually review anyways.
Also there is nothing stating how you have to school at home. If you want you can school year round and be able to accomplish a little more and dive a little deeper into subjects as you see fit. No one is going to come to search your homeschool classroom to make sure you did every single page.
2. Worrying Your Child Is Behind
My son is year behind in math from where he'd line up in public school while my daughter is a year ahead. My daughter is a year behind in history while my son is two years ahead. When we homeschool we get to teach to where our children are not where a set of standards says they should be. We get to push ahead faster where our kids are advanced and take time to really understand when they struggle. Just keep at it they will get there when they get there.
Stay the course and trust the process. Don't be afraid to throw out what you have and start fresh even half way through the year. If its not working don't torture you and your kids. Homeschooling is a fluid process that moves and flows and we have to adjust as we see the need. I mean who came up with these standards of what is required in a specific year and why are we letting their idea dictate to us where our kids should be when they've never met our kids.
3. Progress Is Determined By Grades And Tests
Think back to your own school days maybe you were one who could study for hours and hours and still bomb the test. Then your sibling or good friend could study for five minutes and ace it. Not all kids test well so one test is not necessarily a accurate representation of mastery. There may also be underlying or undiagnosed disabilities that cause the child to not perform to the best of their ability.
I read an article from John Gatto that talked about the lunacy of grading our children the way we grade meat and other food products. What are we telling our kids when they receive failing grades and why do we then move them along to the next chapter when they obviously haven't mastered the material yet. Kids who test poorly and continue to receive failing grades judge their worth by those grades and soon wonder why to continue even trying.
While it is important if your child wants to go to college to learn how to test there are ways to teach that where its not used as a determination of their ability. It is not the end all be all. These questions can help you determine is your child learning?
~ Does your child read well and are they retaining what they are reading?
~Can your child do basic math in their head?
~Can your child discuss what they are learning in their various subjects without having to go back and look up the answers?
Letter grades are just that a letter. Progress is the light bulb that pops up when your child grasps a new concept for the first time. Its when your child reads that first chapter book on their own. Its when your child holds an in depth conversation with an adult about a topic they've learned and be able to hold their own.
You know your child better than anyone. Don't get hung up on grades and tests but the day to day progress they are making and the knowledge they are gaining.
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4. Your School Day Needs To Mimic The Public School Day
Why it is important to have a daily routine there is a reason why we left the public school setting. There is something to be said about efficiency what I love more than anything is memorable mornings. A morning spent spent reading or making breakfast together. I want my kids experience to be a happy one full of wonderful memories not me being grumpy trying to rush rush rush and yelling at them we have to get this done. I want them to remember a loving and nurturing environment where they loved learning and what they learned.
Some Days we just need a break and we may only read. Some days we just watch documentaries or historical movies. Some days we really hit the books and are having so much fun that we just keep going. Your kids can learn just as well on a couch, table, desk or their beds and sometimes learning in a different place can make learning fun. The kids moving and learning at their own pace and in their own unique way are the best things about homeschooling and the reason a lot of people choose to homeschool.
Just remember when you start your homeschool journey it is uncharted territory and it's easy to fall into the trap of the tried and true path. You are heading into uncharted territory and no one else's path will be like your own. Everyone's journey will be as unique as a set of fingerprints so go to the beat of your own drum and set your own path. Allow you and your kids to have your own unique journey. You've got this mom and dad you're going to do great.
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