Your kids are progressing just fine in your homeschool. They’re happy. They’re learning. They’re singing in the rain. Suddenly you discover your child isn’t where they need to be. You panic. What do you do when homeschooling isn’t working?
What Happened When Homeschooling Isn’t Working?
Have you ever compared your child to one of your friends’ children?
Let’s face it, you never compare your kids to a child at a similar level. You always compare to a child gifted in math or science. Or a kid who simply loves to write novels in their spare time.
Then you realize your child is behind. You’re failing your kid. You are a disgrace to the homeschool community.
You must push your child hard when homeschooling isn’t working. If one hour of math is good, three hours must be better. Push, push, push!
Other times you realize your happily learning child isn’t in the right level.
After all, you placed your first grader in Saxon 1. Your child is happy at this level. They’re learning, progressing, and adore math.
But apparently you’re suppose to do Saxon 2 in the first grade, not Saxon 1.
You’ve failed your kid.
So you decide to skip the last 60 lessons of Saxon 1 and jump straight into Saxon 2.
What could go wrong?
Progress Too Slow
Your child’s progress is too slow.
Shouldn’t your child be mastering multiplication and division rather than cheerfully studying addition and subtraction? Seriously the child is moving at a snail’s pace through their schoolwork.
You decide to speed up the pace when homeschooling isn’t working.
After all two lessons a day won’t hurt anyone!
Stuck on Grade Levels
You have grade levels stuck in your head.
Your child is in the second grade. They should be doing second grade work no matter what their skill level is. Well above grade level is acceptable, but to be working a grade lower in spelling? That’s unacceptable!
You speed up. You push. It backfires.
You went off external criteria, not the criteria that truly matters. Is your child learning? Do they love their schoolwork? Are you making progress?
Instead you looked at where your child is compared to other kids. Always a mistake.
Looking back you know that kids walk and talk in their own time, but remember those fretful early years of parenting. Surely you’ve reassured the mother of an 11 month old that their child will one day walk, and calmed the mom of a 2 year old who’s convinced her kid will never be potty trained.
Education is just like that. Kids learn at different times. Not all 7 year olds will be reading chapter books, but some will. Others will be just beginning to read. Both are completely normal. But when your child is struggling it feels like homeschooling isn’t working.
So you panic, you begin to rush. You push. You scream.
The result is your child begins to lose their love of learning. They’re miserable. You’re miserable. And everyone is in tears.
In the end you’ve lost ground, you’re running even farther behind, and now you have a kid who hates learning.
What’s the Answer When Homeschooling Isn’t Working?
Keep in mind children don’t learn in a linear fashion. Nor do they learn at the same pace. Some kids pick up reading quickly and easily. Other children spend years learning to read.
If gently guided and allowed to work at their own pace, both children end up in the same spot. Able to read any piece of written material in English, well maybe not a piece of legalese or a document full of medical jargon. But they can read the great books, college textbooks, newspapers, and enjoy classic literature.
When you race to the finish line, you tend to act like the rabbit in the Tortoise and the Hare. You rush as far as you can run, and then you stop.
Or in this case you rush forward as fast as you can before your child brings you to a screeching halt. They can go no further.
You lose ground.
Rather than racing forwards, concentrate on building diligence into your homeschool. This means you sit down everyday to work on the weak subject. Don’t try to rush ahead. Don’t skip ahead. Don’t make a salami sandwich.
Sit down with your child and walk them through the lesson.
The best answer is to work on the weak subject, the one that has you panicking, everyday. Even if you can only spend 15 minutes working through some drill sheets or introducing a lesson, put in the time. Every little bit adds up.When homeschooling isn't working, remember slow and steady wins the race. Click To Tweet
7 Tips for Fixing Your Homeschool
Let’s face it, just because I’ve recommended concentrating on diligence instead of rushing ahead, it still doesn’t end the panic when homeschooling isn’t working.
So the next time you begin to panic, try one of these 7 tips and remember children learn at their own pace.
1. Calculate the End Game
What happens if your child only completes a level a year? You don’t rush ahead or progress any faster. Instead there’s simply forward momentum at your current pace. Where will your child be at high school graduation?
Will they be ready for precalculus or calculus? You’re doing just fine. That’s considered the regular entry point for an entering freshman. Obviously some kids move faster. Don’t worry about them. Worry about your child mastering the material.
2. Work Year Around
Sometimes kids are running behind and progressing one level a year won’t quite catch them up to where you’d like them to be at high school graduation. This may be a result of learning issues, your just starting to homeschool, or illness in the family.
Don’t berate yourself when homeschooling isn’t working. Don’t skip ahead. Just begin working year around. Each year you’ll put in an extra 3 months of study. With time, you and your child will gradually and painlessly catch up and pull ahead.
3. Use Saturdays
Most homeschoolers only homeschool 4 or 5 days a week. We enjoy our weekends. However when homeschooling isn’t working do a bit extra on Saturdays instead of taking Saturdays off. Complete an extra lesson, do a drill.
Completing 6 days a week instead of 5 days a week will slowly pull you ahead as well.
If you’re really in a panic, just think what diligently working on math or spelling or writing everyday would do to your child’s ability. The extra time will gradually add up without skipping important concepts.
After all mastery is the goal!
4. Supplemental Work
Look for supplemental practice for your child. Math lessons don’t always drill the facts a child needs to know. Often science concepts are better understood with another perspective, and spelling is all the better for extra practice.
Use games, computer programs, websites, songs, puzzles, and outside classes to supplement what you’re doing in your homeschool.
Here are a few games to check out:
5. Spits and Spurts
Keep in mind that children often learn in spits and spurts. It often feels like homeschooling isn’t working when your kids learn slowly while they’re trying to understand the basics.
They struggle and need plenty of review.
However once kids master the basics, they speed up. Just because they’re progressing at a crawl doesn’t mean they’ll learn at a crawl forever. Kids do grow up, mature, and become diligent scholars.
Be patient when you’re in the middle of a slow learning period.
6. Concentrate on Diligence
As I mentioned early, concentrate on diligence when homeschooling isn’t working.
This means you sit down and do the work. You don’t spend the time researching new ways to teach spelling, studying how great math teachers taught math, or looking for the newest phonics games.
You sit down and do the work. Nothing in the world can replace the time spent actually sitting down and teaching your child.
That’s not to say don’t research better methods. I’m trying to say do it in your free time, not during your homeschool time. It’s tempting to spend the time you’re suppose to be teaching your 3rd grader spelling researching better spelling programs. But that won’t help your child’s spelling.
Stop, do the work, then finish the research. Be diligent.
7. Outside Help
Sometimes outside help is the best course of action, especially if your maternal instincts are acting up. There may be a deeper reason for why homeschooling isn’t working.
It may also be that the subject in question is one you’re struggling with yourself.
If you hated math in school, you may be teaching it to your kids.
Look for outside help when needed. This may mean talking to doctors about diagnosing a problem, looking for tutors, or search for outside classes.
A good tutor, especially one who loves the subject, can make a world of difference. The same with outside course online or in the community. An excellent teacher will ignite a passionate love of the subject in your kids.The worst mistake you can make is to panic when homeschooling isn't working.Click To Tweet
Our children aren’t moving fast enough, aren’t in the right grade, or are struggling to master a subject.
Don’t panic. Make a plan, work the plan, and be diligent about homeschooling.
What do you suggest when homeschooling isn’t working?