Have you ever looked at those curriculum posts on various forums and panicked?
Perhaps you sat and compared curriculum with a friend and suddenly realized you’re not doing the same thing. Are you doing too much or too little?
Are you going to FAIL at this homeschooling gig?
To teach the child you have is a concept mentioned in Teaching from Rest. One that reminds us children are not little carbon copies of each other.
I think everyone is an experienced mother and remembers the newborn years. Whose child sat, spoke, or walked first? Kids don’t develop at the same rate.
It’s easy now to look back at the newborn years and laugh.
Of course, kids develop differently. Some kids turn into chatterboxes but walk a bit later than their quiet but active friend.
Homeschooling is exactly the same. Children have different gifts and talents. Children have weaknesses and challenges.
No child is exactly the same as another.
Sometimes children are ill for a time and need a slow and gentle homeschool. Sometimes kids need encouragement to push themselves to do more.
Other times you simply need to get out of your child’s way.
So, put the blinders on, look closely at your kid, and teach the child you have.
Don’t pretend your kid is your friend’s son who’s gifted at math.
Stop the Comparison Game
So we need to get out of the comparison game. Comparing ourselves to others can be great when we’re inspired to push ourselves, but it’s a horrid idea when we’re looking at our children.
No one wants to hear if only they were more like the neighbor’s child who’s so mannerly.
- If only they were doing calculus like that boy on TV. You’d be happy.
- If only they were scholarly like the kid at the co-op. You’d be delighted.
- If only they excelled at a sport like that girl at park day. All would be well.
- If only they were different.
We make this error in so many ways.
We’re impatient when our kid takes too long to understand math. When our kid doesn’t progress fast enough or forgets to say thank you when given a cookie.
But kids aren’t the same.
Each child has their own set of gifts and challenges. Embrace them! Don’t secretly wish your kids were somebody else, embrace your kids for the wonderful, unique people they are.
As you sit down and plan for this next school year, write down your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Make a list!
Look at the list of strengths and begin to make a few decisions.
Do you want to push in the areas or do you even need to push?
Often kids adore their gifts. You just need to provide material, programs, or opportunities for your child to thrive.
Sit and think. Let’s say your child adores programming. Do you want to provide a programming curriculum as part of your formal homeschool day?
Do you know a programmer who would be delighted to mentor your child?
Perhaps there’s a local programming class that would be ideal.
There’s also the option of sitting back, providing books, kits, and a computer, and letting your child program in their free time.
What if the strengths are in an area such as math? You still have options.
Do you want to simply keep moving with the curriculum and call it good?
Should you switch to a more challenging curriculum? Bear in mind that different programs teach various concepts at different times.
I’d be cautious before just jumping ship when everything is working.
Perhaps supplementing would be the best option. Sign your kid up for math clubs, pick up puzzle books, or find challenging math concepts to play with.
Take a look at your child and teach the child you have. Don’t worry if your kid is doing calculus when everyone else is studying algebra.
Aim to keep your kids happy and challenged.
Dealing with your child’s weaknesses can be harder. We want to push our kids to get them up to par ASAP. Unfortunately, it tends to backfire.
Instead of moving quickly, kids resist, struggle, and make very little progress.
Instead of trying to move quickly, aim for being diligent. Sit down each day and make certain that math is getting done diligently.
Don’t try for fast progress, aim for steady progress.
Steady progress will get you further, faster and with less frustration. Don’t worry about trying to catch your child up in math, worry about getting your child as far as you can before high school.
The same goes for all areas. Focus on making slow and steady progress, not catching up with everyone else.
We can’t all be engineers. Kids will turn into artists, musicians, teachers, plumbers, diplomats, mothers, and fathers as well as engineers.
As you plan this next school year, don’t make your plans with an eye on what everyone else is doing.
Don’t worry about having the perfect homeschool.
Instead, concentrate on making your plans with an eye on your children. Focus on what’s working in your homeschool.
And teach the child you have.
For more ideas on bringing peace to the homeschool, read Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie.