My son was asked recently while we were out why he wasn’t in school. Of course, he explained that he is homeschooled. That got a *gasp* but another, greater one came, after he was asked what grade he was in. And my son looked at me…Confused, curious….and said, unsurely, “fifth I think?”
This response scares most of our family and friends, very few support our decision to homeschool, and truth be told, for quite some time it really bothered me as well. I mean, we have to have something to go on right?
And then it hit me – This is what we have been taught to expect; children learn and perform at specific tasks and skills at certain ages, it’s how we know thy are in the “right place” and its how things have always been. We never question it because for as long as we remember, this is how its been done.
But if we dig further into the real history of education, how wrong we are! Those old textbooks from the days of the one-room schoolhouse confirm that children were not in “classes,” but in levels. When a child grasped all that was expected at each level of their education, they moved up to the next level. If they were not showing themselves to have a strong grasp of the topics they were given more time to gain a greater understanding of each subject.
If I didn’t learn from college, that children’s development and learning styles and abilities vary from child-to-child, I surely would have figured it out shortly after having my kids. Children are unique; each one different than the other in how they see things, their perspective and processing of information. My oldest cannot hold still; he has to touch and move and feel and experience it all. My younger son is a builder and a fixer; he likes to sit and study how things work, putting it together and taking it apart. And my daughter? She loves to read and color, she listens; she is all about pretend play too.
How could all of these children learn in the same way? Gather the same information and skills and understanding of the same things, all at the very same age? It seems preposterous to me!
And this is why, as homeschoolers, we have so much liberty; we can be free of all of this. We can let go shake off those chins that bind us and really experience what it means to live and learn. This is how, our kids discover a love of learning and how we see joy in their discoveries. This is how they find their passions and truly spread their wings (cheesy but true kay?).
SO how do we do this when all our life we have had it drilled into our heads the other way?
First things first:
- forget the grade level expectations that we are told and taught ~ forget about em !
- relax and spend some quality time studying each of your children to discover their learning style; their talents and skills and strengths and weaknesses
- Set goals/pillars based on each child’s ability and life in general and as a child of God, as one gifted with a unique purpose from the Lord
- we use McGuffey readers, lots of living books, non-fiction books and materials that are not defined by age or experience – encyclopedias, woodworking magazines, How Stuff Works, etc (Khan Academy is great for this kind of learning too!)
- how about unit studies? what a great way to focus on one specific book or topic while learning across the board, from language arts, science, math and character/virtue building. consider lap booking even; thesis such a fun way to learn and create, in a way that is more personal for each child.
- take a break and learn how to Teach from a State of Rest; he says often that: ” In order to educate a child well, we must teach from a state of rest.”
Do we really think that we need, or that there is, a perfect curriculum for our children? How do we not see how impossible, and improbable, it is for one thing to fit all our children? And if we are homeschooling in faith why do we think that God needs us to have that anyway ? If we are doing this for the right reasons, for His glory, for our children to learn His Word and His way, lets be honest….If we are in prayer, in the Word, seeking His will for our children and our family He WILL bless that. In whatever state its in. 🙂
As we begin to wind down for the year (we homeschool year round but summer certainly is a time that is different in how we are learning) I have to remind myself that what the charts say does not matter. Who are they to determine at what age my child should be able to do these things? I need to remind myself as I plan, as I seek other ways to encourage learning in my children, that His will needs to be tantamount to all that we do. After all, we chose to homeschool for so many reasons, this being one of the many, and if we are going to be faithful in what I feel my family has been charged with, I need to have faith in this journey both the highs and lows, remembering that every one of those, is a chance for us to grow.