Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Me” where I share the letters I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully, other new homeschoolers) with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~
Do not be afraid to focus on one child and let the others “be” for a season when needed.
At first, you will be determined to teach each child using a full program and it will be e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g. Remember, that your toddler does NOT need formal schooling?
At first, you will find the best rhythm for your day is to start with a Bible story and song and to end with a great read-aloud with all the kids snuggled together on the couch.
During those middle school years, you will need to focus on one child for some subjects (like maths) while the others get along with something that they can do on their own. e.g.: handwriting. copywork, maths drill practice sheets, practice spelling, play with activity bags, illustrate narrations…
Sometimes the older child will do more work on their own while you focus on the little ones. Invest in a round table and sit between the most “needy” children. Keep trying until you find the right combination, rhythm and flow.
And remember that wonderful decision to teach all the kids on one core curriculum? Well, you will only be able to aim for some and not all of their abilities. One year your middle child will “float” a little while you push the eldest to improve her skills and still teach the youngest her phonics and early reading. The next year you will aim the pace and interest according to your middle child while your eldest does most of her schooling independently. You’ll miss some of that intimacy, but it will be the right fit for your children in this season.
During most of the last 3 years of your eldest child’s high school, you will host her in dedicated tutor sessions after lunch while the others rest or play outside. For your eldest’s final exam preparation season and exam sessions in a nearby town, your younger kids will literally “fall off the radar screen” for a few weeks. Just go ahead and plan a hands-on project, or craft activity to keep them meaningfully busy, or declare a “school holiday” for those few crazy weeks. It will all turn out okay!
Importantly, remember to follow your child’s readiness and spark. Hold off subjects and methods that produce meltdowns or look for alternatives. Maybe they are just not ready! Wait a few months and try again. Leave the books or program for another year and see if it works then.
And if your teenager abandons certain subjects and even ditches a curriculum you all battle with, and she doesn’t do a single exam or test for a whole year, you’ll be amazed to discover that she didn’t actually “fall behind” or lose her touch, but will have matured and grown through her reading and basic maths and flowing in her creative hobbies and entrepreneur ventures. Unschooling apparently works. Let your child “become” rather than force her to finish a year in your cookie-cutter approach.
Lastly, remember that what worked for one child will not necessarily work for another! One child loves a strict schedule and tick off the boxes, another prefers an immersion approach where she spends most her time on one subject until it is done before starting another and she’ll mess up that neat schedule completely, but she’ll complete all the work in the end. One child needs mom present and available, while another wants to work on her own.
Your homeschooling will work out if you are flexible and trust the Lord to lead and shape you as the teacher, and your children as wonderful, whole people.
Blessings from your older, hopefully, wiser self,
I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic! Please, would you share yours in the comments?
In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series: