Recently I shared some ideas on how to Tailor-make your curriculum. Just as when you buy your children’s clothes, you may sometime need to try a size smaller or larger to get the best fit, so, too, it is with finding the right fit for your child’s homeschool curriculum.
Your child’s age is often a starting point, however your child may need to begin at an earlier grade, or stay on a level longer than the professional calculated for the average child. Your child may need to skip over a grade where he finds work too easy in order that he finds the level that stimulates and challenges him.
This individualization should be the practice in every classroom, but the school system usually focuses on the average child and so the more gifted or special-needs child often fall through the cracks. Because homeschooling is a one-on-one education, it is far easier for a parent to find the perfect fit for their child.
I urge you to customize your curriculum and subjects for each child.
Some of the most challenging subjects that require individualization are
Reading, Writing and Maths. This post has quite a few links to my archives. Please bookmark them to read later if you don’t have time today.)
- Teach your child their phonics so that they know how to sound out every letter in the alphabet and then combination letters called blends.
- Use flashcards, charts and picture games to practice and master phonics.
- Find a series of early readers that are both entertaining and interesting and which contain almost all the words your child can sound out and read.
- Use partnered reading where your child sits on your lap are next to you, and you whisper in their ear as they read and sound out their words. You can see that we use a ruler or pointer to help with tracking along the sentence.
- Read more about partnered reading technique I used with my youngest child — Partnered Reading Helps Improve Reading and Partnered Reading ~ moments I treasure and Slow learner Joys discovered.
- Don’t fret/ push/ demand/ panic if your child isn’t ready to write out his own narrations / or write neatly.
- Keep on assisting him and encourage oral dictations, recorded narrations or dictated narrations, or traced over or printed dictated narrations. The vital skill of narration is being practiced and the writing will come later. Read about being your child’s Narration Scribe.
- Gently encourage your child to write an opening sentence and then the concluding sentence. Work on developing 3 sentences that form a paragraph. Before long he will be doing more and more of his own written narrations.
- Use a word bank or textmapping to help your child remember their ideas.
- Find an alternative activity that your child enjoys instead of the prescribed narration – there are so many options and alternatives! Purchase my Narration Ideas booklet with over 100 ideas and options instead of just writing!
- Writing is such an important skill that you should find a way for your child to present his thoughts and understanding with narrations because Narrations show you what he knows.
- Mathematics is a very important subject and it is vital to find the right level and pace and approach for each child.
- Swap or add another Maths book if the course your child uses progresses too quickly. Look for an exercise or book that offers more practice lessons, or one that provides more visual or practical work.
- Use concrete apparatus for as long as is needed. Work with beads, blocks, number lines, counting fingers or whatever helps your child. It really doesn’t actually matter how long your child needs these “props”. If it helps, then use them! Don’t shame your child or let him believe that he is immature. Make physical apparatus options available.
- Gently encourage your child to do the same activity again without the physical apparatus and teach him how to picture the blocks or bead in his head. It may just suddenly ‘click’ and he will be able to continue his work without the objects.
- Encourage Maths drills with games and mental Maths worksheets.
- Use different approaches as and when needed, for example, use blocks, flashcards, use number lines, and or computer games to teach, practice and master a concept.
- Work for mastery — you want your child to feel a sense of confidence. Maths is a very emotionally charged subject for some children. Don’t give up at a point of anxiety or stress. Look for creative ways of doing the work so that your child feels good about themselves.
- Start by stretching out a one-year curriculum over 18 months to provide a wide margin of time to enjoy themes and topics that your children enjoy, time to take detours or take longer scenic stops.
- Continue working longer on any concepts to practice and fully master a skill.
- Read about my experiences extending time on a curriculum — Re-using Sonlight and doing it differently and Best Homeschooling Decision-More Time .
In every subject, in every grade, adjust your course to suit your child’s interests, ability and pace. Try find the balance between challenging and mastery, gently increasing the work load and difficulty, but allowing for their sense of “I can do it!”
Blessings as you find your fit, Nadene
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