Making Adjustments

Encouraging new homeschool moms, and moms starting a new curriculum ~ You may need to adjust or adapt your homeschool approach, content, schedule and expectations.

Sometimes, a little tweak will provide the necessary space and grace to accomplish the work without undue stress and frustration.  When you or your child  experience some of these negative emotions on a daily basis,  you may need to make some more serious adjustments.

Here are a few Charlotte Mason-inspired suggestions ~

Size
P1070277One of the simplest ways to tweak the content is to select its size.  For example:

  • Narrations = decide how much you will read before asking for a narration.  Start with a paragraph before moving on to a full chapter.
  • Adjust the length of copywork = give shorter selections, especially for a young child who is still learning to master his handwriting.
  • Adjust dictation passages = adjust the size of the passage to fit your child’s reading fluency or adjust the size of the phrases you dictate for her to write.  Adjust the length as the child’s confidence strengthens.
  • Any other lesson or activity = select the amount work that the child does to suit their ability; tick off the maths problems or draw a line under the work needed for that day.

Highlight

Assist your young or struggling child by writing out the key words or important ideas from the passage.  As your child matures and manages to remember the content and details of the chapter, he will make these notes himself and eventually rely on mental memory rather than notes to recall his narrations.  An effective spotlight will allow the student to think for himself and make his own personal relations, and not be ‘spoon-fed’.

  • Create a word bank with key words on a board, or create a short list to spotlight the key ideas of the passage.  This list provides reminders for the child’s narration.
  • Use textmapping to help your child remember their ideas.  Here the child highlights the most important ideas, in different colours, to help note key concepts.
  • Number the correct sequence to help keep events in the correct order = or use these sequential clues = “First, this happened. Then …  After that, such-and-such happened … Finally…”  This helps a child remember the story sequence.
  • 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.
  • Spotlight specific topics  in subject = a specific focus in nature study.
  • Spotlight specific techniques used in handicrafts or art instruction.

Substitute

2013-06-17 21.37.09Adjust the content of your curriculum with through substitutions.  Here, the library may provide your best options:

  • Substitute a different book for your student. It should be a well-written living book, one that contains worthy thoughts well put and inspiring tales well told.  Find a story that “clicks” with your child.
  • Grade up or down as needed.
  • Personalize mental math by substituting names of people or objects in your child’s life according to  their personal interests.
  • Substitute the pictures you use for picture study.  Feel free to substitute a different work by the same artist.  You want your child to connect with the artist and his works.  I often provide 6 examples and allow my child to choose the 4 we will study each week for that month.
  • 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!

Speed
My golden rule = Add more time!  Adjust the speed at which you move through the lessons especially with skill-based subjects  such as math or language arts skills like reading, writing, and grammar.

  • Don’t move on to the next concept until your child has a comfortable grasp of the current one.
  • So much of math and language arts builds step by step: the next concept that will be introduced depends on mastery of the current concept. So don’t get in a hurry.
  • Charlotte believed strongly that math and language arts lessons must proceed at each child’s speed, regardless of what grade level he might be:

“In grammar (English and foreign) and in mathematics there must be no gaps. Children must go on from where they left off, but they will be handicapped in the future unless they can do the work set for this Form” (PNEU Programmes 90–94, May—July 1921 through December 1922).

  • Adjust the curriculum to go at your child’s pace. It is more important that your child understands the concept than that you check off the lesson as done.  
  • Add other exercises from alternative books or games to practice more on certain skills or activities.

Here are several posts I have written on this topic over the years ~

Hopefully the examples shared above will give you some ideas of how you can adjust the size, spotlight key concepts, make personalized substitutions, or adjust the speed of the content as you use Charlotte’s wonderful methods with your student.

Blessings, Nadene
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Adapt Adjust or Amend your Approach

Image result for adapt and overcomeMost moms have a pretty good idea of how things should be, especially when it comes to homeschooling.  I recall, over 18 years ago, when we considered homeschooling, visiting 2 homeschool homes and thinking how we could make homeschooling work for us.  Then I bought the bell-and-whistles-full-curriculum package for each child and I, in my idealistic hopes, thought that this was a guarantee for success.

It wasn’t.

When we started homeschooling, my eldest child, starting grade 4, resisted, refused, fussed and struggled about the work, and instead of taking it really slow, and cutting back the work to  a more manageable load, I pressured, punished and persisted in my attempt to “make it work”. It was a disaster and I felt like such a failure, not only as a teacher, but as a mom.  You see, homeschooling is a relationship, and when it doesn’t work, for whatever reason,  relationships suffer.

Here’s my advice —

Find what works for your child in your home.  Adapt, adjust, adopt, add, and amend your approach to fit your child’s  learning style and needs.

Please remember that the curriculum was created by an individual, no matter how clever or qualified, who prepared a package for the average child and the general aims of the educational institution.  It will not suit every one, all the time.  When it does not suit your child, or your family lifestyle, or your parenting style, work with what works and adapt or adjust, abandon or ignore the rest.

Yes, you may put the book back on the shelf that no one enjoys, or stop halfway through a project that causes meltdowns, even abandon the package if it doesn’t meet your family’s needs.  Pushing on will not achieve much if your children resist.  It will seem like you are pushing a huge boulder, in pouring rain, up a muddy mountain path!  Well, that’s how I felt many days … I sat in tears and wondered what was wrong with me or my child.

 

When I finally found the courage to follow my own leading and use the schedule and package as a guideline,  I felt such a relief.  The peace and joy returned, and my kids began to flourish.  The less I pressured, the more they blossomed.  The more informal I became in my approach, the more they absorbed and contributed.  The more I simply offered options, the more my kids created and expressed themselves.

A homeschool education is never about learning information.  It is about relationships, life skills, character and values.

I know a few homeschool moms that have several unused curriculums and packages sitting gathering dust on their bookshelves.  It is an expensive waste, and often they speak of the guilt of their impulsive buying.  I would recommend you create your own version of homeschooling with what you already have.  Adapt it or add to it.  At the very worst, sell the stuff you really can’t use and use that money to make more meaningful purchases.  There are wonderful opportunities on Facebook groups to advertise and sell your unwanted stuff, and to buy books and programs, second-hand, for good prices.

It is easier than you think to create your own eclectic package for your children, and there is a lot available for free on the Internet.  You simply need to find what they need to learn and offer them the options.  Give your children options, choices, a wide and generous education.  Find what delights them and let them lead the way.

Don’t despair when things are imperfect.  It is simply a signal to adjust, or amend your approach.

Blessings, Nadene