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This post is part of the Homeschool Mum Takeaway Series!
In my early years of homeschooling, I did what most moms do: I purchased textbooks, handed them to my children, and required that each and every page be complete. If they didn’t do it by a certain date, we were suddenly “behind.”
And guess what? It happened. It happened to me and it happens to many of us.
Whether it was difficult subject matter, handwriting, or life circumstances, we didn’t always complete the required number of pages. I started to feel like a failure. And so did my oldest daughter.
For her, it was the fact that she didn’t like to write. It was slow, painful work for her. She understood the lessons and knew the answers to the questions. But writing was her enemy. Filling in answers to questions or doing endless assignments resulted in tears almost daily.
I was freed that day, and my children would be free for years to come.
Out of desperation, I sent an email to Sally Clarkson asking what to do. She was so sweet and matter-of-fact: “Just let her give you the answers verbally.” It was so simple, and yet, had never crossed my mind. I was freed that day, and my children would be free for years to come.
What I Learned
What I learned, slowly but consistently, is that any school book, textbook, or workbook is a guide. You are the teacher. You are the boss. The books assist YOU in teaching your children; not the other way around.
As moms, especially those who were never school teachers, we often feel inadequate to determine what our kids need in the area of education. But let me promise you: you do know what’s best. It comes with a bit of time, and some critical assessment of your curriculum.
Any curriculum, even the top rated, most popular one will include portions that may be too hard, too easy, or just plain unnecessary. And it’s okay for you to make that judgement call.
You see, every child is unique. And there are so many different options in curriculum for homeschoolers that have their own scope and sequence. No two will be exactly alike. (That’s a good thing, too! It gives us choices!) So, if you skip ahead, or spend more than a “school year” on one book, it’s not going to mess up your child.
So when should you overrule the school books?
This is on a case-by-case basis, but some common examples are:
1. Busy work.
Worksheets and exercises that force a child to do work that has been visibly mastered is a waste of time, and often causes boredom and frustration. Skip those and move ahead.
2. Not enough practice or drill.
Your observation is key here. If your child is not grasping a concept, but the workbook moves on, stop and keep trying. Find other sources for the info. Find other ways to explain it. Education is about mastery, not just “work.” In so many cases, one concept builds on another.
3. Too much practice or drill.
Yes, the opposite can be a problem for some. Can your child learn math concepts with 20 practice problems instead of 50? Yes. Assess your child’s ability and adjust the assignments accordingly.
4. Learning styles or disabilities.
With my daughter, verbal learning was helpful until she got older. With my sons, short “table” sessions interspersed with physical play are absolutely necessary. Other children will have different needs, some physical, some spatial, some just developmental. Adjust the assignments to fit your child while still helping them to learn and grow.
Note: If you find that you must override something in your curriculum, this doesn’t make the curriculum a bad choice! Don’t give up on it; just make the adjustments you need. You will know if it’s time to make a major switch, but don’t immediately throw out the baby with the bath water.
Moms, you know your child best! It is not only possible, but it is wise to make those executive decisions on your curriculum. Trust your instincts and let education be fun.
Education is not “one size fits all.” Neither are workbooks. Don’t let them be your master. Let them be your guide.
About The Author
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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