One of the things I love most about home education is this:
You can wait for understanding and move through material with MASTERY as the goal.
There is no need to “plow onward” to keep on pace with the rest of the class. You look at what your child is grasping and retaining, and assess what he/she is capable of, and move at his/her pace.
MOVE AT THE CHILD’S PACE
I do this a LOT with maths… some kids “get” the “add 8 + 7, write down the 5, carry the 1 to the tens column” thing on the first day I present the concept. Some need a week to practice. Some need more. Some kids “get” simple multiplication quickly. Others need weeks (or months) of practice, math games, explanation, and practice with manipulatives, and examples of mom working problems over and over and over again.
So we move at the child’s pace.
Doing it that way is not “unschooling.” Rather, it is moving at the pace at which the child is ready to tackle and succeed.
So if a child is struggling, you pause and review and work it from different angles, and sometimes abandon the subject altogether for 3-6 months to give time for maturity and growth before expecting mastery. But, on the flipside, there are some times where the math book or phonics lessons will suggest 10 lessons of review on a particular thing and your child will “get it” on the first go. So then you go faster at that point.
THE MYTH OF AGE = SAME
Human beings don’t learn things at exactly the same pace, according to their age.
In a group classroom setting, the fact that we all learn different things at different rates can lead to some kids feeling dumb, some kids fading into the background, some kids feeling arrogant and “bored” because they get a concept quicker than the other kids. It can lead to labels and judgments.
I remember. I think back to growing up in a public school setting. I remember coming out on top in some things, and I remember the humiliation of coming out on bottom in other things. Neither felt good.
In homeschooling, it just means, your kid is his/herself. He/she gets to move at the pace God made his/her brain to move, and feel neither humiliated nor arrogant about that particular pace.
AND (this is what I love) that gets to happen in EVERY subject.
So if they are able to read sooner, but not be physically coordinated enough to play soccer, that’s OK. No teasing or humiliation for that. If they can swim and ride bikes and run faster than all the other kids, but are still struggling to read, that’s OK too. If they are going great guns in math, but need to go slower in learning (and retaining) vocabulary, that’s OK too.
There is not one “8-year-old” standard. Each boy or girl can move similar to the pace we do, as adults– according to each individual’s gifts and abilities.
No one looks at me and compares me to the 34-year-old dentist down the road and thinks I’m a moron for not knowing about molars, nerve endings, tooth decay, and how to operate a tiny drill. No one looks at him and thinks he’s a moron for not knowing how to manage a household of 8 on a budget, how to stop a tantrum in two-seconds-flat, or how to choose homeschool curricula. And no one looks at the 34-year-old pharmacist and compares him/her to either of us.
Unfortunately, even as adults, sometimes peers look at each other and compare, but that almost always leads to sin and discontentment.
In truth, we all operate according to our giftings and learn at our own pace, and are held accountable by God for being stewards of what we’ve personally been given– not for stewarding something at the same pace/skill as someone else “our age.”
Homeschooling allows us to offer that same grace and freedom to our children: move at your pace. Grasp things at the rate you are able. You don’t have to live in humiliation, or arrogance… constant struggle, or endless boredom. Joyfully grow and learn about the world God has made, according to the gifts He has given you.
Images courtesy of: StuartMiles & Stockphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
[Please note: I recognize that not all of my readers choose to homeschool. This is not a slam on anyone else’s choices. However, we choose to homeschool. I believe there are advantages, and this article is about one of those advantages. Kind of like someone who writes an article about the advantages of having all boys (if you have girls) or someone who only writes about how great it is to only buy foreign vehicles, while you drive around in your Ford, you can just skip this article on by if it doesn’t apply to you, and not feel guilt for making a different choice. As believers, we all live according to Scripture and the guidance of the Spirit, no matter our schooling decisions.]