We Are All Different
Homeschooling can seem so overwhelming at times. With so many choices in curriculum and teaching methods how can you be sure that you have chosen the right one?
When I first began this journey I had it all figured out. I did extensive research on the internet, bought and read several highly recommended homeschooling how-to books and I even counseled with some ladies that I deemed to be pros at homeschooling to get their input. I used placement tests with each of the boys to see where they were academically in each subject. I observed them to figure out what their learning styles were. I set out on a mission to teach them art, music, two foreign languages and structured PE! Keep in mind that all of this was in addition to their core subjects and trying to catch one of them up to his grade level (he was previously in public school). I had lesson plans for the entire year all mapped out. I would spend 2.3 hours per day and per child teaching them. Things were going to be great!
Was I reaching too high?
Around this same time we began going to a homeschool group where everyone had so many great ideas. I also found wonderful online groups that had, you guessed it, more great ideas. I wrote them all down in a notebook. I was going to implement them in my classroom at my kitchen table. The more I gleaned from these women, the more I implemented into our day to day activities, and the more my children became irritated with me and I with them.
I have a confession: I can’t do it all by the book and other’s expectations.
Then I did a smart thing. I prayed about it. Yes, I know it was a bit late but hey, better late than never, right? God began to show me some things about my children and He led me to a website that was offering a free book in exchange for a review published on my blog. That book was Robin Sampson’s Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. My eyes began to open. I began to see things clearly and the path before me became easier and easier to navigate.
In the book she was persistent in saying, “every child is unique and every home is different and you need to take what works for you and leave the rest. Combine them all for a perfect fit. Let your child lead you where he wants to learn but, keep it Christ centered.” -paraphrased
Christ centered? Use what works from each method or approach and combine them? Look for the spark in my child’s eye to see what he wants to learn? Wow! sigh
You mean, I don’t have to use the entire boxed curriculum just because they recommend it? I don’t have to buy the manipulatives that come with this text book because I can use something we already have around the house? Everything they learn doesn’t have to come from a book? I don’t have to follow every step of any method or approach because all of it may not work for our family? I don’t have to homeschool just like anyone or everyone else because their needs are not the same as ours? Yes! What a revelation!
I spent a period of time after that asking the boys what they wanted to learn about and my notebook that was once filled with the ideas from other moms began to be filled with ideas from my boys.
The following was not edited for authentication purposes. ;o)
My baby Brennan told me, “I want to be a knight because they are strong and have swords and have to fight for their horse and their woman girl!”
“I want to learn about CSI stuff and chemicals and all that and I want to work for Mr. Yancy so I can use his lab and stuff,” says Gevan the analytical thinker.
And my sweet Jacob… “Mom. I just want to be smart but I don’t want to have to do a lot of work. Oh, and I want to be a artist and make money.”
I started there. Yes, right there with those three things. They spoke volumes.
Jacob has always loved to draw and write stories. He doesn’t like to take the time to use manipulatives for math and other subjects because he gains understanding even without them. They slow him down.
Gevan loves science. Anything to do with science: ant farms, hydroelectric plants, chemicals, and all of that other stuff. He needs to use manipulatives to understand. He must look at it from every angle.
Brennan loves heroic stories about knights and soldiers. He loves his momma (his woman girl) and he is interested in most anything to do with animals. Of course, he is only 6 (almost 7)!
I prayed some more and finally decided on the parts of the methods that I would incorporate from all that I had learned, a bible study that was fitting for my boys, Konos as our launching pad, Math U See for Jacob (he is already done for this year) and Saxon for Gevan and Brennan, and a reading program called Christian Light that taught them the about the love of God as well as how to grow to be a man of integrity. I also use a variety of other sources here and there to supplement as their interests in a subject peaks. This was personalized education.
And it’s working.
It is my goal over the next few months to give you ideas and inspiration on how you can personalize your child’s education with a variety of different ideas, materials and approaches and in away that may even save you a dollar or two. I recommend that you begin asking your children what they would like to learn and watch and observe them as you teach.
Father, we thank you for the gifts that you have given us in our precious children. We ask that you would open our eyes to see your will for their life and how I as a parent can encourage them and train them in the way they should go. Father, I ask that you would help us to always remember to keep you at the center of all things including education. It is my desire for my children to grow in wisdom and stature just as Jesus did. Please instruct me as to how to accomplish that. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Amy is the happy wife of one amazing man and she is a 3rd year homeschooling mom to three energetic boys. In her column “Effective Education”, she writes about the eclectic teachings that bring a glimmer of curiosity to the eyes of her sons. Be sure to visit her blog, In Pursuit of Proverbs 31.