I have four children and sometimes I think – I’ve been here before, I’m an experienced parent, why do I not know what to do? The honest answer is though that I have never parented this child at this age before. Homeschooling issues fall into the same context – we may have homeschooled a dozen children successfully but we have never taught this child at this age/stage before and that changes things.
My kids are all different. They are different in personality, in strengths, weaknesses, habits, needs, learning styles, and passions. This is why what I face today – is all new to me!!
One of the big educational benefits with homeschooling is that we get the opportunity to tailor make our kids’ education to their individual needs. Which means each year we need to take time to stop and seriously consider where each individual is at and what they need to take them forward.
First of all we need to know our child. What makes them tick, what excites them, what do they struggle with, where do they excel. As our kids get older we also need to tap into their dreams. Do they want to go to university, do they want an apprenticeship, do they want to start their own business or go into mission work (not even sure this is an exhaustive list of options!)
Then we need to know the things that they need to know. We can use curriculum guides, the National Curriculum, or even write up a list of the things you know in your heart they need to know. I like to consider the following – these points guide me to thinking about a whole life education (not just the academic).
- Their ability and desire to study God’s Word
- Their basic skills – reading, writing, maths, thinking skills, computer skills,
- Their life skills – how they handle their responsibilities, money, time, relationships
- Their talents – how we can incorporate their talents, interests and passions into their learning experiences
- Their general knowledge – studies such as History, Science, Geography
Once I have assessed these things I can start to put together an educational plan – unique and individual.
I have homeschooled for 14 years and have four kids (two have graduated). Our first two learnt very much in keeping with my personal learning style (which translates comfortably to my teaching style as well). My younger two though are much more hands on – something I struggle with. I have had to learn new ways of doing things regardless of my experience. My younger two understand language differently than my older two – once again I have had to learn news ways of expressing truths. I have a bookshelf full of fantastic books, but the subject matter doesn’t interest my younger two – we have had to find different topics; still history, still science but it looks different, using different teaching methods, and different resources.
As a parent/teacher we need to be flexible if we are going to serve our kids well. We also need to be humble enough to change and learn new things. As we begin to look towards 2013, we need to make sure we don’t lose the opportunity to meet our kids where they are at just because we think we’ve been here before. Next year may need to look very different!