When I started homeschooling, I created a picture in my head of what it would be like. Reality hit, and it looked nothing like what I envisioned. As with many stages in our lives, and especially our parenting, we develop an idealized or generalized view of what we want things to look like and how we want things to progress. When things don’t move or develop as we think they should, letting go of that mindset is difficult and sometimes we internalize it as failure. This is doubly hard when it involves homeschooling.
The pace of the World
If we follow the patterns of this world, students move through a grade a year at the pace of a lesson a day, the same as their peers and things flow from one subject to the next. Even homeschool curriculums suggest moving in that manner, and ideally, that’s the goal. However, our children often do not learn at that pace. Some students move faster through material, and others move slower. Some days things click, while other days nothing seems to make sense. We often forget the importance of allowing children to lead the way in their learning as our lesson plans rule the day.
The pace of other homeschool families
Different educational philosophies emphasize particular aspects of education. For example, Classical education follows a specific procedure with memorization stressed in elementary levels and logic playing a big role in secondary years. Charlotte Mason focuses on living books while some methodologies prefer textbook learning. There are also methods with a relaxed framework, such as self-directed and unschooling. If you find what works for your family, stick to it and listen to that voice. Looking at what works for others and holding yourself to their standard is not an accurate measure. Find your path and hold to it, measuring each child independently and not looking at others will safeguard against a failure mindset.
The pace of our children
Taking our children where they are and guiding them at their pace is a balancing act. There is an educational practice called the Zone of Proximal Development. (read more about this along with tips to implement it). Basically, it states that students move from what they know to what they don’t know through an area (zone) of what they can know with guidance. This is an important zone for those of us with a struggling learner. They need our guidance and need to go at their pace, staying in their zone. It’s important to recognize when there are significant challenges, such as a learning disability, and know when to seek help. Sometimes the guide needs to be a tutor or therapist, in addition to the parent.
In our homeschool journey, we have the gift of being able to see our child where they are and guiding them through a very individualized journey in their education, which results in greater success, even when the world doesn’t see it that way. Look to God first, then your children to develop the pace that works best for them without looking at the world or other homeschool families.
By Kimberly Vogel of the Thinking and Learning Center