Last night my dear blogless friend (and I say blogless because were she blogging I would link to her brilliant writing) and I were asked to speak to new homeschoolers. This was a daunting task to us because we didn't exactly feel like experts. (And still don't.) What do you say to new and unseasoned, possibly worried, homeschooling parents? I have my own fears, but they don't revolve around the first five years of school anymore. Now they revolve around the last seven!
So what did we offer? Well, we tried to offer what we felt would be helpful, and what we thought would encourage. We offered "Ten things we wish we believed about homeschooling when we first started." I am going to be sharing them over the next few days, but I would love your thoughts too. We listed them in order from the least important to the most in our minds. Here is number 10:
10. Don't buy too far ahead.
I had a friend who had young children, but was nervous about the future. She decided to purchase all the remaining years of her child's curriculum! Now I don't know about you, but when I first started homeschooling there were things I saw that looked great to me, and some I even bought and planned to use over time, but as the years passed and my style of homeschooling changed, I just did not want to use them anymore. I also have a dear friend who felt buying all the years to a particular program was a good idea. Once she started using it, she discovered it was not a good fit for her family. She was then left with a lot of curriculum that she was not going to use. It is not always easy to recoup that money!
9. In the beginning, math needs to be concrete.
Manipulatives! We are the household of math manipulatives. Some are used to sort, some are used to count, some are used to help us with fractions, and some are used to understand the vital concept of place value. Young children need to see math. They need to understand the "why" of math. Why do we cross out that ten and carry the one? What does that mean to a tiny person? Do we want to teach them math rhymes, "Divide, multiply, subtract, bring down, divide, multiply, subtract, bring down." But what does that really mean at the end of the day? Will they understand it at the end of the year, or will they mix it up because they have never really learned it? Math needs to be concrete and visual - hands on.
We feel so locked in my grade levels and books sometimes. I know I do! What if your child was "not getting it?" What if you have a child that struggles? You should not move on until they get it. I have another friend who has a child in third grade who is doing a first grade math workbook. Now, is this because the mother has been neglectful? No. The mother is brilliant. She used to work for NASA and helped to build a space shuttle. She understands the "why" of math. However, she also understands that her daughter's brain isn't "getting it" yet. She knows that if she moves on her daughter will remain lost - so she patiently stays where her daughter needs her to be. I fully believe that she will at some time understand it and she will move on, but that may not be for a while. What a blessing it is that she has a mother who can wait with her without panic and stress!
That is exactly what happened with my own daughter. She is now at the age where her brain is "clicking" and she is finally understanding the "why." Did she have a brilliant mother who used to work for NASA? Absolutely not! Did she have a mother who made lots of mistakes on her first guinea pig child? Oh yes. I made a LOT of mistakes that I really don't want to pass on! That is why this portion was here in our talk because we did make a lot of mistakes and didn't teach them correctly at first.
Don't let yourself get bogged down with the number of lessons in a book. I used to fall into this trap, and still sometimes stuggle with it. It is the child that matters, and their ability, not finishing the book.
More to come...
The rest of the series is found in the right sidebar.