What I Wish I Believed When I First Began Homeschooling...
6. Curriculum is a servant and not a master.
How many of you have said to yourselves, “I can't skip that lesson! It is in the book!” or “We have to finish the book!” Guess what? You can skip that lesson and you don't have to finish the book! YOU are in charge–embrace your freedom as the teacher of your classroom. Most teachers never finish their books because there is simply not enough time in the year to do so. In many textbooks the beginning is review of the previous year, and often the end is introduction to next year's material. I you want to finish a book, you can, but as the teacher, this is your choice. If your child understand that lesson, or mastered last year's material already, you can skip it, or test out of it, or only do the odd problems, etc. I think you get my meaning-you have the freedom to use the curriculum to suit your needs.
You can also tweak assignments to suit your child's interests or personality. My friend's son loves sailing ships from the 19th century. She utilized this interest to help him learn to write. He read all about the ships on his own so she tailored some of his writing assignments to this interest. He enjoyed sharing what he knew about the ships!
The biggest thing to remember about your curriculum is that you are teaching your child, not the book! We teach them because we love them, and we teach them where they are--where ever that might be. The book is a tool in your arsenal of education.
5. Each child learns at his own rate. Not all late bloomers have a learning disability.
As I stated before, I am not an expert on learning disabilities. If you have serious concerns, you can go to NATHHAN for more information.
With that said, while my friend and I have not had any children with learning disabilities, we have late bloomers–and yes, they do exist! We hear a lot about how all homeschoolers are so far ahead, but I think that is discouraging to those that have those that are not. Between our two families, we have all sorts of different kinds of learning styles and some of our children really struggled in different areas. I already told you about my friend's son, who needed three phonics programs to read well. He might have been labeled with a disability in public school, but he just needed more time, patience and attention from mom. He is now a brilliant reader and highly intelligent to boot!
Some children just need more time--this is OK. Give it to them.
As I also wrote above, capitalize on your children's interests. This will help so much! My dear friend's son was interested in knights and castles and all things medieval. So she utilized that and bought books he could read on those subjects. She knew he would struggle through them because of his love of the subject–and she was right. Children can learn so much through the study of a subject they love because almost all subjects will blend into others. In many ways, it is like a unit study, but one they enjoy!
Flexibility is more helpful than a label. I *do* recognize that there are learning disabilities out there, but do not be quick to label your child, and certainly do not communicate to them that you feel they are behind, not getting it, or worse, that they are stupid. It just takes some children longer to learn certain things. It is important to remember that each of your children is unique and will have their own strengths and weaknesses. Flexibility and creativity are two of your greatest assets as a parent and a teacher–especially when your child is struggling.
Praise God we are not all the same! I love seeing the strengths and weaknesses of each of my children. What a blessing to see how God has gifted each one and what a blessing it is to see their inner person come out in their work. We are blessed to have the privilege of homeschooling--love those children!