There is a lot of adapting involved in parenting. Before you become a parent, you probably have an idea of what kind of parent you’ll be like and how your kids will behave. Then you start having kids and… well, it usually doesn’t look exactly how you pictured it. Things arise that you never could’ve predicted and so you adapt. You try one discipline technique and it doesn’t work, so you adapt. Methods that your oldest child responded well to don’t have nearly the same effect on your second child, so you adapt. If you’re a parent who has never had to reevaluate or change direction with something, you’re probably not doing something right. Or you’re just not receptive to what’s not working. Or you’re the perfect parent. But I’m convinced that doesn’t exist, so… 😉
This same thinking is applied for teachers in the classroom. When something isn’t “clicking” for a student, the (good) teacher will try to find another method that will make the material accessible and easily understood.
As a homeschool mom, there’s a combination of both these mentalities that can sometimes be overwhelming. When we have a bad day of school, we wonder if we need to change our parenting style or our teaching style. As daunting as it can be, it’s important to keep assessing so we can meet our goals. I don’t know anyone who made the decision to homeschool on a whim. Usually it comes with lots of thought, research, discussion, and for the Christian families, prayer. With something so important at stake, of course we want to do our best.
Recently I was met with a decision that made me turn and look at the way I’m “teaching” my preschooler, Noah, and if I’m really tailoring my teaching style and preschool activities to his needs right now. (He’s a little behind in his speech, so that’s something I want to work on with him. Now, when I say “teaching”, I do mean very light, fun activities. One thing that I love about homeschool is that kids can still have plenty of time to be kids.) After a lot of prayer and discussion with my husband and close homeschool mom friends, I decided I needed to remember why we decided to homeschool in the first place, stay the course, but just recalculate a bit and change what I do with him right now. I’ve had to do this with Abby in the past and I strongly suspect I’ll continue to do it year after year with all my kids. When you come face to face with a time for recalculating your parenting or your teaching style with your kids, here are some important things to remember:
- Cover the situation in prayer. Cover your child in prayer and ask for wisdom to know what to do.
- Remember WHY you’re on the path that you’re on. My husband and I have specific goals for our family and our children which is why we decided to homeschool for now. I think it’s important to have “umbrella goals” or a family mission statement that won’t change over time. But you may have smaller, more specific goals that will change as your kids grow up. For us, homeschooling may not always be tied to our umbrella goals, but right now it’s a big part of how we’re meeting those goals and it’s definitely tied to our smaller goals for our young kids. It may be helpful to have these goals written down somewhere.
- Realize that change takes time. So you tried something once and it didn’t work out the way you envisioned. It doesn’t mean you have to change it right away, your child may just need an adjustment period. But if you keep doing the same thing without desired results, then it might be time to reassess.
- Recalculating doesn’t make you a failure! It makes you a better parent/teacher for recognizing the need for change and following through!
- Age matters. Maturity matters. Sometimes, my best plan of action was none at all. Simply because my child was too young or immature to “get it” at that time. So, we just took a break. After a month or two of not doing a certain activity, what used to be met with tears and anxiety was suddenly met with confidence and determination upon reintroduction. And I never even had to change my teaching method! She just needed a little time to grow and mature.
- The best route is not always the fastest route, and it’s definitely not the same for everyone! Stop comparing every little detail of your situation to another’s. Sure, there are basic, age appropriate benchmarks to be aware of, but not every kid moves at the same pace. And the beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor your child’s education so that it suits their needs, and they don’t always feel like they have to learn like everyone else (by “keeping up” in the classroom).
As we are about half way through the school year (depending on what kind of schedule you follow), now is a good time to reassess where you are in your homeschool year. Is your child understanding everything? Are you on target, or where you wanted to be by this time of year? If not, what needs to change? Sometimes it’s our expectations that need to change, but other times, we do need to recalculate so we can still make it to our destination even if we have to go about it a different way.