The key to homeschooling without stressing out.
Kicking off the adventure of homeschooling can make parents understandably uneasy. Where do I start if I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to be teaching? What if I miss something? What if my child falls behind?
If you’re breathing into a paper bag right about now, there’s a secret about this homeschooling thing that you need to know. Taking your child’s education into your own hands is actually freeing. All those “standards” that apply to the mass education system can now be seen as “guidelines” for you to customize according to your child’s individual needs. Being in charge of your student’s learning opens the door to an entirely new way of thinking about school.
What About Grade Levels in Homeschool?
As an example, did you know that for families who’ve been homeschooling for a while, “grade levels” become less important? In fact, it’s not unusual for a homeschool parent or student to have to stop and think when asked what grade their child is in. That’s because grade levels, while an important way for traditional education to organize student progress, may or may not be the best way for parents to gauge how their child is performing. Instead, parents may decide to simply use grade-specific homeschool guidelines as a comparative tool, while letting their child be the ultimate compass for determining what’s appropriate to learn and when.
Taking Cues from a Child’s Development
In traditional education, the assumption is that all children are ready to begin learning to read in kindergarten and that all middle schoolers are primed for algebra. The truth is that while one child may be ready to tackle phonics at four or five, another child may not be developmentally ready until closer to seven or eight. Some twelve year olds are perfectly able to grasp algebraic expressions, but they can be challenging for many full-grown adults who haven’t had the preliminary math knowledge or who struggle with problem solving.
The wonderful perk of homeschooling is that, as the person in charge of your child’s education, you can take your cues directly from him or her. Depending on their age, their developmental stage, their previous instruction, and their unique learning differences and learning styles, homeschoolers won’t necessarily follow the grade-level learning standards of their traditionally schooled peers. For many homeschoolers, an age-level homeschool overview is a less stressful and more organic way to plan out their student’s year.
Embracing Your Unique Learner
If you’d like to immediately release some of the stress of homeschooling, you can do that just by customizing your homeschool approach to your individual child(ren). Take into account your child’s:
- specific passions and interests
- learning style
- emotional maturity
- specific skill gaps
- motivation for learning
When you feel like you have a good “inventory” of what your student is capable of, curious about, and needs to improve, then it’s time to use that knowledge in preparing for the school year ahead. If that means veering away from standardized learning schedules, that’s perfectly okay. Customizing learning objectives to each child can often be the key to helping them reach their overall educational goals.
Standards, by definition, are about deciding what a category of people should accomplish by a given time period. As a homeschooler, you aren’t teaching a category; you’re teaching your child. And, taking a unique educational path means removing much of the pressure associated with trying to teach to the “standard.” Welcome to low-stress homeschooling!