Keepin’ It Real: Falling Behind
It’s the thing that no one likes to talk about, the dirty little secret that plagues a good number of us homeschoolers. We don’t dare say it out loud to the “You’re Not Qualified to Teach” crowd, in fact you’ve been avoiding those people for some time now.
I am talking about getting behind. I’m talking about that time in your life that finds you having to pick up and move, or maybe you’ve been through a divorce, a death, or illness, overcommitments, too many activities outside the home, a new baby, financial woes, or just simply good old fashion depression. Slowly but surely you’re taking off days weeks or months longer than you ever planned. It happens. Maybe not to all of us, but it does happen. You scramble to catch up, finish that textbook, skipping lessons or even subjects that aren’t as important, schooling year round to “catch up.” Structure and discipline are important, but don’t forget to allow imperfections and life interrupted.
Before I go any further, I should say that I live in a home school friendly state, meaning we are considered a private school, there are no tests we have to submit, no forms to turn in. We are pretty much left alone, free to teach our children at home. Many people gasp when I tell them that. How could the state of IL not hold us accountable? Well, people forget it should be the other way around. WE should hold the government accountable, but that’s a whole other issue. My point is, these are MY God given children, and I have the right to decide what kind of education my child gets. They’re my responsibility. Thank you IL for recognizing that.
So a group of “experts” got together and decided what children should know from age 7-17(compulsory attendance ages) but so what if they don’t learn it exactly at the precise time the dictocrats have determined? Some babies learn to walk at 9 months, some at 12, and some not ’till 18 months even. Once they’ve learned to walk though, by age 2 does it even matter? We have our children at home so they can learn whatever we want them to, whenever we want them to.
So you’re a little behind schedule, or even a lot behind schedule, don’t beat yourself up. It is what it is. Just press on the best you can, but don’t stress out about it. Some of my children would be considered behind in certain subjects, and ahead in others, and right where they should be in most. So what? How much did you benefit from learning some of the information you were taught? What sticks out in your mind? How much of it did you totally forget? Your children will learn what they need to know when they need to know it.
If you are in the middle of this occurrence, or if this has ever happened to you, I implore you, take a few deep breaths… no seriously, right now… in… out… in… out.
Now, relax. In the grand scheme of things how much does it matter? So what if people think <insert mindless seeds of doubt here> ? Those people will find fault with you just because you’re not marching along with the piper, anyway. Your children are learning exactly what they need to know when they need to know it. Don’t let the “world” set your standards. Yes, ours should be higher, but not in the way you might think.
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.” The most important things you could ever teach your children can not be found in any textbook, or any list of scope and sequence. ;-)
Change your perception of home”school” to home “education” and what that really means.
Here is an example; The moment I shed some of my “school” mode of thinking occurred when I was in first grade with my oldest, (I say that because I truly believe I am re-learning this material right along with my children) I had been teaching her from a textbook about weather. (and I must insert here, that I am NOT anti-textbooks) We had been talking about storms and the information was just not very interesting to her, but she learned it well enough to pass the chapter test, and then forgot all about it the next week. So, one night it stormed and she was afraid. I let her stay up late and I taught her all about thunderstorms right then and there with no book in hand, just the real deal. She will never forget that. THAT is homeschooling at it’s finest! It’s sharing moments, while learning and creating memories.
What’s better? Drilling information into kids so they can pass a test and then out the window goes the information, or allowing them the opportunity to slow down a bit and experience the information through books, computer games, DVDs, crafts, or life experiences in such a way that they will never forget the memories built?
Sometimes it’s just about thinking outside of the box. I will sometimes sing anything from math equations to Bible memory verses opera style or rap style because it cracks them up, and they are more likely to remember the info that way than if I’m sounding like Charlie Browns teacher.
So, if you are behind or going through a major life changing event, cut yourself some slack. Don’t think of it as behind, it’s just still on the list of things yet to learn. Discover new ways to teach what really matters most, and relax and enjoy having your children at home. So what if they don’t learn those times tables ’till next year, they WILL learn, and it won’t matter when, in the grand scheme of things. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Your children will know exactly what they need to know exactly when they need to know it.
There, now don’t you feel a little better? Whew, I sure do.
Melanie Antonacci has been homeschooling her five children for the past ten years. She works from home as an Independant Consultant for Usborne Books and enjoys teaching American Sign Language at a local Homeschool Co-op. Visit her website to learn more.