One of my very favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to tailor our methods and materials to fit our children’s unique needs and interests. My children aren’t forced to sit in a classroom for hours on end using books and materials that might not appeal to them at all. And if they come upon a subject of great interest, they are free to spend time finding more information about it and doing a much more in-depth study than what was originally planned. If our children are interested in music, we can allow them extra time to practice piano or guitar. If they enjoy people, we can help them find pen pals or allow them to help older folks who might need help with house- or yard-work. If they are early risers and enjoy doing school in the mornings, that’s ok. If they prefer to do their work later on in the day, that will work just fine. In other words, we can be flexible and adaptable.
One thing that it’s hard for us homeschooling moms to avoid doing is comparing ourselves and our homeschools with everyone else and their homeschools. But we really should try not to do that! If we do, then we are pretty much ignoring one of the very best things about homeschooling! It’s ok if another mom comes up with wonderful arts & crafts ideas along with theme-related snacks. And it’s ok if my kiddos almost never do arts & crafts and eat whatever snack happens to be handy that day. It’s fine if another family has a beautiful homeschool room, but my kids use whatever couch or bean bag is handy throughout the house. It shouldn’t matter to me if little Johnny is quoting Shakespeare at age 5 and doing calculus by 3rd grade even if my child didn’t start doing formal math until 3rd grade because she just didn’t “get it.”
Those things used to bother me. A lot. Thankfully, though, after 15 years of homeschooling, I’ve learned a few lessons myself! I used to almost feel guilty for using textbooks and workbooks with my children instead of coming up with elaborate unit studies and hands-on activities. I felt like I wasn’t making school enough fun. I thought I was short-changing my children and leaving them at a disadvantage as compared to other homeschoolers who had so much fun doing school! But I have a good reason for not doing unit studies and lots of hands-on activities. My children don’t really enjoy those things! They are more interested in doing their school work and getting it done so they can have plenty of time in the afternoons to explore their own interests independently. (Of course they know I’m there to provide help and guidance as needed.) They don’t want to do unit studies and eat theme-related snacks. They don’t want to do arts & crafts activities as part of school. They love those things, but they want to explore them during their free time so they can take as long as they want and really get into it!
I used to try to get my children to enjoy those kinds of things as part of the school day because, honestly, I enjoy those things and would have liked incorporating them into our school days. I know many children who absolutely love creative activities and who learn a lot from doing them while having fun at the same time. But I eventually had to face it. My kids just weren’t cut out for that.
What I’m saying is that it’s ok if your child’s learning style isn’t like everyone else’s. It doesn’t matter if your child prefers textbooks or if he prefers unit studies. It doesn’t matter where she does school–whether in a beautiful room set aside just for school or whether in a rocking chair on the front porch. It’s fine if he enjoys reading lots of “living books” as part of school or if he prefers to read more outside of school. Don’t feel guilty or allow yourself to compare your school to everyone else’s. If you do that, you’re missing out on one of the very best things about homeschooling! For your own sake and the sake of your children, give yourself permission to do what’s best for your own family. Choose to be different if you need to. We are unique individuals. And that’s ok. Go with it. 🙂
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