One of the great advantages of homeschooling has been our ability to change what we’re doing based on how our children have changed.
My middle daughter, who is now six, has a mind of her own. She’s stubborn, knows what she wants (and what she doesn’t), and incredibly smart. What this means – she hasn’t easily gone along what with what she’s told without a really good explanation on why she should comply. She also says “why” a lot.
But here’s the thing – she is changing. At four, five, and even early six, I tried to sign her up for classes, offer her piano lessons, do all the things we offered her older brother at the same age, and more. We tried everything we could, but she just wasn’t interested.
Not interested in classes, not interested in workbooks, not interested in puzzles or chapter books or any of the things our older one gobbled up.
I resigned myself to letting her define her own reality, and go in her own way. She was (and is) still so young. She has time to ease into life.
Well, these past few weeks, she’s suddenly taken an interest in writing (something she would avoid, in particular the letters g, r and s, and the number 9), she’s been reading day and night and she’s voluntarily taking yoga, ice skating and art.
This is not the daughter who lived in our house even six months ago. She’s changing, growing, becoming more comfortable in her skin. Problems that she might have had before with responding to authority, going along with the group, doing schoolwork, writing are irrelevant now. We can stop on a dime and change course because now she’s ready.
There’s room for this in schools too of course, but it takes longer. It also takes longer to shake a stigma that’s been applied due to past behavior. In compulsory school, it’s difficult to live down past behavior and create a new image of one’s self, and to find ways to meet new needs that develop from change.
This can happen with past achievements as well.
If one of our children is doing really “well” in a subject, then suddenly slows down significantly in that area, or becomes turned off even by it – we can take a break, change gears or just, slow down. There is no continued pressure of an “advanced” class, or any risk of disappointing a teacher.
Homeschooling is infinitely flexible. The kids can accelerate at an amazing speed, then, back off and work on something else, or even, change. Change focus, change abilities, change purpose, change anything – and it’s OK. We’re not locked into any one track, or a school year with expectations. A child who is struggling with reading, for example.. and suddenly “gets it”, everything clicks, he can go right along and zoom forward, as far as he wants. He doesn’t have to wait to be transfered to a more advanced class, ask for special work from the teacher or hang out in a class that is no longer appropriate. A child who has zoomed through book after book, and has “proven” he knows how to read books grades ahead, then suddenly wants to just hang there for a while, and keep reading at that level for a little while, while working on other skills, can do so, knowing that whenever he’s ready, he can pick up where he left off, and push ahead some more later.
Kids change, people change, and it’s OK. And sometimes, these changes happen literally overnight. Especially in very young children who are learning so much, so fast. It’s akin to how children have growing spurts, and grow an inch overnight. Then, for months don’t grow at all. Just like we can get the kids new clothes as soon as they need them, in homeschooling, we can accommodate a developmental growing spurt in the same way.
The struggles we used to have with our middle one, are almost all but gone. And the fears and worries we had when she was little seem so far away. The same worries we used to go around and around about – what do we do about her not listening to teachers? what do we do about her closing up? what do we do about her not having any interest in in anything to do with the workbooks we all enjoy so much?
Waiting. And accommodating. And giving love, support and trust. That’s what we did. And it worked. By not trying to “fix” her, she’s maturing on her own. And I love the girl she’s growing into. She’s going to do great things in her life. I have always felt that way. But seeing how she’s changing – how all the kids are changing – I am more confident in saying it, because I know it’s true.