I had an epiphany this week about homeschooling my first grader. Yes, it is a little sad it came at the beginning of our third month of school, but, hey, better late than never.
I am in a unique position in that I am teaching an elementary school student and a high schooler at the same time. Well, maybe it is not that unique since I know parents who are homeschooling multiple children of various ages. I suppose it just feels unique for me because the majority of people I know (with the exception of one who is teaching five from ages 6 to 15) who are homeschooling are teaching one child or a couple of children around the same age.
My problem was that I was trying to apply the same tactics that I used for teaching my high schooler to how I teach my first grader. While my ninth grader can handle multiple subjects a day and comprehend everything presented into those subjects each day, my first grader is a bit overwhelmed and when she gets overwhelmed, she shuts down and doesn’t want to even try to learn.
She wasn’t brought up in a school setting where a teacher presents several subjects to students a day and expects them to retain all that information. My son was. He was taught to be a little learning soldier, moving forward to the next thing whether he understood what he’d just learned or not. No time for trying to understand. They had a schedule to keep and a goal to reach before the end of the day/week/month/year.
Little Miss is used to more leisurely learning days where she can focus as much time as we feel is needed on each subject, only I wasn’t really doing that. I was making myself a list of at least four subjects that had to be done each day. This left us feeling rushed and scattered. Instead of lingering on a concept she might not have been grasping as quickly as others, there was a clock ticking in my head that said her work had to be done within a certain time frame so we couldn’t dilly-dally on place value, for example. In my mind, if she didn’t grasp the concept in the time frame we had, well, too bad. We’d address it again the next day because I still had Reading/English and Science to do.
This week, though, I abandoned the traditional idea of school and decided to focus on only two subjects a day for Little Miss. Two main subjects and an extracurricular on some days, plus Bible every other day.
We are homeschooling for a myriad of reasons and one of those reasons is the luxury it gives us to take our time to learn. Unfortunately, I wasn’t taking that time or recognizing the benefit of homeschooling very well. I was trying to make homeschooling like traditional schooling and doing that negates the entire point of homeschooling.
So, for now, I am going to do Math and Reading, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The lessons I have for those right now are short and to the point, so we are doing two lessons on those days. The math lessons are a little more time-consuming and now we can take time on them and give Little Miss the time she needs to be a bit of a goof while she figures out whatever concept she is learning that day.
I might decide we need to do one of those every day so I will see. The great thing about homeschooling is I can change our schedule as needed.
For now, I am going to do science and history on Tuesday and Thursday. Two lessons on science maybe depending on each subject, each of those days, and most likely only one on history on those days.
Art will be Wednesday and Friday or other days if it fits with the other subjects. Then I want to add music in on certain days – maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I am hoping this schedule will help Little Miss stop dreading school days. She knows she has two subjects, Bible and something like art or music each day and that’s it. She can focus better and not feel like her brain is stretched too far. When I mentioned the idea of only two subjects a day, without mentioning why her response confirmed for me this is the right move.
“Oh, good because when we do all those subjects, I can’t keep all of that stuff in my brain.”
Here is to hoping she can keep more stuff in her brain with less of it being poured in each day.