Adjusting Educational Approaches

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Image: Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Many of us at GeekMom homeschool our kids, for a variety of reasons. I’ve homeschooled my kids from the start. My daughter just finished up fifth grade, and my son, second grade. Each of them has gotten a slightly different educational experience, due to available materials, my choices, and their strengths and weaknesses. Every year, usually in the spring, I start thinking about how to approach homeschooling for the fall. I make a list of materials to reuse, materials to buy, and websites and other resources to include. I think about how to approach the year, and how to structure our school time. And as my kids get older and life gets busier, I require more independence and personal responsibility from my kids.

When we started homeschooling, I would sit down with my daughter and together we would do all the subjects we needed to cover, in the order I chose. Once my son got started with school, I had to work much more flexibility into the schedule, since sometimes one kid had to work independently while the other was receiving instruction. Then, when my kids were in fourth and first grade, I started giving them some additional control over their day. On the weekends, I would gather all the materials for that week. Then I would put each day’s material in a separate bin and my kids could organize their work each day. This sometimes caused problems when both kids needed my help at the same time, but we worked around it.

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George Washington. Image: Public Domain.

This past school year, I gave my kids a lot more freedom to organize their time. I still gathered the week’s material on the weekend, but I let them choose what to do each day, guiding them in spreading out the work so they didn’t end up with too much on Friday. I encouraged them to get most of their work done before Friday, so as to have a light day before the weekend, though this wasn’t always successful. Still, they fell into patterns regarding what days they worked on certain subjects, and they held themselves to their own goals.

To build on these gradual steps of self-guidance and responsibility, next school year I am hoping to make some more significant changes to our homeschool plans. Just like in the past couple of years where I have expanded the time frame within which my kids have control over their schedule, next year I hope to divide the school year into four quarters and involve my kids more closely in setting goals for each quarter. I will then help them break those goals into smaller chunks so they can set shorter term goals as well. I am also going to use what I have learned about my kids’ learning styles and interests to choose materials and resources, finding those that will provide the necessarily information and skill development, and also engage them and their growing minds.

As with every year, I will be winging it a bit, trying things to see what works and what doesn’t. But the evolving homeschool education experience that my kids are receiving is helping them adapt to change, and also is customized to their interests and abilities every year.

For our homeschooling, sometimes I teach them, sometimes they teach themselves, and sometimes they explore an interest on their own. And if my kids can finish school knowing what they enjoy, knowing what they excel in, thinking for themselves in a critical way, and being driven to reach their own personal goals, I feel that I will have done my job.

For those of you who homeschool in one form or another, how have you adapted your kids’ education over the years?

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.