Why Homeschooling Works Pt. 3: Individualized Pacing
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Sitting at my kitchen table, I listened to my friend share about the challenges her son was having with his fifth-grade math class. The school had opted for a new curriculum the previous year and Brandon* had struggled to learn his assignments. The school had obviously already noticed a problem because they were returning to a traditional math curriculum in subsequent years, but until then, Brandon was on his own.
“It’s not the same method we learned in school,” she said. “He doesn’t understand it; I don’t even understand it. So I can’t help him.”
“What does his book say?” I asked.
“He doesn’t have a book. He has a packet of worksheets that he has to finish throughout the year. He’s supposed to take notes in class, but he doesn’t understand what’s being taught well enough to take good notes.”
Then she said something that saddened me. “It’s affecting his self-esteem,” she said. “He thinks he dumb.”
My friend was facing a situation that can easily be avoided in the homeschool setting. When a homeschooled child struggles with material, the parent has the option of changing curriculum—even mid-year—or taking extra time for her child to learn the material.
In this situation, a whole new approach may be the best choice, but there is the option of taking a slower pace. It’s one of the beauties of homeschooling: You, as the parent, set the pace.
Math is a great example of a subject that may require extra practice. How many students are under the impression that they are “bad at math” when, in fact, they may simply have missed learning the steps needed for more difficult computations? Instead, they received a passing grade and moved on to the next grade or lesson while barely understanding the previous material. Before long their work became riddled with mistakes, convincing them that they just didn’t get it. The homeschool student can avoid this because they can take the time to master the material at each stage.
By the same token, the sky’s the limit with a student who excels at a subject. A child who grasps a subject’s concepts quickly needn’t be bogged down with repetitive practice. A student who readily masters math concepts can move more quickly through the material, preventing boredom and frustration from setting in.
Traditional schools teach the same curriculum to students in a particular grade level. If a child is a second grader, he will complete second grade curriculum for all subjects. Of course, children have different strengths. Some eight-year-olds indeed work at a second-grade level for all subjects. Others naturally understand one subject and should work at a higher level. Still others need additional time or to work at a lower level.
Reading, for example, sometimes comes to girls more quickly than to boys. Giving your daughter the opportunity to read early and your son the option of reading when he is ready—possibly a year or two after your daughter—encourages confidence in both children. Neither is saddled with a label like “gifted” or “slow.” They are simply working at their own pace.
Allowing students to work at their own pace makes for successful students, satisfied parents and an overall positive educational experience. Next time, I’ll discuss another reason for homeschooling’s success: Tailoring Curriculum. Be sure to stop back by.
*Names have been changed.
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- What is Homeschooling? Part 3
- What is Homeschooling? Part 2
- What is Homeschooling? Part 1
- How to Answer the Question, “Why Can’t I Go to School?”
- 9 Good Reasons NOT to Homeschool, Part 2
- 9 Good Reasons NOT to Homeschool, Part 1
- 10 Good Reasons to Homeschool, Part 2
- 10 Good Reasons to Homeschool, Part 1
- Why Families Homeschool?