Families are drawn to homeschooling for various reasons. For some, it's a better academic fit, or a safe environment, or more in line with the family's values. Homeschooling allows for a truly customized education, and that allows flexibility to change approaches any time throughout the year as needed.
This mom shares her story about what she did when the materials she painstakingly selected at the beginning of the year were not working for her children by winter.
This homeschool year started like any other for us. The kids were looking forward to diving back into their education but understandably disappointed that the summer was coming to an end. I had spent months planning out our educational year and getting new curriculum. As with every year up to this point, I found myself yet again searching for the math program that would work for us. As we know not every child learns the same way or at the same rate. My 10 and 11 year olds have learning differences of their own. Year after year we would start a new math curriculum and year after year it would start out, okay. However, every year about three months into our schooling we would find the format either wasn’t working for the kids, or I myself just wasn’t a fan of the program progression. This is also the year that our 4 year old expressed interest in beginning her own homeschool journey. So, for the first time I had prepared myself to teach all 3 of them at very different levels. Regardless, I was organized! I felt ready and confident that this year was going to progress without a hitch!
The first day of our 2019/2020 homeschool year arrived. The kids and I went about our morning farm chores, had breakfast, and then sat down at the table. My kids are always excited to pull out their new binders and supplies and finally be able to put them to good use. We flew through the work I had planned for us! They were happy and eager to continue the next day. This pattern continued right through October. When November rolled around and we were still zipping through most of our subjects. We had even added in a few different electives on top of an already very busy athletic schedule and biweekly Dyslexia Center classes. Things were running smoothly, except for math. I had noticed we were not getting through the work I had hoped to. The kids were not looking forward to the math component of their learning as they did the other subjects.
By the time the holidays rolled around math time was being met with some strong resistance. The moans, groans and constant complaining that they didn’t want to do it were feelings I was starting to silently share with my children. I had presented this program from every angle I could think of. I, myself, excelled in math at school. But no matter what I did, they didn’t “get” it.
We were reaching a point where math was becoming such a sore spot that both of them were shutting down when math class rolled around. The breaking point came when I would ask very basic questions and my 10 year old would just start anxiously shouting out random numbers in hopes he would get the answer so we could move on, and my 11 year old was frustrated to tears. That was it. This program wasn’t working. These are children who consistently test above graded level despite their struggles with dyslexia and this program was ruining any love for math they had.
I started researching, I started talking to people. I was getting so many opinions on the best program or the best approach. Everything from different homeschool curriculums to enrolling them in an online charter school for math class. One program in particular, Teaching Textbooks, was mentioned several times. In fact, my best friend was actually using it with her daughter. I asked to come over and take a look at it. I looked it up online. I checked out the content in the 6th grade level as well as the 5th grade level. I noticed some overlap in the content we had currently been doing at 6th grade level and this new program’s 5th grade level. I decided if we made this switch, I was going back a grade level. I loved the format of the book, the way the lessons progressed while at the same time constantly working on previously learned skills for retention. It seemed to be just what we needed! Many who deal with dyslexia know that retention can be an area of difficulty. My selling point was hearing the children we know who use the program say “I love it!”.
I ordered the program. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my children were not looking forward to this new program after the experience with math so far this year. I reassured them that this was very different and I really thought they would enjoy it.
I waited for our new books to arrive like a child waiting for Santa. I took a day to review the content. Then the time had arrived, I sat the kids down and said ok we are going to start our new program! My excitement was met with eye rolls and sighs. I handed them their materials and we dove right in. Within minutes their attitudes were noticeably changing. They were understanding the way the information was being presented. They were eager to answer questions and regaining their confidence. They didn’t want to stop! They completed four lessons in the first day! My daughter handed me her paper to check and said “I’m confident. I love this.”. This is the same little girl who not long before was in tears and overwhelmed at the mention of math. My son was smiling and we sailed through these math lessons free of stress or tears.
The next morning, we had finished up our barn chores and were heading back into the house. My daughter turned to me and asked “Can we do math first?”. This was it! This is what we have been looking for. The program that was right for us. The relief I felt hearing those words as their mom and teacher is indescribable. This is what it is all about. This is the absolute joy of homeschooling! No, it is not always smooth sailing. But we have the chance to say “This isn’t working.”, and find an option that will. If you ever see your child struggling or feel yourself struggling never hesitate to seek out the option that will. No matter if it is the beginning, middle or end of your school year, it is never a bad time to stop doing something that doesn’t work for your family.
By Nicole LeVasseur