Monday, September 12, 2011

Prioritizing in Homeschool


The topic this week at Three Thinking Mothers is How do you prioritize in homeschool? This was a topic that was kind of hard for me to put into words. When I think of prioritizing, I think of a list of things that Selena just absolutely needs to learn this year, then numbering them in importance. I had to really let go of that idea and dig deep into how do I figure out what we will learn throughout our year in order to answer this question.

I do not place any high expectations on any certain thing that we MUST learn or leave anything on the back burner that we will just wait to learn. I suppose being so much like unschoolers I do not see the need to feel pressure over these things. So what is it that I do, to track our learning achievements and gain a picture of where to go next?

At the end of a school year I outline everything that we did do, the light bulb moments where Selena truly grasped the concept, the activities that proved to be attention getters, and even the things we tried but had little to no success in. In planning for the new year, I set course knowing that we will cover certain subjects every day, right now we are still just one subject a day, but many times find we cover many more then that.

Learning in our home truly takes on a meaning and feel all of its own. I introduce what we will be working on, what direction we will be going in for the year, and then Selena is free to explore all the different ways she can find to learn in those areas. The first couple of weeks often look more like me being the full time teacher, but within the first month or so, Selena starts to discover so many skills that she can build upon or first time discoveries that we both can build upon on her own.

Every evening I sit down and log what was learned or what was covered that day with emphasis placed on did she learn something new or was it more of a review. For the times that she seems to get caught up in the familiarity and doesn’t seem to be moving forward, I step back in and push on to the next level. If I see that she is struggling with “What more can I do in this subject?” we sit down and dwell deep and look for fun games or activities that she can use to move forward.

Since I already know that Selena is well ahead of the game we just want to assure that she is able to take new things with her throughout the year. I don’t sweat the “She didn’t get it moments”, as next year will be a whole new year and a whole new level of maturity, we will just approach it then.

I will be totally honest, there are even times when I haven’t even thought through what we will do the next day. We wake up and knowing it is the day for reading or math, I will just lay the supplies out where Selena can find them and just see what she does for the day. I am always available should she want to dig deeper, and we hit the computer or books to discover more materials we can work on. Selena has no problem waiting for me to search, print, or pull out materials, that she quickly grabs and runs off to begin to work on. I involve her as much as possible in the thought process, the searching, and helping to gather materials we need to satisfy her desires for that day.

Back to the original question, “How do I prioritize in homeschooling?” I guess one could say I don’t.

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  1. Debbie, it sounds like your prioritizing is like mine :) I guess you could say that I'm a guide along for the ride...maybe that's just silly? Anyway, I try my hardest to let our girls lead the way and I back them up. I step in when necessary to provide some direction and support.

  2. You are truly flexible in your approach. I have to say that all my efforts in afterschooling have improved dramatically when I got rid of the schedule and started following more instead of leading.

  3. It sounds like your flexibility is working well!

  4. At Selena's age especially, I really think that's the best way to go.

  5. I enjoyed your post! Learning without pressure...isn't that the way it should be?!? Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. Thanks for linking up.

    I guess I don't look at prioritizing as academic or "what the girls should learn" but rather the priorities for us are honoring their gifts and skills, teaching them balance and how to handle stress, things like that. Although we are not homeschoolers, I value giving my girls ample time to explore their interests OVER any academic expectation. If given the choice between academics and interests, we go with interests.

  7. Oops, apparently I didn't actually write the comment. I swear my brain has been broken recently.

    It's so important to be able to hold onto that "next year is another year" mentality because there's just some days where I forget that, and am ready to throw my hands up in the air.