A little over six years ago, I brought three little girls home to educate. We were leaving a school system that I felt was failing them and heading into grand dreams of our new homeschooling adventure. I had two third graders and a sixth grader, all of whom were bright, pleasant children. This was going to be so much fun, and I had it all planned out. There would be a lot of arts and crafts that tied in seamlessly with history and science. Math would be hands on and exciting. We would read great literature, study the Bible thoroughly, and write beautiful prose. With all of this one-on-one attention, the girls would sail ahead of their public school peers. It was going to be awesome.
Then reality set in.
We discovered how much the girls were just skating through public school without actually learning much. My A/B Honor Roll sixth grader couldn’t do fifth grade math. One of my third graders knew how to multiply, while the other had never even done it. We had some catching up to do.
They were also used to being the best in their class, and never having to work hard at anything in school. Suddenly the work was harder, and their classmates were just as smart as they were. It was a blow to their egos, and it unsettled their self-esteem.
My beautifully planned-out curriculum was not going well, either. I had chosen the Weaver Curriculum for its dedication to learning through the Bible, multi-grade flexibility, and for all of the hands-on work it offered. Little did I know that the prep work required to implement this was going to wear me out and my older child didn’t really appreciate doing the same work as her baby sisters.
There were tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth. From the kids, too.
So, two months into it, we threw in the towel on Weaver. Reality had hit and it looked nothing like my pipe dreams. I looked closely at the girls’ learning styles and their gaps. We ended up going with Sonlight because it was literature rich and Christian based. It also gave us the flexibility to customize the work to fit the needs of the child.
Over the years, I found that being flexible is what worked best with my children. There is no one curriculum that will fit the entire spectrum of their needs. While boxed curriculum is a great starting point, eventually it was crucial for us to break out of the box and fill our needs with bits and pieces from other sources. I also had to let go of my own ideas of what was fun or interesting. For example, my kids never embraced the whole notebooking thing like I hoped they would. I had to accept that, and be willing to drop that from our plans.
Eventually we outgrew Sonlight, but it had held my hand through a few years of learning to plan lessons and to make sure all the basics were covered. Now, in their high school years, I am able to pick and choose freely among the myriad of curriculum choices to make sure each child’s needs are met with the minimum amount of angst.
But in the end, that is the beauty of homeschooling. We aren’t marching to the same deadlines and rules to which the school system must conform. Our kids reap the benefits of a truly customized education.
Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart. She lives out in the country with her husband and her daughters (13 year old twins and a 16 year old). After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool. When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were 3rd and 6th grades. Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.