Hey homeschoolers! Today's show title is Why You Don't Necessarily Have to Do More. I see homeschool mamas stressed and struggling because they think they have to do more and I hope to put your mind at ease today.
LISTEN HERE or enjoy the transcript below.
But first, I'd like to invite you buy my book, So You're Not Wonder Woman. In it, I share my inability to lose weight, get organized, and have healthy relationships through psychology. Only God was able to transform me into the Wonder Woman He created me to be. I hope you'll be inspired when you read it like one reader who hauled out six garbage bags of stuff in one day. You can find So You're Not Wonder Woman on Amazon.
Teaching Tip of the Week
AllinOneHomeschool.com. If you need a free curriculum that is child-directed and doesn't ask for more than is required, I think you'll love it. It's a Christian curriculum taught through free resources available online. You could find these yourself, but the lessons planning has been done for you. While You can use it as a complete curriculum, you can also use it for specific subjects. And yes, there is free curriculum available for high school too.
The Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week
Why You Don't Have to Do More
Now for this week's topic. Of course I don't know what you're actually doing. If you aren't giving your kids an adequate education, you may need to do more. But most homeschool teachers take on too much, not too little. They're stretched to the breaking point and they wonder if they can keep homeschooling. If that's you, I want to give you three reasons you don't have to do more.
First, you don't have to do more to keep up with other homeschoolers. I loved a recent article by Sarah Mackenzie called Why I'm No Homeschool Superstar. Sarah says she doesn't do the glue and glitter thing even though Pinterest moms make it look like so much fun. There's something about glue and glitter that makes my skin crawl. Even if everyone you know is doing crafts, has a foreign language tutor, or has her kids in five different activities, you don't have to!
I've already clued you in to how I feel about crafts, but you should know I've been a failure at foreign language, too. Despite that, my son taught himself Spanish because he was super motivated. I hope to interview him for a future podcast because of the approach he used to become fluent quickly. Note that his language skills didn't require me doing more. When I had babies and toddlers, I had the older kids in very few activities. I stayed home most of the time because it was just too hard on me. But my kids have never complained and they're very active today.
You also don't have to do more to keep up with other people because they're probably not doing everything they say they are. I've seen read-aloud lists for homeschool families online and I know there is no way they could read all those books out loud and do everything else. Here's reality. I read five books aloud for school that go with our history curriculum. I usually read just one chapter a day unless the kids beg for more. I also ask the kids to read just five books a year each in addition to any leisure reading they want to do. Can you believe it?
Even if people you're comparing yourself to really are doing everything they say they are, know that they probably don't have a lifestyle you want. They have to be short-changing areas that you wouldn't dream of neglecting, like sleep, for example. I homeschool to have freedom, not to be enslaved to keeping up with homeschool superstars. We are free not to do more because trying to keep up just isn't worth it.
The second reason you don't have to do more is to compensate. Some homeschool moms feel they are inadequate in a subject or two. One tendency is to give their child the most challenging curriculum they can find in that subject to be sure that he doesn't fall behind like she did. The problem with that approach is twofold. First, your insecurity about the subject will be magnified because you still won't understand it using a tough curriculum. And second, your child will hate the subject because challenging curriculum is often as boring as it is hard.
Instead of choosing the toughest program, choose one that makes sense to you, that can teach you the material. Your enthusiasm will be communicated to your child, who will probably learn to love the subject.
Another way that homeschool moms tend to compensate is if they work. I did a podcast episode on working and homeschooling. If mom can't be with the kids some days and someone else is teaching them who can't run them to activities, mom will sometimes use her days off to play taxi. What most kids want more than lots of outside activities is time with mom–especially time with mom when she's relaxed and happy. You don't have to compensate your kids with more activities and you don't have to compensate for your weakness in a subject with a really tough curriculum.
The third reason you don't have to do more is because it isn't required for your child to succeed. This reason incorporates the first two. We may think because we see other families using two math curricula or doing Latin and spelling and computer programming, that we to too. We may think that because we didn't do well in a subject that we have to have our child do every single lesson in the book.
The third reason you don't have to do more is to help your child succeed. Whatever your reason for connecting more work with more success, you should question it. First, a disclaimer. There are facts and skills that must be mastered. They require lots of practice so they become automatic. Math facts and problem-solving and handwriting are examples of these skills. But once a student has mastered a concept, more work will not give them more success. In fact, more work will likely make them dislike a subject.
Most curricula include many more exercises than are required for most students to achieve mastery. These exercises are included to help students who need more practice. However, a student who isn't understanding a concept in the first 20 exercises won't understand it with another 20. The student needs to be taught in a different way to master the material. The other reason many exercises are included is to be time-consuming so the teacher can do other things. That's helpful for classroom teachers, but homeschoolers shouldn't need that. If your child finishes early, there are so many things she can do to indulge her own interests. This is when an unschooling approach is useful for any child. Requiring her to do exercises that aren't teaching her anything can discourage her.
I have often had my kids do half the exercises in a book. With older, mature students I have had them do as many exercises as they feel they need to master a subject with good results. I also choose curriculum like Life of Fred that doesn't drill and kill. I don't add supplementary curriculum to it and my two sons who have taken the ACT haven't had difficulty with the math section.
I often strip down curriculum to its bones. For example, I don't use the whole English from the Roots Up curriculum. I just use the flashcards. I also don't teach Latin, preferring instead to teach Latin word roots through the cards. I don't do the activities for Mystery of History. I don't use a separate vocabulary and spelling curriculum. I hope you're not horrified. My oldest sons are getting A's in their college coursework, so I couldn't have messed up too terribly. I don't tell you what I'm doing to prescribe what you should do in your homeschools. We all have a different approach and different learning needs to teach to. But I do recommend that you determine the most effective curricula and the most vital parts of them for your family and do less, not more.
Doing less allows you to keep your kids excited about learning, gives you margin in your day, and makes room for your children to explore their own interests.
Periscope Viewer's Tips
Jessica @janegirl The priority is church right now; maybe sports later manyhandsmom.wordpress.com
@LL_AtHeart Linda Leigh says her kids are 6 and 2. She isn't doing many field trips until her kids are older.
@Ohimesama09 Sarita said her son was having a hard time reading, so she set everything else aside to help him with it and build his confidence.
January @zombiefiedmombrains We abandoned parts of our curriculum and spread out the work over the summer.
@LaraMarriott agrees on the need to cut back on activities too.
This Week's Action Steps
Pray about why you feel the need to do more. Talk to a veteran homeschool mom whose homeschooling and lifestyle you admire and ask her what she thinks of your plan. If she suggests you do less, give it a try and see how you and your children respond. If you're happy with the changes, let me know! I'd love to hear about it at psychowith6 @ gmail.com or comment here.
I'll interview my oldest son about homeschooling, public school, and college. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you don't miss it.
Have a happy homeschool week!