I mentioned a few weeks back that the pace of the A Beka books we were using seemed to suddenly switch to turbo speed. We’ve been clipping along at such a pleasant pace, and then quite unexpectedly my son and I have found ourselves holding on for dear life.
Phonics: covering 2-3 new sounds each week, plus continuing to learn to read two-vowel words
Numbers: adding 10 new flashcards every three lessons, adding a new addition family, plus skip counting
Thank goodness we had already tackled skip counting by tens, or I’d really feel lost right now. We’ve tried our best, and my son has worked really hard. But in spite of it all, he made a C for the first time on a graded sheet, which merely told me what my gut has been telling me. We are going too fast.
But that meant that I had a decision to make: slow down and start the year already two weeks behind on the beautiful lesson plans I produced, or continue to allow him to struggle through. After all, he might catch on and get caught back up eventually. And then my mom, having had the experience of homeschooling me, reminded me of the greatest privilege of homeschooling. I don’t have to be controlled by a lesson plan!
Think about it. If you hired a tutor for your child, would that tutor stick rigidly to a lesson plan she had created, or would she work with where your child was having difficulty? The answers obvious, right? Yet, it is sometimes so hard, in the daily grind of home education, to remember this principle—that I am my child’s tutor and that curriculum is merely my tool not my master.
So, we’ve taken these last two weeks of summer completely off (much to my son’s displeasure). For one, we all needed a breather, especially me; and hopefully, the worst of the morning sickness will be over by the time we start back. Second, by starting the year off two weeks behind my planning, I will have officially and dramatically let go of those beautifully typed out plans. There will be no need to force ourselves to “stay on schedule” to the detriment of learning, since we are already “off schedule.”
And I say “off schedule” rather tongue-in-cheek. We are on lesson 110 of a kindergarten curriculum; my son is four. He loves learning, which is why we started in the first place, to capitalize on his desire. Up until this last month, he has absolutely devoured everything we’ve tackled and made 100s on every graded sheet. We’re coming to the end of our two-week break, and every day my son has begged to do school with the statement, “But Mom, I LOVE to read!” We’re hardly behind.
Thus, with everything in perspective, I suppose we’re not starting two weeks behind, but rather one year and 110 lessons ahead. With that in mind, I guess I’ve got some wiggle room, don’t you think? How silly of me to even struggle with the decision—to waste an opportunity to learn (and enjoy it) or to protect a piece of paper with clean lines.
I know this won’t be the last time I struggle with the decision to “let go” of the lesson plans, but I do hope that this moment will be a precedent for me to come back to. I want to remember that learning is not a lesson plan, it’s the joy on my son’s face when he understands what he has discovered.