I have 5 children (YES!!!, at last!). My older two are aged 9 and 11. Two more different young ladies would be hard to find! Both display strong leadership skills and don't appreciate the traditional teacher-student approach. The oldest is a structured, routine-orientated type. The other one is laid-back, go-with-the-flow, do-what-you-feel, and for goodness sake don't plan to much ahead! I am in between, but certainly more towards the unstructured side.
How does one work with such diversity?! Thank goodness for homeschooling - here is the most marvellous opportunity to develop the strengths and challenge the weaknesses in us all...
What is working for us at the moment is the following:
I have a time block in the day that is reserved for group-work, in which I am the leader of the activity (as in, ''Don't argue with me; just do what I have decided!!!'' This time is used for Devotions, Read-alouds (fiction and non-fiction), discussions, and activities like Art/Crafts.
In addition each child does 1 hour of Maths, during which time I am available to assist whoever needs me. The older 2 children then have what we call Independant Tasks. The oldest must complete 25 tasks in a week; the younger 15. Time allocation for a task is 20-30 minutes. In consultation with the girls I have created a list of what these tasks are. They include things like: Supplimentary Maths exercises, Spelling revision, Creative Writing, Typing practies, French vocabulary, Music theory, Reading 1 chapter from a non-fiction book followed by a written/spoken narration etc etc. So much for the structured side.
Within this framework they get to choose and decide what and how they will learn. The tasks must be completed in a week. However, they may do these tasks in any way they see fit. As in, if they want to work flat out and do everything at once and have the rest of the week for loafing around, so be it. They can choose which task they feel like doing on a particular day too. This works well for both. The oldest has drawn up a weekly timetable of what she will do on what day, and she sticks to it rigidly!!! The younger one goes with the flow, enjoying the freedom to choose within the boundaries created for her. I am happy too, because I have peace of mind that while I am busy with my ''littlies'', the older girls are not sitting around wondering what to do........(not that they ever do sit around wondering what to do, but you know what I mean!!!) This approach also frees me to be unstructured without incurring the frustrated wrath of my oldest (we did have problems here earlier in the year...)
Anyway, one thing I have learnt in homeschooling is that what is working today does not necessarily work next week - as the family grows and changes, so too does the homeschooling approach!!! But maybe here are a couple of ideas that you can adapt as needed.
By the way, if you have children who are not yet reading, the tasks idea can still be used, if you use a picture to represent the activity required.
PS: I would never say that it is ''bad'' to be scheduled. Neither would I say that it is ''bad'' to be unscheduled. What is ''bad'' is when a child is forced into a mould that is not his/hers. So the challenge in all aspects of parenting, including homeschooling, is to find out who the child is, and to accept that person, and to help him/her grow in strengths and challenge the weaknesses, and develop godly character, within the framework of who God has created that person to be...
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