At age five, I can remember going downstairs into the family room and playing Hooked on Phonics on the record player. I would sit and read those books for hours. At six I would come home from school and read books to my imaginary class. I did that for years. From the very beginning, I loved to learn and to read. I always assumed that my daughter would be just like me. We would read books together, she would be an early reader, and be reading above grade level in no time. The reality is I couldn’t be more wrong!
When my daughter was three years old, she wanted so badly to read. I was excited and proud that my love of reading had worn off so early! But that’s where it stopped. She wasn’t ready to read for quite some time. It took a lot of patience and experimenting with methods to find one that worked for her. And then it was a lot time waiting for her to be ready. When she was finally ready to read real books on her own, she didn’t like my suggestions. It took my husband’s idea of graphic novels for me to finally see what I wasn’t seeing before. My daughter is far more like my husband, than like me. She loves the graphic novels! She has read it three times in as many weeks, which is a huge accomplishment for her.
Even though I am a professional teacher, and I explain this to parents all the time, I hadn’t experienced it for myself yet. As parents we always have expectations, hopes, and ideas about what our kids will be like. Sometimes these expectations cause us to be blind to what our kids are showing us. Maybe I’m the only one that does this, but I have a feeling I’m not! It is easy to teach in the way that we learn, and teach subjects that interest us. But what do we do when our child learns in a different way, and doesn’t share our interests?
It took me some time, but I came around to giving up expecting my daughter to be just like me. We still share interests, but homeschooling her is quite different than I imagined it would be. She doesn’t innately love school the way I did, and her favorite subjects are the ones I struggled with the most. Math is her best subject. She loves the math program we are using (Right Start Math), and often we do 2-3 lessons per day. On the flip side, reading has to be taken slowly and without pressure. Finding books she loves to read is imperative, but also difficult! Knowing her learning style, her interests, and how much time we can spend on each subjects has helped me create a program that is working very well for her.
Getting to the place of an effective program took letting go of my preconceived ideas, and letting my daughter be herself. If you find yourself struggling to work well together on a subject, consider whether you are holding onto an expectation or assumption that your child simply doesn’t fit into. You might need to consider a different curriculum altogether. You may need to adjust the amount of time you spend on one activity or subject. It could be that you are expecting them to perform at a higher level than they are ready for. Be willing to try new approaches, back up a little bit, or change topics altogether! Maybe history doesn’t interest your child much, but they are really into computers. Study the history of computers and the inventors that lead the way to modern day computers. Shifting focus, even just a little bit can drastically improve learning.
Let go of some of the control you want to feel, and let your child be in control of the learning process a little more. You will find that you both enjoy homeschooling that much more. You never know what you may learn from your child in the process! I know more about DC comics than I ever did before, and my daughter is discovering the joy of reading.