Homeschool: Standards are Good. Flexibility is Key.

Chronic illness. Professional obligations. Faith. Safety. These are just a few reasons parents homeschool their children. Some families travel or move a lot, so homeschool

close up of woman working

makes more sense than irregular attendance or constantly changing schools. Many students don’t thrive in a traditional school setting. Other children are prodigiously talented and need unusual amounts of time to steward their gifts.

Whatever the reason for their school choice, all homeschooling parents enjoy one common benefit — flexibility. And it’s not just a perk. It’s key to maximizing the potential of homeschool. We structure our days, weeks, and months in a way that works best for our entire family and for individual members.

The teen who needs two years to complete Algebra can work at a slower pace. A child who devours mathematics like candy can finish a complete grade level of math in one semester and happily move on instead of dragging it out over an entire year.

Last week, my eight year-old began and completed her cursive writing work book in two days. The workbook that was supposed to take her a couple of months of daily practices to finish. The next day she neatly wrote a letter to her aunt. In cursive. On college-ruled notebook paper.

Then there’s my fourteen year-old son who just this past week finally managed to write (in print) a legible letter to his grandfather in one try. And for the first time, reading his letter did not require a magnifying glass. In fact, the only thing he had to rewrite this time was the word “readable”. (Because it wasn’t.)

Goals help keep us on track, but sometimes we adjust expectations to accommodate our individual children.

When I first taught him handwriting, I assumed he’d stroll through the practices like his older sister. Patient. Meticulous. Neat. But he struggled with handwriting from the beginning, even as he leapt ahead two grades  in math. So I scrapped the plans that had worked for one child and simply required that he learn to sign his name in cursive and that his print be legible. Good enough.

Every school year we alter our plans multiple times: we slow down; speed up; double back; skip; rearrange schedules. Goals help keep us on track, but sometimes we adjust expectations to accommodate our individual children. Plans and standards are important. Flexibility is crucial.

Last month one of my children told me that Pakistan is in South America. (Not the same child who once told me that Toronto was her favorite U.S. city.) A younger child continues to refer to Africa as a country.

No problem. We’ll make time for reteaching in geography. I know at least one child has space available in her schedule.

K. Ashby

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