Posted from the Sentinel Archives. Originally posted February 7, 2005
One of the benefits and blessings of homeschooling is the opportunity to meet the needs of each of our children. The opportunity to teach the whole child, according to his or her individual God-given gifts is a great responsibility. The rewards are equally as great.
One of the tragedies of mass education is that the needs of the individual child have been abandoned for the sake of the curriculum. The public school's need to teach on a set time frame (whether the child understands the material or not), and teaching to achieve test results for increased funding are poor reasons to demand that a child "get through" the material.
Don't make that same mistake in your home, when you have the opportunity to evaluate the needs of each child, take the time to see how your son learns, and understand what motivates your daughter, what brings a sparkle to his eyes and what subjects totally frustrate her. Once we understand these things, we can do something to truly improve our child's learning.
The struggle to find the perfect curriculum is constant! The "perfect" curriculum changes for each child and season of life. Remember, what works today may not work tomorrow - it will change. Life (and homeschooling) is like a smorgasbord, sometimes you feel like eating mashed potatoes and gravy, another time fried potatoes. They all nourish the body. It's OK to be flexible in making your choices.
There is great wisdom in finding a basic curriculum that helps you make sure you have covered the basics. The joy of using a basic curriculum is that you don't have to change your educational philosophy to meet the ideas presented by each author. Taking what works for each individual child from a variety of sources, and adjusting for learning styles and multiple age levels can then become a melting pot of blended educational experiences, not a disjointed and confusing adventure.
Learning must carry personal meaning. Only when learning becomes personally satisfying will learning find a lasting place in one's soul. Isn't that our aim for each of our children? Can this be accomplished when we place more emphasis on the curriculum than on the child? I don't believe it can.
Remember -- the curriculum is made for the child-- not the child for the curriculum. Do not be afraid to be flexible to meet your child's needs. Learning is a process for all of us.
If the curriculum you are presently working with pushes your child's "boredom button," put it aside for awhile; move on, you will have time to come back to the subject later. This may be a good time to back up, to catch up on things that were missed before, or to focus on a special interest. And always remember: never, ever teach without the Spirit of the Lord present!