What to Teach When – Or Not

One of the struggles that homeschooling families face is what exactly are we going to teach this year. When we first started homeschooling I stocked up on those books that outlined what needed to be taught for each grade level. I would also visit our local public-school websites as they often had information about what concepts would be covered for that year. My thought process was that if I could get the kids to know everything per the pre-determined schedule then I must be doing something right.

Well, as you can imagine, trying to cover everything per the outlined information was quite challenging and often times left me with feelings of frustration and failure. How in the world was I going to make sure my kids knew all of this stuff by the end of the school year?

Short answer – it was not going to happen.

Because children are not cookie-cutter learners and each child absorbs and processes information differently, to expect every student to master all the new concepts presented in a specific time frame is clearly unreasonable. Even public schools cannot guarantee that every student in their class will grasp the information at the same rate.

So, after I realized that I needed to stop trying to teach on someone else's timeline and expectations, I formulated my own plan for determining what we were going to learn and when.

During the planning stages for the school year, which I wrote about a few weeks ago in 7 Steps for Planning the School Year, I explained that I would set learning goals for the year for each subject. In setting these goals, I would take into consideration where we left off at the end of the previous year and build from there. Once I began to look at learning as one continuous stream as opposed to a bus route, with stops and starts determined by grade level, my focus was not so much on what should my child know when by someone else's standard, but instead I focused on what does my child know now and what's the next academic milestone we want to reach.

One of the great perks of homeschooling is that as long as your student is moving forward in their studies and continuing to grow academically, even if it is at a slower or faster pace than other children of their age, they will know what they need to know when they need to know it.