My children are intelligent. The biggest learning disability we struggle with around here is the wiggles. I’ve been blessed – I don’t fight to teach them things. (Okay, I’m failing in teaching them to consistently clean up after themselves and to shut the basement door until it latches. But… little things.) I have, as a result, always pushed my children to learn at the level where they are capable. After a few kids, I started skipping the Kindergarten math (Saxon) book and jumped into the 1st grade book in Kindergarten. They are all a year ahead in spelling, because I think the books we use (Rod and Staff) are below grade level. I typically start them in Kindergarten at age four and a half because they are itching to learn and… why not?
I have decided I am a glutton for punishment.
- Liberty’s right on schedule except for a grade ahead in spelling. She’s my first, my guinea pig. I didn’t think to start her early. That’s a blessing, I think.
- Eden’s an entire grade ahead from where she ought to be in public school, two grades ahead in spelling.
- Sterling’s a grade ahead in math and spelling.
- Ruby’s an entire grade ahead teachnically because she misses the cutoff by mere days, two grades ahead in English and spelling.
- Charlotte also misses the cutoff by a month, so technically she’s two grades ahead in math, English, Phonics and Reading.
This year, Charlie is four, five at the end of September. She is doing Saxon 1 Math, Alpha and Omega’s Horizons 1 Phonics and Reading, (Review to follow in a few weeks!) and I bought Rod and Staff 2 Spelling for her – but didn’t start it because, while she’s capable, I was starting to see the error of my ways. She’s finishing a Spelling You See level A book Ruby worked on for a review but didn’t finish instead, joyfully and without struggle.
Something occurred to me this week, when, nearly finished with her Phonics and Reading for the day, she started to sob. Not because she was incapable, not because she was struggling academically – she started crying because she was overwhelmed, five pages for the day in. I looked at my dear daughter and couldn’t help but wonder – am I exasperating my children? They learn well. They are not geniuses, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they have IQ’s up there with their father’s, but they are entirely capable. But. Am I making life more difficult than it has to be, when they are academically capable but perhaps not mature enough to handle the load?
I’m still struggling with this. I’m not sure what the future holds. You see kids going to college at twelve, and while we’re certainly not headed for that, what’s the point? To live life in a condensed version, to skip through childhood as quickly as possible, to get on with… work? Adulthood? I’ve always said that, despite being ahead, my children do not need to go to college young. I graduated a year and a half early and went to college at 17, and while it was not all bad, the experience left me spinning for what the world was outside of the bubble I’d grown up in, homeschooled in the country near a tiny town in South Dakota. I got married at eighteen, and while I’m entirely glad I did and would choose that again in a heartbeat, that’s not necessarily the plan God has for my daughters, my sons. I want them to be prepared not just academically, but emotionally and spiritually. I do not want to exasperate my children, to teach them so rigorously that they lose their childhood in the pursuit of finishing school years ahead and lose their hearts in the process.
(For anyone interested, I created a tab at the top of our curriculum choices a while back. You can read a detailed list what we use for our homeschooling there.)
Lanita Noa says
What I would do (hindsight) would be to slow down. When they are more mature, they will learn at an even greater speed, possibly. but for your sanity and their childhood, slow down, or at least don’t feel compelled to push. There will be plenty of time for letting them skip through subjects, but first let them maybe learn at a little slower pace. You will find that you will be more relaxed and they will too.
You are doing a great job. I wish I had had the information 30 years ago when I was homeschooling, that I have today:) Such is life!!!
This is what I’m trying to figure out – what is their pace? I do not want to head too far the other direction, but more balance than we have now would be much better.
Charlotte Moore says
This day and time what are the kids going to do that finishes school at a very early age? Hard to know what to do. Jobs just seem harder to acquire these days.
I think you’re spot on, Charlotte.
I have been a reader of your blog for quite a while. It is refreshing to read the real life adventures of another large family mom. Recently I have contemplated the very same things in regards to pacing and placement of our kids with their schoolwork. I actually pulled our first grader back into her grade level in math part way through last school year. Part of me feels like I should bump her back up to where she was working before but I see how she is not mature enough to handle the work load. A lot of tears and anxiety have been produced over pushing her even when she was well within her capabilities. We even had to scale back her chores because we were expecting more than what was appropriate for her at this time. She can certainly rise to the occasion but at what cost? It requires so much wisdom to know what to do on these situations. Praise God He gives wisdom to those who ask!
This was so encouraging to read! I feel exactly the same way – they will rise to the occasion but at what cost? The older of my children weren’t required of nearly so much, but the more I have, the more the younger ones will follow in the older ones’ older steps as far as capabilities. I’m becoming convinced that it isn’t without cost. Seeking wisdom!
Kirsten Pankratz says
My kids are not as old as yours so I don’t have as much experience as you do but for what it’s worth, I would slow down a bit, especially if advanced work is causing tears. As important as the book work part of education is, lots of play time, outside time and time with tons of messy art supplies is equally important……and, supplying the littles with lots of that and less book work will be easier on you while you deal with morning sickness and lots of other school to teach. This is just my thoughts……it’s not like I’ve got it “all figured out”. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to teach my three in grades & a preschooler/toddler & have a baby crawling around (that’s the easiest part lol) and finish up all the canning etc. and fall work that the farm requires. One thing my husband has stressed to me is that there are so many other things the kids need to learn besides book work. Anyway, just some thoughts. I’m trying to do it right too and it’s not easy!