Saturday, November 15, 2008

Homeschool Specialty

A friend who trying to put together some homeschooling panels recently asked what my "homeschooling specialty" is. That is an interesting question. What is it that I am particularly good at when it comes to homeschooling? I've gotten a kid into college, so she thought that might be something I could talk about, but I don't feel anywhere near an expert on doing it with any out-of-state colleges, especially competitive ones. So what am I really good at when it comes to homeschooling?

I think that what I am best at is fine-tuning assignments for each kid. I always start out with a grand plan for what I will teach in a given year, which includes different focuses for each child, depending on their interests. So a son who is interested in military history might have an emphasis on battles won and lost, while my daughter will have more emphasis on literature and another son will read about the great buildings of the period.

As the year goes on, I find myself drifting from my plan, in response to feedback from the kids. I reduce a too-heavy reading load for one child; switch emphasis from architecture to food for another; I shift the workload from history to science to accommodate an interest in astronomy; I add assignments for a teen who has just come out of the dreaded brain-dead stage or thin them for one who is entering it; I adjust for other commitments or travel; I re-arrange an assignment sheet so it is more congenial to its user. One child gets more structure, another moves closer to unschooling. It sounds crazy, but I find that when all my kids are happy with their school, when their assignments fit their abilities, interests, and time, life is simpler for all of us.