||My situation: four children, ages 11, 6, 3, 8 months. My son loves your 'Language of God' and 'My Catholic Spelling' books. We have been doing a lot of 'unschooling' and I feel like we need more structure. We are lucky if we finish the a.m. and then we do go to daily Mass. Am I expecting too much from him and myself? I know it has been an adjustment with the baby (this last one definitely loves to be held!) Also my 6 yo is very strong minded. She is learning her letters and can add and subtract just by figuring it out, but when we try and do the phonics it seems like we are 'butting heads'. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
What a blessing to receive your question. Your family situation is one of the most compelling reasons that substantiates the good sense in gearing education to the individuality of the learner. How amazing that your son and your daughter seem to be thriving educationally despite the lack of a highly structured environment. I admire your method, as the 'proof is in the pudding'.
What I understand you to be needing is not necessarily more structure but a type of system that will encourage your son and your daughter to begin (each at their own level) to work on their own. This is, in fact, the goal of all academics. We strive to instill in all people a desire to seek knowledge for the enjoyment of the search. When people become seekers then the sky is the limit as far as what they are able to attain. Again this is one of the best arguments for homeschooling. Indeed it has been shown that the intense structure of organized schooling (done to facilitate teaching to the masses) may indeed inhibit that innate curiosity to seek answers.
As teacher/parents our goals should be to build 'seekers'. However there comes a time when children must finish their assigned work in a timely fashion, so that they can get on with life. This is a discipline that all people must develop. It is not unusual that your very bright 11yo would rather be exploring than sitting and doing assigned work. I congratulate you on your choice of books for language and spelling. I do like the format of CHC materials in that there is a doable amount of work for each lesson. The lessons are set up to be explained by the parent/teacher and completed on the student's time. I have only a few hints to give that work at my house. I set the boundaries early on. I explain what is expected and the amount of time allotted for the task. I try very hard not to waver on this priority. My children sense when my resolve may not be in the heart of my request. When the task is accomplished and meets the criterion I have set then I feel a reward is in order. I like to be rewarded when I have accomplished something that I thought I couldn't and I suppose that children are no different. Certainly this physical reward will give way to the greater reward of the satisfaction we feel when we accomplish a difficult task. As far as timing a task, I merely set the kitchen timer and try to be realistic in the amount of time I allow. One of my children has dyslexia and the amount of time it takes her to do a task is longer than my children without this challenge.
Are you expecting too much? No, as long as what you expect is realistic and does not create stress and anxiety in your lovely homeschool. Truly I do not want to be sitting in the schoolroom all day dragging out 10 minutes of work into 3 hours. The fact of the matter is, neither do the children. So let's get it done and we can both get on with life and the other things we want to do.
You are an inspiration! Imagine managing daily Mass with all you have going on now. It is obvious that you are receiving great graces from your devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for the wisdom to discern realistic goals and priorities in your teaching of the children. When we pray to the Holy Spirit for the empowerment to do what is right for our children, that is a beautiful and selfless prayer.
Dear Jesus, please give all homeschooling parents the gift of wisdom. We come to You, Lord, with the deep desire to bring our children closer to You through the example of our witness, as we educate them for eternity. Amen.
When you go to receive the Precious Body of Jesus in Holy Eucharist, pray at that moment that the Holy Spirit will give you the knowledge and wisdom necessary to accomplish the calling to homeschool your children. Again thank you for your insights and for sharing about your experiences.
Sending out a prayer,