As this school year is winding down I've been assessing what has worked for us and what hasn't. I am making plans and am nervously excited for next year. I think our 4 year old will be ready for kindergarten so this will be the first year where I am officially teaching 3 kids. (Though I do believe we teach our children every day from the moment they are born just through living our lives together...but that's another post for another day...)
When I look at my kids, it still amazes me how different they all are. They all have their own little personalities shining through. They each excel in different things and struggle in their own ways.
One of the hardest things for me as a homeschooling mom is being "one-size-fits-all". I am trying to teach each of them individually in a way that interests them. I am trying to lean towards their strengths, but still challenge their weaknesses. I am trying...
Ever year I learn more about my kids...and myself.
I am starting to understand their learning styles. Our oldest is an auditory learner. He loves to talk (sometimes too much), he loves to listen to me read or explain a lesson. It always surprises me how much detail he will recite back to me. But, you put a pencil in his hand...and he completely loses focus. He can't sit still and becomes frustrated. I've learned to adapt. Sometimes when a page of math problems is too much for him, we will close the book and go through a set of flash cards. Being able to yell out the answers is much more exciting to him than writing them down, and he usually ends up answering more than were originally on the page without even realizing it.
Our daughter is the complete opposite. She is a visual learner. She gets bored with listening to me read a long chapter, and when I ask her what I just read, she just shrugs her shoulders. But, she is the first one to notice the details in the pictures in that book. She loves to read things for herself. She is incredible at puzzles and likes to have everything organized. She is always drawing and thrives on workbooks. I see so much of myself in her which is probably why she has been the easiest for me to teach (so far).
Then there is our 4 year old. He is very much a hands-on learner. Maybe this is just part of his age, and I know I will see much more in him when we officially start school. He's very quiet. He's a thinker. He stores it all up and then he lets out his theories. It's so cute to see the way his mind works. When you put something in his hands like Legos or blocks he will work with such intensity. He is so focused on what he is doing it is really hard to get his attention. He will play with Play-doh for hours and then come out with the most incredible creations. I think this could make for a really fun kindergarten year if I can let go and let him get his hands dirty.
I know there is no perfect curriculum, and what might be great for one child, could be torture for another. And then there's me...I need to account for what I can do as a teacher. I still have a toddler and a baby to chase around during the school day. I can't be stressed out trying to fit our family into something that we just aren't.
This school year was our best. Was it perfect? No. Did we do everything? No. We had our struggles, but we also had a lot of fun. I think I learned more than the kids. I've learned that sometimes you just have to close the books, take a step back and let your kids teach you.