A reader asked, in which areas of homeschool it is okay to “skimp”. I have heard this question more than once, so I thought my response might help you, too.
There are sometimes circumstances requiring homeschoolers to focus on other things for a little while. Families enduring major life changes, for instance, may find it hard to plan and execute homeschool lessons as they once did. Until things settle down, they need to know in which academic areas they may “skimp” versus what other areas of homeschool they should devote their attention.
Though a simple question, there is no easy answer. And while I can’t promise, I think this advice will help guide families toward figuring answers out on their own.
First, I suggest reviewing state homeschooler requirements. Though some states have no specific academic mandate, many do. Should certain skills or courses be required under the law, these should obviously be considered first.
Next, I suggest considering the age/grade of the students. In doing so, the need for meeting certain course requirements will become clear. For instance, high school students aiming toward college could be directed toward finishing math or science courses needed for graduation (and, ultimately, college acceptance). Those enrolled in for-credit courses with deadlines (assuming withdrawal is not an option) should be advised to focus on those, as well.
For younger students, or in cases where there are no immediate consequences for taking a temporary leave of absence, homeschoolers may be redirected differently. Elementary age students, for instance, could focus solely on basic skills (cutting out all electives) for a little while. Middle schoolers, depending on their emerging goals and interests, could be asked to focus just on math or language arts, or perhaps only on reading well-selected literature for a time.
Areas of student mastery can also be used to guide a temporary curriculum plan. Students who have already exceeded the requirements of a curriculum or have already moved beyond “grade level” work can take a break from those subjects for a while. Students struggling with certain areas, trying to fill in gaps, or working to correct a weakness may want to focus only on those areas instead of anything else.
Finally, families may want to consider an alternate homeschooling approach for a little a while. While this may not seem comfortable at first, adopting a slightly different approach to learning — by relaxing requirements or having students work in a more self-directed fashion – could provide a perfect solution until things settle down.
When crisis hits or life changes occur, homeschoolers have tremendous freedom to choose the way they react. Using some of these tips as a guide could make the difference between continuing to homeschool or enrolling children in the nearest neighborhood school.
Who knows? Temporary changes can often positively impact homeschooling in the long run. There is great value in learning to rise from a challenge, and many character-building and life skills emerge from dealing with struggle. Trying new things could lead to making new discoveries about homeschooling, too.
My book, Suddenly Homeschooling, addresses dozens of issues like this, and offers solutions for homeschooling under different sets of circumstances. Read all about the book HERE. Or, let me know how I can help HERE.
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