Readiness comes at different times in different children. Some read at age 4 while others wait until they are 8 or 9 to do it. Some youngsters write short stories at 8 yet others aren’t ready until 16.
In the homeschooling world, though it can be hard to wait, exactly when things begin to happen doesn’t matter as much as one might think. While parents may wish the kids would start sooner, no amount of pushing, coaxing, bribery or worrying about it will necessarily make it so.
It may help to think about homeschool in the same way one might think about extracurricular activities. If a child doesn’t really like ballet, does she still have to do it? Or if a child is afraid of the soccer ball, are you still going to sign him up? Potty use doesn’t always come early either. And no matter how long you’ve tried and the methods you may have used, the truth is that toddlers generally use the toilet on their terms and only when good and ready.
It can be tough to wait on a child when others her age are doing something. But forcing a child to perform something she isn’t ready for is generally fruitless and frustrating anyhow. Experiencing disappointment and feelings of inadequacy can come on as well. Waiting several weeks or months, even a year or two in some cases, until the level of readiness is reached may be be best for all concerned. [Note that readiness is different from willingness — another topic altogether.]
First time homeschoolers working with a first-born sometimes feel pressured to meet milestones, record bench-marks, and keep up with the pack. I find it very endearing to watch new parents fret over babies and new homeschoolers worry if everything they’re doing is exactly right. I was once there, too and I understand. Over time, however, with subsequent children comes a slightly more relaxed attitude and the realization that added pressure doesn’t speed things along any more quickly than waiting it out anyhow.
Much like patience is learned through parenting, exercising great patience is important during homeschooling as well. And while mastering course requirements can certainly become very important in upper school while preparing for testing and college, waiting it out during the early years avoids excess anxiety and unpleasantness for parents and students alike.