Ever have the feeling you’re too tough on your kids? If the work you’re assigning is harder than it needs to be? Think there’s too much of it?
Or maybe you worry the work is too easy? That you’re a push-over? That there aren’t enough activities to fill the day?
We all have these thoughts from time to time.
How do we find just the right amount of work for our kids?
How do we know if it’s too hard, too easy, or just right?
Finding the perfect balance for every student takes time. I’ve never met anyone who got it right the first time.
Balance takes months, even years, to get right. And then kids mature, life takes twists and turns, and we start all over again.
Don’t worry. You’ll keep up. Eventually.
This may help.
If balance is your concern, take a moment to ask the following questions. Ask them for every child in your homeschool, too. The answers will help understand if that elusive balance has been reached. If not, they’ll at least indicate areas you can work on to get there:
#1 First and foremost, is the child learning and happy?
Answering YES to this question is crucial. Homeschooling isn’t about being miserable. It’s about maturing and progressing, while living a good life.
#2 Next, is the child challenged, but not to the point of frustration?
Answering YES to this question is what you’re after. Can the child handle the amount and difficulty of the work you’re assigning — without stress and tears (yours or theirs)? And while feeling good about himself/herself? Refer back to #1 if you aren’t sure.
#3 Then ask, is there much idle time?
With no clear purpose (sometimes indicated by boredom, clamoring for attention, or mischief)? Answering YES to this question means it’s time for a tweak or two. Many children do fill their hours with worthwhile activities, ones you approve of, which add to their learning and development. But some kids need our help filling those hours for them. Determine how your child uses idle time, then tweak accordingly.
#4 Ask yourself if there’s enough time in the child’s day for play, hobbies, sports, day dreaming, or other things the child likes to do.
Is there enough time for winding down at the end of the day and preparing for a good night’s sleep? Answering NO to this question indicates a child’s day may be too full.
#5 Finally, does the child’s output match what is generally expected at that age/grade/stage of life?
This isn’t an exact science, and varies from child to child. But for those worried about it, it’s helpful to check the quantity & quality of work against what experts, authors, textbooks, publishers, or placement tests say children might be doing at approximately this stage of life. (Read about placement and understanding scope & sequence to learn more.) If there are genuine issues hampering progress, handle them. If you can’t, simply factor them into the equation.
Remember, the perfect balance will change as the years go on, and from child to child, too. What was normal one year will change to match a child’s maturity, habits and developing mind the next.
Keeping asking yourself these questions every six months, or every year, to keep up. You’ll get it!
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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. The founder of many homeschool groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, or with no educational background whatsoever. A liaison for regional school-to-home organizations and a homeschool leader in Florida, Marie-Claire also mentors homeschool families nationwide. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, and many other events. She currently writes for audiences at Quick Start Homeschool, which she founded in 2010, and as a guest writer on other sites as often as she can. Her articles have appeared in CONNECT magazine, on Homefires, at Circle of Moms, and she has contributed to hundreds of other blogs nationwide. Dr. Moreau can be reached at email@example.com.