Homeschooling Allows You to Avoid Busy Work
One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that you can dispense with a lot of the time wasting activities that take place in a brick-and-mortar school. I love that I can cut through all the extraneous busywork and get down to working on only what’s necessary.
I experienced that today as my son started a new chapter in his math book. Because of our travel schedule, he’s a little bit behind where I would like for him to be at this point in the year. So when he started this new chapter, I decided to flip through the workbook to see if he might be able to skip some of the exercises.
To that end, I looked through exercise one and circled the four most difficult problems and asked him if he could do them. Turns out, he could. I flipped to exercise two and did the same thing. Same result. Wash, rinse, repeat all the way up to exercise nine. He sailed through every problem with no difficulty at all. Mind you, I have not conducted any lessons for this topic. My son is good in math and he often just sees it. He hasn’t opened the textbook in weeks.
I decided to go ahead and have him complete exercise 10 because it consisted of word problems which, like many kids, can be a bit of weakness. He completed the word problems today in exercise 10, and tomorrow we will do the same thing with the remaining eight exercises in this chapter – he’ll do 4 problems per chapter and if there are no issues, we’ll move on.
Assuming we fly through the remaining eight exercises like we did with the initial nine, he will have completed 18 days worth of work in only three days.
I will have him complete the review and, assuming he performs satisfactorily, we will move on to the next chapter.
During my workshops, I often remind parents that they should not feel like they must be beholden to every single aspect of their curriculum. Embracing this is often difficult, especially after all the time and effort that we spend in selecting and purchasing curricula for our children.
The great thing, however, is that as homeschool parents we can use the curricula as more of a guide than a strict set of rules (Captain Barbosa of the Black Pearl, I'm looking at you). Yet another aspect of flexibility we can enjoy as homeschool parents.
For example, if my son had no clue how to work the problems in exercise one, we would’ve plugged along completing each exercise every day as intended by the curriculum writer. But since I know my children very well, and am pretty much in tune with what they know from an academic perspective, I can usually foresee when we need to actually sit down and do the lesson and work through the textbook and when we don’t.
In a school setting, a child like my son would be absolutely bored for 18 days as the teacher took the rest of the class through each of the 18 exercises for that chapter. Indeed, he may have found himself simply tuning her out or acting out which would, of course, then lead to disciplinary action, a conduct check, a frowny face sticker for the day or whatever inane control mechanism that his teacher had cooked up for the class.
Or, as I have heard from some parents, if the teacher had the wherewithal to discern that my son is a gifted math student, it would likely mean he would be given additional work to keep him busy. So instead of simply doing the four or so hardest problems in each chapter and moving on, he likely would have had to complete the entire lesson in each chapter but at a much faster pace. That would also be a rather dull and perceivably punitive approach to the situation.
Despite being a gifted math student, my son struggles in language arts. And so, in language arts, we tend to take things very slowly. There’s not even an option of skipping ahead. But since we homeschool, I can decide how quickly or slowly we move. For every subject.
I would like to encourage all parents to remember not to become slaves to your curriculum; rather, use it as a tool to educate your children. Because at the end of the day, what’s most important is that your child learns. How he learns and the speed at which she learns is all up to you and your child.