One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to tailor education to our children’s needs. Determining just how to accomplish that tailoring, though, is a challenge to even the most veteran of homeschoolers. After all, what worked beautifully for child number one may completely flop for child number two and only partially work for number three. So, what do we do when our children just don’t grasp what we’re trying to teach them?
Points to Ponder
When you’ve tried and tried and your child still just doesn’t understand a concept, a lesson, or a subject, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Know Your Styles
Do you know how your child learns? If not, find out! But don’t stop there. Know how you learn as well. If you’re a left-brained visual learner, but your child is a right-brained kinesthetic learner, your styles will conflict. Discovering how to bridge that gap might help you get over an understanding hump.
It’s not enough to just know what your learning and teaching styles are, though. You need to learn what to do with those styles. Find resources that help you figure out the “now what” side of learning styles for practical teaching suggestions.
Here’s a little secret for you: you don’t have to be tied to a curriculum. Even if you utilize a specific curriculum, you have the freedom to tailor your lessons to your child; you don’t have to fit your child into a curriculum mold. If a curriculum is not working, it might not be necessary to completely toss it out the window, especially if it may fit another child’s learning style. But, also don’t be afraid to be creative and follow your instincts. Any curriculum will need a little tweaking before it will fit your child.
Fellow homeschool parents just might be your greatest asset when you’re at your wits end. Chances are, there is someone in your immediate homeschool community or in a Facebook group that has a child like yours. So, talk to other parents! That math concept that makes perfect sense to you but sounds like a foreign language to your child might simply need to be explained in a different way. You can also pull in your spouse, a school teacher, or another friend who can put a different spin on a challenging concept. Sometimes all it takes is a different explanation.
When to Move On
That math curriculum you’re using is probably written by someone who has no problem grasping math. The grammar lessons were created by a grammar fanatic, and the science text comes from a scientific mind. While that’s the way it should be, it also means that what seems perfectly clear to a science-minded person may be mumbo jumbo to someone who has a more creative way of thinking. To someone to whom grammar does not come naturally, it can be a mess to figure out whether that noun is a subject, direct object, object of a preposition, or predicate nominative. It really is okay! When in doubt, find a friend who is strong in that subject and ask, “How necessary is this lesson? Is it worth the pain to try to hammer this into my child’s head?”
A Few More Thoughts
When your child doesn’t understand, don’t give up! But remember that doing things the same old way produces the same tired results. Also, remember that your child, especially in the early years, might be trying to tackle something he is not ready for. So, don’t be afraid to put a troublesome concept aside for a while and try again later, get creative and find an out-of-the-box way to teach the concept, let your child explore different learning techniques, or get help from a friend.