Contrary to the stereotype, all homeschooled children are not geniuses who perform several grade levels above their peers. Although homeschooling consistently out-performs traditional schools, children who are home educated have their share of struggles in critical academic areas such as reading, writing, and math.
If you are teaching your child at home, there are ways to address those academic weaknesses without destroying your child’s passion for learning.
When you discover your child still can’t read or hasn’t memorized her multiplication facts, put everything else on hold and focus exclusively on this problem area. Hold a reading boot camp or a math Olympics to lay that needed foundation.
Take a Break
Or maybe you need the opposite approach. Take a complete timeout from the problem area for a predetermined period. Although this method is counterintuitive, sometimes taking a break is necessary to neutralize the building frustration. In some situations, the problem is maturity. Given a few months’ time, a child has the cognitive ability to do what was difficult before.
Tutoring with a Different Teacher
As hard as it is to admit, sometimes enlisting the help of an outsider is beneficial. A fresh face, a new perspective, and a renewed supply of patience can go a long way. Affordable options are bartering with another mom or hiring a teen.
Change Your Method
You have probably heard this definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. If your curriculum is not addressing the academic problems, it is foolish to continue on the same path.
Change your methods and incorporate something new:
- computerized learning
- hands-on manipulatives
- memorization and recitation (enhanced through rhyme or song)
The bottom line is that you never know what will work until you try it. So don’t rule out any method until you know for sure it is not a good fit. Keep trying until something gels and you see results.
Do Not Constantly Test
When you are working hard to overcome an academic deficiency, it is natural to want to test for progress. But frequent practice tests tire a child and cause anxiety. Instead, trust your own instincts and observations. You can tell if your child is making progress simply by interacting with him as he studies.
Success breeds success, so celebrate every step of progress with meaningful praise. At large steps of achievement, take the time to do something special such as a field trip. If you use a gift as a reward, buy something that encourages your child’s natural strengths and talents whether they lie in sports, music, or art.
Your child may benefit from a combination of these approaches depending on his age and personality. Keep trying different ways to address an academic weakness, always striving to emphasize the enjoyment of the learning process. If you kill a child’s natural curiosity and zeal for learning you have not made true progress; you have only exchanged one problem for another.