There are three seasons of homeschooling for each child. The earliest season is when your child begins kindergarten and ends their fifth grade. Next, there is the middle school season where your child may be gifted and is zooming ahead in some or all areas, or your child may be a late bloomer and needs a bit of remediation before he enters high school. (My son was remedial in middle school.) Finally, your child walks into the High School years, which is the final season for both you and your child.
Note: please don’t misunderstand me; your parenting does not end when your child graduates. It is, however, utterly different since now they are an adult. So that season is altogether different, and it can be wonderful. It will also be one where your prayers are the most significant influence.
Let’s return to kindergarten through the fifth-grade season. These years are bridge builders for the relationship between you and your child. The years spent listening to your child’s thoughts, ideas, and dreams in this season will yield great dividends in the next two seasons in your home.
For now, let’s focus on the “old dusty” educational research and child development findings that can influence how you navigate the brief eighteen years you have your child in your home.
You may ask: Why should it matter what season your child is in? Should my educational plan look different in each season? Great questions!
For starters, a strict curriculum in the early years is very satisfying for us as moms. Who doesn’t look forward to checking off the workbooks completed each day? It is very comforting. But why are we so convinced that these early workbooks will yield the results we want in the high school years? At night do you imagine you will ever see your child cradling his workbook as he heads to bed? Or do you hope and pray that he will catch the fire of beautiful literature and carry his rich living book off to bed with him?
Our children’s love for learning in the high school years can be cultivated early. A simple, fun project after a beautiful read-aloud in the early years can ignite the fire in your child to want more of this exciting adventure called education. Please do not buy the lie of our educational system that getting the curriculum workbooks done each and every year will result in a passionate desire to learn in the High School years. If you as an educator ignore what the research says, you might find that your child winds up being bored in high school or, even worse, burnt out.
Note: I do not want to mislead you in any way. Each year I had educational goals for my children.
But I always made time in that first season to be creative and fun. Yes, I moved my children forward in the early years to memorize their math facts and know them inside and out. Yes, I taught my children to read. My children also learned to write in all sorts of different creative ways. But I also gave them mental breaks where reading aloud became the cornerstone of each day.
But the point is to remind you to make time for the fun, creativity, and, yes … mess with your kids in the early years. When they hit middle school and high school, those fun days will be increasingly rare.
However, I pray that a love of learning in the first phase will capture their hearts and minds and help sustain your relationship with them in the more rigid middle and high school years. This requires that you follow the research, see the seasons of education distinctly, and pour relational creativity and fun into the early years.