One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is having the freedom to tailor your child’s education to meet their needs, and, indeed, it is often talked about in homeschooling circles. Yet the idea of doing this may seem a bit abstract to those new to, or thinking about, homeschooling, so today I’m going to discuss how we implement this into our family.
By now most parents have heard about learning styles, such as audio, visual, and kinesthetic learning, and while knowing these styles is certainly useful in planning your homeschool path, I find it’s much easier and less intimidating just to get to know your children, observe how they like to do things, and, most importantly, get their input.
My three teenagers are largely independent in their school activities now, so I take their opinions on how they would like to approach things very seriously. All three of them like to learn in very different ways, so my hope is that these illustrations will paint a clear picture for you on what “tailoring education” actually means in practice.
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My oldest daughter is 17 and undertakes life in a very straightforward, no-nonsense way. She likes to do what has to be done quickly and efficiently and doesn’t like to mess around with what she considers to be non-essentials. Because of this, the main framework of her curriculum is textbook-driven. She will be using textbooks/workbooks for grammar, consumer math, psychology, chemistry, and a combination of workbooks and Rosetta Stone for Japanese. Since she will finish the psychology book early because she started it this past year, and since we couldn’t find textbooks she liked for her remaining subjects, she will use a combination of library books and living books that we purchased for the rest. (writing, physics, and quantum physics)
My son is 16, and he is active and very fidgety. Because of this, we’ve come up with a combination of to-the-point textbooks, hands-on activities, visual media, and outdoor exploration for his educational path. He will be using the same grammar book as his older sister because the lessons only take 5-10 minutes a day, which is perfect for a kid like him. For his algebra, we found a no-frills algebra program that is accompanied by online tutorials for every single lesson. Since he is also very visual, the mixture of the videos and the cut-to-the-chase lessons is a great fit for him. He will focus on military history by way of videos/documentaries and historical fiction, and will combine his love of nature and photography by honing his skills in wildlife photography in frequent trips to local creeks and fields. He will supplement this with a science textbook three times a week and hands-on experiments twice a week.
My second oldest daughter is 14. She loves to read, so practically her entire curriculum will be living book-related. She has opted out of using the grammar book that her older siblings have chosen and has instead decided upon a language arts series with a storyline (Please note: The link refers to this series as middle school when it is, in fact, for high school.). Her pre-algebra and algebra books are by the same author and are also literature-based. Although she will be utilizing the library for the brunt of her history and science requirements, the nice thing about her pre-algebra books is that one of them incorporates biology (she’s almost finished with this one) and the other ties in economics, so even if she can’t find anything she likes, these subjects are covered.
As you can see, even without bringing my other children into the equation, my three teens represent vastly different learning preferences from one another. While some people may assume this would be stress-inducing, I actually find so much enjoyment in collaborating with my kids and working out what our new year is going to look like. It is this freedom and flexibility that allows our children to get the learning experience they need and deserve.
So remember, there’s no need to give your kids the Myers-Briggs test to see how you should approach their education. 🙂 All you need to do is get to know them, observe how they do things, and, most importantly, ask them for their opinion. With this simple formula, there’s no telling where your homeschool year may take you!