I often get frustrated by "grade level" materials because my kids seem so far "behind" what is expected of their peers in the early grades. It is frustrating because it makes me feel as if I need to push them way beyond their maturity and readiness levels to "keep up" with what would be expected of them in the public school arena. I do not teach essay writing until my children are adept at writing paragraphs. These paragraphs need to be well formed, well written withour grammatical or spelling errors. They can not be boring and their sentences must not only flow but show a varied structure. I do not teach paragraph writing until my kids are comfortable and adept at writing sentences, lots of sentences, strong, simple sentences and even stronger complex sentences. I do not teach writing sentences until my children are comfortable writing words. Their mechanics must be down. They must bve able to write copywork and take longer dictations. They must be able to narrate and orate.
All of these foundational skills take time. Some kids take to them like a fish to water...and others...not so fast.
I have to constatly remind myself that the Public School is not the standard I wish to emulate.
I constantly have to remind myself that the goal is to create lifelong independent learners who can think deeply and rightly.
I need to constantly remind myself of the failure of the system to produce learners and thinkers...and also remind myself not to rush...rush...rush.
Even the way the WTM levels are beyond my kids in the early years...however, it is funny that somehow they end up in the Rhetoric stage by 9th or 10th grade even though we do not begin many of the subjects as early as recommended. We do lots of reading and talking and asking and researching answers in the early years. We try to create many many pegs to hang info on as well and lay firm foundations in reading, math and writing mechanics...copywork...narration, summarizing, outlining, sentence analyzing, rewriting in our own words etc....bring us to that point of essay writing...precis writing, term paper writing, creative writing, poetry writing etc. If we barrel through the skill areas...through the school of hard knocks, I have learned the faulty foundation can not produce thoughtful worthwhile writers.
What disturbs me is these skills are not grade level, but skill level. And, skill levels vary at different ages and there can be growth spurts and then a leveling off...then another spurt. All of this is natural within a developing brain.
Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to be sensitive to the ebb and flow of material. It gives us the opportunity to build a firm foundation in both skill and content areas, while adjusting the pace for the particular student. Even siblings do not grow at the same rate. We must be careful not to weary in building those foundations, and we must not be afraid to back up and shore up a wobbly foundation when one is discovered.