Monday, August 6, 2012

Academic Progress at Their Pace

There is freedom in homeschooling.  We choose curriculum, or opt to use outside resources like classes, tutors, or co-ops for some subjects.  When needed, we can alter lesson plans to suit our families, or change directions when something isn't working.

In any given school year, many choices and decisions are made, but probably one of the most daunting responsibilities is determining the pace a child progresses through their academics.  As a homeschool teacher, you can allow a child to progress at their ideal pace for them, but what if this is far outside the norm? 

Typically, a child finishes the school year and they are promoted to the next grade.  They have completed satisfactory work and progress to a harder level.  However, not all children do. 

A child who struggles greatly may need remedial work or increased tutoring time over the summer break.  Perhaps, they need a different academic approach or some specific interventions throughout the coming year.  Lightening their academic load by concentrating only on core subjects may help.  Sometimes, they may even need to repeat a grade level in one or more subjects.

On the other hand, a child may excel quickly through their academic work.  This child sails through all your lesson plans, completing near perfect pages with very little evidence of effort.  Perhaps, they need a more challenging approach or a few extra courses in the coming year.  Sometimes, they may even skip a year to reach a more challenging level.

No matter what the situation, both children need their academic progress paced in some fashion. 

Regardless of what curriculum or method you use, the pace you employ is vital. 

A child who struggles should not be expected to complete as many lessons in as short of time as a child who excels academically.  We all understand this innately.  However, what about when your child only struggles with one aspect?  Maybe multiplication or sentence diagramming presents difficulty for your otherwise good student.  Do you progress at the child's pace, slowing down for their understanding, or do you press forward, trying to complete the curriculum on someone else's schedule?

Recently, I was reading through a book which cited the literal meaning of curriculum as 'to run a course.'  Wanting to determine the validity of that statement, I checked out the definition from Oxford Dictionaries on line.   This is what I found.

Curriculum - noun (plural curricula or curriculums): the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college; origin - early 19th century: from Latin (see curricle)

Curricle - noun historical: a light, open, two-wheeled carriage pulled by two horses side by side; mid 18th century: from Latin curriculum 'course, racing chariot', from currere 'to run'

{definitions from Oxford Dictionaries}

Curriculum is the course set before the student.  There is an end in sight, but there doesn't have to be a standard speed.  Children walk it at their own pace, finishing as they are able.  As parents, who happen to be teachers, may we continue to encourage and lead them along the way to progress at their own pace. 

Dorie enjoys being outside, photography, art, writing, a strong cup of coffee, and good conversations seasoned with much laughter. She and her drummer husband, Jerry, share a life built on faith in Jesus, love, and grace. They have been blessed with four active children. Each day, whether easy or trying, is a wondrous part of this grace filled journey, and Dorie blogs about them all at These Grace Filled Days. Their homeschooling adventures can be found at Homeschooling Just Next Door.

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