What to Do When Your Child Falls Behind in Homeschool

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What do you do when you’re child isn’t keeping up in homeschool?

What if you get to the end of the school year and you realize you’re behind schedule?

What happens if on the last day of school, you haven’t completed the school books for that grade year?

Do you keep going until you get done?

Do you scrap the rest of the book and hope that the first part of next grade’s books is a review?

These are all questions I asked myself when we began falling behind in our homeschool.

I was frustrated, because I’m a list-maker, a rule-follower, punctual, and I like to stick to a plan!

What to Do When You Fall Behind in Homeschool

At a few points in our homeschool this year my younger son began having trouble in math.

He simply wasn’t grasping the concepts being presented.

This was when I was faced with a conundrum.

What do we do if we fall behind?

Should I pause everything and work on the concepts?

Should I press on and hope it clicks at some point?

What if I press on and it never clicks and we just keep falling more behind…or worse?

What if we get to a point in math where we have to go all the way back to 1st grade and start over?

I would look at my 2020 plan, and get frustrated, because I knew that if we paused for a while, we’d never reach the end of the book by the end of the school year.

And I’m one of those weird people that needs to have the end of something all tied-up nicely with a bow.

I don’t like unfinished tasks.

I don’t like loose strings hanging out all over the place — and that’s what the end of the 2019-2020 school year was looking like.

Unfinished business
Loose strings
No nice, neat bows

I chatted with my bestie, someone who has been homeschooling for more years than my kids have been alive, and she said something to me that changed my whole perspective:

There is no “behind” in homeschool

You see, I wasn’t homeschooling as much as I was “schooling at home”.

I was taking what my older son had done in school and replicating at my dinner table.

If we marched on in math with my younger son, hoping things would click later on, how would this be any different than a negative public school experience?

The only difference would be that he would be left behind at home, and not in a traditional classroom.

And the sad reality is, that in his classroom of exactly two students, he’d still be left behind, straggling, confused, getting low grades, and unable to do his school work because he was not given the time he needed to understand what he was being taught.

How unfair is this to him!

If this was how I was going to do homeschool, I was giving him no advantages.

Isn’t the point of education to learn?

If, then, learning isn’t really happening, or isn’t happening well, what’s the point?

I had to stop thinking of homeschool in the context of grades, and start thinking of it as education for life.

What if I stopped looking at my kids as in 1st and 3rd grade and just started looking at their material as levels of learning?

My child isn’t in 1st grade, therefore requiring him to complete all 1st grade curriculum by the end of the school year.

My child is on a certain level in each subject.

Therefore, the subjects in which he excels, he’ll be further along than the subjects in which he is weaker.

This concept is true for life.

As adults, we are not all on the same level in every area of life as our peers.

Some have gone on to study nuclear science, having learned advanced maths that make most people’s head spin.

They are certainly more advanced in their understanding of certain sciences than their peers.

Some have chosen other career paths that require them to to be more advanced in English or biology; when perhaps math is a subject they continue to struggle in.

If as adults it is not expected that we will be equally strong in all subjects as our peers…

if it is expected that some of our peers will excel in math, while others excel in science, language arts, or history…

if what we excel in mostly determines our direction in life, why does this not hold true for our children?

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children, as homeschool parents, is to take away the concept of grades and give them the freedom to fly in their strengths while simultaneously giving them tools for their weaknesses!

Instead of pushing them to finish that workbook by the end of school year, because it says “Grade 5” on the cover, maybe we can white-out the word “Grade” and replace it with the word “level”, thereby erasing the pressure!

There is no more “behind” in my homeschool.

We just get up tomorrow and do the next lesson. And the next lesson. And the next lesson.

And if we get stuck, we stay there until we’ve mastered it.

And then we get up tomorrow and do the next lesson!

Here are more articles on homechool:

Solar System Unit Study for MERLD Kids

Valentine’s Day Unit Study for MERLD Boys

The Snowy Day Unit Study for MERLD Kids

3 Apps That Will Transform How Your Dyslexic Child Reads

4 Powerful Tools to Teach Your Dyslexic Child to Read

5 Ways We Make Sure Our Kids are Socialized

8 Homeschool Myths That Need to Be Debunked

6 Things You Need to Know About Homeschooling a Kid With MERLD

6 Things I Learned About Homeschooling a Kid With MERLD

Why We Chose to Homeschool Our MERLD Son

Our Curriculum Choices for the 2019-2020 School Year

5 Ways We Make Summer Learning Fun

My Favorite Homeschool Planner

School Starts Today and Here’s the Thing…

10 Things I’ve Learned After One Month of Homeschooling

4 Powerful Tools to Teach Your Dyslexic Child to Read

3 Apps That Will Transform How Your Dyslexic Child Studies

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