Our Lifeschooling journey started at the beginning of my third year in my dream job.
I loved being a teacher…
Helping kids succeed, discovering their passions, and the best part was seeing their faces when they finally got something that was a struggle for them. But this year was a bit different. I entered that school year as a new mommy.
Every decision I made, every challenge I encountered, was through my new mommy eyes.
This year I had a student who was three grade levels behind on reading. I taught 4th grade and he was still at a first-grade reading level. This makes for a huge challenge in the public school system because once you hit third grade, learning how to read pretty much stops and turns into using reading to learn about other subjects. We still have reading instruction, but it was learning how to use different texts to learn about our social studies topics or to practice comprehension.
This student was still struggling with sounding out words.
So What’s the Problem?
Now, normally this wouldn’t be a problem. I would’ve made time to pull him aside for some sort mini-lessons to help him catch up, but I only had this student in my classroom for two hours. Again, which normally wouldn’t be a problem. But because he was behind, he was pulled out for special services for 1.5 hours every single day.
On top of that, I was still responsible for making sure he received the lessons he missed while being pulled out. All 4 of them (grammar, reading, writing, social studies) in just 30 minutes a day. The only thing this student needed was for someone to meet him exactly where he was and help him take baby steps towards where he needed to be. All that other stuff wasn’t as important as helping this student get there.
And more importantly where he desperately wanted to be.
A Failing System
He had an IEP that allowed me to modify his assignments, but only to a third-grade level.
That was not enough.
In his special services, he was getting instruction at a lower level, but only to a second-grade level.
It was not enough.
This student could barely sound out CVC words but was still expected to read and understand second-grade reading lessons in his service, third-grade level books in my class, and fourth-grade level materials during social studies. Plus he was still responsible for all the social studies, grammar, and writing assignments he missed while being pulled out of my class.
So how in the world was he supposed to get where he needed to be when no one was allowed to meet him exactly where he needed?
My New Mommy Eyes Were Sad.
All I kept thinking was…
What if this was my daughter?
I left the public school system that year. I couldn’t sit around and support a system that doesn’t respect a child’s natural learning process.
And that’s exactly what lifeschooling is all about. Respecting a child’s unique learning timeline.
Our Lifeschooling Journey
Being a homeschooler and former teacher is sometimes a curse.
I have a hard time getting out of the mentality of “covering it all.” I struggle with letting my kids do their own thing when I had plans to do something “more educational.” But I always think back to my why…
I want to respect my kid’s unique learning timeline and trust them on their learning journey. Kids are natural learners and have such a deep motivation to learn if we allow it.
It’s not about us and what we want or what we think they should be learning. It’s about them and what they want to learn. Lifeschooling is all about the child.
What’s My Balance?
I still use curriculum in our homeschool, but I choose or create curriculum that is super flexible.
My secret weapon is our homeschool room or rather our whole environment. I strew materials and activities throughout our environment to help motivate my kids to learn what I want them to learn. When I wanted to introduce Sicily to letters, I simply added them to our environment. I began to read books about letters, and what hooked her was bringing out sound boxes.
When your whole life is about learning, it’s inevitable.
Learning and life are not two separate things. They are one and the same. So let go of expectations, use your environment to motivate, and most importantly, trust the process.
You got this!
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- Lifeschooling is All About the Child - June 11, 2019
My goodness, this came at the perfect time! So much of this aligns with our experience, and i want to thank you for reminding us to trust kids in their learning journey!