One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we are able to create a unique education package for each of our children. We can maximise their strengths and interests and we can focus on the weaknesses at their own pace.
Another benefit that homeschoolers have is that we can use our family lifestyle and community events to build unique learning experiences for each of our children. This means that our learning may look different than a traditional classroom
But with this freedom comes much responsibility. I don’t want to abuse the freedom I have by ignoring my responsibilities. As the parent it is my responsibility to prepare my child for their future; to give them the skills necessary to live a self-governed, responsible and purposeful life.
I take that responsibility seriously. I need to be aware of what is important for each of my children to learn. Keeping in mind that each of my kids are unique so one size doesn’t fit all. Which is why I wawnt to create a unique plan for each of them.
Creating a Unique Education for Each of your Children
If our plan is going to be unique we need to have the confidence to step aside from a school curriculum. At least to start with. A curriculum is to serve a child’s educational needs, it is not to be the whole source of learning. I want to know what is important for each child to learn: what should they spend time on, what weaknesses need strengthening and what strengths need further opportunities.
In our family we have some core things that are important for our children to learn and become competent in:
- We desire for each child to love God and know His word
- to be able to defend their faith
- to be responsible people, to have self-governance in all spheres of their life
- to read, to think and to love learning
- to have an interest in the world around them and the people who live there
- to be competent in the uniqueness God made them â€“ to express their passions and talents
These things are for all our children regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. How we address these things may vary from child to child.
So how do we create this individual plan?
Start your Plan with some Research
I have created a brainstorm sheet which prompts me to think about the whole child.
As you go through this worksheet some of the answers may overlap and that is okay – the spheres of our life do overlap with each other. Remember, this brainstorm is to find out what is important for your child to learn in this season of their life.
List A: 6 Capacities
- Spiritual capacity: their ability to know, love, and serve God
- Moral capacity: their ability to know and choose right over wrong
- Emotional capacity: their ability to have healthy emotional responses to life
- Social capacity: their ability to relate to people
- Intellectual capacity: their ability to think and learn
- Physical capacity: their ability to do things with their body/hands,
List B: 5 Lifestyle Contexts
- Relationships: with God and Man
- Responsibilities: Time and Commitments, Money and Property, Energy and Health, Lifeskills
- Intrapersonal: Being a strong you: emotions, perceptions, attitudes. Know yourself: your values, your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions. Know what makes you tick.
- Talents and Passions
- Academics: There is a set of common knowledge, common skills that enable us to learn, earn and engage in our world.
I ask four questions
- What did the child learn last year?
- What does the child need to learn next?
- What does the child want to learn?
- What activities is the child involved in that provide learning opportunities?
Side note: When our kids were around the ages 13-15 they would work through this process with me.
Now Make a Plan
Once I have completed the brainstorms I go through and highlight or write a list of priorities. I cannot do everything and still have peace in my heart and harmony in our family life. So I must identify the important things for each child.
When I know what I want to achieve in our week, I start to put together a routine for each child. Because we do life together I did try and overlap similar things as much as possible. Our days generally fell into the rhythm of: Personal responsibilities, Focus time, Productive time, Free time and then Family time (a rough rhythm that we kept for many years.
Then finally I look to buying the resources that we need for whatever we’ve decided is the next course of study. I say ‘resources’ on purpose because I want to lean away from a dependency on curriculum; instead I want to use whatever it is that is going to work for my child.
As we start a new year it is easy to get caught up in Math, English, History, Economics, Geography, etc and forget that homeschooling doesn’t have to fit in those categories. Buying new resources is fun but homeschool catalogues are not the place to start planning your homeschool year. We need to see the need and then find ways to fill that need. Seeing beyond these academic subjects is what makes homeschooling an extension of our parenting role: we look at the whole child and find ways to teach and train every area of their life. This won’t happen if we simply plan for their academic needs by buying homeschool curriculum.
Individual Education Planning Worksheet
Download your copy of these worksheets and start looking at all the different spheres of your child's life before you make any curriculum choices.
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- A Homeschool Scope and Sequence for the Whole Child: The scope and sequence tells you what you will cover and when in your homeschool. As a discipleship homeschool it needs to reflect the whole-life approach.
- Choosing Curriculum for the Discipleship Homeschool: Once you decide to homeschool you want to choose curriculum – but make sure it fits your whole goals to teach and train your children with a heart focus.
- Family life creates learning Experiences: Everyday family life creates learning experiences that teach relationship skills, life skills, character and academic learning.
- Homeschooling through the eyes of my Kids: An interview with each of my kids about their homeschooling years – their answers reflect their individuality and our homeschool intentions.
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