DIY Homeschooler

Tools for the Homeschool Handy-Mom

Setting the Pace

No matter what my energy level or mood, when that song rotates onto my playlist my pace steadies. It could be at the end of a 3-mile run, or at the beginning of a few circuits. It doesn’t matter. The steady tempo finds its way through my ears and down into my feet. The breathing steadies, the pace steadies, and a peaceful run results.

If my pace is too slow, I will be long in reaching my goal and receive fewer benefits.

If my pace is too fast, I may burn out before I reach my goal.

Some of us, particularly when first starting to homeschool, want to see progress made very quickly. We’ve walked out on a limb with this homeschool thing, and have something to prove. We push, and prod — with about the results you would expect: unhappy children and no peace in the home. Others take a different tack. School starts when the family finally rolls out of bed. There are no expectations, no plans, no goals — and no progress.

Here are a few tips for setting your homeschool pace.

  • Focus more on the process than the product. We live in an industrialized society that tends to focus on “efficiencies.” While that focus may work for widgets, it falls woefully short when dealing with humans. We tend to forget that with humans it is usually the process that matters.

    In short, there is no scientific explanation of learning. Many people have argued that it’s a fallacy to call education and psychology sciences. They are not sciences in the sense that physics is. And when they do behave like sciences, they leave out heart and soul, the most important ingredients.

    Dr. Ruth Beechick, Heart and Mind: What the Bible Says About Learning

    It is in the process of discipling our children that they really learn. And discipling takes time — small, consistent steps each day that eventually lead to the whole.

  • Take into account the individuality of the child. Ever notice that each child seems to have his own way of moving, switching directions, finishing a project, or going from point A to point B? We can respect our child’s individuality while helping him focus on maintaining an even course. No, dawdlers will have to pick up the pace. And those so intent on finishing a project that they neglect others will have to slow down a bit. But we can set goals that fit each child, while training him to work diligently.
  • Motivate by leading, rather than pushing from behind. My children need to see me actively learning. I need to stay a homeschooled mom.
  • Develop and enjoy the relationships with your children. It is through my relationships with my children that learning takes place. That investment allows me to keep track of their needs and be able to meet them where they are with what they need.
  • Remember you are chief in charge of setting the pace — not the book. Most textbooks are written to accomplish a set amount of items in a set amount of time. Math textbooks in particular usually use the first forty lessons or so to refresh minds lax from a 3-month learning vacation. There is a great deal of variability then within the curriculum we use. That means we can use the books as a tool and in such a way as to meet a child’s needs, instead of letting the book push the child through. The key to effectively using traditional materials is the confidence and flexibility to tweak the materials so that they fit our children and family.
  • Focus on developing the basic skills of your younger children. Their future learning endeavors depend on being able to read, write, and calculate. With those skills they will have all they need to delve into history, science, and literature. So while they are young, unless their basic skills are developed and there is plenty of room in the schedule, there is no need to broaden the curriculum.

Some children may, quite naturally, learn to read before others. Some children may catch on to new math concepts, quite naturally, before others. We can set goals that meet our children where they are and, without pushing from behind or leaving them to their own devices, provide a steady pace to reach those goals. The results will be a peaceful process, and children who love to learn.

You’ll find more ideas for setting the pace on our Road Map page.

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