The stages of learning can be like the ocean. It can be churning and grinding and you can ride high on the swells and then it can dip down low and almost be motionless.
When You Hit A Learning Plateau in Homeschooling
Everybody at one time or another rides those waves of learning. Surviving the wild ride though can be quite another thing.
Also, it can be hard to know if the rest of your children are on target because you may only have the experience of your oldest child, which may not have struggled much with any subjects.
If you plow ahead with the curriculum like something is wrong with your child instead of the curriculum or the skill that is being taught, then you might be banging your head against a wall.
Believe me, I have done it and not only does it zap you of energy, but tears normally follow.
Here are some things that have worked not only for my boys, but also for others that I have helped.
4 Short Cuts to Overcoming Learning Plateaus in Homeschooling
- Do stop. You may think that this is easy to do, but not when you feel like your kids are already behind. The reason to stop is to re-evaluate so that you can make progress. It’s hard to remember, but stay honed in on the goal that you want your children to learn instead of completing assigned work.
- Do communicate with your child. Don’t try to figure this out by yourself. If your child can talk and explain his feelings, then he should be able to tell you how he feels. No, you are not looking for him to figure out the problem, that is your job. Let him express how this skill or subject makes him feel. From the youngest child to the teen, all they want is to know we are listening. Listen not just with your ears, but with your heart. Listen for key words that tell you if he is frustrated. If he is, this could mean that he is not developmental ready for the material. Too, this may give you a clue that it may be that nasty old word: rebellion. Your child may not be hitting a learning plateau at all, but might be heading toward being a learning rebel. More times than not though, my experience has been that it is a learning plateau.
- Do take advantage of free online tests or consultations. Children just need time at certain stages in their life and learning to marinate a little longer with subjects. So going back over what they know does not make them get behind, but actually they become masters of learning. For example, when teaching a child how to read, don’t move them on to the next level book if they struggle with each page at the current level. Move them down a notch to a book they have mastered and it will boost confidence, instill a love for reading, and give them a real can do attitude. Too, it allows them to stay at that skill level until they are ready for the next skill. Also, most homeschool friendly companies are very parent friendly and they know best how their curriculum should be used. Call them and convey your concerns. Give them a chance to give you a tip or two.
- Vary the routine or approach. This seems to be the biggest hurdle to overcoming a learning plateau. One year, Mr. Awesome was struggling with grammar and vocabulary. I realized that he wasn’t understanding it when reading on his own. Even though we discussed it orally, he didn’t get it when he did the practice problems. It was hard to determine if we were on target or if he needed to go down a level. I started doing the whole lesson orally and he got past the plateau. At that time, he learned better by still interacting with me. We were able to go ahead with it, but I had to change what I was doing because he understood it better by using his auditory skills and hands-on index cards. I made it fun by using index cards to stick all over him to help him remember words. We took what could have been something we both were frustrated with and turned it into fun and something memorable. I value the look on his face and the fun he has had because that is what has spurred us on now into his high school years.
- Don’t compare children. And, I don’t mean just within your family.That is something as home educators we almost never try to do in our own home, but then we look at other families’ children and try to go there. It never works. For example, I have seen some kids who are very knowledgeable on rocks, or caves, or dinosaurs, but then another child who hardly mentions the words in their school. What are we to surmise? That one child is ahead and the other child is behind. A huge No! Homeschoolers are as unique as each of your children and the truth of it is that many homeschoolers can go through their whole journey and never do an in depth study of rocks, caves or dinosaurs. Children do not need to learn the same in depth level on each subject. This is a true gem in homeschooling because we don’t produce miniature robots of each other. Find out what you want YOUR child to know from this skill or subject and move on or stay on it.
If you have to stay on a skill or level or even return weeks or months later to it, count your blessings that you have the freedom to do so.
Like the ocean, learning has an ebb and flow and you will not always be moving forward.
Sometimes you just have to float gently along and take in the sites. When you do, try to remember that floating along is still forward movement, even in baby steps. That is progress.
Have you hit a learning plateau yet? What do you do?
You may also love these tips:
- When You Are Afraid of Homeschool Science Gaps
- How to Go From a Boring Homeschool Teacher to Creative Thinker (Boring to BAM)
- Wipe Out Self-Doubt: 13 Ways to Show Homeschool Progress (And How I Know My Sons Got It)
Hugs and love ya,