Keeping up … this is one area I see causing a lot of stress for almost all homeschoolers, but especially those with special children.

We start homeschooling so we can teach according to our beliefs and the interests and abilities of our children. Yet we spend so much time trying to keep up with the public schools. We push and push and push until our children rebel or fail.

Why do we do this? What does it benefit anyone? If you want to keep up with the public schools, why are you homeschooling? If we look at the public schools, are these the standards we really want for our children? Right now, many of these children graduate without the needed skills to succeed on their own. The schools tend to teach to the test in order to remain opened. They are not concerned with your child’s interest and abilities or if they develop the love of lifelong learning.

Here is a personal story of this young lady who attended a public high school, graduating with honors. After moving out on her own, she was unable to keep a checkbook, budget, plan on menu, or even cook. Admittedly, these skills are not even taught in many of the schools today. Yet, as homeschoolers, we can spend time teaching our children to run a home successfully. In my own home, my children were able to keep house, cook, and plan a menu. A few years later, they were creating budgets and managing a mock checkbook. It is not necessary to repeat all the stories of young teens that graduate and have no real reading skills or other skills where they can be successful in a career.

So, what standards are you trying to keep up with? When I realized my youngest son had a number of challenges, I had to stop and think about what I really wanted for him to be able to do when he left my home.

What do you want your child to do? Make a list. Now realize that you have a number of years to teach those skills to mastery level. They may never master all the skills but they can learn how to do most of them with help such as a special notebook.

Learning history, science, and art is good. I am not saying those are not important. What you have to decide with your own special child is how much do they really need to know outside of life skills? Do they need to be able to recite all the major battles in history? Or do they need to know how to access that information when needed? Do they need to know the process of photosynthesis or do they need to know which plants make the best meals for optimum health? Do they need to know how to solve a math problem with four unknowns? Or do they need to plan a budget, keep a checkbook, and figure out the amount of a sale price?

Math is one of my son’s challenges. He has a hard time with concepts. I finally decided to go with a business math program that will teach him the needed math skills to succeed in life. He is not going to be an engineer. He only needs some basic skills to perform daily living chores.

Are we trying to raise rocket scientists, or are we trying to help our special child to develop to the highest level possible and achieve their potential?

Why stress over keeping up? I have a teaching degree. I want to remind you that there is little teaching done each hour of a class period. The teacher may teach for 15 minutes. Then the students work on their own filling out paperwork or worksheets.

In the public school system, each topic is studied on an increment level. Each year reviews the previous year and adds a tiny bit more of information; which will in turn be repeated the next year with a little more added.

With your own child, you can give individual attention. You don’t have to repeat the information year after year as they do in public schools. Instead, when your child is ready, you can study the information in its entirety at their speed so they know it. Then you move on to another topic.

With this in mind, why does it matter whether they learn state history or biology in 4th grade or 7th grade? As long as they learn the needed skills by the time they are ready to leave home.

By adopting this more relaxed frame of mind, the stress shrinks. You can relax and enjoy teaching your child and developing a love of learning. You tackle a subject as they are ready to learn it.

If you are still concerned, there are some wonderful resources about scope and sequences for homeschoolers. These are easy to find online.

As long as your student learns the needed information, college is still an option if they choose that route. They don’t ask what year your child learned how to multiply fractions. They only want to know he can. They don’t care when he learned how to write an essay, as long as he can do it when he enters their school.

Considering educating from this framework, who are we trying to keep up with? One of the beauties of homeschooling is the chance to work within your child’s framework. If she needs more time in one area, we have the freedom to give her that time. If he moves faster in one area than another, we can accommodate that. Allow your child to develop at the rate God has for him to fulfill the purpose he was created for.