“We didn’t get much done.”
Have you ever said those words following a day, week, or month of school? I certainly have said it as a teacher in a class of 18+ students and I have certainly said it as the teacher of my own preschool age girls. As a matter of fact this repetitive phrase is used by teachers everywhere especially through the months of October, November, and December! These are tough months to get through material because of the holidays. First, time is cut short because of breaks, holiday program practice, and special projects and crafts. Second, children are extremely excited and distracted by all the celebration and fun happening during these months. It can feel like a fight to get children to focus on their school work.
It’s o.k. Just take a deep breath and do the best you can.
During these months teachers in traditional schools often do review work over what they have been covering since the beginning of the school year. Conferences usually happen in October so its a time to benchmark student progress. Some new material is covered in October and November, but by December its usually a lost cause! Focus is on wrapping up for the holidays and going on break. The teachers are just as antsy for vacation as the students! Teaching brand new material right before a three week break just doesn’t make much sense. December especially is the to time re-view, re-teach, and practice concepts already taught over the last three months.
The homeschooling parent should be bolstered by this knowledge because it means you are probably not as far behind as you think you are! This is a hard season to get students to focus and complete their work no matter what kind of school you attend! Follow your child’s academic and social needs. Allow yourself to slow down in the linear race to complete the checklist of academic concepts and work laterally with ample and varied practice of concepts already learned. Using new methods and materials to re-teach a concept they aren’t getting, or simply need more practice in will re-kindle their interest during a season when interest in academic work wanes.
This month I’ve forgone a theme entirely in the midst of all the other craziness and I’m just refusing to feel bad about it. I previously introduced Hannah to 8 letters (a,m,s,t,i,c,p,r), but could tell she did not have mastery of some of the them. Instead of continuing on to other letters I changed out the beginning sound objects for her to practice with, made little letter activity booklets using Explode the Code (which she loooooves!), and started work on her own ABC book. We did a lot of work with the Red and Blue Counting Rods in the beginning, but again I wanted to see deeper mastery of the material. So, I’m re-teaching the first lesson and sensing her making those connections I felt she was missing. Even Haleigh at 1 1/2 wanted to count the Red and Blue Rods and allowed me to move her hand along each section while counting out loud! Her patience and enthusiasm surprised me and I learned not to underestimate her!
Most importantly, follow your child. Always. There is no rush. Allowing yourself to slow down takes the pressure off and invites enjoyment of each other, the pursuit of knowledge, and the moment. There is enough stress during the holidays without adding on pressure and guilt for not accomplishing everything you needed/wanted to this month or even this semester.
Enjoy a much needed break! When we begin again with the New Year it will be a fresh start. There will be some review to jog memories as to what was being studied, re-teaching of concepts forgotten, rebuilding routines, followed by new lessons and gained momentum that will carry us into Spring Break to sustain us till the end of the school year.