Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Avoid a Homeschool Meltdown

I congratulate myself that after a mere two weeks in the homeschool arena I have already stumbled upon the surest way to pour molasses on the gears of forward progress. Behold as I share it with you:

  1. Begin with the assurance of a professional that your child is highly intelligent, mixed with learning impaired, and "if you have the resources, I recommend you seek an alternate educational situation for her."
  2. Pull the plug on sending your child to school. The next day (I still feel this was the best decision I have yet made in regards to her education). Resolve to use the rest of the school year spending quality time together. a.k.a. "de-school".
  3. Score on getting your kid enrolled in a private half-day half-homeschool. Embark on getting her academically "in shape" to join this group of academically advanced students.
  4. Spend a week going through the book "What your Third Grader Needs to Know" (foundational material of said half-day school) and feeling depressed that your student identifies familiarity with very little of the content. Commit to covering a year's worth of math curriculum in about ten weeks.
  5. At the same time, try to get her up to speed on the classical trivium method you always thought you would use if you attempted homeschool WITHOUT the half-day option. Attempt to cover a 250 year time period, including famous people, famous literature, famous music, and even a bit of science. Oh, and begin to study Latin.
  6. In the process, lose sight of your quiet time, regular Bible reading, Bible memory project, and time spent in prayer for others. Did I mention personal time? It has been sacrificed.

I have followed this recipe for a meltdown. So how am I not having a meltdown yet?

An interesting tree on one of our educational nature walks

First, I have felt prayer support as seldom before in my life. I feel carried along.

Second, I have recognized that my goals of "de-school" and "get up to speed" are mutually exclusive. And I'm starting to think my tasks of building the gifted/impaired student's confidence, and finding the keys to unlock learning for the child, probably trump the convenience of parking her in an academically rigorous, still-traditional learning environment sixteen hours a week.

We will be slowing down to smell the roses more next week. I'm looking forward to it. If we get her "up to speed" in time for the reassessment in May, and she does well with it, then super. But I'm going to stand strong right now in the need to slow down and redefine learning.

Additionally, I am beginning to come to terms with the definition of "gifted." As much as I would like to consider this a "label" I think it's a much bigger factor than that. I found a term tonight called "twice exceptional" that seems to describe my learner with startling clarity, including the fact that she can be exceptionally smart yet be an underachiever. I know this child is an amazing creature, full of fantasy and curiosity about whatever holds her interest at the moment. I have trouble seeing where she excels at anything that could be called "gifted."

And even more than before, I think I have a tiger by the toe. What world might open up for this child if I can help her unlock her brain? The sheer wonder glimpsing the treasure box of her potential, blows me away.

The most important thing I know I need to do Right.Away is to return to following hard after God. Instead of spending all my (precious, extra) time prepping or talking about homeschooling (hey, I need a few minutes for processing here) or grieving the loss of writing time, I resolve to just continue to Drink from the Well of God's Living Word. I remain confident of this, that he who began the good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

Are you trying to avoid a homeschool meltdown? Or seeking a way out of another meltdown? Drop me a line, let me know how I can pray for you. I don't have all the answers, but I do know how to lift the questions up to the One who does.


  1. I wanta leave a longer comment but I gotta get the day going...but I'm so with ya on homeschooling. When we first start, it's bit overwhelming. And oh the pressure we put on ourselves! It'll settle down and you'll find a rythm and material/curriculum that works best for all of you. I'm enjoying reading about your journey.

  2. Someone once told me that to be "gifted" came with its own set of special needs, and I guess I never considered that. I thought maybe it meant more independence, and "smarter", but I see now that is not necessarily the case. Intelligence is part of it, but I also think it has to do with HOW one takes in and processes information, and one's ability to comprehend and reason. My daughter is gifted in that she has "high level" reasoning skills. Her reading level is above grade level, and she truly understands concepts and ideas that are beyond her age (I'm sure from being an only child and living with adults, lol!). But she does NOT like to read books, and does NOT like doing homework, and doesn't like to write or do math. She CAN do them, but worksheets and math problems are of no use to her. And I can't say that I blame her! She really takes to "meaningful" learning, and relating concepts to "real world" situations and that goes a long way for her. She loves the computer, so doing math on the computer also takes her further than doing it on paper.

    Your daughter sounds like she needs a lot of stimulation outside of a classroom...would she enjoy field trips and museums and concerts and things of that nature? They learn SO much that way, and it's a great way to bond. Especially when you connect activities to it. When we went to Mexico last summer, I was amazed at how much my daughter took in and how her curiosity and imagination was sparked. Even by something as simple as watching "Spongebob" in Spanish! :)

  3. I, too, have a girl "full of fantasy and curiosity about whatever holds her interest at the moment."

    Some days I feel like my job is to just get out of her way! But in reality, I do find that giving her assignments exposes her to things that she wouldn't encounter otherwise and helps her learn to be organized.

  4. I love how reflective you are being during this transition. (A necessity, too, I know!) Even more, I love your realization and determined to focus on Him and love who your daughter is in the process.

    Thanks again for sharing your journey with us, Krista.

  5. Krista,
    I just saw you answered "College Station" to the She Speaks question, "Where do you live?" Well turns out, that's where I live too! And I feel like I've been to your blog before. What church do you attend?


  6. i have no real wise things to say. i empathize, understand, and take much encouragement from your writing!

  7. And now homeschooling too – the Burdines are lucky to have a really good mom. And prayer – I’ve felt it too, the more I step into this bloggy community. I think you’re gonna be a totally non melty homeschool mom – if I had a child I’d want you teaching him or her Latin anyday. This was a joy to read Krista – thank you – and God Bless and keep you and all of yours this day.


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