7 Tips For When You Feel Like Your Child Is Behind In School

Have you ever been concerned that your child might be behind in their grade level? Or, have you seen your child’s peers excelling in areas where she struggles? Or, do you “know” that your kiddo is struggling and now  you’re considering putting him back into a formal schooling situation to catch back up?

If that’s you, then please keep reading! My hope is that you walk away from this post encouraged and more hopeful.

We’ve all been there!

The thing is, most (if not all) homeschool parents have worried at some point that they won’t teach well, and that their child will get behind as a result. All parents want their children to succeed, after all.  And we want to be sure that their children know what they “should” know at each grade level. So we buy books that tell us what every __th-grader needs to know and make sure we cover everything listed. And that is fine. Except when it becomes apparent that a child is not going to make it through the list. So then what?

A Quick Story:

A friend of mine illustrated this perfectly. When her daughter was in kindergarten, she was working through the ABeka kindergarten curriculum. About the time they were coming to the section about how to tell time, they got distracted away from school for a couple weeks. She was adamant about getting back to that workbook to be sure that her kiddo learned how to tell time. Because that’s an important box to check — right? Well, the couple weeks turned into several weeks, and then months…it might have been summertime… But guess what? The beginning of first grade came around, and somehow, magically, my friend’s daughter already knew how to tell time. Even though they had never gotten back to that workbook that said she should learn it in kindergarten. Which brings us nicely to number one!

1. Often what kids “should” know is a function of what they NEED to know.

That experience teaches a HUGE lesson: if they need to know it, they will learn it eventually. And WHEN they need to know it will vary from year to year, age to age — and child to child.

2. Don’t let worry of falling behind exist in your mind any longer.

There is no absolute SHOULD list for each grade level. The appropriate list will be based on who your child is and how they learn. That’s something that only YOU will know best. I want to reassure you that even if your child is doing work that is “below” their grade level, there is no need to feel as if you are failing or that your child is not learning what they should.

3. Everybody learns differently.

I remember reading levels being a really big deal when I was in grade school. After some standard test or other, I recall feeling particularly proud of  a score that said I read 2 grade levels higher. My math scores, however? Let’s just say they were not nearly as impressive! My brother took the same test and was reading a grade below his level, but his math scores were 3 levels higher! This illustrates what you probably already know, especially if you have more than 1 child: kids, even siblings, learn at drastically different paces! And those variances actually tend to increase in homeschooled kids, as they are typically given more flexibility to pursue their interests than what standardized education allows for. So don’t be concerned when you see these distinctions: they are completely normal.

4. There are a lot of chances to “catch up” in development

Development does not, contrary to popular belief, happen on a timetable or in concrete stages. And what appears to be true at one age can change over time. For example, brain development occurs earlier in girls than in boys, hence, the saying that girls mature faster than boys. But boys do catch up. Or for example, babies born prematurely often show some developmental delays, but  many catch up to their peers by the time they are in adolescence. And we don’t really know how or why this happens developmentally. Each child is on his or her own course.

5. You are not ruining their lives or messing them up.

I know that fear all too well. Will they learn what they need to know to be successful? Are we covering all the bases; checking all the boxes? Am I doing enough? Don’t we all have nights like that; staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, wondering if they will be messed up for life. We can convince ourselves of the worst things, but we often forget how capable we actually are, especially when it comes to knowing what’s best for our kids!

6. With some time, you will better understand your child learning style and how best to plan their educational path.

And the most amazing part is, that they too will most likely understand better how to walk along that path to a place of progress and increased knowledge. As the years go by you will begin to see that what you thought was so detrimental in the beginning wasn’t really anything to lose sleep over — and that everything is gonna turn out just fine. For now you may just have to trust me on that.

7. So be encouraged!

This homeschool life we’ve chosen is challenging enough without taking on more than we need to. Yes, we should practice due diligence to be responsible to fulfill the task of educating our children — but that doesn’t always have to look like we’ve been conditioned to think it does. The cookie cutter standard isn’t really real. Embrace your baby’s individuality and enjoy the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling can allow in your schedule. And enjoy the journey, without so much of the worry!

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