Friday, August 14, 2009
Tea Party or White Water Rafting?
As you think about materials and activities to use with your children, it's important to take their personalities and interests into consideration. Publishers design materials to be useful to large groups, and it wouldn't make sense from a business standpoint to try and individualize every aspect of the curriculum. As homeschoolers, educators, and parents supplementing their child's education we can individualize to best meet our child's needs. I found that my children did better when I made the curriculum work for them by changing it to fit their learning styles and supplementing with games and other media that would appeal to them. I had one child out of three who could easily go with a curriculum in its original form. The other two needed something different or various alterations to the material for them to maximize their learning opportunities. My daughter, Beckie, is a very versatile child. She easily engages in activities traditionally geared toward girls and in her earlier years could dress up in frilly princess outfits and stroll about with a lacy umbrella and oodles of fake jewels. Beckie could just as easily hold her own in activities typically thought of as designed for rough and tumble boys' play and could make vehicle noises and Lego creations with the best of them. She is already a second degree black belt and frequently sports numerous bruises obtained during her martial arts classes. Beckie made an observation in church awhile back that I hadn't even thought about, and I had to laugh when she pointed it out. The women's ministry was offering a Mother/Daughter Tea for the women to attend. It was a fun time for dressing up and enjoying pretty china and the company of other women and girls. The men's ministry was planning a white water rafting trip that would include some camping and outdoor adventures. Beckie leaned over to me and commented, "Why do the guys get to go white water rafting and we get tea? I don't even like sitting around drinking tea, but I'd love to go white water rafting!" I agree that Beckie's options were rather limiting for her. She is physically fit and enjoys outdoor activities. The rafting trip would be a better match for her, and I'm confident she could have kept up with the boys in the group. In this case, it wasn't a choice she was offered and it was tea or nothing. Beckie made a good point, though, and it reminded me not to limit her because of her age or gender. Someday Beckie will go white water rafting. She may develop skills that are not usually taught in standard curriculum or at the generally expected time for her age. That's o.k., and if someday she develops an affinity for tea parties, I'll support her in that as well. We shouldn't hold our kids back because they are interested in something that won't be covered in this year's scope and sequence or because they aren't at the "right" grade yet. Instead, let's figure out how to make our materials work for what our kids are ready to learn, and remember who they are as individuals as we make our choices.