Friday, October 8, 2010

How Much is Enough Progress?

My Man-Son's high school first end-of-quarter period was today. Since SJ and I started homeschooling on his first day, I'm declaring a quarter's worth of work, too. But it got me thinking. And not necessarily in a good way.

What? We're only on Chapter Two of the science text? We're still on the Native American unit of U.S. History? How can that be considering the amount of work we seem to be doing each day? I felt that creeping vine of despair that so many homeschooling parents know all too well tighten its grip. He'll never be ready for high school!

Just last week I blogged about progress. This week determined to check my confidence.

I look at the volume of text and units still to cover and shudder. How in the world? My Handler tells me that she has this same conversation with nearly every homeschool parent. She reminded me, bless her heart, that textbook producers design their curriculum assuming that is the only thing you will choose to do each day, that even in the classroom, she was lucky to get two-thirds through any given textbook. She essentially gave me permission to skip units *gasp* and to offer alternatives (such as a well-done documentary) for others.

Deep breath.

It's time to remind myself of my goals for SJ.

I want him to know how to learn, to look at a text and know how to get what he needs from it.

I want him to remember what is important and know what sources to access for what he doesn't. I am not interested in having him recite memorized blather for the sake of memorizing or to burn through workbook pages for the sake of progress. 

I want him to feel success in a job well done, not satisfaction in a job turned in.

When I put these goals in front of me, I am still not convinced we have made enough progress but I can be positive it is more than he would have gotten in public school, especially if his class had fast-tracked to Chapter Seven by now. I know what I have invested...I just have to wait and trust for the results. It's a long wait.

On a side note: All this concern over progress makes me really understand and be saddened by the plight of teachers measured by progress and student results. I am all for accountability but if I can barely do it for one child (whom I love), how can they do it for 30+ students with wildly varying learning styles? That may be a post for another day.



  1. I totally understand. I hate getting these bi ol' books and never finishing them. I worry that my kids will miss something. But they all learn what they need to, by the time they go to college. :) Have a great week!

  2. What a great post! I was just struggling with this, this week. I felt like a complete and utter failure as a homeschooling parent. We hadn't finished the "second grade work" and we've started third grade. Ack! This has reminded me that we don't have to do all 180 grammar lessons and that I have invested a ton of useful and purposeful time and energy into my daughter. Thanks!

  3. I love your last paragraph. You hit the nail on the head. I just found your blog and am now following you!

  4. I have graduated three, so I know your concern. The biggest thing I learned is that my children don't stop learning when I am done teaching them. If I did my job well, they will spend their whole life learning. If they don't get it all now, it is okay.

    It is nice to read "wrap-ups" from other parents who have older children.

  5. Thanks, all of you. It's so nice to know we are in this together.