Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 20 – The Inevitability of Learning Gaps. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school, and one is also a brand-new college graduate!
Something I frequently hear from homeschooling parents is this fear that they might forget to cover something. Or that their children will miss out on some vital piece of information. Whether it’s a fear of not getting to all the levels of Build Your Library or just a general fear of forgetting to cover a topic, it’s something I hear on an almost daily basis. Not just in emails or comments directed at me, but in countless homeschool message groups and chats too. If you are one of those parents, know you aren’t alone!
Taking on the education of our children is a huge responsibility and it’s natural that we want to make sure we aren’t missing anything important. We want to give them the best education possible, right? Even with our best effort, we will miss things. Spoiler alert, so do public schools. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I mean, when you think about it, we all have gaps in our education. We just can’t know or remember everything. That is what makes learning such an adventure! There’s always something new to discover!
We do strive to give our children a complete and well-rounded education. When you look at a curriculum like Build Your Library, you inevitably want to start at the beginning and work your way through every level so you won’t miss anything. But what if you are jumping in with a 10-year-old? Should you start with Level 1 just to make sure you cover everything?
The answer to that is no. One of the benefits of BYL, is that you will come back around to almost every topic covered in our levels. For example, if you missed out on World Geography in Level 0, it’s no big deal, because Level 7 covers the same thing, just more in-depth. Missed Level 1 – The Ancient World? Not a problem, because you’ll cover the ancients again in Level 8 and Level 10!
When it comes to home education, the thing to keep in mind is progress. I’ve talked about this many times before, but it always bears repeating. There is no such thing as behind. What there is though, is giving our children the gift of time. They aren’t rushing to keep up with their peers. Nor are they stuck waiting for them to catch up. They can learn at their own pace. Sometimes that pace is slower, and sometimes it’s faster.
That’s why so many homeschooled kids (and parents) have no idea (or care) what grade they are in. Maybe your 8-year-old is doing 5th-grade math and 2nd-grade language arts. That’s perfectly fine! If your child needs more time to fully learn something, that isn’t necessarily a gap. It just means they need more time. All kids have their own timetable. That’s the best thing about homeschooling, honestly, is giving our kids the chance to learn at their own pace.
First of all, kindly ask them to back off! Your kid is not the poster child for all homeschoolers, and it’s extremely rude to put anyone on the spot in order to “prove” something.
Second, who really cares if they can rattle off the times tables while they are just trying to eat or watch a video? I bet they’d get flustered too if they were just minding their business and someone quizzed them to see if they knew the capital of Georgia or the name of the 27th president.
Third, public schooled children also have “gaps in their education”. But no one is going around quizzing them to prove a point. Then again, your child may pull the scene from Captain Fantastic, and rattle off every answer in ridiculously great detail like Viggo Mortensen’s homeschooled kids did when challenged by a busybody.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It’s not a race. Will your child miss out on some vital piece of information? Possibly! But that doesn’t make you a failed homeschool parent. When we notice a gap, we can take a few days or weeks and work on it. My twins struggled hard with writing. So we spent some time before high school really doubling down on that subject. They had a gap, and we took the time to work it. Maybe your child needs more time to learn their times tables or become fluent at reading. We can take the time to work on those skills because we can go at our own pace.
But what if my kid doesn’t know what Memorial Day is? Or has never heard of Albert Einstein? I don’t see that as a fail so much as an opportunity. We want to focus on the big picture, which is raising kids who grow up to be life-long learners. If your child cares enough to seek out answers to their questions, then you have done your job well.
Don’t fear learning gaps. Focus on progress, answer questions when they come up, and keep on keeping on! Homeschooling is hard enough without unnecessary stress. Gaps happen. But learning happens too.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 18 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.