Homeschooling Struggles: Part 2- Struggling Learners


I began homeschooling my first son when he was in kindergarten. What a joy..a firstborn eager to learn all he could just as fast as he could! I thought, wow- this homeschooling really is wonderful; and it was! But when my other children came along I expected they would learn just the way Rick did. Surprise! Each one of my children was very different and learned in the unique way God made them. 

Rick taught himself to read when he was 4 by listening to a Bible storybook I recorded for him. When I got to the end of a page, I would say, “Turn the page”. He would follow along with the words and after some very basic phonics teaching from me, taught himself to read. Another one of my children was just not interested in reading until he was much older. He was a very hands-on learner, much more interested in how things work than in words on a page. But, when the time was right, he got interested and also became an avid reader.

Another one of my children didn’t read until he was 8 years old. However that year, as he would finish up one of his beginning readers, he would then teach his younger sister to read it! So, in the same year, both of those children learned to read.

I’ve had others that were even more challenging. One of my sons, in total frustration with the English language and how illogical it is, burst out, “Maw, the guy who wrote the English language must’ve had a pencil in one and a jug in the other!” I’d been telling him of rules and exceptions to rule. (I’d never realized how illogical it really is sometimes!)

For that son, who by the way, excelled in math and science, I would just read him his history, science, grammar instructions, etc. and the ONLY thing he was “behind” in was the actual skill of decoding the English language. It finally came in the time table that was right for him. The year he learned to read fluently, approx 12 years old, he read John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government! And no, that is not an easy read! Once he got it, he got it.  He used to listen to lots of audiobooks and had a tremendous vocabulary, could do the grammar, etc, once I read him the instructions. I have to admit, I began to wonder if he would ever read, but he’s a great reader now. God has just created everyone differently. We’re not all supposed to be great at everything! If you are using a curriculum that worked with most of your kids, but just isn’t cutting it with one of your children, scrap it and look for one that meets his interests/needs/ level better!

We still have the “schooly” mindset- that certain levels of achievement need to occur at certain ages for EVERY child, and that is just not right. God uniquely fashioned each and every one of your kids. I have always allowed my kids to go at their own rates in each subject, which can create a problem when people ask them what grade they are in. I always just told them to say the grade they would be in, were they attending school. That simplifies it a bit. But think about it, if your child is absolutely fascinated by a certain subject, why hold him back? Let him zoom ahead while the interest is peaked- let him go way beyond. On the other hand, if he’s struggling, park there. Find a different way to explain it. Stay put until he is confident and ready to move on. There really isn’t any such thing as being “behind”, unless you feel it’s more a character issue and he just isn’t applying himself. Then, you work a little more on character. Yes, again character is the superstructure that is at the heart of it all.

Next post,  we’ll look at kids who just don’t seem to even WANT to learn!


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About Marilyn

Marilyn is wife to Rick, Mom to 14 children, Nana to 22 grandchildren (and counting!) and homeschooler for 37 years. She and her husband own Character Concepts which they started for the purpose of helping others raise children with a strong, godly character and Biblical worldview.They have developed character curriculum from preschool through high school, based on what they found worked when teaching their own 14 children over the years. Her passion is to help young moms raise kids of character and enjoy the journey!

4 Replies to “Homeschooling Struggles: Part 2- Struggling Learners”

  1. This is so helpful…..we remember what we should forget, and forget what we should remember. Even the most diligent parents need reminders and encouragement. THank you for taking time to keep us focused on what is eternal!!!!! We love your stuff. Homeschool mom of 5 little ones.

  2. Pingback: Motivating - No One Size Fits All Solution - Heather Haupt

  3. Marilyn,
    How do you handle testing the kids? Virginia requires standardized test scores unless you file a religious exemption. If you have struggling learners how do you relax and let them progress at their own pace if the law requires testing at or above the 4th stanine to continue homeschooling without interference?

    Dyan C.

    • Dyan,
      Virginia also allows you to do an evaluation of your own choosing.
      We’ve done that before (we live in VA also). I would assign them grades in each subject. They want to see that the kids are making progress.
      This is a good option especially if they are struggling.

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