Setting Your Kids Free


Do you feel bound by your curriculum? Do you feel guilty if you don’t do every problem? Are your kids overwhelmed, bored, or frustrated on a regular basis? I want to encourage you to free your children and free yourself, too!

A simple tip to remember is to give your child enough practice to challenge them, but not so much that you overwhelm them. I wish there were a simple rule for how much to give them. I used to think the textbook writers knew this and what was provided in the curriculum is exactly what every child needed. Boy, did I ever find out the hard way!

Every child is unique. We know that. We see it played out every day, but we forget it’s true when it comes to schoolwork sometimes. Every curriculum I’ve ever seen generally gives way too many problems. The reason for this is so that the classroom teacher can assign work and have enough to keep everyone busy as she works with the struggling students.

I’ve found that LESS IS BETTER. When your child sees an end to the work, they are motivated to get it done, especially in the homeschooling scenario where they get more free time if their work is done. If they don’t see an end to it, they are very likely going to get discouraged and become distracted with other things more entertaining to think about.

Just imagine if I gave you a page with 45 division problems that you HAD to complete. You’d be very upset with me, upset with the textbook, etc. If you can complete 10 problems and get them right, then you’ve learned the skill desired. If you can’t get them right, then you need to stay working at that particular skill till you’ve mastered it. However, give them 10 today and 10 more tomorrow. I have found it MUCH more motivating for the student. They try harder when they see an end to it. Overwhelming them is so counterproductive- kind of like a dead end street. They lose motivation, hate the thought of doing it again tomorrow ,always feeling like a failure.

Find the skill level they are comfortable with and then increase it gradually. Let them succeed. As soon as they understand, you can move on, but sometimes a little review is motivating as they realize they actually understand how to do a skill.

I wish there were an easy way to tell, but that balance will vary from child to child.  That’s why YOU need to study YOUR CHILD and don’t follow the teacher’s guide to a tee. You need to assign what works for your child. That’s why they need you. If you can find that balance, and then provide them with motivation for what they will do after “school” work is done, you’ll have done them a great service, and they won’t be hating to do school every day.

We had one son who built bookcases. When his school work was done, he could create new projects and sell them to others. Another son had a belt making business. Another kept rabbits. One daughter started her own photo book creation business as a teen and started doing photo shoots for people. Another daughter spent her afternoons helping a young mom who had twins, one being a Down syndrome baby.

This is one of the beauties of homeschooling: Education that considers the individual student, and one that still allows kids to live outside the classroom.

As you learn who God created your child to be, you’ll start to see their God-given interests develop and you’ll get ideas for helping them to start following their passions after the “school work” is done. Yes, there are things we all need to know; and no, they can’t love every minute of school, but when you learn to cut out what is merely “busy work” for them, you will set them free.

I love to watch kids sitting next to their moms as I speak on this topic. I see them elbowing their moms and whispering to them. Then the kids come up and thank me for what I shared. Every child has unique interests and passions, and oh the joy of setting them free to learn and explore that special someone God created them to be.

So, loosen up on the textbook schedule. Don’t be afraid to decide what is best for each child. You home will be a happier place for it!

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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!

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