Ya Allah give me strength!
We have been taking things really light for summer with homeschooling work but we we continue to homeschool year round. I'm trying to give myself the head space to plan out what Shanaz is going to be doing for the next year. While we don’t have to follow school terms, or curriculum, we usually stick to some type of structured format.
The past year was pretty overwhelming and puberty hit hard! We were dealing with emotional issues, moods swings and body changes. Shanaz was still mature, affectionate and delightful at times, but some days I just didn't know what to expect. Her developing body was flooded by hormones, her brain was rewiring, her need to discover herself and her place in the world was taking precedence over the other things she values (like family time and schoolwork), I had to acknowledge how much she still loves and needs me with out being to hard on her for the major change in attitude. Shanaz needed respite and so did I. It became too much of a fight to keep her on task. Although I had so many exciting concepts I wanted her to cover for her 7th grade year; they took a back seat and we had to give Shanaz time to grow and adapt to this new stage of life for her. We started the year with 6 subjects : Math, RLA, Social Studies, Science, History & Quran memorization. We ended up with 3 subjects: Math, RLA & Quran memorization.
I allowed her to take her time and did not push her too much. She seemed so fragile. Every little thing caused a dramatic reaction. Alhumdulillah she managed to memorize a juzz of Quran and completed most of her course work in her three subjects. However, for me it seemed like so much time was wasted and I often felt like watching her navigate through each day was like watching wet paint dry.
This is a perfect time to point out how personality differences can be extremely complicated for the homeschooling mother. Just imagine the school teacher with 30 children to figure out. We must realize that our children have different needs from us. Different feelings, work ethics, interest and the like. Shanaz is her own person and rather than to try and force her to move to the beat of my drum; I want her to find her own rhythm.
Each year through the middle school years, you’ll have to readjust your expectations about what and how much they can do on their own with the goal that they will be self-learners in high school. Shanaz is now 13 and entering into her 8th grade school year. This September, we need to get back on tract and add more structured work so we can cover more material than last year. The beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility! I tell this to parents all the time. When you need a break, you take one. When you want to add more, you do so. With high school right on the horizon, my goals are focused on getting my daughter ready for those years. That means focusing on getting her ready for high school level math, working on writing skills, learning to annotate a novel, taking better notes for study, and including a few courses that will count towards high school credit. While there are no requirements for us to follow the national Curriculum, I want to make sure that she has covered most of what she would have done at school for this grade level, so when we get to highscool work we’re at the right point. Shanaz would like to begin taking college courses at sixteen. However if she continues with the limited subjects she has now, she may not reach that goal.
Time is precious for me, while I could piece together an entire curriculum for her, I need to work smarter than harder. I’ve decided it makes more sense to source some already put together courses online for her. This years focus is going to be Math, history and science. She will also continue with Quran memorization. In previous years she would have specific book readings and book reports due quarterly. I'm thinking I will add that in again but as a replacement for her daily RLA course work.
How I plan to get my middleschooler back on track!!!
I'm starting with firm faith and belief that the worst is over and the best is yet to come. I will continue to make Duah and just listen to her when she wants to talk. We will have a weekly task list with everything that needs to be completed. Then, set the expectations for her and let her choose what she wants to work on and when. It's important to me that my children are independent self starters. I don't want to force her to do specific subjects each day. I don’t want to demand that she start at any specific time. The only rule is that she needs to complete everything I assigned on her weekly task list by Friday evening. I want Shanaz to feel like she has control over her days. And I no longer want to stand over her and micro-manage her time. Teaching time management is essential. It is an important life skill she will need not only during her high school and college years, but in the workplace and at home in her adult life.
On Sunday night each week I will go through the planner to ensure it is complete and ready for her week. This will allow us to put the responsibility in her hands. She knows what she needs to cover, and how to do that each week. Then if work is not complete she loses out on free time, tv time, friend time, or whatever the case may be until she completes the work in her planner. There are times when I will see that we have a busy couple of weeks, or we just have an unusual amount of out of the house time, so we are unable to be home to focus on school work. When that occurs I will recommend she stretch one week over two, or tell her to loop in math etc. This allows her to see how we need to be flexible sometimes, and adjust to the ever changing needs in our lives, while still keeping up with the tasks that need to be completed. MaShaAllah I am hopeful that things will get better. I have already noticed a little more pep in her steps. May Allah preserve our children.