In our early years of home educating we were constantly second guessing ourselves and questioning whether we were doing the right thing. We both had an overwhelming sense that we were, but there were many days of doubting especially in the very early years.
Were we doing enough?
Were we doing enough of the right sort of things?
Were we setting the kids up for failure as learners because we were directing their learning from start to finish? Should we be more free range and less instructive?
We're now seven years on from where we started. Michael is staring down the barrel of 15 - he's not 8 years old anymore.
And despite our approach, or maybe because of our approach, he's become a self-directed learner. Yesterday was our first day back at home education. As soon as his courses were available he was on the computer looking up his subjects for the term and getting a feel for where he'd be working. Within less than half an hour he was immersed in learning about Julius Caesar as in English they are studying the Shakespeare.
He moved to Maths and realised that the lessons were beginning halfway through a unit on Algebra. We talked about it and decided to go back about 5 weeks to last term and start Algebra at the beginning. It means some quite a lot of extra work. Apart from a wrinkled nose and a bit of an annoyed sigh, Michael simply picked up the printouts off the computer and started tackling the work. An hour later and he'd worked through the first four lessons. It's amazing how much you can do when you don't have to contend with classroom management issues, waiting for the slowest worker, or waiting for the teacher to explain something.
He accomplished more in three hours yesterday than he's done in ages. I can tell by the degree of mental exhaustion he suffered from last night. By 9pm he was utterly whacked.
This morning he was on the computer by 7am checking out the next lot of courses and up to his eyeballs in the Biblical Studies lessons. He needs help in some areas, and no help at all in others. He's mostly independent, but occasionally misses the most crucial piece of information completely...like the need for the book for Biblical Studies. Thankfully he has such a good grounding in this area that he could answer the questions without the book - but the need for the book had completely passed him by. We've fixed it now of course. It's those things which highlight his need for 1:1 assistance.
Seven years ago I had to do everything. Now I need to do a little tweaking and he's off on his own as a self-directed learner. A little while from now and all the pieces will be in place and he'll be completely independent. We're accomplishing what we set out to do, and it feels very satisfying.