This year my youngest son is in the 2nd grade. I’ve been thinking a lot lately how different it feels homeschooling him than it did when I was homeschooling 2nd grade with my eldest son. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but homeschooling for the second time around seems so much easier. Maybe it’s because I’m an experienced homeschooling mom now, or maybe it’s his personality, or a little bit of both.
Now that I’ve “been there done that,” I am more laid back about teaching academics. From the experience I had with my elder son, I know my younger son will become fluent at reading in his own good time. Though I’m doing the same kind of reading lessons with him as I did with his older brother, I have no inner angst about whether what I’m doing is right or not. If he can’t remember something, I simply say, “That’s okay. You will.”
My younger son is also different from his brother. For example, it astonishes me how he’ll fill out worksheets with minimal complaint, and sometimes he asks for certain workbooks! I couldn’t use any worksheets with my eldest when he was younger. Now he’s fine with them, but back then, I had to be more creative about teaching him. We did a lot of things orally, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and did hands-on projects that took several afternoons to complete.
My younger son loves hands-on projects, too, but he doesn’t initiate them or request them like his older brother did. I have to make a point of giving him an opportunity to do some of the fun experiments and building projects I did with his older brother, but he doesn’t always want to do them. He likes to play independently, so I give him plenty of time to do that.
When I look back at my eldest son’s 2nd grade, it seems like there was more time during the day even though I was trying to teach while also handling his younger brother. We went on more play dates and nature walks. But now this same young man has different interests, and as he gets older, there is more to teach. So I do more lesson planning, and as a result, I do more lesson planning for the 2nd grader, too. He’s getting lessons that his older brother didn’t have to do in the 2nd grade, such as Spanish, history and cello lessons. He also listens to more middle school-age books that I read aloud.
Each of the 2nd grades I’ve conducted in this house has been similar, yet very different, too. They’ve each fulfilled the needs of the individual child while also fitting into what our family needs at the time. This makes me happy. My boys would not have gotten this individualized 2nd grade in a traditional school, and they would not have had the opportunity to figure out what they like to do, if they had they been restricted to a one-level curriculum with a heavy emphasis on a few academic subjects. Being part of a family where all the members are working on individual goals alongside each other has been enriching and inspiring for my boys as well as for my husband and me.
Do you have more than one child that you homeschool? What have you done differently each time, or what has the experience of teaching multiple children taught you?
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.