Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things
We began this school year in almost the exact same place we did last year.
(and I don’t mean our kitchen table…)
My youngest son is one of the hardest working kids I have ever met. He has had to be – most of the time, he works twice as hard for twice as long to get about half the results of other children.
So it really shouldn’t surprise me that we are still in Level Two of our reading curriculum. Even more so, it shouldn’t matter. On my good days, it doesn’t.
But some days, the truth is, it feels like we are not making any progress at all.
When I worked outside the home, I loved feeling like I had achieved something. Measurement was an important motivator for me. It still is.
While my job has changed substantially, my desire to see results and have the satisfaction of making progress has not.
Over the past seven years, I have learned that sometimes, if I want to see progress in our homeschool, I am going to have to go looking for it on my own.
How to Measure Progress When It Feels Like You’re Not Making Any
Take A Step Back
Sometimes, I need to remind myself of how far we’ve come. While our timeline might look different than others, there is still progress being made.
Last week, I pulled out Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons (aff). I haven’t looked at this book in years. When we first started homeschooling, everyone I knew who homeschooled said it was amazing. I tried it with my youngest when he was seven and again when he was eight. It was a disaster.
Out of curiosity and a desire to see some evidence of growth, I had my son read one of the passages aloud to me from the end of the book. He did it flawlessly.
Sometimes, we need to take a step back, even in the curriculum we are using, to remind ourselves of the progress we’ve made. My little guy reading that one silly passage about pots encouraged me for a week.
Teacher Knows Best
One of the easiest ways to measure our progress is to ask my sons to teach it back. Either to me, each other or the dog – it doesn’t matter. It always amazes me to hear them sharing all they’ve learned.
I find this to be a much more effective way of seeing how well they have retained the information, than any test or quiz. Plus, it’s a lot more fun.
Focus On Strengths
I find that most of the time if I am feeling defeated by a lack of progress, it is usually because my focus is on my sons’ areas of weakness, rather than their strengths.
If I really want to see how well my boys are doing, I need to look at the complete picture. My sons make far more progress in their areas of natural strength than in subjects that are a challenge.
This is true for all of us, and shouldn’t negate the increased success we see in areas of strength. Even more so, I need to remember that their strengths are what will impact their future performance most!
Spelling may not be his strength, but humor certainly is!
Record It All
This is my number one tip for seeing progress, even when it feels like there is none.
At the end of the day, every single day, I list out all of our learning activities. On days when it feels like our learning is a complete disaster, I am still surprised to see how much we really accomplished.
Keeping a record of our learning activities serves as a reminder that my perception of progress is not always reality.
Often times, I will look at my list and think, “If one of my homeschool friends showed me this, I would be impressed with their day.” It’s amazing what a little perspective can do for a despairing homeschool mom.
The truth is this: we can be our own worst enemies.
Looking for the good, finding the progress and celebrating success not only helps keep our learning on track, it makes it much more joyful.
Do you find yourself feeling like you are not making any progress? What do you do to help move forward in your homeschool?