When I was in college, this was the popular phrase from our education professors. "Monitor and adjust! Monitor and adjust!" Of course, at the time, that seemed very intimidating. I'm supposed to teach AND monitor the students' responses AND adjust on the fly as needed?!?!? Talk about sending a rookie teacher into sheer panic... (We are all familiar with those teachers we have had that paid no attention to us at all and just droned on with no interest in anything other than their agenda for that class for that day; that usually translated into B-O-R-I-N-G and little real learning on our part as students. But I digress...)
Like anything else, this monitoring and adjusting thing got easier over time. I am quite sure that I was never even close to great at doing this; chalk it up to being young and terrified of veering too far from the pre-chosen curriculum. That phrase became one of my sarcastic phrases to say to other teachers when I was frustrated with a less-than-smooth day. When I was training in the corporate world, no one else really "got it" so I would say it myself as a pep talk (sort of).
Well, 5+ years after leaving the formal world of education and training behind, I found myself with a kindergartner to home school. Somehow, I left that phrase behind but should not have. Home schooling offers the ultimate opportunity to monitor learning and adjust as needed. Of course, this is much easier said than done. I'll be the first to tell you that I can get very focused on the agenda of tasks that is in front of me and don't really like having to adjust. That meant that Baker and I had (and still do sometimes) days that were more frustrating than fun. I picked up some great insight at the webinar that I attended last spring. I shifted some thinking and some methods and ta-da! Things improved.
Now that you want to reach through your computer and throttle me, think about it. Moms do this ALL THE TIME - day in and day out. You planned to run some errands but someone wakes up with a fever. It's a snow day; now what? And, on and on it goes. By now, it's almost second nature. You're already an expert! It should be some sort of Motherhood Merit Badge.
I'll explain why this has been coming to my mind so much lately. We are in the middle of a winter full of dangerous weather and viral illnesses - it seems to be one or the other or both here at Chez Loften. I've had to take a deep breath many days and think "monitor and adjust". If one of us was not up for the full workload, I pare it down to the essentials so that we don't get too out of our routine. I then have to readjust my lesson plans for the next week. Baker was not catching on to some things in math as quickly as I thought he should be able to so I took some time to make a couple of new games and bought a couple of things at Mardel. (I'll do separate blog posts on those later.) It worked - progress; happier student, happier mommy/teacher!
I encourage you to do some monitoring and adjusting of your own. Is somebody not catching on to a concept? Put it aside for a week or two. Is somebody getting bored? Have a game day or an "independent study" day. Is somebody reduced to tears because your child is being so stubborn? Look at what skills he or she is supposed to be using (finding the answer and writing the number) and "fix" it. For example, I bought some small circle stickers at Staples, found some addition worksheets, wrote the answers on the stickers (not in order) and let him have at it. He did great! He knew the answers but it was the writing of the numbers in a small space that was frustrating him so this solution worked well. And, hey, show me a kid who doesn't want to work with stickers? Do they hate reviewing spelling words? Let them quiz you; Baker gets quite a kick out of this one. I have one friend who dropped everything when she found out about a science fair so she and the kids did a great display board and lots of activities based on the armadillo that had been in their garden the day before. To make it even crazier, their car wouldn't start the day of the fair so she did a video clip of their presentation and posted it on Facebook. How awesome is that? Talk about the ultimate in monitoring and adjusting!
Remember, your child IS getting a high quality education. God had called you and He will equip you to do this. I read an article the other day that really resonated with me. Basically, the author was saying that it's easy to worry that your child is getting less academically (odds are that they are not). However, they are getting intense character training and good character will take your child much farther in life and make them more like Christ than good grades ever will. Carry on, my fellow travelers. This is a road less traveled but one with an amazing destination at the end.