I often worry are we doing enough ? Are the kids making enough progress / improvement? Sometimes it feels like instead of 3 steps forward 1 step back it is 5 steps in a totally random different direction that has no bearing on where I wanted us to go. I call those side-steps.
Since we have started down the home-ed path I have come to see time and time again that often a step to the side is just as good as a forward step. A step to the side, a step down a different route is not a backward step. It is movement. And yes a side-step is normally always unplanned on my side and most of the time (100% of the time) a side-step is made by one of the kids, as they branch off into a new interest. Any movement that the kids are making, any progress is always actually a forward step for the simple reason that they are not standing still, they are directing their own learning.
One of the most significant things that I remember from my entire schooling career was a talk with a guidance counselor. She said when you come to a decision in life and you have 2 options. What is better – to stand still, worrying about which is the correct path and to not do anything because you are so worried you are going to take the incorrect route or just go for it. And what is the worst that can happen – you realize you choose the wrong path and then make changes to correct it. But you if never try, if you just stand still with worry you will never get anywhere, you will never learn anything.
It is something that really spoke to me. I would much rather make a wrong choice than let my whole life go past because I am too scared to choose. And it is something that I have chosen to apply to our home-ed life. Sometimes we take the “scenic route” to get there but at least we are still moving, we are always learning. Sometimes we end up learning about something that is not considered part of traditional kids education, sometimes we take what must seem to outsiders looking in a very BIG side-step down a strange path. But if those side steps are following the kids interests then they are learning.
My son spent ages looking at airport designs, what the signs on the run-ways mean, learning all about different planes – and yes I totally admit that would not be what some people would consider an educational topic. But while he has been doing all of this he has read LOADS, he has created all kinds of aeroplanes, even spoken about a business model for owning his own aeroplane business and how he would cost seats outs, maths, measurement, drawing and so much more. Yes a lot of people would see this as a side-step because it is not part of the national curriculum. But Side-steps like this are normally when my kids learn the most and when I look back those side steps are actually MASSIVE steps forward.
So instead of standing still worrying that we are not ticking all the correct boxes and doing everything everyone else thinks we should be doing, we are going on our side-steps, our scenic routes, enjoying learning about topics that the kids find interesting.