How to Deal with Learning Gaps

A common fear homeschoolers have is that they are not teaching their kids enough, that they’re going to create huge gaps in their learning.

The fear of learning gaps can keep you enslaved to a school model, scope-and-sequence curriculum that satisfies national standards instead of being free to pursue free, delightful, God-led learning for your children.

The reality is, following a school model curriculum doesn’t guarantee there will be no gaps in your child’s education. You are never going to be able to cover everything there is to know about every subject all of the time.

As someone said, you can cover all the curriculum some of the time, and some of the curriculum all the time, but you will never cover all of the curriculum all the time.

No one has a complete education because none of us can learn everything there is to know!

Having said all that, it is true that if your child does not have a solid foundation in reading and math, he will not be able to understand and learn more advanced skills.

So, this is where learning gaps matter.

What is a true learning gap?

A gap in learning is when your kids should know something that they don’t, that prevents them from continuing to learn, such as:

  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.
  • The sounds of each letter which will enable them to sound out words.  
  • Being able to form letters well and actually string words together to make sentences and sentences together to make paragraphs.  

These are true gaps.

But not knowing certain portions of history or science is no big deal – that can be learned anytime (unless it’s a foundational concept.)

How to overcome learning gaps  

Instead of wasting emotional energy on worrying about learning gaps, put your effort into creating a solid foundation for your child’s education.

Here are some ways to do that:

Ditch comparison

If you compare your homeschool to public school you’ll think your kids have many learning gaps. Because you haven’t studied the same history in the same grade you may conclude that your kids are “behind”.

There are many things your kids are learning that kids in public school are not. You can’t compare apples with pears.

Related: How to let go of the traditional school mindset

Identify the gaps

If you suspect a gap in your child’s learning, test them through quizzing. Get your child to explain what they know about the concept. Let your child be the teacher for the day and teach you what he knows. You’ll soon discover what he does and doesn’t know.

Make repeating back to you a regular part of learning – if a child cannot repeat back to you what they have learned, then they don’t know it.

Thoroughness in the early years will save you hours of time later.

Figure out why the learning gap is there

  • Did you skip something or not cover a basic concept thoroughly?
  • Is the curriculum to blame?
  • Does your child have a learning disability?
  • Are you trying to teach without considering your child’s learning style?
  • Was your child even ready for the learning you tried to give him?

True education is not the forcing of instruction on an unready and unreceptive mind.

Related: How to discover your child’s learning style

Give the gap your time and attention

Once you know where your child is lacking, create a plan for correcting the lack. This may mean changing your curriculum or teaching method/style. It may mean going back and re-teaching a foundational concept.

If your child doesn’t know the sounds of the letters, stop trying to teach him to read and teach the letter sounds first.

If he doesn’t know his multiplication facts or the process of long division, then give time and attention to these before moving on.

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward. And that’s ok.

Stay positive

Your child may feel hopeless because they’re struggling. They may think they’re stupid and never going to learn.

Encourage your child. Find creative ways to relearn the things they don’t know.

Stay focused

Keep in mind that education is about way more than learning a collection of facts. It’s about giving your children a love for learning new things that they will have for life.

It’s also about learning life skills and work ethic, character growth, and spiritual and emotional growth.  

Albert Einstein said,

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Learning gaps are going to happen, and the solution is really simple: do what needs to be done to close them.  

Get over the fear of trying to meet national standards – your kids are not in public school.

God’s curriculum is way bigger and covers so much more than just academics.

Do you stress over learning gaps?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer homeschooled all three of her kids-with no teaching qualification. Her kids are grown now but she is still passionate about homeschooling. She lives in South Africa.

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