There are starving children in Africa! In years past it was common for parents to encourage their children to eat everything on their plates, regardless of hunger. As more and more attention has been focused on childhood obesity, “clean your plate” is a phrase I hear less and less. Parents are encouraging their children to eat only until they are full.
This analogy can be applied to homeschooling, too. Many curricula include page after page of practice problems. And well-meaning homeschool parents, who want to be diligent in educating their children, believe that it is necessary for a child to do EVERY SINGLE ONE of those problems. That simply just isn’t true. The same way that a child does not need to clear her plate in order to satisfy her hunger, a child does not necessarily need to do every single problem or answer every single question on a worksheet in order to fully understand a concept.
How do you know when enough is enough? Here are a couple of ways that I decide when it’s time to stop and move on, rather than continue to have my children complete problems or answer question:
- Has she answered the last five questions correctly without hesitation or help?
- Can he explain how to do a problem in his own words or teach the concept back to you or someone else?
So, when we are confronted with a page of 50 problems, what do I do? Sometimes I have my children complete the first few and then stop. Other times I have them complete all of the odd or even problems. But making a child continue to work problems long after he has mastered the process is not only a waste of time, it can make learning a drudgery rather than the delight that it should be.
Next time you find yourself assigning a huge amount of problems, consider whether your child really needs to “clean his plate” or if a few bites might just be enough.